In the dawn hours of January 18, 1778, on his third expedition, British explorer Captain James Cook on the HMS Resolution and Captain Charles Clerke of the HMS Discovery first sighted what Cook named the Sandwich Islands (that were later named the Hawaiian Islands.)
The next day, “we were in some doubt whether or not the land before us was inhabited; but this doubt was soon cleared up, by seeing some canoes coming off from the shore, toward the ships, I immediately brought-to, to give them time to join us. They had from three to six men each”.
“I tied some brass medals to a rope, and gave them to those in one of the canoes, who, in return, tied some small mackerel to the rope as an equivalent.”
“This was repeated ; and some small nails, or bits of iron, which they valued more than any other article, were given them. For these they exchanged more fish, and a sweet potatoe; a sure sign that they had some notion of bartering; or, at least, of returning one present for another.” (Cook Journal, at time of ‘Contact,’ )
While Cook bartered for provisions, his crew was already familiar with trading iron nails for sex. (Hansen) “Women were also forbidden to be admitted into the ships, except under certain restrictions. But the evil I meant to prevent (venereal disease,) by this regulation, I soon found, had already got amongst them.” (Cook)
Captain Cook, in his log of 1778, noted that native Hawaiian women would swim out to his ships, hoping to engage his crews sexually; thereafter, most randy seamen anticipated arrival at Hawaiian ports-of-call. (Waihona)
Archibald Campbell, an 1809 visitor to Hawai’i, noted the Hawaiians were “very jealous of any improper connexion between natives and their wives; but the case is widely different with respect to their visiters, where connexion of that kind is reckoned the surest proof of friendship, and they are always anxious to strengthen it by that tie.” (Campbell)
Prostitution, as it now would be defined, was nonexistent in pre-Western contact Hawai‘i, because sexual partners were readily available for mutual enjoyment.
After Western contact occurred, the females continued to openly want sex, now with the mana-loaded sailors and traders. The early mediums of exchange were nails or shirts.
These males advocated bartering for sex, and with no religious or social restrictions against prostitution, the natives had no hesitancy about profiting from the newcomers’ desires. (Diamond)
“The seaman, after wandering over the pathless ocean, with only the dark waste of waters in view, might well recognize a paradise in the green hills and shady groves of the islands of the Pacific, and angels in their dusky denizens.”
“It is admitted by all that licentiousness prevails extensively among the people even at present, but to a far less degree than formerly, when promiscuous intercourse was universal.”
“Men were living with several wives, and vice versa. All improvement in this respect is to be ascribed to the labors of Christian missionaries.”
“It was not merely polygamy or excess among a few of the more powerful members of the community, but the ordinary habit among all classes.”
“Chastity, whenever met with, was not a customary part of woman’s life, but only an incident dependent On particular circumstances; in fact, an abnormal condition.” (Sanger)
In the early nineteenth century, makaʻāinana women flocked to the European ships and port towns in large numbers to partake in the lucrative trade in sexual services. This was one of the few ways that makaʻāinana could acquire foreign goods since the aliʻi controlled other forms of trade. (Merry)
Many Hawaiian women boarded the ships coming to port here. They did not think that such associations were wrong … The husbands and parents, not knowing that it would bring trouble, permitted such association for foreign men because of the desire for clothing, mirrors, scissors, knives, iron hoops from which to form fishhooks and nails. (ʻIʻi; Merry)
The first attempt to change the sexual behavior of Hawaiian women was an attack on prostitution with European seamen. This endeavor earned the missionaries the undying hostility of the small but growing mercantile community and the visiting shipping community while failing to eliminate the sex trade. (Merry)
In December, 1827, drafted by Kaʻahumanu and scrutinized for Christian propriety by Hiram Bingham, a set of prohibitions were proscribed (murder, theft, adultery, prostitution, gambling, and the sale of alcoholic spirits.) Folks fought it.
“The leading one of these elements was the combination of lewd and intemperate whites, headed by the British and American consuls, in order to break down the new laws against prostitution and drunkenness.” (Missionary Herald, 1905) Prostitution didn’t stop.
At a time, “Local law enforcement condoned and controlled the activities, under the guise that it was “a public necessity.” “The whole of Iwilei makai of the Oʻahu Prison has been used for the purpose of prostitution for some time past.” (Special Legislative Committee Report, 1905)
These women did not live at Iwilei; they only went there in the evenings, and then returned to their uptown homes at night. Some had homes of their own, others were servants of families; but all went back to town. They were in no sense isolated; Iwilei was not their home; they neither eat nor sleep there. (Special Legislative Committee Report, 1905)
“The High Sheriff of the Territory, through his agents, has ordered all of such women (prostitutes) that are found in different parts of the City, and also in some portions of Iwilei, to move to one particular part as follows: on the makai side of Iwilei rice mill, and on the Ewa side of the Iwilei road.” (Special Legislative Committee Report, 1905)
The Iwilei brothels (or “boogie houses,” as they were also called back then) were later forced to relocate to Hotel Street and a few adjoining parts of Chinatown. By 1916, the Iwilei Stockade was shut down.
Shortly thereafter, there was an unofficial system of regulated prostitution in the Islands, with the also unofficial sanction of the military. Army military police and the Navy shore patrol helped monitor it.
All girls had to live in the houses where they worked; no white girls were allowed on the other side of River Street. The Army, Navy, and civilian police picketed any house violating the rules, and no man could enter it. According to the agreement, the civil police regulated prostitution “with full cooperation by the Army and Navy.” Greer)
“The business of procuring girls to work in the brothels, or “factories”, before the war (WWII,) was usually handled by the same … “procurer.” He handled nothing but the transportation of the girls. … The fee for procuring a girl from the mainland rage(d) from $500 to $1,000 depending on the looks and the capability of the girl.” (O’Hara)
All of the girls have a Territorial tax book and a Territorial license (they were licensed as ‘entertainers,’) which cost each $1 per year. In addition, every month the Vice Squad would collect an unofficial tax of $30 per girl from the brothels.
Follow Peter T Young on Facebook
Follow Peter T Young on Google+
Follow Peter T Young on LinkedIn
Follow Peter T Young on Blogger
Leave your comment here: