The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 4/6

In Tilly’s fourth claim, she calls Ayaou a Harlot, which may reveal Tilly’s personal biases and moral beliefs without a clear understanding of cultural difference between the West and China.

There is a HUGE difference between a harlot and a concubine, because a harlot by definition is a woman prostitute.

However, the definition of a concubine says, “1. (in polygamous societies) A woman who lives with a man but has lower status than his wife or wives.  2. A mistress  3. In certain societies, such as imperial China, a woman contracted to a man as a secondary wife, often having few legal rights and low social status.” (I found all three of these definitions by Googling “Concubine definition”)

Then Tilly, a self proclaimed historian using Google as her main source, no doubt, disagrees with the fact that the eunuch that becomes Hart’s servant tells Hart that he was castrated at a young age so he would qualify to apply for a job in the Forbidden city.

In Tilly’s opinion, castrations only took place after a man was hired to work in the Forbidden City, but that is not what my sources say or should I say my wife’s research material which included the autobiographies of eunuchs that were forced to leave the Forbidden City in 1911 and other source material in original Mandarin—not to be discovered through Google searches.

In addition, Sterling Seagrave in his nonfiction historical book Dragon Lady mentioned on page 121 (paperback edition) that “Most eunuchs in Tung Chih’s day were volunteers, men who sought employment by these desperate means. … Complete healing took three months, after which the eunuch was ready to seek work.”

What does the word “seek” mean?  Hint, it does not mean “start” work.

A comment at Historum.com says, “Eunuchs were usually chosen when they were very young, as castrating a sexually immature boy had less effect on the body. However, sometimes adults eager for money or power might undergo castration in order to enter the court.”

“Many eunuchs chose their way of life. One eunuch told British Sinologist John Blofeld in City of lingering Splendour: ‘It seemed a little thing to give up one pleasure for so many. My parents were poor, yet suffering that small change, I could be sure of an easy life in surroundings of great beauty and magnificence, I could aspire to intimate companionship with lovely women unmarred by their fear or distrust of me. I could even hope for power and wealth of my own.’ … Familes often encouraged their sons to become eunuchs as a means of pulling the family out of poverty and gaining admittance into the imperial court. Many parents even organized their sons’ castration at an early age in hopes that they would become imperial eunuchs.” Source: Facts and Details.com

Do all of these sources say the eunuchs got the job first then was castrated as Tilly claims?

Continued on July 12, 2012 in The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 5 or return to Part 3

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 3/6

Tilly’s second incorrect opinion—while it is true that Victorian women had very little in the way of rights, that does not mean Robert Hart was not raised by his parents to treat women as equals.  In fact, Robert Hart was raised as a Wesleyan by his father, a Wesleyan pastor, and the Wesleyan Church believed that women were equal to men.

Now, granted, the belief that women were equal to men might not be exactly the same as in 21st century America, but that does not mean Hart was not raised to respect women as equals.

In fact, the Wesleyan Church has a long history of supporting women’s rights. “Citing Galatians 3:28, Luther Lee gave the sermon Woman’s Right to Preach the Gospel when Antoinette L. Brown became the first woman ordained to the clergy in 1853.” Source: Wesleyan Church History

In addition, The Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York hosted the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848, also known as the Seneca Falls Convention—the beginning of the women’s rights movement in the United States.

Third incorrect opinion—Tilly claims that Robert Hart could not have believed that paying 33 pounds for a concubine was cheap. However, on page 150 of Sterling Seagrave’s Dragon Lady (paperback edition), Robert Hart is quoted as saying, “Now, some of the China women are very good looking. You can make one your absolute possession for from 50 to 100 dollars and support her at a cost of 2 or 3 dollars per month. … Shall I hold out—or shall I give way?”

Then on Thursday, August 31, 1854, Hart wrote in his journal, “Cheepqua told us…that from 200 to 1000 dollars are given for a wife of respectable Chinese. They marry between the ages of 16 and 30.” Source: Entering China’s Service

Then Seagrave says, “By early May he had a sleep-in dictionary, his concubine, Ayaou.  He had just turned twenty; Ayaou was barely past puberty but was wise beyond her years.”

Since both Seagrave’s book and Entering China’s Service was published in America, we may safely assume that Seagrave was referring to dollars and not pounds or Chinese yuan. No one knows what Hart actually paid for Ayaou or Shao-mei because Hart did not mention the price paid anywhere in his surviving journals, so I went with British pounds. However, Robert may have paid as little as £10 British pounds, which at the time was about $50 American dollars.

