Liumang Yan ready to provide sexual services free of charge to migrant workers.
Outspoken blogger, feminist and activist Ye Haiyan (叶海燕), also known online as Liumang Yan (流氓燕 “Hooligan Sparrow”), is no stranger to controversy. Last year, she appeared nude along with three other women and dissident-artist Ai Weiwei in a picture entitled “One Tiger, Eight Breasts”. The picture led police to probe Ai Weiwei for pornography, and angry netizens subsequently posted their own nude pictures in an online protest in support of Ai.
In order to dive into the world of rural sex workers so as to better understand and to speak up for them, Liumang Yan decided to become a prostitute for a day last week. To be more exact, she didn’t exactly prostitute herself — she offered sexual services free of charge to migrant workers in a dingy sex-shop where prostitutes are paid a paltry 10 to 20 RMB by each customer they serve. Along the way, she posted updates on Sina and Tencent Weibo, telling her followers about the hardships faced by the women she met, and the men she served.
Oiwan Lam of Global Voices has translated a selection of her tweets. Here are some of them:
Beginning now, I am providing free sexual services for rural migrant workers. First of all, this is to prevent them from being caught and legally robbed by police. Secondly, this is to serve the sexual needs of the grassroots and help relieve social pressure. Thirdly, I want to create a sharp contrast between my love for the grassroots and the cruelty of the government. I hope that they will be touched by my action, which will end tomorrow.
The sister who is preparing to go home for lunar new year was released today after paying a RMB 3,000 fine. Which means she’ll have to take 150 clients to earn it off. I felt so bad that I couldn’t help her when I saw them being robbed by police.
Please try to understand their fear and anxiety. She just wants to earn RMB 20, but someone is watching her purse at every instant, trying to snatch RMB 3,000 from her. How can she be happy? The undercover sting operations keep them living in fear, never knowing if a man is a real client or a police rat, the difference between whether or not she’ll earn RMB 20 or lose RMB 3,000.
My first sexual service was given to an 18-year-old boy from a rural village. He was hovering outside the brothel before he asked me how much it cost. I asked him how much he could pay, and he asked if RMB 10 was enough. I asked him how old he was, he answered 18. I asked him why he came, whether he was a virgin. He didn’t seem to understand my question and wanted to leave. I said: come in, I’ll do it for free. I helped him put on a condom and reminded him to bring his own every time he needs this kind of sexual service in the future.
I provided free sexual services to 4 people. One of them was in his fifties. It was raining and he was wearing rain clothes and boots, had wrinkles all over his face. I said I provided free service. He asked why, looking at my shining white skin, not understanding what the deal was. I told him I had been sent by Beijing. This society is so full of inequalities. Family background, opportunities, rights, development…even sex is unequal.
All the grassroots want is sex. He can afford RMB 10, it won’t negatively effect his life or society. Men like him don’t have enough money to get a wife, but at least they can fulfill their sexual needs through sex workers. Yet you want to rob RMB 3,000 from them? First you push them into the darkest corner, and still you want to rob him. Isn’t it too cruel?
The men there said I am the kindest woman in the shop. Actually, I just pay respect to them and see them as my brothers, as family. I don’t look down them, rather I treat them like “the boss” no matter how worn-out their clothes are or how dirty they are. I embrace them and sooth them, let them feel that someone still likes them.