The Checkylist of Albion, Part 9

This section deals with prostitution and pornography. I might be paranoid, but I’m going to go ahead and label this NSFW.

I mean, do you really want to explain what you’re reading should the boss happen to look over your shoulder?

Prostitution & Pornography

a)      Statement: If your species reproduces sexually, there will be prostitution.

b)      Is prostitution legal?

i)        If so:

(1)   Is it regulated?
My gut says no – if the authorities get wind of other crimes being committed in the brothel (customers being robbed, young women being kidnapped/raped and forced into prostitution, murder), they’ll investigate, but brothels are not automatically subject to higher scrutiny or regulation.

(a)    Who regulates it?

(b)   Why?
The government doesn’t care enough, honestly – prostitutes are as low as you can get, socially, and there’s a strong enough stigma attached to visiting prostitutes that if something bad befalls you while you’re there, well, that’s just Wright getting back at you for disobeying his laws.

(2)   How does the church feel about its legalization?
Oh, the Church HATES that! (Officially, that is. Some cannier members *coughcoughBrotherTuckcoughcough* realize that having the prostitutes around and their services legal makes for very good sermon-material, really gets the folks riled up.)

(a)    Why?
The Wrightian faith is not what I would call a sex-positive religion. While they understand the necessity of sex (no other way to make babies, and babies are the easiest way to get little Wrightians), they aren’t too keen on it – time spent having sex, unless the couple is actively trying to have a child, would be better spent on more “holy” endeavors. Because the Church refuses to believe that sex can ever be properly separate from its procreative aspect (regardless of what its members are up to), they think that sex should never be practiced outside of the bounds of marriage (since, to them, a heterosexual, patriarchal married environment is the best for raising children). Prostitution, then, which advocates sheer sexual pleasure (well … for one partner, at least) without any attached responsibility or “holy” aim, is pretty close to the worst possible form of sex there is.

(3)   Are there establishments?

(a)    Do they have to hold a license or something to allow those services?
No – you can pretty much just get some women (because male prostitution is unheard of in Albion, at least in a brothel setting – I leave open the possibility that a lower-ranked male might use sex with a higher-ranked female to advance in some way), hang a shingle outside your door, and as long as the price and the women are compatible, you’ve got yourself a working brothel!

(b)   Are they healthy?
It depends on the establishment. Marigold’s brothel is relatively healthy because she cares about her girls – women in other establishments might not be so lucky. However, in all establishments there is a very, very real risk of disease.

(c)    Is routine medical care part of the requirements for their job?
No. Somebody like Marigold will make sure her girls are taken care of if they get sick, but … not everybody is like Marigold.

(d)   What happens if a prostitute catches an STD?
Depends on the STD and the establishment. There’s no testing available – if a woman looks and acts healthy, it’s assumed that she’s healthy. So she could pass on that STD to quite a few people if it doesn’t have obvious symptoms. In harsher establishments, a woman who is obviously sick with some kind of STD could be thrown out onto the street – in a place like Marigold’s, the woman would probably get some medical care and not be responsible of “tending” to the customers. (She could tend the bar or entertain the men waiting on one of the other girls.)

(e)    What happens if she gets pregnant?
She gives birth and the Church takes the baby, unless she has relatives to whom she can pass the baby along to.

(f)    Is birth control available to them?
There are some tricks to the trade, but they’re not particularly reliable – and most of these girls can’t afford the good birth control.

(4)   Are there freelancers?
Someday, there will be courtesans, and maybe even a streetwalking prostitute if the storyline provides for it. (Note: courtesan =/= a nobleman or wealthy merchant’s mistress – courtesans usually have multiple clients, though, if the money’s good enough, they may decide to become a mistress to one man.) I’ll be answering most of these questions from the perspective of a courtesan – for a streetwalking prostitute, a good rule of thumb would be “assume they have it worse than the women in the establishments.”

(a)    Do they have to hold a license or something to practice their trade?

(b)   Are they healthy?
Yes, for the most part – if you’re known to have/spread a disease, you’re not going to attract the rich men who are a courtesan’s bread and butter.

(c)    Is routine medical care part of the requirement for their job?
It’s not a requirement in the sense that you’ll get thrown into jail if you don’t, but routine medical care will keep you healthy and working longer, plus not having an STD will help you land those rich customers.

