Funny Way to Defend Our Freedoms

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Here is a picture of those brave “three-minute men” in Pearl Harbor in a queue for a brothel. Was it taken on Saturday, December 6th?

Like I have said on more than one occasion, half of the brothels around the world would have to close for lack of business if the U.S. military abandoned its empire of troops and bases.

There has been some question about the picture, whether it is really a line for a brothel or just a line for a USO event. (If you look carefully you can see a USO sign on the corner.) I am still further investigating the picture, but meanwhile I thought I would provide proof that what is pictured did in fact happen in relation to servicemen in Hawaii and brothels. The following is from the article by Beth Bailey and David Farber called “Hotel Street: Prostitution and the Politics of War” Radical History Review Winter 1992 (52): 54-77. It is not online, but I found that much of it can be read on Google Books.

“Hotel Street was the center of Honolulu’s eponymous vice district, through which some 30,000 or more soldiers, sailors, and war workers passed on any given day during most of World War II” (p. 54). “The street itself, and the district for which the street stood, was most famous among the men for its regulated brothels, in which prostitutes serviced 250,000 men each month for almost the duration of the war” (p. 54). “Prostitution was illegal in Hawaii. Nonetheless, it existed as a highly and openly regulated system, involving the police department, government officials, and the military” (p. 57). “The military was pleased with the system, for regulated prostitution kept veneral disease rates relatively low in Hawaii” (pp. 57-58). “The prophylaxis stations were free and open to all–civilian and military–and the Hotel Street stations could handle 1,500 men an hour” (p. 58). “Most houses enforced a quota for each woman of 100 men a day” (p. 60). “The men who wanted sex had to wait in line, sometimes for hours, and in full public view. Because the curfew limited brothel hours, all of this took place only during daylight hours. From souvenir shops and beauty parlors and upstairs windows, the older Chinese women of the district watched and laughed at the lines of white men. Lines were generally quiet, but the shoeshine boys kidded the men who seemed visibly nervous, and quite a few of the men were drunk” (p. 61). “Many high-ranking military officers believed that ‘any man who won’t fuck, won’t fight'” (p. 65).

Latest update: Here is the picture with the caption “Men line up for brothels on Hotel Street, Honolulu, Hawaii,” and the source given as the National Archives.

12:49 pm on December 10, 2012