Josie Arlington was a brothel madam in Storyville (the red light district of New Orleans).  She first worked as a prostitute, supporting her family with her earnings, and eventually opened a brothel of her own in 1895.  She moved her business to Storyville in 1898, shortly after it was established.  She closed down the business and retired in 1909.

Josie Arlington was not a traditional woman.  She is not the type of woman that is historically praised for what she did with her life.  She did not have a political or historical impact, did not fight for any great causes.

There is no doubt in my mind that Josie was a strong woman, capable of taking charge of her own life, and living it on her own terms.  Perhaps she was terrified the entire time she was scratching out a place in the world; perhaps she took hold of it with passion and fearlessness.  Either way, she supported herself and her family, stood on her own feet, managed to be a successful businesswoman in a man’s world, and did it with style.  Most of us will not make our marks in history books in the style of Eleanor Roosevelt or Susan B. Anthony.  Most of us will live our lives the best we can, and do whatever it takes to get by.  I would like to handle it the way Josie was able to — by relying on my own skill and ingenuity, and finding my own way, however difficult and controversial that way may be.

I suppose I should get the disclaimer out of the way.  These entries are me thinking out loud, working through concepts and some of the fucked up things going on in the world.  I will, at times, make broad generalizations about groups (probably while simultaneously saying that people should cut that out).  It would be impossible for me to write if I didn’t.  I would spend too much time saying, “I know not everyone does this/is like this/thinks this/experiences this, but…” and the like.  So, please realize that I know that I am making broad generalizations, and I know that what I say isn’t true of all the people who fit the descriptions I discuss.  It’s just a necessary evil if I’m going to discuss these things at all.

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