As there is an official day for more or less every cause and circumstance in society, I am well pleased to discover that the eleventh of October each year is dedicated to “the girl child.” I am just one parent who was fortunate to raise a little girl, and I treasure my memories of my little girl, now a young woman, in pretty dresses, sharing an ice cream with me and playing the piano to take my breath away. This is something my daughter, my girl child inside the body of a young woman, does every day — takes my breath away.
However, I read another kind of article describing a girl child. This one features on the website of Destiny Rescue, an internationally-recognised Christian non-profit organisation dedicated to rescuing children trapped in the sex trade. Instead of describing a little girl running outside and marvelling at the design of her dress as she swirls, this article talks about one with eyes bowed and small clasped hands. Why would the article describe this little girl as being “shrouded in shadows of shame, cultural oppression and helplessness?” She is only seven years old, after all. That’s too young to retain a firm grasp on concepts like shame. But then it all makes sense. Of course, this article is describing the survivors of child sex trafficking, rescued from a childhood bound to this monstrous fate. This is how those little girls are — instead of running and playing with the fairies, they curl themselves up in a ball as their fairies have long been destroyed.
I blink back tears as I reflect on the glaring difference between these little girls. Taking into account language and cultural difference, there should be no other disparity — yet there is and it’s huge! Destiny Rescue goes on to describe that, once rescued, these little girls go to sleep for days. It’s like they are renewing their tarnished souls. They have a lot of healing to do, and sleep is when much of the growth occurs. As these little girls are helped on their road to recovery, they will create a new identity that is free of suffering and fear.
Something that girls all over the world have had to contend with for centuries is a quest for freedom and fight against oppression on so many levels. In some places, girls nowhere near close to being women are forced to marry adult men and perform as wives. Girls need greater protection from street harassment and assault, greater access to education (and a changing of overall attitudes to reflect this), as well as sanitation access and greater religious rights and freedom for girls. Or equal rights to that of men. Not more, just equal.
Many of us are aware of these battles for girls and women in developing countries, but at the same time, we are facing a similar sort of discrimination. Here are just a few to jog your memory: sexual harassment and assault, domestic violence, education inequality, gender-based violence, sexism and stereotypes, self-esteem issues in girls, employment disadvantages, breast feeding in public, access to safe abortion, and even a girls’ rights to enter places of worship or public spaces during menstruation. As a society, we fight each issue at a time, and sometimes win. Sometimes we will take one step forward only to take two back, for example whenever Donald Trump gets busy on Twitter.
Because of this, because of the sheer amount of battles to fight, and because there are currently little girls learning that their liberty comes with safety and rest, we have an International Girl Child Day on 11 October every year. This is a day to remember how far we have come as women, and it’s also a day I think more of the plight of those little girls sold to the sex trafficking trade. Those little girls who I describe not as ‘victims’ but as ‘survivors.’
This article was first published on medium
A couple of years ago there was a fear the sky was falling. Life as we knew it, at least life for a group of selfish women was concerned, was over. The reason? A sleazy website called “Backpage”, which was complicit in the trafficking of children for sex, was being shut down by the FBI and, running scared, a few others like “Craig’s List”, followed suit. Around the world, sex workers screamed in headlines that they would no longer be able to advertise their, mostly, illegal trade and would be forced onto the streets again and that “‘People Are Going to Die” as a result.’
It’s important that I included “mostly” above, because in some countries, and my own more enlightened Australia is not among them, sex work is illegal and that Backpage was the Internet’s leading forum for illegal prostitution advertisements. I am not here to judge the legality or otherwise of mature adults seeking to make a living which would be, at best, hypocritical, as I run one of the most popular legal brothels in Australia, The Cherry Tree Garden.
There is no doubt that adult sex workers, legal or otherwise, who choose to sell their bodies in racy, cheap classified ads will be affected by the shutdown of these websites. That’s too bad. But there is an over-riding issue that is, in my opinion, far more important.
Here’s a statistic to start: UNICEF tells us that 30 children die every day from being trafficked into the sex industry, they die from neglect, drug overdoses, disease, HIV, violence and torture. If that’s not enough for you, consider this, every two minutes a child is being groomed for rape and the average life expectancy for kids trafficked this way is 7 years, unless they are rescued. Am I to understand the rights of women to sell their bodies voluntarily on sites like Backpage, transcends the protection of a five-year-old girl raped by a paedophile via advertisements on these same sites? Just “collateral damage” you say? Give me a break ladies.
Sex workers’ rights activists need to recognise how many children were being abused because Backpage and its sleazy counterparts existed and just how easy it is to buy a child for sex on these sites. One law enforcement officer even said it was less complicated than ordering a pizza online. If you let sex workers promote themselves legitimately only because we fear for the rights of sex workers, you are opening the door for children to be raped by the millions in the process. It’s not just one or two kids, it’s millions. We are allowing monsters to create sex hubs on these sites — and there must be a response for the children. It’s just a question of what do we, as a society, value more? The right of a sex worker to sell her body or protecting a prepubescent child from being raped for money. We must choose between the two. This is not a “Sophie’s Choice” decision, ladies.
Will traffickers and child predators just turn to other platforms?
The short answer is yes. It’s an industry that exceeds the profits of drugs and illegal arms sales combined so such people don’t lack resources and the will. But, if our goal is to eradicate child sex trafficking, then we need to focus on that goal, even if it takes a long time.
Any websites that facilitate trafficking, need to be investigated, and there are still plenty of them like Locanto, even Gumtree, not to mention social media apps. These need to make fundamental changes to protect children from exploitation. This change might force traffickers and paedophiles to move to other platforms or to the “dark web”, as I’ve heard, but that’s not a reason to do nothing. Technology, for example, is making great leaps forward in tracing the perpetrators of trafficking to their source through the artificial intelligence apps like “Traffic Jam”.