(d)   What happens if a prostitute catches an STD?
Depending on the STD, she would probably take some time off/get medical advice and try to get it to clear up. If it doesn’t clear up, but isn’t obvious to a partner, she might wade back into the pool if she needed money. Of course, if there are no obvious symptoms, she’ll continue to work as normal and probably infect others.

(e)    What happens if she gets pregnant?
Depends on the courtesan and circumstances. They can afford relatively safe abortifacients, so some might choose to go that route (hey, they’re already damned in the eyes of the Church anyway). Others might opt to continue the pregnancy – maybe keeping and caring for the child no matter what the gender, or only keeping the child if it was a girl to induct into the “family business.” Depending upon the probable identity of the father, they might use the pregnancy to wrangle from him a more permanent arrangement or possibly even marriage. Like I said, it depends.

(f)    Is birth control available to them?
Oh yes. They get the good stuff!

(5)   Do prostitutes pay taxes?
Yes. Brothels pay the regular vagrant rate, and courtesans, being part of the Guild, pay the regular merchant rate. (See On Indentureships, Guilds and Movin’ On Up for more info on this topic.)

(a)    Why?
There are two certainties in life – death and taxes. The government will get some money from you no matter who you are.

(b)   If so, are they fair?
I think so, at the very least, they’re not paying any more or less than anyone else in their social class.

ii)      Is there child prostitution? (Reality says, unfortunately, yes.)
I’m going with reality, so I’ll say yes.

(1)   Assuming this is illegal, which I would hope, at what age does prostitution become legal?

(2)   Are there child brothels?
Since Albion is so small – both in terms of population and square mileage – I’m going to say, for the moment and foreseeable future, no. There’s not that much of a market, and the country is small enough that it would be hard to “melt into the crowd” and keep it a secret. However, there are child brothels in Reme and Glasonland.

(a)    Assuming that these are shunned, what would be the consequences of being caught in such an establishment?
It would depend on who you were, but there would be some significant consequences – probably not death, but certainly not just a slap on the wrist. The people who actually run this places, however, would probably be facing the death penalty for a multitude of reasons (kidnapping if applicable, allowing/raping a child, etc.).

(i)     Would there be jail time?
Probably, unless you were wealthy or influential enough to avoid it. There would also be heavy fines to go along with the jail time.

(ii)   Does this change based on religion?
Not really, one religion – though you can bet your ass that if a monk or nun was caught in a child brothel for any reason other than trying to shut the place down, there would be MAJOR consequences with both the religious and secular authorities! (Religious consequences would probably involve getting thrown out of your order, and thus forfeiting whatever protections it might bring you from the secular authorities – who would probably proceed to throw the book at you to make an example of you.)

  1. Why?
    You spend most of your life going around all holier-than-thou, and then you get caught with your pants … er, hosen down in a child brothel? People are going to be pissed, and for damn good reason!

(iii) Does this change based on social standing?
You’re more likely to get away with a reduced or no penalty if you’re of higher social standing – unless you’re running the place.

  1. Why?
    Well, wealthier people are more likely to have a good lawyer and get off entirely, or have the lawyer argue for some kind of reduced sentence. However, if you’re running the place and are convicted of doing so, the consequences will probably be quite severe, in order to set an example. There are some things that the Pendragons will not tolerate, even from the highest members of their society, and child prostitution would be one of them.

(iv) Does this change based on race?
A little bit, a customer at a child brothel who is of a different race would probably face more severe penalties than a “normal” Albionese. However, the penalty for running the place is the death penalty … and death is death, you know? (And I don’t see the Pendragons going in for horrific and torturous ways to kill people – I mean, gah! I watched Episode 5 of Season 4 of The Tudors the other day, and I don’t even want to think about the nastiness!)

  1. Why?
    Less financial resources to get adequate representation, plus plain ol’ prejudice.

(v)   Does this change based on age?
Someone who was a child themselves and caught as a customer at a child brothel would not be prosecuted, rather, they would be handed over to the Church to get the demons exorcised out of them. Also, someone who was of age but who was only with prostitutes who were very close to that person in age – say, sixteen/seventeen – would probably be shown some leniency.
If someone very young was found to be running the place … well, it would depend. If the authorities found that this person had been victimized before s/he came of age, they probably wouldn’t be prosecuted at all. Also, if the very young person was found to be the confederate of someone older and whom they had reason to trust/obey (like a parent or other family member), they would also probably be treated with leniency. If someone very young were found to have started this child brothel and was not a child themselves … sorry, no mercy for age there.

  1. Why?
    The Albionese do have a limited understanding that, even though the age of legal adulthood is eighteen, adulthood does not always equal maturity – thus, there would be some room for leniency. Not to mention there is a whole lot less squick factor in an eighteen-year-old with a seventeen-year-old than a forty-year-old raping a five-year-old. Plus, someone who was legally a child and found frequenting as a customer a place like this would be assumed to be somehow mad, and treated as such by the authorities.

c)      Statement: If there is sex, there is porn. There has been porn since Adam first watched Eve slip off her fig-leaf bikini.

d)     How does society feel about pornography?
Strong public disapproval. It is considered at best a waste of time and energy that could be spent doing more productive things – at worst, a sign of sexual deviance. Of course, people still get up to what they get up to in private … even if I don’t have the CC for it.

i)        Is this feeling related to religion?

ii)      How does the religious community feel about porn?
Loathe and despise! This is objectifying the Sim body, which was created in the Image of Wright blah blah blah, for the purpose of sheer sexual pleasure without the holy purpose of procreation attached to it!

(1)   Why?
Again, the Wrightian faith is not sex-positive. If your form of sexual activity is not within the bounds of marriage and not geared toward procreation, then you should be on your knees, praying!

(2)   How does the religious community feel about the pickle polishing that accompanies porn?
They’re not so fond of it!

(a)    Why?
Well, we’re not quite at the point where every sperm is sacred, so you’re not getting irrational screeds about how every sperm spilled is equivalent to murder. But at the same time, it’s sexual pleasure with no link to procreation – not very good.

(b)   Is there penance related to porn/masturbation?
Yes. The first and most severe form of it is the tongue-lashing you’re likely to get from your confessor. And then penance will move onto other things, like prayers whenever you feel the urge coming on, or donating the money you would have spent on porn to the orphanage.

(c)    How serious is the religious stigma surrounding porn and masturbation? (If there is one.)
Serious enough that it drives it all underground – if you were caught selling porn or masturbating in an obvious way in a public place, you’d probably be dragged to the nearest monk or nun and publically scolded for your immorality. (Most people, though, would probably ignore it if you were looking at porn in a public place, depending on how obvious you were about it.)

(i)     Does religion lobby for the ban of porn or is pornography illegal?
The religion can try to lobby for the ban of porn, but Arthur or Tommy would look at them and say something like, “Um, guys, you’ve already driven it underground – what exactly do you want us to do about it? Besides, isn’t it better if people are dealing with those sexual urges by way of porn or masturbation than, I don’t know, fornicating in the streets?”

iii)    Does the acceptability of porn change with gender?
Pornography is far more acceptable if you are a man than if you are a woman – men are thought to have a stronger sex drive, and women, if they are unmarried, are supposed to be chaste and virginal and pure and unburdened by sexual thoughts.

iv)    Does the acceptability of porn change with race?
Other races might be more accepting of it, since most of the opposition comes from the Church and the Church hates them anyway.

v)      Does the acceptability of porn change with age?
Young, unmarried men are the most likely to get away with perusing porn because of the assumption that they have the strongest sex drive. Even some Church authorities will concede that the occasional porn and pickle-polish is better than fornication – at least this way, only one soul is put at risk.

e)      What types of pornography are there?
Mostly woodcuts and black-and-white drawings. For the wealthy, there might be pornographic books, but these would be very expensive (and even harder to get a hold of than a woodcut somebody could do in couple hours or so, if they were fast about it). Plus there’s pornographic graffiti, but that’s generally temporary – most people don’t want that sort of thing on their house or place of business and will get rid of it ASAP.

f)       Is pornography legal?
Yes, but driven underground because of strong Church disapproval.

g)      What is considered deviant pornography?
Gay/lesbian porn, probably S&M (I mean, you’re likely to get frowns and lectures if you’re caught with regular porn, porn involving whips and chains is probably going to get you dragged to the church to get the demons out!), porn that obviously was child pornography, porn involving bestiality, perhaps porn involving unorthodox sexual practices (oral sex, anal sex), but this would only be considered mildly deviant (you might get an extra “Hail St. Brandi” at confession, but not much else).

i)        Is child pornography common?
Not really, I don’t think – Albion is so small that there wouldn’t be much of a market for it. (In Reme and Glasonland, particularly in urban areas, this could be different.)

(1)   Is it any more socially acceptable to obtain porn involving two underage participants than an adult and a child?
Probably, because these are not photo-realistic depictions – depending upon how the figures were drawn/how stylized it was, it might be hard to tell if it even was child pornography. Thus if someone just gave it a quick glance, they might think it was adult pornography and not think much of it. If there was an obvious size differential, or something else struck a viewer as not-quite-right and they looked more closely, then the owner of this porn might get in trouble.

(2)   At what age does child pornography stop being child pornography?
Well … we’re not talking photo-realism here. There might not even be a child involved anywhere in the production of child porn (not, perhaps, very likely, but possible). If the figures can pass muster as adults or “close enough,” then it won’t be considered child porn.

h)      What sort of fetishes might be common in pornography?
Roleplay fetishes, bondage fetishes, rape fantasies, spanking, somnophilia, insertion fetishes.

i)        Are these fetishes considered deviant?
Depending on what exactly is going on, these fetishes might be considered anything from “that’s a little odd” to “WTF is this?!?” to “Hey … this might be kind of fun!”


9 thoughts on “The Checkylist of Albion, Part 9

  1. LMAO! I love your last answer! I really really do. I mean I LAUGHED when I read it.

    I think everything’s making some good sense. Even the sections you were a little unsure of. Then again that might be cause I know what I was asking.

    *looks pained* I really didn’t realize that I was quite so flippant about a couple of the questions until I was reading them on your list. But I think I’ll leave em, this could be a very serious subject and flippancy does make for the occasional laugh/leavening of the subject.

    Oh, and just so any of the readers know: Morgaine asked in utter despair what the fetishes might be, she doesn’t really keep up with that sort of thing. So everything on that list is a suggestion I made. And I know that’s not everything but Morgaine was like “this is more than I ever wanted to know” so we let it go.

    **Heck some of that was more than *I* really wanted to know.**

  2. And now I want to go look up Medieval porn, just to see what it was like. Because pornography really has been around forever– I used to watch a LiveJournal community called vintage_sex that specialized in Victorian-to-1950s porny photos. It was a very educational comm– you could learn a lot about changing standards of beauty, evolution of body image, construction of historical underwear (seriously, I saved some images as costume reference), popularity of stripey stockings, and how often a group of mostly-female commenters will look at a steamy Edwardian cabinet card and declare “Those are the cutest shoes.” It was also the first place I heard the line “On Thursday, the camera was invented; on Friday, the inventor got his girlfriend to stand naked in front of it.”

  3. Flippant is good, Andavri. If we didn’t have some flippancy now and then, this list would get really dull really fast. 😉

    And thank you, thank you for all your help! I really couldn’t have done this one without you!

    Hat — LOL! Why am I not surprised that a group of mostly-women will look at old-fashioned porn and find their eyes drawn to the shoes?

    I know that porn has been around forever; I’m pretty sure the Romans had it, and probably the Greeks. So I knew Albion would have something. The question is, when bathhouses have gone mostly out of style (though I think there were some medieval ones? Maybe?), video hasn’t been invented yet and paper products are too expensive to make glossy magazines … how do you get your porn fix?

    Luckily, Andavri knew! 😉

  4. Well, honestly, they were really cute shoes.


    Okay, Google is awesome, because Google gave me an article on erotica in Medieval art (and yes, there were bathhouses. The church decried them as places of opportunity for sin, but hey, you gotta get clean), and Wiki delivers an awesome history of erotic depictions with photographic proof that oh yes indeed the Greeks and Romans had porn. Somewhere on either Failblog or Epic Win, there was a picture of a Roman coin with a couple going at it cowgirl-style.

    Found a couple of things that I didn’t realize and should’ve– one is that porn used to be more expensive than actual sex, because the media involved (paper, hiring an artist, early photography) was fairly prohibitively expensive. Another is how much of what I think of as the average reaction toward frank depictions of sex is either Renaissance or Victorian in origin.

