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Related: brothel - courtesanerie - economy - prostitution in art and literature - sex crime - sex - whore (derogatory term) - whore dialogues (literary genre)

"Not every woman is a potential prostitute, but prostutution is the logical consequence of the feminine attitude. In so far as she is attractive, a woman is a prey to men's desire. Unless she refused completely because she is determined to remain chaste, the question is at what price and under what circumstances will she yield. But if the conditions are fulfilled she always offers herself as an object. Prostitution proper only brings in a commercial element. By the care she lavishes on her toilet, by the concern she has for her beauty set off by her adornment, a woman regards herself as an object always trying to attract men's attention. Similarly if she strips naked she reveals the object of a man's desire, an individual and particular object to be prized." --Georges Bataille, Erotism, page 131


Prostitution is the sale of sexual services (typically manual stimulation, oral sex, or sexual intercourse, less often anal sex) for money or other kind of return, generally indiscriminately with many persons. A person selling sexual favors is a prostitute, a type of sex worker. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution, Apr 2004


In ancient Greek society, prostitutes were independent and sometimes influential women who were required to wear distinctive dresses and had to pay taxes. Some similarities have been found between the Greek Hetaera and the Japanese Geisha, complex figures that are perhaps in an intermediate position between prostitution and courtisanerie. Some prostitutes in ancient Greece, such as Lais were as famous for their company as their beauty, and some of these women charged extraordinary sums for their services. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution#History [Sept 2004]

Fallen woman

Mary Magdalene as fallen woman
The Magdalene became a symbol of repentance for the vanities of the world, and Mary Magdalene was the patron of Magdalen College, Oxford and Magdalene College, Cambridge (both pronounced "maudlin", as in weepy penitents). Unfortunately her name was also used for the infamous Magdalen Asylums in Ireland where supposedly fallen women were treated as slaves. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Magdalene#Veneration_of_Mary_Magdalene [Jun 2005]

Feminism and prostitution

The feminist position towards prostitution is divided. Some, like Grisélidis Réal, theorize prostitution as an act of sexual self-determination, decry discrimination and demand destigmatization and decriminalization; women are supposed to be adults who can choose what they wish to do with their bodies. In that view, the moral prohibition of prostitution is just mere masked patriarchal moralism, with a traditional view of considering women to be incapable of making decisions for themselves. Others, exemplified by the American radical feminist and ex-prostitute Andrea Dworkin, consider it to be sexual abuse or even rape; the prostitutes are then victims, who must be protected from the abuse of the clients and pimps. The former group pushed a law reform in Germany, resulting in January 2002 in the recognition of prostitution as a regular profession, making it possible for prostitutes to join the social security and health care system and to form trade unions. The latter faction of feminists was able in Sweden in 1999 to implement the law outlawing the buying of sexual favors but not the selling.

In the United States, the only political party that favors legalization of prostitution is the United States Libertarian Party. The USLP believes all consensual crimes (any act that is against the law where all parties involved voluntarily consent to engage in the activity) should be legalised. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution#Politics [Jul 2005]

see also: consent - prostitution - feminism

Modern-day sexual slavery

Forced prostitution
Forced prostitution is a form of sexual slavery that is often directed at immigrants to western countries. Often the "owners" of these people will confiscate passports and/or money in order to make the women involved completely reliant on them. This practice is universally illegal.

In many countries, illegal immigrants often work in prostitution in circumstances such that they feel they have no other choice. Often these prostitutes are kept in financial debt by the brothel owners, who charge them for their travel and other costs. The arrangement may be such that the prostitutes can never earn enough to pay off the debt. This is a form of debt bondage. This kind of sex slavery is often found in Germany, Spain, Britain,the Netherlands, and the USA. Clearly separating this from East European women entering prostitution in Western countries knowingly and more or less willingly, to escape the daily hardships of their lives, is often not possible. Since the mid 1990s, with the opening up of the former Soviet Union, the end of the wars in the former Yugoslavia and the opening up of East and South East Asia, there has been an increase in the trafficking in human beings, the movement of people into forced labour, by force, fraud, or coercion. A significant part of that includes sexual exploitation and forced prostitution, with, according to US State Department figures, at least 500,000 women and children forced into prostitution globally. A new disturbing development is the large-scale trafficking of women from Iran to the Gulf countries and Western Europe. Iranian government officials and clerics have been implicated in this trade. In the United States, large scale trafficking of women from Mexico and Central America for sexual slavery has been on the increase.

