It was more than a year ago that I first wrote that women’s liberation is more properly called women’s prostitution. At the time, I was saying it with evidence culled from personal experience and from traditionalist intuition, but I am now both pleased and horrified to say that I can buttress the statement with some apt historical facts, too.
A friend of mine doing research on historical sex roles in the United States sent me some interesting links describing the behaviors and lifestyle of 19th century “painted ladies” of the Wild West. Here’s an excerpt worth quoting in full:
In my second post I clarified that I was referring to prostitutes in the western states of the USA, where, in the nineteenth century, prostitutes achieved virtually every goal of early feminism.
At a time when women were barred from most jobs and wives had no legal right to own property, women like Jennie Rogers and Mattie Silks, the queens of Denver’s red-light district, owned large tracts of land and prized real estate.
Prostitutes made, by far, the highest wages of all American women. Several madams were so wealthy that they funded irrigation and road-building projects that laid the foundation for the New West. Jessie Hayman, Tessie Wall, and other madams in San Francisco fed and clothed thousands of people left homeless by the 1906 earthquake. Decades before American employers offered health insurance to their workers, madams across the West provided their employees with free health care.
While women were told that they could not and should not protect themselves from violence, and wives had no legal recourse against being raped by their husbands, police officers were employed by madams to protect the women who worked for them, and every madam owned and knew how to use guns.
While feminists were seeking to free women from the “slavery” of patriarchal marriage, prostitutes married later in life and divorced more frequently than other American women. While women were taught that they belonged in the “private sphere,” prostitutes traveled extensively, often by themselves, and were brazenly “public women.”
Long before social dancing in public was considered acceptable for women, prostitutes in the West invented many of the steps that would become all the rage during the dance craze of the 1910s. When gambling and public drinking were forbidden for most women, prostitutes were fixtures in Western saloons and they became some of the most successful gamblers in the nation.
Most ironically, the makeup, clothing, and hair styles of western prostitutes, which were maligned for their overt sexuality (lipstick was “the scarlet shame of street-walkers”), became widely fashionable among American women and are now so respectable that even First Ladies wear them.
So respectable now that even First Ladies do it. Doesn’t that say it all? In an age when the sitting president’s daughter is shaking her bare ass at cameras and the likely next president’s wife is plastered all over the news in a nude girl-on-girl photoshoot, it’s nearly impossible to remember what generations past thought of how women should behave themselves in public.
Suppose I hadn’t just showed my hand by telling you the following characteristics were all associated with 19th century frontier prostitutes, and try to think of what the following list would conjure in your mind:
- Owns property.
- Likes free health care.
- Marries later in life.
- Divorces frequently.
- Travels extensively, often alone.
- Avid and inventive social dancer.
- Fixture in “saloons” (read: bars and night clubs).
- Brazen and public.
- Wears lipstick.
- Overtly sexual makeup, clothing, and hairstyle.
Not so different from the average empowered feminist woman of today, no?
Granted, some things are notably different. The average liberated woman is usually not a fan of owning and using guns, but that’s because they’re even bigger fans of living in lily-white urban enclaves surrounded by effeminate men — not raucous cowboys. They’re also usually not successful gamblers or land owners, but they’ve more than made that up by being drug users and earning male salaries.
Aside from those two things, the average post-feminism woman of today has adopted every hallmark of the 19th century frontier prostitute. Decline alarmism is worth tempering, but it’s difficult to claim that a social shift like this is actually a good thing. I can hardly think of a way to more unambiguously demonstrate that social standards and cohesion have collapsed in the last two centuries, and especially in the last 50 years since the sexual revolution of 1969.
Of course, I am not the first one to make the argument that feminism turns decent women into prostitutes. I am not even the first one to notice this particular pattern at Social Matter. 19th century Americans had good reasons to look down on the behaviors and attitudes of prostitutes and I am certain they articulated them extremely well, extremely loudly, and decisively proved beyond a reasonable doubt that their arguments were superior to the defenders and supporters of powerful prostitutes and feminists. I am also sure that they lost anyway and that we are living in the aftermath.
