miércoles, abril 05, 2006

Prostitution since Precuauhtemic times, a brief history.

TlazolteotlProstitution has existed in Mexico, either legal or illegal, for centuries. One thing that
has to be differentiated is actual prostitution from adultery. Adultery was harshly punished, in some cases according to Netzahualcoyotl laws even by death. But prostitution was a different situation, since women sold their time and services to men. There was no adultery when there is social consent about the existence of prostitutes against the existance of women known to cheat on their husbands.

The society in Anahuac, wrongfully known as Mesoamerica, achieved the highest levels of prosperity. Just as we know the XX and XXI centuries to be one of the most technologically advanced civilization in history, our indigenous ancestors, los Viejos Abuelos, had the most socially advanced civilization. Society worked, because labels or discrimination did not exist. The social existence of prostitution emerged without any difficulties, compared with other cultures (like Islamic or Medieval).

At those glorious times, governments did managed to make work society. So it was the government that established an institution called Cihuacalli in nahuatl. The Cihuacalli was a place where women could be gathered in an orderly, safe, and controlled environment. Hence the name Cihuacalli, which means House of Women. We must stress not all women at the Cihuacalli were prostitutes, some where just exotic dancers, captives from foreign lands, and others had a rare function similar to modern escort services. It is difficult to compare the Cihuacalli with any place or situation taking place nowadays.

Someone could roughly compare it with a "gentlemen's club", which could be valid. Or some others could bluntly describe it as a government-controlled brothel, which could also be true. Remember all institutions in times of our indigenous ancestors were radically different from what we have today. We had rulers, but they were not kings, we had schools, but they did not follow the European pattern. So even sexual institutions were different and would be difficult to fully comprehend. Many would say "blasphemy", because generally speaking everybody thinks being indigenous is equal to live a monk-like life. But they were humans, we can not deny our ancestors had also coup d'etats, wars, bad rulers, and prostitution. It is not their faults we should focus, but how they dealt with it.

The Cihuacalli is described as being a complex with many rooms, where these women lived. At some point in this facilities they had a "lounge room" where men would see women dancing with erotic movements, and sometimes chanting sexy and provocative poems. There are stories, passages, and legends that tell about situations between well known captains getting in love and escaping with their loved ones from the Cihuacalli to a far away place. The rooms of the Cihuacalli were all facing a central patio, where a statue of Tlazolteotl was in place. Old ladies, also known as alcahuetas, were somehow the ones that were in charge of the Cihuacalli girls and the rituals made to Tlazolteotl. Tlazolteotl is the energy that "devours filth". Spaniards confused Tlazolteotl with a sexual demon, a succubus, because of her name related to filth and her function of overseeing sexual appetite and actual intercourse. Prostitutes had special in Tlazolteotl because she was the only energy that could incite to sexual desires, help you fullfill whatever your desires were, but at the same time being the only energy that would clean you up of the obvious spiritual filth produced.

Governments controlled the Cihuacalli. But prostitution existed even outside the Cihuacallis. It is said of women that followed soldiers who went campaigning into far away lands. Such women must have been at least recognized by the Military. There is no known case about relationships between the sacred military orders, such as the Nahui Ollin Knights, popularly known as the Eagle and Jaguar knights. But rank and file soldiers, and even some of the so-called fast strike warriors used the services of women following them.

Condoms did not exist, so basically many prostitutes would get pregnant many times. Such is the famous case of a small girl who was born from a prostitute, who was delivered into birth in plain dirt and abandoned. Her dreaded name was Malinally, today known as the infamous Malinche.

There are some proof pointing out at some sort of escort service among the higher classes of society. Such is the case of what Tlaltecatzin of Cuauchinanco, ruler of what today is Huauchinango, Puebla, who made poetry to her "mujeres alegres" or "women of joy". These cheerful, playful, but sensual women, as described by Tlaltecatzin, were sometimes dancing while parties were held, or sometimes just stood in the middle of a room while poets and artists contemplated her. Little evidence comes from colder people such as the Mexica, but more comes from liberal and open poets such as Tlaltecatzin or other Chalca artists.

When the Spaniards came, they eliminated all kinds of legal and established prostitution, creating in exchange an illegal and uncontrolled prostitution.

It wasn't until mid-twentieth century that PRI rulers saw the need of creating closed facilities for prostitutes to work freely and secured. Such examples of closed perimeters is the so-called "Zona de Tolerancia" or Tolerance Zone at Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. Smaller ones exist, as in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, and others are not walled like in Tijuana. Such places are the only legal places to prostitute. If prostitution is seen in the streets, plazas or highways, they would be prosecuted as a crime, supposedly. The only example of illegal prostitution being officially tolerated is in Mexico City, at famous Sullivan street. There people can find "norteñitas", "Cubanas", and even the underground "pieles extranjeras" or "foreign skins" which usually are illegal Russians and Ukrainians.

Is Prostitution as Mexican as chile, frijoles, or mitotes? I think it is!