By Miriam Cordova
Only a couple weeks after his sixth Super Bowl win, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged with two counts of soliciting sex from a prostitute. Former Citigroup president John Childs and other private equity firm owners received similar charges in relation to a sex slavery ring that is run through spas across the US.
Orchids of Asia is located on the edge of a bourgeois area in the town of Jupiter, Florida. At least 25 men were charged for buying sex there.
Women were living in the storefront, and nearby business owners reported that they looked emaciated and did not speak when entering and exiting. Reports emerged that one woman “kept her head down,” a behavior which is notoriously coerced by pimps onto enslaved women, signifying that they are not allowed to look at men who are not paying for their time and especially not those who may compete for the ability to pimp them.
Two Asian women, one in her late fifties and the other forty years old, were charged with “maintaining a house of prostitution, deriving support from the money generated from prostitution crimes,” and other charges. Many spa brothels are now operated by women in the front to cover the oppression and exploitation of women behind closed doors.
According to the police reports there were at least three women pimped out here at a time, and the police reported that many of them may have been brought from China under false pretenses of legitimate jobs. They were blackmailed with the threat of danger to their families and it was believed that they were “working to pay off debt for what it cost them to come to [the] US.”
In other words, these women were not being paid in the form of money, only in means of subsistence to maintain survival and the ability to bring in more revenue. Their relation to production is that of slavery.
The investigation into Orchids of Asia started in online discussion forums where police looked for the keyword “rub and tug,” which customers would assign only to spas engaging in prostitution. From there police performed stake outs for hours on end and stopped customers for minor traffic violations after they left the spa. They got johns to admit to the oral and manual sex that they had just paid for.
Based on that evidence, police planted cameras in the spa after evacuating it under the guise of a “bomb threat.” Most of the prosecuting evidence was obtained from that video camera footage.
Johns are guilty of participating in the sexual objectification of women but are not the root of it. The logical conclusion of placing primary blame for the trade on the johns is the bourgeois “supply and demand” argument, that wherever men want to buy sex, its sale will inevitably emerge. Such bourgeois arguments are used by pimps and their collaborators to justify the organization of sex slavery, claiming prostitution will exist as long as the demand for it does.
Since this “demand” is measured by male sexual desire, the argument goes that it will never cease, but there is no eternal human sexual nature, and johns would not have access to prostitutes without there being a global imperialist sex industry.
Orchids of Asia is not an anomaly. “Spas” like it can be found in many US cities and their neighboring small towns, and the root is imperialism. The US and other imperialist countries exploit and occupy many East Asian countries, making it easier for both foreign and domestic pimps to kidnap and enslave women from those countries. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Asian Development Bank are also complicit in this sex trade, encouraging these oppressed nations to develop their entertainment and sex industries to pay off national debts.
The police have not charged nor arrested any of the women at Orchids of Asia. With this maneuver, police claim to be advocates for the women, directing their efforts at the johns. But no number of arrested johns nor police can bring justice for women enslaved by the sex industry.
Though in this case the johns include the ranks of the bourgeoisie, the police’s comment that “the monsters are the men” draws the focus away from the slavemaster pimps. As long as the analysis remains focused on the johns and prostitutes without going deeper, the bourgeoisie is satisfied because the society that gives rise to prostitution and benefits from it remains intact.
The bourgeois justice system confines the issue to an interpersonal one, where the answer lies in prosecuting individuals and stops there rather than getting to the root of this fundamentally anti-woman industry. One of the police interviewed was obliged to admit that their operations are barely making a dent.
The men prosecuted in February will get a slap on the wrist and will get some bad press, but this will not stop the purchase of women. Much like the war on drugs, it will only perpetuate the illusion that the police are doing everything they can to stop it.
Revolutionary organizations must take up this fight against the pimps orchestrating the sale of women in the US. This must take the form primarily of reconstituting the Communist Party and secondarily in the creation of revolutionary women’s organizations that achieve and consolidate the power necessary to take on pimps and their organized crime syndicates directly. This is in the best interest not only of prostitutes but of all women.