I always joke to my friends that I’ll open up a brothel one day.

An eavesdropper would automatically assume that I’m a wanton lass with loose morals.
‘She’s going to hell.’
She’s crazy!
She’s evil.
Burn her!

I’ve adopted a new policy into my personal manifesto lately.
Never complain. Never explain.
Behind a seemingly questionable decision,
may lie a perfectly valid reason.
There are always two sides to the same coin.
Don’t make an ass out of me and you.
Don’t assume.

My earliest best friend was a chubby Caucasian girl.
We would go to the local park after school and just sit and talk on the seesaw.
I think we were in grade 1 at the time.
She would bring up these strange programs she came across on TV during the night.
Naturally, I was curious about what she was talking about.
And so I hunted for these strange images while my father was sleeping on the couch.
I didn’t understand it at the time.

My second childhood best friend was an Asian girl from mainland China.
I used to go to her home after school to hang out.
This was in grade 3.
She asked me one time if she could try something on me that she had seen on TV.
And there went my first kiss.

I found myself growing up curious about courtesans and prostitutes.
I remember watching many documentaries on brothels, human trafficking and sex tourism.
TV dramas and films about women who became spies.
Who used their bodies as a weapon to get intel.
To protect their countries against foreign invasion.
Stories of women who sold their time and art.
Who practiced their craft with a strict precision.
Much like the Geisha who is still highly revered today.

There was a strip club situated within a 10 minute walking distance to my middle school.
It was not uncommon to see scantily clad women on the street corners.
And strange, questionable people hanging around doing nothing.
I remember finding syringes and condoms on the ground.
Something I don’t think that preteens should be exposed to.

It is also not uncommon for some women in Vietnam to marry off to the other wealthier countries.
They do it for a small dowry and hopes of being able to send money home.
Sometimes they are forced to do it by their own families.

I brought up this topic once to my Godfather.
He told me he’d heard stories of how some women are being treated worst than a prostitute.
That they would have to service the entire family of men.
That they themselves,
would have to work meager jobs to feed their husband instead.
The women who initially thought they were marrying men who had wanted children and to start a family.
These are men who are often considered unmarriageable by their own local women.

I came across a story of this man who traveled to China to find his missing friends.
It gives me hope that they are not forgotten.

I don’t condemn these women and their choices.
Nor will I resort to any name calling and slander.
They are not dirty.
And they are not whores.
To me, they are Courtesans.

So I would like to make an amendment to the very first line of this entry.

That I would like to instead, open a tea house one day.
Where women can come and safely sell their art.
Whether that be dance, song or conversation.
Where they do not have to demand the dignity that they deserve.

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