I have heard the argument that it was a mistake to take down sites like Backpage because at least the authorities had a place to trace and prosecute traffickers and their paedophile cohorts. This argument is, in my opinion, a straw man. Backpage and others were knowingly facilitating the trafficking of children and even complicit. Are we then saying it’s ok to allow the traffickers to continue operating for years so we could use their system to find more victims? Of course not, because the perpetrators would simply find new children to exploit and the cycle would never end. We need to arrest the perpetrators as we find them and work towards ending trafficking. If they turn to other sources, we will follow them to their lairs.
Why this matters
The priority must be to protect children from being trafficked, rescue those who are being exploited, and rehabilitate those who live with the pain of being survivors. In those countries that still regard sex work as an anathema to civilised society, the challenge is there to start putting priorities in place rather than pandering to some rose-coloured social model of morality caught in a timewarp.
By keeping the buying and selling of sex workers’ services within legal guidelines in a well- regulated industry like in my country, and particularly in Victoria, it leaves authorities free to take down the unchecked promotion of illegal sex and the obscenity of child sex-trafficking, while working towards eliminating the child-sex hubs and ending child trafficking. There is a long way to go and I would be the first to admit politicians here do not have the will, nor the authorities the resources, to police a rampant “massage-parlour” industry which is by any observation a conduit to sex trafficking.
It is a multi-faceted problem and perhaps it’s about time the sex industry itself started working a lot harder to improve its image by fighting precisely the foremost cause of its poor perception.
This article was first published on medium
Not far from your own doorstep, a completely different reality exists. Whilst you are ordering your soy latte, or making school lunches, a little girl perhaps no older than 5 years old is being brutally trafficked for sex. You may be talking about your next family holiday by the beach with your colleagues at the water cooler, but somewhere else, a child is dying from neglect, starvation, HIV, abuse, drug overdoses, disease or torture. Thirty children will die today, and every day in this evil trade.
The place that offers a morbid reality akin to that of a horror movie is none other than Cambodia, one of the world’s poorest nations where child sex trafficking is thriving. Immoral people from all over the world who have one thing in common, a perverted and psychologically depraved thought process, greedily descend upon a humanity who will quite literally sell their soul to the devil out of desperation. Here, the average life span for these children trafficked into sex is just seven years — perhaps a fate less cruel than survival, where, as women, they relive the inhumane horror inflicted upon them as innocent children playing like a newsreel through their mind every day.
It is not my place to determine the true description of “riches in life,” but it is my strong view that every child deserves a childhood, where they play, learn and are kept safe from harm. I want to lead a movement that give these children their lives back. It is the very least they deserve, as fellow humans on the same planet as you and I.
I make no secret of the sacrifices I made to give my daughter, Tiffany, the life I felt she deserved. My own childhood was stolen from me when I was just 8 years old somewhere in far North China in a bitterly cold village, and I remember clearly my own parents subjected to forced labour for being “enemies of the people.” Because of this, sadly they passed away young and Tiffany did not meet them. I am so proud to acknowledge that my own stolen childhood and sacrifices has been an inspiration for Tiffany to not only succeed at her own aspirations, but to champion that for others.
Tiffany is building a thriving small beauty business, returning to China several times to complete further studies in this area. But I would confidently say that her stand-out achievement has been encouraging me and my husband, Rob, to start a not-for-profit organisation to stamp out this obscene industry, called The Sunlight Foundation. In conjunction with other organisations and charities on the ground, the aims of the Sunlight Foundation are to appropriately assist with the plight of any children affected by sex trafficking in any way. Tiffany is on the Management Committee of the charity as well as a Miss Australia finalist who has taken on the role of campaigning to end child sex trafficking as the Ambassador for the charity, as well as supporting The Children’s Cancer Hospital at Westmead.
With the priority being on setting up the organisation and materials in the first place, Tiffany has just begun to officially start campaigning and fundraising. But as she does, please rest assured I will be sharing her adventures on my blog and Medium account. If you have any ideas on what activities she could focus on, please share them with me. I sincerely hope you join Tiffany on this path to create better opportunities for children who are vulnerable to this monstrous crime.
This post was first published on medium
A lady of the night. The lure of her is so tempting, so full of mystery, and a privileged few drift off to enjoy many and wonderful imagined fantasies, while the rest of us merely dream about them.
So why is it that when the lights come on, our stereotypes about sex workers are so degrading? These same women dare not write “sex worker” and, horror of horrors, “prostitute” on their CV or on an application for a rental apartment for fear of being judged, as they so often are, as drug-addicted whores with STD’s galore, likely homeless with a bikie-type pimp lording over them, taking their money and giving them a beating in return. There is absolutely nothing about this description that could entice a man to become a client, a woman to become a friend, or for society to accept. Furthermore, for those who harbour these stereotypes, legal brothels are surely breeding grounds for people like this, even luring innocent young women into their black widow’s embrace. With beliefs like these, it is no wonder why so many give sex workers and legal brothels a wide berth.
On one hand you have these extremely damaging stereotypes, but on the other we have customers who every night will hand over their hard-earned cash to spend time with ladies who supposedly fit the stereotype. Why would anyone in their right mind want to spend any time at all with a drug-addicted lady who has been forced into this work by a glowering, muscly pimp? Is there something these customers know that the general population don’t?
So many have called Australia a “nanny state” about almost everything. With that in mind, why would a state government allow legal brothels to operate, albeit with many rules, if it’s a breeding ground for drug addiction, domestic abuse and disease? Do they all know something the rest of you don’t? It’s clear some entire states in Australia entertain that stereotype too, as they don’t allow brothels to operate at all.
These stereotypes were created largely by folk who have no experience with sex workers, brothels, or the industry itself. Their imagination took the wheel on that, and as a result, the truth is very far removed. I am someone who should know, being one of the most high-profile Madams of one of Melbourne’s legal brothels, The Cherry Tree Garden (TCTG). Rather than negotiating with threatening pimps, I am negotiating the pecking order between my adorable doggies who both want to sit with their mummy at the same time. And instead of pulling needles from the arms of battered women, I am sharing make-up tips with these glamorous and sweet young women who belong to my family here at TCTG. The thing is, if one sat beside you at the hairdressers, you would see a well-dressed smart and well-mannered English foreign-language student, because, well, that’s exactly what she is. She isn’t planning to steal your husband, from inside or outside the brothel either. She just wants to support her studies and maybe even her family back home. She and her colleagues study accountancy, law, and nursing. They are very much in control of their own future — not a pimp in sight and no boyfriend/husband, or society, can say what she does with her life or body.
These “very normal” young women don’t backstab each other, or try to grab someone else’s client, or sell one another drugs. No, they are incredibly supportive of one another. In fact, it’s like a sisterhood more than anything else, where the guests are the added extra they enjoy entertaining. If someone needs a lift, a make-up brush, some advice on a family matter, or a cup of tea, this is when everyone else steps in to support them. If it’s a more personal matter or nobody else is around, I’m always there for their every need. In fact, many of the women have told me that the one thing they enjoy most about their career with us is the empowering support of the others.
Talking about empowering, many people are afraid that these women are not empowered, because they choose sex work. The fact that they sell their soul as well as their body is most often the argument used. Really? What about those people who sit for years in a job they hate — tolerating bullying, menial work and rude colleagues. How is this not selling your soul? If not sold, it is certainly lost.
The women who work here actually like their job because of the lifestyle it affords them, where they earn more money than most, and have more control over their time than almost anyone else in the workforce. They are providing a legal service that makes others happy, make great money, and puts them in control of the transaction. I am genuinely confused how this is “selling your soul.”
And then you get our clients. These are the men, and sometimes the couples, who come time and time again to be made happy by young women who know how to bring pleasure into their lives. It’s impossible to make a generic stereotype because they are all unique, but far from the sleazy guy who wants to force himself onto women and get away with it. We have gentle widows, respectful young men who want to practise being with a woman, so they know what to say and how to act when they attract “one for real”. What about the quadriplegic man who cries himself to sleep every night because he doesn’t know whether he can perform to a woman’s satisfaction after his accident? There are so many different guests who come here for some attention, a commodity that’s not afforded to them elsewhere.
The ladies deserve to meet clients they can respect and who will not make them afraid. Here at TCTG, we put great emphasis on practicing workplace health and safety in order to afford the women who work in a legal brothel the protection they deserve. This industry was made for the happiness and satisfaction of respectful men who need this service to fill a gap in their lives.
These decade-old stereotypes of sex work are making life difficult for many people: the sex workers, the brothel owners, the wonderful people who are our guests, even the Government who must placate noisy, single-issue minority groups who keep petitioning for change. Because of these wildly inaccurate stereotypes and the fact that people ignore the reality of the industry and avoid understanding its place in society, the disgusting crime of sex trafficking of children, for example, can flourish and is gaining momentum. Some perverse men assume since they are doing something that society doesn’t approve of anyway, having sex with children is not really a step too far and the opportunity is afforded to them from a community asleep at the wheel.
Just let go of legal sex work stereotypes; we are not harming anyone. Brothels are a valuable social institution. The darker side of the sex industry, which most of us abhor, is a direct result of communities looking with a blinkered, even blind, view at a very normal and natural, not to mention fun, industry. For those who believe it destroys family relationships, I would say that if you can’t trust your husband not to stray after he has seen a sex worker, then this indicates deep-rooted issues in your relationship. Rather than taking aim at an imaginary, poisonous serpent lurking in the sex industry perhaps it’s time to look closer to home.
Recently I published a post about the arrest of 66-year-old hedge fund billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, charged with sex trafficking and paying underage girls to give “massages” in his luxurious homes and Virgin Islands retreats. The irony of the latter destination should not be lost on anyone.
A few days ago, it was reported that he took his own life in a New York jail cell. Few will mourn, many will sleep more easily. In my opinion, he showed us he was too timid to face the shameful crimes for which he stood accused.
What else does this tell me about Epstein? Well, that perhaps he felt remorse about misusing his power and wealth, hiding behind his position, money and lawyers to keep from the public gaze to avoid the full legal wrath for his crimes. But I don’t think I’m fooling anyone: much more likely this predator was ashamed about being exposed and abandoned by rich friends, more than he was feeling conscience-stricken.
By committing the ultimate act of avoidance, suicide, Epstein has dodged allowing the women, some as young as 14, the chance to have their day in court. At the very least, they deserve the opportunity to speak of how Epstein’s vileness has altered the course of their lives, and then witness his punishment for poisoning the adolescence of so many young women. He was facing around 45 years in jail, society’s measure of the seriousness of his crimes.
However, his recent suicide means none of this will happen. Epstein’s rich and famous pals who happily availed themselves of his illicit sexual largesse won’t have the opportunity to see what happens to those who flaunt the law in this way. However, they clearly lack the morality to understand how appalling their behaviour is anyway, if their public ducking and weaving is any guide. So, is there a way that we can still bring Epstein’s and his accomplices’ crimes to account, even though he’s no longer here?
Instead of closing the book, I think it’s time to read further into the chapter. We know child sex trafficking is rampant and, if even only some of the stories we are hearing are true, there is a pervasive cancer infecting a large cohort of rich, well-connected men. How can we, as a society, shine the light of exposure into these dark corners of our humanity. Is there a way we can look at what happened with Epstein so that his death was indeed not in vain and the many victims can still feel as though justice is possible? And, more importantly perhaps, that a legacy from their suffering may even be created.
Whether official or not, a conversation has begun, and the public are more aware and less tolerant of misogynistic, sociopathic behaviour perpetrated by powerful men. Young women are also becoming more informed and aware, more protective of themselves, as they should be, and more likely to look after one another. I would like more to be done from a higher level too and believe that this is entirely possible and in fact, integral to change.
As a society we must not let this episode be for nothing and need to be calling loud and long to our political leaders to step up and be counted. They have mostly ignored the calls or meted out their platitudes; some have even been complicit in these crimes against vulnerable young women. I suspect many still are.
Many brave young women have gathered the courage to come forward and have set a fine example to us, and the result has been less than ideal for them, though perhaps Epstein’s death may be partly attributable to their voices.
Let this be the start, not the end, of this investigation.
Read more commentary from Lily Yang at Lily’s website plus her books and charity work.
This article was first published on Medium
The past week has held my attention with the Crown Casino debacle as more scandal comes to light. Being in my neighbourhood, it’s been all over the news, and of course involves my heartland, China, so it was quick to grab my interest on a few fronts. The main issue is around promoting gambling at Melbourne’s Crown Casino in China, where the promotion of gambling is against the law. And of course, the trafficking of women for sex is involved in the mix too. I say ‘of course’ because sex trafficking often seems to come hand in hand with great wealth and power.
The six-month investigation was carried out jointly by 60 Minutes, The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. They discovered that one of the men paid to lure Chinese high rollers to Crown was involved in the sex industry and an alleged money launderer. During the time this person has been what’s known as a “Junket Representative to Crown Casino”, his business was involved in illegal sex work activity and several sex trafficking investigations and played host to Casino guests.
I’m sure Crown corporate representatives were perfectly aware of his colourful sex trafficking history but turned a blind eye to it, due perhaps to the value of the high roller clients he introduced to Crown. In fact, some of the many junkets Crown has been working with are allegedly controlled by Asian crime syndicates, including one of the world’s biggest drug trafficking gangs, involved in laundering money through Crown’s bank accounts, and importing drugs into Australia.
Now, we will, or perhaps will not ever, get to the bottom of this; it appears several high ranking present and past lawmakers, from both sides of politics, appear to be like deer in headlights, and will no doubt do all they can to have us believe “there’s nothing to see here, move on.” There are enormous tax revenues, political donations and even friendly Board appointments that may be at risk by what could be unearthed by any serious investigation. Not to mention potential criminal behaviour by any number of characters that are, as far as their reputation represents, pillars of our society.
Despite my, and the community’s, disgust at the apparently rampant corruption by powerful people, my interest is in the sex trafficking activities that appear to be involved. As those who read my commentaries will know, I’m a passionate advocate for action to wipe this scourge from society and through my charity, to work in my own small way to save at least a few children from this grim fate, as well as raise awareness among others who will join me to bring a halt to this inhumanity.
What I find particularly interesting in this latest scandal is that sex trafficking and wealthy, powerful men again seem to go hand in hand. I have literally just written about Epstein and his illegal sexual involvement with underage girls, and here we are again. This time it involves drugs and casinos too.
It makes me wonder whether rich and well-connected people really do think they are invulnerable, and our laws just don’t apply to them. Do they really feel they are so all-powerful and self-important, that they lose sight of even a basic moral decency?
Is something also going on at the chemical level? These people are often thrill-seekers by nature and have a strong need for that adrenaline rush. Not afraid to take risks, they work hard and smart, are not afraid to turn on the charm when required, are attracted to mega-deals for self-promotion and end up with control over a lot of money. Already with a preference toward risky behaviour and the various protections afforded them by wealth and friends, they enjoy activities that feed their egos. Does engaging in illegal sexual activity spike their adrenalin so they think nothing of making this possibility available for others who can pay for the “ultimate thrill”? I don’t know about you, but this reminds me a bit of “they love you for your wealth, you don’t need to do anything, you can grab their pussy…”
Now we are not only talking about wealthy, important business people and Presidents, but pop stars, athletes and entertainers — really anyone drunk on sycophancy, power and wealth. Many seem to believe they have their own set of rules, and the law that applies to the rest of us isn’t for them. The problem with wealthy and famous people like this is that obstacles are simply removed for them by others. Their drink too warm, their tax too high, their clothes too tight, their house too small, their bed too lonely – no problem. Nothing is too much of a problem if you have enough money to pay for it, even protection from realistic views of the world. They are oblivious, or uncaring, of the fact that their rules only apply to everything and everyone in their orbit, immune from the consequences of their actions and to society’s laws because they are rich, powerful or famous.
Society commentators have put forward ideas that, for example, visiting a brothel would be a proper compromise for these people’s sexual aberrations, but I think the reality isn’t about sex itself at all. These sociopaths — and let’s call them out for what they are — are looking for scenarios that will provide them with more power to fuel their ego and forcing sex onto a person or paying underage girls for sex is what does it. This is completely different to paying a willing adult for a legal sexual encounter.
These people break the law while turning their backs on any moral recriminations about feeling guilty for the harm they cause, or showing any remorse for having harmed or mistreated others. The Crown debacle is bringing more people to the surface who meet this description.
It’s a repudiation of good faith as well as good governance that a business corporation like Crown that trumpets its vision that: “Together we create memorable experiences by acting respectfully, being passionate, working together and doing the right thing” can stand accused of betraying this lofty-sounding vision so abysmally.
Visit Lily Yang for more social commentary, her published books and charity work.
This article was first published on Medium
I silently cursed him for shaking me awake; it was almost 4.00 am and until then I’d been enjoying a full surround-sound mental movie. Bleary-eyed, I sleepwalked to my computer. My fingers ignored the rules of grammar, continuity and spelling in their haste to capture our night together as I free-associated the stream of thoughts that poured onto the screen from a dream so vivid, I knew I must write down before it was lost. Then I stumbled back into bed, exhausted from the effort.