The traditional view in the 19th century was that women should not own property, should be married early, should never divorce, should be modest, should remain near male relatives, should not hang out in or near bars or saloons, etc. This view was not born from arbitrary misogyny; it was born from a desire to keep ordinary women unassociated with prostitutes and the 19th century equivalents of strippers and camgirls.
That lipstick and the rest of the markers of prostitutes had such a bad reputation was not because of the arbitrary whims of The Patriarchy™, but because they facilitated prostitution. Women who owned property and used guns had more power than a lot of men, and therefore found it more difficult to find an appropriately dominant husband. Women who “painted” themselves with makeup and wore sexual clothing and hairstyles attracted all kinds of men, but didn’t make it easier to get married to any single one.
Women who got married later were at risk of never getting married at all, and in any case would limit their reproductive potential and therefore their mates — who wants to marry an aged woman, especially an aged prostitute, if they can marry a young, normal woman and have twice as many kids? Traveling alone and hanging around watering holes just tempts the loins and everyone knows it, and so on. All these basically anti-social and destructive behaviors used to be the domain of open prostitutes, but are now the domain of the high status “liberated” woman.
Is there more? Of course there is:
Inevitably, painted ladies had children, though attempts were made at birth control which was very primitive at the time. By the 1840s women could purchase Portuguese Female Pills (an abortion pill) or Madame Restell’s Preventive Powders, but it is unclear how effective these were.
(…) the most common form of birth control was abortion, which had also spread as a form of birth control to even the “respectable women.” In the years between 1850 and 1870 one historian estimated that one abortion was performed for every five to six live births in America.
If they were lucky, a courtesan would marry well and retire with enough money for a comfortable and respectable lifestyle. Those who married would normally become instantly “respectable” as it was considered impolite in the Old West to ask of a person’s background and most people were too busy to care.
So in addition to pioneering nightlife, late marriage, divorce, traveling, dancing, makeup, sexual dress, and the planks of feminism, 19th century American prostitutes also pioneered abortion and birth control. The quoted author above mentions that abortion had even spread to “respectable women,” but it’s clear what the vector of transmission was.
Respectable women didn’t start aborting their kids and then unfairly discriminating against sex workers who did the same. Sex workers aborted their kids because of their promiscuous and unhealthy sexual habits, and then melded into the general population as they got older, perpetuating and spreading the habit as well as cheapening the reputation of actual respectable women, since nobody wanted to admit that prostitution was tacitly tolerated and that ex-prostitutes (or not even ex-, possibly) were allowed back into respectable society after plying a degenerate trade.
The other main difference is that in 1866 abortion, birth control, overt sexuality, “partying” as we think of it today, and the like were considered unambiguously bad, and were tolerated as an unfortunate fact of human nature at best and violently suppressed at worst. Today, between the decades of sophistic pronouncements of the Supreme Court and the allied assault on traditional culture by the Cathedral, the raft of bad behaviors associated in 1866 with unrepentant syphilitic whores have become enshrined as fundamental human rights in law and furthermore celebrated as expressions of piety towards the ostensibly humanistic religion of social progressivism.
That is not just a condemnation of the very concept of human rights, but of the entire formal and informal apparatus of government of the United States, as well as the ideals of progressivism.
Anyone who listens to Ryan Landry’s Weimerica Weekly podcast might even be convinced that contemporary empowered women are worse than 19th century prostitutes. Between the hellish trends of young female teachers having sex with their students and the media gearing up to normalize literal prostitution, they’ve got a good argument going. Tinder, Seeking Arrangement, and the rest of the click-swipe-bang(-pay) crowd have already put us a good part of the way there.
The only question is if in another 25 years people will still remember at all that prostitution used to be considered a bad thing. For the sake of the good and decent women left out there, I sure hope so.