FireWife: A Story Of Fire and Water; Nyotaimori Body Sushi, Human Rights and Women's Status
Sex Slaves and Sushi in the 2000s and 2010s
While rare in Japan and banned in some parts of China, body sushi, or Nyotaimori is becoming popular in the USA since the end of 2007. The practice outside of the USA has been humiliating and almost a form of human trafficking for poor females.
At first in the USA, female and male models were totally nude under the mountainous servings of sushi balanced around their shaved and bathed bodies. After 2011, women in the US could be scene in high fashion bras and panties under the food items.
Beginning in West Hollywood, body sushi is now available as a service of private catering companies in such locales as Dallas, Fort Worth, and Atlanta in the South.
Minnesota has also experimented with Nyotaimori restaurants, as have several other American locations with varying success (see the video below).
The story of Fire Wife highlights the practice of Nyotaimori and its resultant social problems concerning the status of women in Asian and third world countries.
FireWife by Tinling Choong
On Daytime TV
Presented In Second Life Virtual Reality
Seattle and Minneapolis
A Seattle attempt to bring female body presentation sushi to the public failed in 2003 amid protests from women's groups.
One restaurant in Minnesota currently serves Body Sushi to groups of 6 for $150 or more per person.
Male and female models are used, their total body hair shaved and bodies washed in non-scented soap.
These models that work as sushi tables are paid $100/hour and work for 75 minutes at a time (as of 2010), during which they may not move or speak.
Life Changing Backpacking Journey
The author TingIing Choong backpacked through Asia on the Wellesley College Stevens Traveling Fellowship. On the journey, she observed women throughout the nations she visited. Moved forcefully by some of the things she witnessed, she immeidately began writing stories ignited in her by these events and people. While fictional, they are about circumstances that exist in reality across the globe and not just in Asian and third world countries.
The writing of this book spurred by her experiences in the fellowship and by her childhood in Malaysia led Choong to advocate for women's and children's rights, but more importantly, for all Human Rights around the world. Her husband encouraged her to publish and supports her further writings to be published in 2008. Their baby daughter will grow up with this type of care, her rights as a human being protected and her life encouraged to the fullest.
FireWife: A Story Of Fire and Water
Tingling Choong is a unique and dramatic writer from a background of diversities all within herself. She writes to understand and uses her writing to tie the entire universe together. She unites global diversities, the inside, and the outside of things into a whole. It is a sort of process in which traditional directions are joined together: the North South, East, West, Center, Above, and Below.
Being aware and of some experience with Asian thought and Indigenous creation stories and cultures, as well as with the plight of abused individuals of all diversities and abused groups in the world of yesterday and today, I knew exactly what she was saying in FireWife. The chapters tie together a creation story, some horrors from the 1950s, odd events of the 21st century, and the circumstances of women around the world that have suffered poverty and loss, misunderstanding, and/or maltreatment.
The stories within this novella are riveting. It is difficult to believe that these things could be happening in the 21st century as well as the 19th century, but they are/have been. Two readings are likely required, because the first one may be shocking to some readers. Details can be picked up in the second and it's a quick, energetic read. One story is based on a real-life child prostitute in Bangkok. Another chapter was spurred by the author seeing a woman being used, naked, as a restaurant table in a sushi bar. Yet another came about from witnessing a poor woman in an Asian country that had leased her forehead out for tampon advertising. The other stories contain treatment and conditions that are equally as degrading.
Like Hillary Clinton
Choong was raised in Muslim Malaysia, but is Chinese. Her parents were born there after both sets of their own parents moved to Malaysia when it was a Colony of the British Crown. Choong experienced both Chinese and Malaysian cultures at once. Today she writes about all Asians and ties them together with Creation as she lives in Vermont, USA.