For the next 3 days I stared at my third-grade essay. Slowly, the symbols began their metamorphosis as consciousness grappled to apply its rules of logic and order. I recognised straightaway the places and everyday things he’d sequestered from my unconscious, like a baffling Sudoku to add potency and reality to his dream-work: a sofa from my shop, some surgical gloves used in the kitchen, some female faces I knew, the biography of an Indian I’d been reading. Even the Assembly Room from primary school, complete with its glass and wood panelled wall, copied faithfully from an old childhood photograph I’d just unearthed in our attic as my husband and I had been rummaging through our histories. My dream remains haunting to me, even now, as I search for a deserving narrative to link the elements to each other.
A boy and a girl are growing up together in a small town; they’ve been friends since infancy, more like a brother and sister. As they become young adults, their platonic friendship also matures as adult physical changes and emotions rise to the surface. He senses them but is not ready; I see he’s afraid to reveal these new feelings he has towards her. For her, she’s more emotionally aware and is wishing, hoping, he will touch her, kiss her, but she’s always disappointed by his crippling shyness.
There is an intense sadness as I watch him struggle with his torment and the sinking desperation of her slipping away, knowing he’s incapable of reaching across to embrace what he knows she wants from him. Eventually another man, a stranger, arrives in the town; he’s from the big city. She’s immediately drawn to him; he knows the ways of the world and she’s attracted by this novelty, so different from her past experiences.
Now she’s sitting on a large circular sofa, with others, but he’s watching from a distance. The stranger comes over, he’s tall, he touches her face. Oddly, he’s wearing blue surgical gloves. He kisses her lips; she’s warm and affectionate in return, embracing him. Next, she’s sitting in a corner, he tries to pluck up the courage to approach her but before he can, another girl goes over and starts talking to her. He knows his moment is lost. She looks at him and I sense her despair.
This worldly stranger has displaced him; he’s an innocent whose innocence is losing him his lifelong friend, who is moving into a different life. He’s crushed as she reluctantly turns her head away from him and towards the stranger. In a sad gesture he tells her he’s leaving the town and begs her to go with him. She says she’s going to the council to register her home for water, and she’ll allow the stranger to live there. He decides he’ll go to the council office for her, but she says she’s already been there and shows him a piece of white paper with the details. It is too late.
Next, he’s leaving. He walks down a corridor past the glass panelled wall of the community hall, and he sees her through the glass in a circle of dancers in the Assembly Room. Was the stranger there too? He supposes so. She looks up and sees him, and I feel her intense sadness again. Her voice falters momentarily from the hymn they are singing. He keeps walking, hoping she has seen him in his desolation, but he doesn’t stop. He keeps walking, not even looking back. Now there is talk of the Indians massing, led by Geronimo, and people are concerned. Maybe he leaves or maybe he stays now on hearing this news.
Finally, I’m walking back into the town and there’s a burning carcass hanging there. But everyone is dead. There’s an overwhelming feeling of happiness as a relief column arrives, even though there seems to be only me left. I’m walking among some unmarked gravestones, looking for something. I don’t know if the grave I’m looking for is of the stranger and the girl, or if it’s the grave of the young man I’m seeking, or something else. There are no names. And then I’m awake. It is very powerful.
Like all dreams, this one is open to many interpretations and, except for some standard archetypes most people could find, like the mandalas, the corner, the water and the burning carcass, it’s only meaningful to me and my own situation if it’s to make sense. Each time I’ve reflected on this dream, additional clarity becomes attached to the personal symbols my mind painted for me. Like the blue gloves: now they seem like those of a doctor wanting to take care of the girl, like she needs protection, or he does from her. Like the Indians: now they seem like a metaphor for a sweeping change, of killing off old ideas.
These interpretations make sense to me because I’m Chinese and grew up in a culture where women traditionally have looked after their men and been looked after in return. Now, as a businesswoman, like many other Chinese expatriates living distant from 5000 years of filial tradition, I’m now called upon to set the standards and direction in my own business for others to follow, to defend what I do, as well as form and express my opinions as a blogger, social commentator and writer. In this way, my dream is one of affirmation of my new self as a strong, independent woman and for the changes I have brought about in my life. And I like that affirmation.
We Chinese have been credited with spawning that well-known aphorism: “May you live in interesting times”. In truth, it’s more of a curse than a blessing as we prefer living in “uninteresting times”, by which we Chinese mean living a tranquil and peaceful life. But for women generally, they are interesting times indeed for us, as we strive to be “treated as equals” in everything we do, from equal pay to equal opportunity, to being safe walking home from the train station and in our own homes. We’ve come a long way in some, less far in others.
Do dreams really reveal anything to us?
We Chinese would have ceased to be a civilisation thousands of years ago without our beliefs in omens, fate and supernatural beings. We’re still a superstitious bunch, so finding guidance in dreams is almost second nature to many of us. So, does my dream offer anything beyond its meaning for me that others might find interesting and, importantly, useful?
Firstly, my dream tells me it would be an enduring shame for us women to give up our aura of sensuality and sexiness in pursuit of goals of equality and safety. Our much-vaunted “feminine wiles” have been celebrated in literature for centuries, even given as reasons for the historical achievements of some powerful women, from Salome to Simone de Beauvoir, from Wallis Simpson to Wendy Deng. What great role-models these women are: strong, confident, independent and powerful despite living in a male-dominated world. Let’s forget the idea those are undesirable female traits, unless you happen to be a man threatened by powerful, sensual women, and let’s not replace them with male-style aggressive approaches. These traits are the genetically coded gifts from natural selection we’re endowed with, and we should beware because they are under attack on several fronts: from “feminists” with their distorted view of equality, to men in powerful places with their distorted sense of entitlement. It doesn’t take a dream to tell me that, only to remind me from time to time.
By the way, I don’t hear anyone seriously asking men to give up their gender-specific macho instincts as they trample their way to the top of the dung-heap over the wrecked lives they leave in their wake. If the newspapers are to be believed, many are worshipping them as political messiahs and business heroes, despite their appallingly misogynous, pathological behaviour.
Secondly, I neither believe women are children who need protecting, nor do I believe men and women need equality, at least in the way men fear and feminists demand with their barely veiled hatred of men and sexuality. I, for one, do not recognise myself in this perversion of femininity. I am firmly in the camp of vive le différence and I love the views recently expounded by people like French actor Catherine Deneuve in her letter to Le Monde, calling for a more nuanced view on how to tackle sexual harassment than the one championed by the #MeToo zealots.
She wrote that: ‘I will certainly not defend Harvey Weinstein. I have never had much consideration for him, but what is happening on social networks around it, is excessive.’ She went on to say that a woman can, in the same day, lead a professional team and enjoy being the sexual object of a man without being a “promiscuous woman” or a vile accomplice of patriarchy.
‘Rape is a crime,’ she says, ‘but insistent or clumsy flirting is not, nor is gallantry a chauvinist aggression.’ And I heartily agree. She and several other French women argue that movements like #MeToo have used social media as a “kangaroo court” — judge, jury and executioner on sexual conduct — by publicly denouncing private experiences and seeking to create a totalitarian rape-culture.
The American writer Claire Berlinski is another at odds with such outraged feminism and calls the #MeToo movement: ‘a frenzied extrajudicial warlock hunt that does not pause to parse the difference between rape and stupidity’ and ‘a classic moral panic, one that is ultimately as dangerous to women as to men.’
They contend that the #MeToo movement has led to a campaign of public accusations that have placed undeserving people in the same category as sex offenders with no opportunity to defend themselves. This expedited justice has already claimed its victims, guilty or not: men barred from their profession, or forced to resign, while the only thing they did wrong was touching a knee, trying to steal a kiss, or speaking about “intimate” things at a work dinner or in text messages.
The feminist response, booming from their moral pulpit, has been contemptuous of Ms. Deneuve and her friends, believing they are only too happy to please their men and for being too accepting of their whims. It seems that not only are relationships between men and women bordering on a state of war, the battle-lines between radical feminists and women who revel in the ambiguity and charm of relationships between men and women, are also being drawn.
Ultimately, it may be this is as much a culture war, as a shouting match. The recent Golden Globes ceremony being a case in point where, mostly American women, turned up in black with their “Time’s Up” pins, daring anyone who might oppose their views to risk being branded a traitor or condoning sexual assault. We Chinese, and from what I understand, the Europeans like Ms. Deneuve, prefer to think in shades of grey, that things like sensuality, for example, are not the stark black and white these radical feminists see; a polarising view which seems to leave things like sensuality defined as some logical concept, which is really just another way of denying it exists.
The Harvey Weinsteins of the world are an aberration, a serious one it must be said, but like all aberrations will eventually be scoured from our everyday lives like National Socialism, polio and cigarettes as the community demand these changes.
But, ladies and gentlemen, when did we lose the marvelous idea that, for better or worse, seduction is a harmless and pleasurable game, dating back to our earliest classical literature, not to mention being fundamentally healthy to our souls? It has for generations lent a layer of sophistication and harmony to our human interactions; the joy of reading sensual literature allows us to feel exalted and to live on a higher plane.
Are we truly heading in a direction when this is to be thought of as past its time in the new age of a newly defined equality? The idea of burning books has a nasty pedigree and I hope even the most radical feminists are not suggesting this is the end game for them.
I will leave you in the sensuous hands of Simone de Beauvoir: ‘On the day when it will be possible for woman to love not in her weakness but in her strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself — on that day love will become for her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger.’
Personally, I would hate to see another tenet of a civilised existence fall by the wayside. Vive le différence.
Visit Lily Yang for more social commentary, her published books and charity work.
This article was first published on Medium
One of the biggest mysteries in the world of relationships is why do men in serious and committed relationships stray when they can get sex right there in their own backyard.
For those, like me, who are fascinated by this seemingly self-destructive behaviour, we could study the work of the early psychiatrists like Sigmund Freud, who thought it was a symptom of what he called the “Madonna/whore syndrome”. Sigmund was the pioneer of psychoanalysis and a man driven by theories of unconscious childhood urges lurking just beneath our veneer of social morality. He proposed the answer lay in the way men divided women into two types: the wives and mothers of their children (picture-perfect angels of purity), and the raw, lust-filled harlots who were only good for one thing, which was to satisfy the pent-up desires of men, thus protecting their wives from their unseemly ravages of desire. I suppose the idea of cheating never really came up as a problem. The theory went that men chose one type to marry, the other type to have raunchy sex with on the side, and that everyone should be pleased with the arrangement. Especially, no doubt, the men.
Sigmund Freud was a man of his times. Come the present era of female “liberation and equality” and we don’t look at things in quite the same way, though perhaps the vestiges of his ideas still linger in the unconscious mind. Some people, again mostly men I suspect, believe a better solution to the stigma now attached to cheating might be for us women to act more “erotic” and “uninhibited” with them if we want to prevent our men from straying. With a bit less the Lady and a little more the lascivious libertine, if you like, our men would do us the honour of their monogamous attentions. A little more of a scrub-up occasionally and an appreciative word in our ear occasionally might, in response, also keep our own eyes from wandering – an interesting topic for another post!
Others discuss the desirability of re-visiting the good old days when Freud’s theories held sway. Especially with the pressure-cooker environment we all live in. But I wonder whether it’s again time to accept the wonderful social role of the prostitute to ease the stresses of long hours, time-poor recreation and, let’s face it, the general loss of interest that happens with just living together for so long?