    So a whorehouse but not much in the way of spicy cabinet cards sounds about right, and then you run into some of the… more interesting pieces of artwork. Medieval depictions of Hell in art are often depictions of some really weird kinks. … Also a lot of old woodcuts about witches.

  5. Fascinating article, thanks for the link, Hat!

    What intrigues me most (and what makes things a pain for storytelling/worldbuilding) is the question of interpretation of these images, especially when they were in devotional contexts. We might see Bathsheba in her bath and think, “Whoa, soft-core porn here!” or else, “Um, this is a religous text, so that can’t be really pornographic … right?” but how do we know if that is how the original artists and owners of such images originally responded to them? It’s not like they’re around to ask!

    Add to that the fact that the concept of “pornography” didn’t really exist until the Victorian era (at least according to that Wikipedia article), regardless of the pretty-much universal presence of erotic or eroticized images, and … yeah, you’ve got yourself a nice little tangle.

    And I love how back in the day, it was in fact cheaper to have sex than to have porn. I wonder what all the anti-porn crusaders would say about that? 😉

  6. There is the possibility that– at least for the Bathsheba example– the viewer is meant to be a little bit titillated. That’s how David feels, and it’s a draw into the story. Share David’s moment, reader! Feel what he feels!

    You want a real weird one, though, try The Garden of Earthly Delights. Everything— and nothing comprehensible– seems to be going on in that one.

    Well, pornography was art and art was expensive… Makes sense that only somebody with the money to throw around on art would be able to afford porn. It just… didn’t quite connect– except in cases of things like those Roman oil lamps shown on Wiki. I imagine the flickering light would make it easy to suspend your disbelief and pretend the little figures were moving.

  7. Be a voyeur, just like David! Spy on the pretty girl in the bathtub who has no idea you’re watching! It’s in the Bible, it can’t possibly be wrong and creepy! 😉

    … Apparently confusion is a part of delight, who knew? I think I even see a guy with fruit for a head … oy … Hugh Heffner, beat that!

    I wonder, though, if objects like the oil lamps should really be considered “porn” — I mean, if phalluses were good-luck charms, it certainly doesn’t seem like an oil lamp like that would necessarily be forbidden in the way we generally consider porn to be. Plus, might that have been more within the reach of the average (or at any rate middle-class-ish) consumer? I mean, if you’re going to need an oil lamp anyway … how much would the extra decoration really cost?

    All very interesting, but I still think Father Hugh and other Church members would freak out if somebody started selling oil lamps with a lady having sex with two different guys at once … or even just with one.

  8. Well… In Rome (and in Reme? I don’t know. Ancient Reme?), there was no taboo on sexual and sexualized imagery. Probably it’s not exactly porn, because it’s there for luck or for actual devotional purposes or for decoration or for humor– it’s not hidden, it’s not scandalous, it’s not something your virgin daughter shouldn’t see.

    Of course, modern American society, anyway, is reaching the point where you can discuss pornography and its history without blushing at the concept– it’s even used as a joke in more mainstream media. Too easy to get to be really forbidden anymore… like coins and oil lamps and mosaics at the bathhouse.

  9. But we’re not quite to the point of coins and oil and mosaics at the bathhouse yet. I think there are still regulations to keep adult video and book stores away from schools.

    But anyway. Ancient Reme, I would imagine, had a similar attitude to Ancient Rome as far as sexuality is concerned. The Church has been busy repressing that. The Remans are still nowhere near as staid and dour as the Glasonlanders, but the lower classes of the social order are somewhat puritanical — to separate themselves from the slaves (who are often perceived as being loose and up for everything, even if that certainly isn’t always true) and the upper classes, who generally have a lot of intrigue/affairs going on.

    Still, no phallus good-luck-charms. The Church has pretty much stamped that open celebration of sexuality out. There may still be more sexually explicit mosaics and artwork than in, say, Glasonland (especially in the homes of the wealthy, and in private spaces, like the master bedroom), and they may be a bit more open about married couples’ sexuality on all levels … but no lamps with couples doin’ it doggy style.

    Which is good, because I don’t have the CC for that. 😉

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