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Unsubmissive women : Chinese prostitutes in nineteenth-century San Francisco /
by Benson Tong.
Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, c1994.
xix, 300 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
0806126531 (alk. paper)
More Details
Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, c1994.
0806126531 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. [257]-292) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1994-09-01:
Tong (U.S. history, Univ. of Toledo) makes extensive use of primary sources and government documents to trace the tragic circumstances of Chinese prostitutes in San Francisco. His focus is the period 1849-82, which represents the first phase of Chinese involvement with the vice trade in California. Chinese men in search of economic relief came to the American West, leaving wives and families behind. The economic hardships of Chinese families at home and the loneliness of Chinese men in California created a thriving market in young Chinese women, most of whom were either indentured or sold by their families or simply kidnapped. This first book-length study of Chinese prostitutes in the American West is a valuable addition to history and women's study collections. Two related works on prostitution in the West are Anne M. Butler's Daughters of Joy, Sisters of Misery (LJ 3/1/85) and Jacqueline B. Barnhart's The Fair but Frail (Univ. of Nevada Pr., 1986).-Linda V. Carlisle, Southern Illinois Univ., Edwardsville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 1995-02:
Tong has studied Chinese prostitutes in 19th-century San Francisco by using a social historian's tools, tracing geographical location and socioeconomic conditions. This is possible since prostitution was considered a job and prostitutes declared their profession as did other workers. He finds basic differences between the first half of the century, when the West was in social flux, prostitutes were able to become entrepreneurs, and there was freer competition in the trade, and the second, after the Chinese Exclusion Act, when gangs organized commercial sexual exploitation and government discriminated against Chinese and marginalized prostitutes. Such a book is best when comparative, and Tong's greatest contribution is his comparison of the living conditions of Chinese and Caucasian prostitutes. Caucasian women had more choice in entering their field and were more able to earn enough to buy property. As time went on, women in both groups began to work in nonsexual professions; the age of prostitutes declined over time. (Fewer married Chinese than non-Chinese prostitutes remained in the profession.) Tong sees the Chinese prostitutes as displaying the "powers of the weak," as active, opposing their oppression. This book would have been even more useful had Tong also compared Chinese to other nonwhite women, such as Mexicans. Although the nature of the historical materials of marginalized people tends to make it impossible for the author to control his material, Tong is to be congratulated for using such a wide range of materials to arrive at sensitive conclusions. Both general and academic readers at all levels. J. W. Salaff; University of Toronto
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, September 1994
Reference & Research Book News, December 1994
Choice, February 1995
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