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We sell bodies, not art,
This review is from: Autobiography Of A Geisha (Vintage Original) (Paperback)
While Minebo Iwasaki's remarkable autobiography 'Geisha, a Life' portraits the education and brilliant career of a top geisha, Sayo Masuda's recorded biography (she is illiterate) shows us a more than grim picture of the 'working' conditions of the vast majority of geisha, who were not educated to reach the top.
In fact, as a top geisha, Minebo Iwasaki could resist all her clients' sexual advances with the saying 'we sell art, not bodies'. But for the other ones the maxim was 'we sell bodies, not art'. As G.G. Rowley states clearly in his excellent introduction, the bottom line was 'sex for money'.
A geisha was a high class prostitute, who was owned by those who bought her and financed her education and kimonos. As a counterpart, they collected her fees until the total investment was paid back.
One of the most influential words in this biography is 'sold', beginning with the poor parents who were forced to sell their female children for sheer survival, over the geisha's virginity (here remarkably sold 4 times) to the milking of her protector.
This unvarnished book gives an appalling picture of the condition of the poor (the greatest part of the population) and more grimly the female poor in Japan up to the nineteen fifties of the past century. Life was a bitter struggle for survival on a diet of white rice, which many could not afford to buy every day.
This heartrending life story of a still more or less top class sex worker (there were lower ones) portraits us dreadfully that 'geisha were not considered to be human beings' (p. 76).
Nonetheless, Sayo Masuda told us a very 'human' story.
Not to be missed.