Thursday, September 19, 2019

Review of "Upstairs Girls: Prostitution in the American West," by Michael Rutter

Review of

Upstairs Girls: Prostitution in the American West, by Michael Rutter, ISBN 9781560373575

Five out of five stars

 Prostitution is one of the professions that will always be practiced, independent of the level of civilization in the area. Even when there is strong law and order, the demand will always create the supply. This is especially true in environments where there are few women, the only way that the sexual desires of the men can be satisfied is if at least some of the women provide sexual service to many men. That was the case in the American frontier, where the towns sprang up as a consequence of some form of legitimate business along with the illegitimate ones and single men flocked to the region, there were always women that followed to provide their sexual services.

 There were many polite euphemisms in the American western frontier for prostitutes, one of the politest was “upstairs girl.” This book is a documented history of how the profession was practiced as well as short biographies of some of the most famous women in the field. Since a few of them had significant relationships with some of the most notorious outlaws and lawmen, those men are also part of the profiles.

 While a few of the women did make significant money, most of which ran the bordellos, nearly all of the women who practiced the art were slowly broken and destroyed. It is a sad fact of history that for most of these women, it was the best life they could make. This is especially true for the Chinese women, nearly all of which were essentially slaves. Held in housing that was literally a cage, most did not last long, rapidly losing their youthful appearance, being nothing more than a pleasure hole with appendages.

 This is a book about a dark reality that unfortunately still exists, one of the most lucrative areas of human trafficking is for prostitution, where women are coerced and manipulated into a life as what is now called a sex worker.

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