For a comparison to discover if that was as costly as Tilly believes, we cannot rely on the British Empire—slavery was abolished in most of the British Empire in 1833, two years before Robert’s birth

The only comparison between cheap and expensive slaves (or the cost of buying a concubine) may be found in the United States where slavery existed until the end of the American Civil War in 1864.

According to Plantation agriculture in Southeast USA, the average price of a slave between 1851-1855 was $1,240 .  When we convert that to British pounds, the cost of a slave was £253.83 British Pounds.

Another source says the average price of a slave girl in the United States in 1860 was $400US, which would be about £80 British pounds. Source: Slave Rebellion.org

A third source said that in 1854 (when Hart arrived in China) the average value of slaves in the United States was $500.00 (or £100 British pounds) and by 1861, that price would be $800US (£160 British pounds). Source: Measuring Worth.com

Therefore, if Robert Hart paid between ten to thirty-three British pounds for Ayaou, that was a bargain he could afford. Anyone that read The Concubine Saga carefully would know that Robert arrived in China with £50 pounds (a gift from his father—it says so in Hart’s journals) and started out earning an annual income from the British consulate of about £200 (again, it says so in Hart’s journals), and his room, board and servant came with the job. However, he had to pay for a teacher to teach him Chinese—the consulate did not cover that expense as part of his salary.

Furthermore, what Hart was paid when he arrived in China was not what he was earning when he met Ayaou. In Hart’s journal entry for July 4, 1855, he says he was nominated to a provisional assistancy in the Consulate with an annual salary of £270 British pounds.

Continued on July 12, 2012 in The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 4 or return to Part 2

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

When a Girl becomes a Woman depends on the Law at the Time

An honest 21st century review of The Concubine Saga at ColReads.com brought up a good subject for a post—the history of the changing attitudes of when a girl becomes a woman (You may want to click on the link to ColReads and read the entire review).

ColReads said, “The girls were younger than 15, for goodness sake. I had a hard time getting past that,” which is understandable when we take into account that in 21st century America the law makes a girl/woman a child until age 14, 15, 16, 17 or 18 depending on which U.S. state you live in (watch the video to find out the age of consent in each state).

However, the age of consent laws in the middle of the 19th century (the time period of The Concubine Saga, which is based on a real story) were not the same as they are today.

To understand the difference between now and then, today in the People’s Republic of China the age of consent for sexual activity is 14, regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation. In Hong Kong, it is 16 and in Macau 18.

However, “Depictions of ‘child-romance’ in ancient or modern Chinese literature are not difficult to find. They include passages on joyous heterosexual or homosexual activities by children as young as 12 to13 years old with one another or with adults. Children are usually described as natural sexual beings and erotic stimulation and sex-play are seen as beneficial to their healthy development (Chen 2000).” In fact, “For most of Chinese history, the minimum marriage age suggested by the government had ranged between 12 and 16.” Source: Department of Psychiatry, University of Hong Kong

For a comparison, in 1875 in the UK, a concern that young girls were being sold into brothels let Parliament change the age of consent to 13. Prior to that, the age of consent was 12.

However, in the United States in 1875, each state determined its own criminal law and the age of consent ranged from 10 to 12 years of age. It would not be until after the 1930s that the term “jail bait” came into use in America as the age of consent laws changed. (I wonder if the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving the right to vote to women had anything to do with these changes.)

I could have sanitized The Concubine Saga and made both Ayaou and her sister Shao-mei much older to fit the attitudes of today’s readers but then that would have been historically incorrect. Sterling Seagrave in his book Dragon Lady, the Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China, wrote, “He (Robert Hart) had just turned twenty. Ayaou was barely past puberty but was wise beyond her years.”

If Ayaou was barely 14, then there was only a six-year age gap between the two, while Hart’s arranged marriage to a young Irish woman named Hester Jane Bredon a decade later sees the gap double to twelve years when he was thirty and she was eighteen. In fact, Seagrave says, “He (Hart) sought a wife as straightforwardly as he had bought a concubine.” After returning to Ireland for a brief stay in 1866, Robert proposed marriage to Hester five days after he met her. The courtship lasted three months before they were married.

Should authors ignore historical fact and rewrite history to reflect the moral sensitivities of today’s readers?

For more on this topic, discover Modern-Day Witch Hunts and Vigilantes – the politically-correct mob’s (sex) war against teachers

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”