Yeeshan Yang has worked in journalism, filmmaking and publishing while conducting anthropological research.
Motivated by the fact that not only is modern society ready to tolerate prostitution but also to return its dignity that has been previously denied by thousands of years of abuse, Yang embarked on a mission to investigate the change in attitudes as well as the reality that presently exists in Hong Kong. The result is a comprehensive exploration that has been put together in her Whispers and Moans: Interviews with the men and women of Hong Kong’s sex industry. The format employed by Yang is a juxtaposition of academic study and storytelling.
The problem Yang initially faced, as she states in her introductory chapter, was what to write and how to write. Apparently, there is very little reference material available pertaining to Hong Kong prostitutes, even in academic publications.
Consequently, in order to gain access to prostitutes and interview them, Yang volunteered with a Catholic woman’s group known as Blue Bird. This organization was established in 1983 with the mission to love and care for prostitutes so that one day they would be able to stand up for their own rights like any other professional. However, before being accepted, Yang was required to follow a training program and as she states, she learned a great deal from the training and it even corrected her habit of asking people, “what do for a living” when she met prostitutes for the first time.
Topics covered and examined include the life of street hookers, ruthless competition from Chinese women coming from mainland China, transsexuals, the law pertaining to prostitution, gangsters who control the sex trade, the importation of the Japanese style nightclub, life of a hostess, changing style of sex practices among prostitutes as it moves away from the time-honored approach of the coquette, comparisons between Japanese and Chinese sex practices among prostitutes, alternative sex practices, selling fertility, the role of pimps, relationship between prostitutes and their lovers, male prostitutes and gigolos, emotional and financial strains prostitutes endure.
Yang points out, it is quite difficult to ascertain how many prostitutes there are in Hong Kong today. We also are not quite sure which age group constitutes the majority and how many years do they actually stay in the profession. Furthermore, if you believe that by checking police records you will find your answers, think again, as the number of arrested prostitutes bears little relation to the actual number working.
Yang further mentions that although she has studied sex workers for many years, she has come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a ‘prostitute mentality’- “The prostitute’s world is a microcosm of a gigantic, complicated capitalist society. Maybe I have learned nothing more than if I had written about human psychology under a capitalist system.”
Yang concludes her study by stating that if prostitutes have the looks and the right mentality, and are ready to prey on society, perhaps they will find that prostitution is indeed a win-win game of sex and money. Nobody will be entitled to look down on them.
However, she does offer a stern warning in that she counsels these women by saying that the three biggest traps that many have fallen prey are: dying for face, dying for love, and living today without a plan for tomorrow.
Indeed it would be interesting to know how Yang would compare prostitution in Hong Kong with Europe or North America. However, perhaps that is for another study that she may very well take up some time in the future.
The above review was contributed by:The Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com, Norm Goldman, B.A. LL.L, Retired Title Attorney: Norm is also a travel writer and together with his artist wife, Lily, the couple meld Norm's words with Lily's art. To check out their travel site click on Sketchandtravel.comClick here to view Norm’s Reviews & Interviews.
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