Boy's Night Out: Sex, Slavery and Empowerment in Ancient Rome

Dr. John K. Evans
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In SEX SLAVES: THE TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN IN ASIA, Louise Brown studies the customers of contemporary Asian sex workers. Asian migrants in large numbers periodically have sex with brothel prostitutes. For these poor, culturally isolated and lonely men, "sex grants them, for a moment, the unaccustomed thrill of power over another human being" (38). Graffiti from Roman Pompeii demonstrate that slaves were regular customers in the city's bars and brothels. In contrast, the free-born clients who are so prominent in literary sources are virtually invisible here. A graffito allowed the slave to escape from perpetual anonymity, and in the brothel money made the servile customer, for a moment, the master of his domain. Rural slaves were generally denied sexual or other pleasures, and this dichotomy explains to some extent why the occasional rural slave revolt did not spill over into city streets. Students of slavery in other cultures, therefore, may also find empowerment to be a useful analytic tool when exploring slave rebellions.

Keywords: Prostitution, Sex, Empowerment, Slavery, Rebellion
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. John K. Evans

Professor of History, Department of History
The University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

John K. Evans is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Minnesota, and author of WAR, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN IN ANCIENT ROME, as well as numerous articles on the Roman peasantry and women in antiquity. His current interest is the history of prostitution in antiquity, with a strong comparative focus on southeast and south Asia.

Ref: I07P0668