In addition to the First World, this also takes place in countries of South Asia such as India and Thailand, where young girls are sometimes sold (often by their own parents) to brothel owners. In modern day Thailand this is becoming much rarer, but is still widespread. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_slavery#Modern-day_sexual_slavery [Jun 2005]

Pornography [...]

In its original meaning, pornography is writing about/on prostitutes.

Salon Kitty

Although brothels were officially outlawed by the Third Reich, the elite Nazi SS security police had been authorized by Himmler before the war to engage prostitutes in intelligence gathering. The infamous Salon Kitty in Berlin's Giebachstrasse was the brainchild of the Deputy Reichsfuhrer SS, Reinhard Heydrich. The high-class brothel was set up to increase surveillance of foreign diplomats and visitors as well as to gather dossiers on the sexual indiscretions of Nazi party big-wigs and government guests.

Hand-picked girls were specially schooled in the arts of seduction to pry confidential information - as well as high fees - from their clients. Cameras were concealed in hollow walls and the luxuriously ornate bedheads were bugged with microphones that were cunningly placed to convey the most intimate of amorous whispers to the battery of listening posts and recording machines set up in the basement. But Salon Kitty proved an expensive investment whose 'sexpionage' value never lived up to Heydrich's expectations. Its recordings provided a great deal of bawdy entertainment for the SS listeners in the cellar but few significant political or diplomatic indiscretions were picked up by the time the outbreak of war reduced its usefulness. (pp. 241-2)Love, Sex and War, John Costello

Joy Division [...]

The Joy Division were groups of Jewish women in the concentration camps during World War II who were kept for the sexual pleasure of the Nazi guards, as described in Ka-tzetnik 135633's 1955 book, The House of Dolls.

'Ka-tzetnik's book is based on a diary kept by a young Jewess who was captured in Poland when she was fourteen years old and subjected to enforced prostitution in a Nazi labour camp. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joy_Division_(WWII), Apr 2004

Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies (2005) - Hallie Rubenhold

Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies (2005) - Hallie Rubenhold [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies was a bestseller of the eighteenth century shifting 250,000 copies in an age before mass consumerism. An annual 'guide book', it detailed the names and 'specialities' of the capital's prostitutes. During its heyday (1757-95) Harris's List was the essential accessory for any serious gentleman of pleasure. Yet beyond its titillating passages lay a glimpse into the lives of those who lived and died by the List's profits during the Georgian era. Hallie Rubenhold has collected the funniest, ruddiest and most surreal entries penned by Jack Harris, 'Pimp-General-of-All-England' into this hilarious book. --via Amazon.co.uk

Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies (1757 – 1795) was a directory of prostitutes and their services. It also served as a sexual education manual. It is said to have sold over a quarter of a million copies in it's day, a remarkable total for any book at that time. In 2005 historian Hallie Rubenhold wrote an accessible history of the directory and its author in her book The Covent Garden Ladies: Pimp General Jack and the Extraordinary Story of Harris' List, and later published a volume containing a selection of the directories' "funniest, ruddiest and most surreal entries". --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harris's_List_of_Covent_Garden_Ladies [Nov 2005]

See also: guides roses - 1750s - list - prostitute - sex manual

Prostitution, Considered in its Moral, Social, and Sanitary Aspect () - William Acton

Early work on the morality of prostitution

William Acton (1813–1875) was a British medical doctor and book writer. He was known for his books on masturbation.

Acton was a native of Shillingstone, