“The sin we condemn — the sinner … we try to understand.” – Adam Michnik (1946 – )
It has been said that prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. For instance, in 2400 B.C., the Sumerians listed prostitution in one the earliest lists of professions, and the practice of prostitution in ancient Rome was both legal and licensed, and even Roman men of the highest social status were free to engage prostitutes of either sex without incurring moral disapproval. In fact, rent from a brothel was considered a legitimate source of income in the Roman Empire.
In addition, Hammurabi’s Code (1780 B.C.) specifically mentioned the rights of a prostitute or the child of a prostitute.
And in 600 B.C. China, brothels were legal, while in Greece (594 BC) state brothels were founded and a prostitute’s earnings were taxed. Source: Historical Timeline – Prostitution
In fact, historically, “where there are soldiers, there are women who exist for them. In some ways, military prostitution (prostitution catering to, and sometimes organized by, the military) has been so commonplace that people rarely stop to think about how and why it is created, sustained, and incorporated into military life and warfare.” Source: The Asia Pacific Journal
That leads to when I was a 20-year old U.S. Marine in Okinawa on my way to fight in one of America’s endless wars, and I arrived a virgin who desperately didn’t want to be one. And when I left Okinawa for Vietnam, I had achieved a goal that hundreds-of-thousand—and maybe millions—in the US military have achieved both during peace time and war.
When I joined the US Marines, I was a high school graduate and an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy. I was not an intellectual—instead, I was a walking libido filled to overflowing with testosterone like so many of my fellow Marines.
I turned twenty-one in Vietnam, and up to that time Vietnam veterans were the best educated force the United States has ever sent into combat—79% had a high school education or better. Two-thirds of the men who served in Vietnam were volunteers, and 86 percent of those who died in Vietnam were Caucasians, 12.5% were black, and 1.2% were from other ethnic/racial groups.
If I had gone straight to Vietnam instead of spending a few weeks in Okinawa for additional training, I could have died a virgin—having never known what it was like to be sexually intimate with a woman.
And that reminds me of Mrs. Henderson Presents staring Judi Dench as Mrs. Laura Henderson who opens a theater in London during World War Two with an all-nude female review for the allied troops, because her son had died in combat a virgin, and she didn’t want these young men to die without having at least seen a young, nude woman at least once.
Before I shipped out to Vietnam, I never received any classes, lectures, in services or workshops on Southeast Asian culture and at that age—without a college education—I wasn’t curious or interested.
We were US Marines trained to kill. We weren’t there to study the culture. The only workshop I remember was one on how to avoid getting an STD and how dangerous one strain of syphilis/gonorrhea was in Vietnam.
We were told that if we were careless with a Vietnamese woman, it could be a very painful death sentence from a viral form of an STD that no drugs could cure.
In fact, I didn’t know anyone in my unit who expressed the slightest bit of interest in Vietnam’s culture or history. When we went on five days of R&R during our tour of combat—for example to Hong Kong, Thailand, Okinawa, Japan, or the Philippians—most of us were interested in only one thing: getting drunk and getting laid.
And the hundreds of thousands of US troops who felt the same way were not alone in history.
“According to Beth Bailey and David Farber, during the Second World War a large number of prostitutes in Hawaii, each servicing upward of 100 men a day, made a fiscal killing. Shackjobs, or long-term, paid relationships with women of Hawaiian or Filipino descent were also common among military personnel stationed in Hawaii (as they were later in Vietnam).”
And “during the war in Indochina, U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright and Sunday Times of London correspondent Murray Sayle maintained, independently of one another, that U.S. forces in South Vietnam had turned Saigon into a “brothel”—a reference to the estimated 500,000 Vietnamese prostitutes who served an approximately equal number of GI’s. John Brown University
“There were 20,000 prostitutes in Thailand in 1957; by 1964, after the United States established seven bases in the country, that number had skyrocketed to 400,000.” Prostitution in Thailand and Southeast Asia
“At the height of the US presence in the Philippines, for example, more than 60,000 women and children were employed in bars, night clubs and massage parlors around the Subic Bay and Clark Naval bases alone. Estimates of the total numbers of Filipina women and girls engaged in prostitution and other sex-based industries range between 300,000 and 600,000.” PeaceNews.info – Command and control: the economies of militarized prostitution
And if you think times have changed, read this: “As recently as 2002, a brothel in Australia closed their doors when a group of 5,500 U.S. Sailors coming back from a war zone stopped off in Australia. From the article: Mary-Anne Kenworthy said she was forced to close the doors of her famous Langtrees brothel for only the third time ever yesterday because her prostitutes were so worn out they could no longer provide a quality service.” Cause of Liberty – Prostitution
Do you condemn those who sinned—if it was a sin—or is it wrong to send a young virgin off to possibly die for his country while denying him the pleasure of a woman even if a prostitute was his only choice? What do you think?
