The Asylum for Specially-Trained Concubines
December 27, 2011 6:00 PM Subscribe
Schools or asylums that trained young girls in some sort of speciality skill only to later sell them off to rich men: did they really exist? Do they still?
posted by divabat to Grab Bag (28 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Emilie Autumn's The Asylum of Wayward Victorian Girls has one of the main characters be sold to a Victorian-era music conservatory to be intensely trained as a (so-claimed) professional classical musician; however, to the girls' horror, they are actually bound to be sold off to rich men for their "amusement" (performance as well as sexual slavery). The movie Sucker Punch has something similar, in that the lead character is (or imagines herself to be) in a mental asylum that is a front for a gentleman's club/brothel, and the inmates receive intense dance training.
Did such places actually exist in history? Particularly those that trained girls (maybe boys?) in some speciality skill for later purposes as a uniquely-talented concubine? Do they still now, whether more consenting (perhaps as a fetish/kink thing) or as coercive as in the above stories? I have read accounts of sex workers in the past who were trained in similar erotic and creative arts - usually of some religious nature - but they seemed to be more aware of what they were getting into and had considerably more agency than the protagonists of these stories.
I've also read stories of young people being individually trained by mentors (also often in the Victorian era) to later satisfy some bet or settle some score of the mentor's, rather than for the protege's own future benefit. What was it about the Victorian era that inspires such tropes, and do they exist now?