Boy's Night Out: Sex, Slavery and Empowerment in Ancient Rome
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
Dr. John K. Evans
Professor of History, Department of History