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.
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Thanks for this great post, Lloyd, and for even mentioning Australia! We have been able to buy publicly-listed shares in “The Daily Planet” since 2003. If it’s not a sin to profit from it, why stigmatise the demand and supply? PS – unfortunately your video software isn’t licensed for non-US viewing.
You don’t have YouTube in Australia? I found all of these videos on YouTube and embedded them in the post. There is a risk using YouTube videos this way because sometimes the accounts are closed and then the embed goes dark.
Hi Lloyd, What a fast response! Yes, we have YouTube, but these clips are obviously only zoned for the US, I suppose. Not to worry, I’ll use my imagination 🙂
Maybe you could search for the titles of those videos on your YouTube.
I find this horrifying. I think your quote from the Asia Pacific Journal says it all: ‘where there are soldiers, there are women who exist for them’. This falsehood blatantly dehumanizes prostituted women.
No woman exists simply to please men. To believe this is to say that men’s sexual pleasure takes priority over women’s human rights – their right to live free from exploitation.
I doubt that any of the military men who pay for the services of a prostitute even think about women’s human rights or that they are exploiting these women, who mostly live in poverty and the wages they earn in the sex trade—as long as they are free to decide for themselves—is more than they will earn anywhere else.
This is a complex issue. If a woman who lives in a third world country in crushing poverty sees prostitution as their only escape, and she exercises her free will, that is her decision to make. However, if the woman is kidnapped into sex slavery, and trafficked against her will, then she is being more than dehumanized and exploited. She is being traumatized in the worst possible way.
You’re so right, Lloyd. This is a complex issue. We “westerners”, says I who live further east than Thailand, should try not to judge other nationalities’ values against our own.
There’s a large number of Australian veterans who met women in the Far East via prostitution or other pastimes which distracted them from the horror of their “day jobs” and have gone on to enjoy very happy marriages. These women live in a level of comfort and security they would never have known otherwise, so who’s to say they made their decision simply to please a man?
Prostitution has been a profession for thousands of years. The only reason prostitution is demonized and criminalized leading to human trafficking and sexual slavery is because of those who think they have the right to dictate through legislation how the rest of us must live our lives. This comes about from two elements in society that I can identify: religion and one element of the feminist movement that refuses to see men for what they are, a product of nature with a libido and genetically designed to produce testosterone and a sex drive that attracts those men to women.
If prostitution were legalized and accepted as a profession for women who, through their own free will, decide this is the best choice they have in life and the one the trade they want to work in, then there would be little or no human trafficking—the slavery—of children, women and even men into the illegal sex trade controlled by the same drug cartels that sell illegal drugs. If prostitution were legal, then these women, who choose of their own free will to work in this industry, would be eligible for health care, social security and a retirement plan.
I think this is what Australia has done.
Hello Lloyd, just stumbled across your site. The years have passed quickly. I hope you are happy and healthy.
It was quite a surprise to see my picture while sleeping in Chu Lai (our house photo).
Wow, Corporal Shears—you were a corporal back then, right? I think you were taller and better looking then me too.
Thank you for hoping that my life has been happy and healthy. It hasn’t been perfect, but I don’t think I have the right to complain considering what’s going on in the world.
How has your life been since 1966? I never knew your first or middle name. What’s the M. stand for, if you don’t mind.
Your e-mail address gave away some of those years since 1966. It looks like you are in a family business called Western Pilot Service that fights forest fires—now I think there are some stories there.
After leaving the Marines in 68, I went to college on the GI Bill and earned a BA in journalism. Eventually, I ended up teaching in the public schools for thirty years.
I kept digging and discovered what you did after the Marines and the history of Western Pilot Service. It looks like you’ve lived an amazing life. Being a writer, I smell a book/film.
Looks like the GI bill was good to us both. I learned to fly on the GI bill after two years at a JC. Prior to that I was a fireman for the city of Fullerton, Ca.
A little quiet at Fullerton so flying turned into years of crop dusting and a little overseas work for the State Dept. I started Western Pilot Service in 1994 and have been fighting wild fires ever since.
I still see Nick Sesma once in a while, he is also in the Phoenix area.
My first name is Maxim, but have used Beryl prior to and after USMC.
Hit my email and will send my cell number
Thanks for all the years teaching