Choong graduated, as did Hillary Rodham Clinton, from Wellesley College. Then she worked for several years as a consultant , married Tseming Yang, and returned to academia to pursue a PhD in Chinese Literature at Yale. Interestingly, Hillary Clinton also graduated from Yale. More interesting is the fact that Mrs. Clinton has been a long-term advocate for women's and children's rights around the world, including anti-abuse programs; and so is Tingling Choong. On these three fronts, the two women are alike. Choong writes poetry in Chinese and English, and paints canvases. He mother and at least one brother paints as well. All of the canvases are interesting.
Asian Slaves Escaping & Other Conditions
Fire and Water
"FireWife" begins with some mythology and the narration of the spirit girl Lakshmi of India. Of the lowest caste, she was murdered for standing up to the men in her household (a higher caste) and refusing to be raped by her brother-in-law. He poured kerosene over her and lit it, later claiming it to be an accident. In a sort of spirit limbo, she took the fire to be her own spiritual sign - the yang strength from a sort of yin/yang duology. Lakshmi appears in dreams to a female photographer known as Nin, who is studying six Asian women and through producing their photo portraits, understands herself more fully.
This piece of literature focuses on how women around the world, especially their world countries and Asian nations, handle the phenomenon of female abuse. Why, at one time, the wife in a Korean family was the least-prized possession, though definitely a possession and not a person - "last, after the dog dish," I used to call it. All money and property were held by the husband and the eldest son. In the Japan of the late 1980s - 1990s, young women were refusing to marry, seeking out a more independent lifestyle. No bound feet or Geisha occupation for them.
Tingling Choong tells the tales of six woman in uncomfortable circumstances. First, however, she presents a Chinese Creation Story with her own interesting additions. In the Universe was a sort of Egg of Time. Inside it, was a woman that represented all that is female and reactive in the Universe. This was the Goddess Nuwa. The egg cracked and she pushed apart its halves to create the heavens and the earth from the shells. For the earth, she also created people, but she formed 8 kinds of women - four of Fire and four of Water, these elements being opposites or yang and yin types. In Chinese thought, Fire and Water fight one another constantly.
Individuals that have been abused sometimes feel "different" or "unique" - even special. In FireWife, these feelings spur women to seek out the spirit of Nuwa somehow and join with her to become one with the superiority of the Creator - powerful in Fire, which is a strong, forceful yang element. Water is yin - often yielding and soft, unless it is a rushing flooded river. To become a FireWife is to embrace Womanhood and the Goddess in oneself, along with sexuality as a life force - 4 parts Fire, 1 part Water.
Young Female Slave With Bound Feet
Finding the True Self
Nin seems to reconcile her subjects' pain by embracing it and accepting it as part of a universal female experience. She studied these women because she needed to find herself as well, having left her corporate job and her husband temporarily to go on such an expedition. She needed to find and understand her Self in order to be true to herself. She wanted to live a true life. Understanding the lives of women globally helped her to do that, just as it likely helped the author to do so.
There is a superstition that a camera will release a person's spirit through a photograph - it will then be free, free from abuse and from the body and from the world. However, as Nin snaps photos of her six subjects, she frees herself somehow instead. That experience, along with the dreams and visions of Lakshmi coordinate to bring a new level of life to Nin. This includes images that bring to mind the flight of some mythical firebird, representing freedom of spirit. This is both physical and sexual freedom that comes through spiritual empowerment. It is the power of Nuwa, femininity, and fire. The final empowerment seems to be though a type of symbolic lesbian sex, if only in imagery and visions, in which the dreamer joins with Lakshmi, thereby joining with Nuwa and life itself from the beginning of the Egg.
This is a feminist book, but one that can be appreciated by both men and woman for its stance against poverty and violation of human rights around the world. It contains some startling images and coarse languages, but is a powerful presentation of the light of abused and impoverished peoples - not only women.
More On Asia and Human Trafficking
- Snakes Can't Run - A Historical Mystery of NYC Chinatown
Author Ed Lin writes about human trafficking and the Chinese immigration racket of the first half of the 20th Century. "Snakes" are the victims.
- Asian Women's Sorrows
Historical fiction set in San Francisco's Chinatown.
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Abuse and trafficking in Old China.