Like most people, you may not have considered this novel proposition very deeply but go with me on this for a little longer. A prostitute could be just the therapy people need to save their failing marriages. With one constructive move, partners could completely sidestep the problems of affairs and bring back the sizzle they both had in those heady, can’t-keep-your-hands-off- each-other days. Remember those? The possibilities are endless, and both husband and wife could benefit from someone telling them what they could both do better in the bedroom. By hiring a prostitute to watch the action and give them pointers, it would be much like a coach correcting a golf swing or a bad yoga position. Plus, a little competition in the bedroom during the practicum would undoubtedly get her wanting to lift her game and him, happy to contribute to their mutual domestic debauchery.
A seasoned, worldly-wise prostitute could easily correct those little misunderstandings that lead to large divorce settlements, thus in effect the exercise is, as it were, a terrific investment. Once the wife sees all the tricks that drive him wild, that spark would ignite her competitive side and she’ll be vying for his affections like a teenager at a Justin Bieber concert. He would likely never want to leave the house, let alone run to the charms of another. I could even be doing myself out of a job…
Also, there’s always that lingering “housewife” epithet, that seems, unfairly, to carry such negative connotations. It may be that the wife doesn’t work, staying at home and having children to raise, but it’s really starting to set a bad role-model example for a teenage daughter. This alone could be the catalyst for seeking “professional guidance”. The last thing any caring parent wants is a daughter growing up thinking a man is going to take care of her all her life.
You’ll want her to know the value of an honest day’s work. Getting a prostitute running around the house will set that perfect example of a strong, independent working woman for a daughter that she so desperately needs.
It’s high time to look past the touchy-feely counselling remedies we’ve grown too comfortable with lately: the psychologists, social workers and those facilitated circles of whiners who all seem to think a few hours baring your soul to another bunch of similarly afflicted souls will actually help anything.
I think we should look to the past to find a way to navigate the complexities of our modern relationships. Thanks to the likes of pioneers like Freud, we can find real solutions to the problems that bedevil healthy marital relationships, while also avoiding the mental dilemmas about having affairs. Surprisingly, we can find a modern, practical solution from the oldest profession in the world.
Visit Lily Yang for more commentary, her books and charity work.
Originally published on Medium
My last few blog posts have been quite serious in nature, and whilst these were very necessary to share, I thought I would lighten the mood a bit and share my personal top suggestions in finding the right “house of sin,” before you waste that precious hour of your life you will never get back.
When we find an establishment that really impresses us with their service, we’re keen to keep going back because we’ve found a gem, rather than going somewhere else. When I was at the hairdresser recently, my hair stylist was telling me she and her family always go to the same Bali destination every year because they always have such a great time. ‘Why risk the possibility of having a disappointing time somewhere else?’ she asks, and of course she’s right. Also, note that she is my hair stylist. That’s right, like so many other women, once I’ve found the right one who really understands my hair, seldom will I venture to a different salon and stylist.
The same could be said of brothels. Usually visitors will become regular guests at The Cherry Tree Garden and sometimes even to a particular lady here. But everyone has a first time and, of course, not everyone lives in the vicinity of our fine establishment. So, how do you know that the brothel you have set your sights on visiting is worth your time and money? Here are five great ideas to get you started:
NUMBER FIVE: Doing your homework
With most other products and services, you can just ask family members and friends if they have any suggestions based on experience. We understand that this time it may be a bit more awkward to do that, so you may need to revert to social media and Google reviews. Happy customers will be only too pleased to leave glowing reports without even been asked to do so – or whether they may have been unhappy with the service they received and why. So, see what other customers say, particularly recently. There may also be online forums and directories if you Google “best brothels (and name of your city.)” Very hardworking, altruistic folk have voluntarily taken it upon themselves to go out and sample the sexual delights of various cities and then make best-of lists, complete with reviews. Those poor people. At least read what these Samaritans have been able to report back on, after their ordeals from this awful calling in life.
NUMBER FOUR: Breathing the atmosphere
First impressions do matter. As you walk in the door, does the place feel like a 5-star hotel or a cheap backpacker’s hostel? Do the staff and ladies look genuinely happy and friendly or do they look like they are there without wanting to be, complete with painted-on smiles, or without the smile at all in some cases? Do you get a sense they are all treated with respect, or like doormats? The establishment itself doesn’t have to resemble a 5-star hotel but it shouldn’t resemble a house of horrors. Brothels are the closest you will get to a fantasy world, you should get the vibe that everyone is happy to be there, enjoy the process of helping to create yours, and want you to come back. If you don’t feel comfortable just being there, how are you going to feel relaxed enough to “perform” later? Don’t expect it will get better if you persist, it probably won’t.
NUMBER THREE: Making your decision
Which brings me to the next point. In all brothel visits, you should be given the opportunity to meet each available girl, one at a time, in comfort and privacy. In the better establishments you will be shown to a private lounge area where you can relax and meet each lady, who will come in, introduce herself and have a chat with you. This is also your opportunity to ask about your particular sexual preferences and see if she is willing to accommodate, and if so, for how much.
If you find yourself shown to a lounge area with other guests all sitting around avoiding eye contact with each other, I would not blame you for leaving quickly. It would not be comfortable seeing your boss, or neighbour, sitting opposite you (unless you arrived together and he’s paying!). Also, this type of set-up means that the girls will make their introductions and it’s then a free-for-all to step in and book your amourbefore someone else gets in first. If you’re more the type who carefully considers your decisions, and of course why shouldn’t you in such a personal scenario, then you are likely to be left behind by fleeter footed – or more demonstrative – guests seeking their own pleasures.
NUMBER TWO: The Women Themselves
Next I invite you to consider the ladies themselves. Do you feel absolutely stoked that these beauties not only want to be around you, but want to have sex with you too? Do they make you feel special right from the start? Or do they look like their guinea pig died, their car was keyed and its Monday, all at once? Do they look drugged up, disinterested or glassy-eyed? Are you feeling concerned for them, rather than feeling like you want to bang them? If so, this is your cue to make your excuses and leave, not to take on the role of St Michael the Archangel. If she can’t make you feel amazing whilst making social chit-chat, how on earth will she do that when she is trying to seduce you for sex?
AND NUMBER ONE? Is it a legal brothel?
Or is it a seedy looking “massage shop”. You do know that those venues are illegal in many parts of the world, and definitely so in Victoria, Australia, right? Well, unless they do genuinely offer therapeutic massages from certified staff. The thing is, the terminology is not actually what’s important here. The venue you’re visiting needs to be approved and licensed to provide sexual services, and you should choose only these venues. The legal establishments protect your sexual health, eliminate the risk of arrest and help curtail the ghastly sex traffickers forcing young girls into sex in illegal shops. If it’s not licensed, you could be unwittingly supporting sex trafficking crimes by voting with your feet and with your money (or genitals, as it were.) Seriously though, you may not be personally spending time with a child who is performing sex under duress, but if the venue is discovered by cops and raided, you are going to be arrested too; it’s not a good look seeing yourself in the local media, or making an awkward phone call to get yourself bailed, especially for hanging out at an illegal sex venue involved in trafficking children. Whether you know it or not, you are supporting the darker and downright more criminal sides to this industry, so it is very important you do your homework and make sure you are only doing business with legal enterprises.
Melbourne is incredibly lucky to have the best regulated sex industry in Australia and there are legal brothels catering for all tastes. This Top 5 comprises the main considerations to ensure a great experience at a brothel, but of course there are some others that you may choose to consider too. Things like secure and discreet parking (who wants to park their very familiar car right outside the neon sign that says HOT GIRLS FOR SEX HERE.) Are the reception staff helpful and friendly and do they make you feel welcome, or are you an interruption to their game of Solitaire on their phone? Are your questions about various optional extras handled professionally or are they just dismissed?
And finally, are you bid a warm farewell with a sweet promise for next time whispered in your ear?
It is, and should be, a fantasy experience and with a handy list like this, there should be no excuse for a wrong choice and disappointing brothel experience.
Have fun exploring!
Previously published on Medium
Why are these monsters beyond the reach of the law and can enjoy the protection that wealth affords them?
It should not come as any great surprise that Jeffrey Epstein has been charged with abusing girls as young as 14; he’s a serial trafficker of underage girls. He was accused over the weekend of paying underage girls hundreds of dollars to come into his various homes in New York and Florida and give “massages”, between 2002 and 2005. The 66-year-old hedge fund manager was arrested as he arrived in the US from a trip to Paris. It’s about time.
It appears he also provided the sexual services of his victims to his mates, for fun or for favours, many of whom are in positions of great power. Under the media’s gaze they are now scurrying down their boltholes or looking like deer caught in headlights. Or like rats leaving a sinking ship might be more apt.
Reading more of the details is horrifying. Apparently, hundreds or even thousands of photos of girls were found in his home and now are part of the evidence. In an earlier plea bargain, this monster served just 13 months in jail, with day release, for his admitted crimes to date in what is now being seen as a travesty of justice, facilitated by friends in high places. He has made dozens of financial settlements with victims in the past for soliciting and procuring a person under 18 for sex; chump change for this billionaire. Now, hopefully and finally, he’s facing around 45 years in jail. But don’t hold your breath.
Epstein is enormously rich. His social circle of sleazy friends includes Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew and many other unsavoury celebrities in the political, legal and entertainment industries now in the spotlight for their reprehensible behaviour. These new charges will no doubt be an enormous blow to Epstein, and I hope some of his wealthy mates on the so-called “Lolita Express” – his private jet used to ferry influential men to debauched parties with female children – may be feeling decidedly nervous about what revelations are waiting to surface.
But it gets me wondering: why do these types of allegations tend to float around men who are super-rich, lingering about them like a putrid smell? Is it because of their wealth that they feel they are invulnerable? Why do they feel they want to do things that are so far outside the realm of what most of us would consider normal? As an example, who can forget Trump’s obnoxious bragging: ‘I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.’ When the most powerful man on the planet can joke about his crimes with impunity, what hope really exists for the victims, or for change.
Another, more sinister, reason, comes to mind. Perhaps it’s more of a “keeping up with the Jones’” mentality. Even a sort of peer pressure. Is there a desire to brag to your friends? The more beautiful women, the younger, the less willing? That you can pay these women to do anything? A naked photo, a massage, then what? The problem is a 14-year-old girl might be happy to do anything for a few hundred dollars, but then how does she feel about herself when she is older and wiser? She may have made a choice she regrets. The point is as a society we have determined that 14 is too young to make these types of decisions. Imagine how much damage you may have done to the psyche of this woman as an adult. Do Epstein and his cohorts even care? Again, I suggest you don’t hold your breath waiting for a mea culpa.
The reality should be that nobody is above the law, no matter how wealthy or famous they are, that they can’t buy off the law. But that isn’t really true. Now Epstein will face the music and his wealth or private jet, we trust, won’t save him any longer, but it will be a tortured accounting that may or may not see this monster jailed. The prosecutors say that these underage girls he ruined deserve to have their day in court and have him answer their questions. The reason why they agreed to going to his house is not relevant. He should never have asked. But it will be necessary for these brave women to confront the best defence that money can buy, and triumph, before much will change. We can only wish them well in that ordeal.
It’s time this picture of privilege and entitlement being a passport to depravity was changed. Because it’s not defensible to commit these heinous offences and it’s certainly not acceptable bragging about it to your rich mates. It’s cruel and illegal. I am sure the very wealthy have better and more beneficial things to do with their fortunes. If they want a buzz, then at least find an activity that is not harming innocent, vulnerable people in the process. There is no embarrassment to being wealthy, it’s what you do with your fortune that matters.
Like the rest of the sane world, I will follow this story in the hope this disgusting human being and his cronies never cast their evil shadow over civilised society again.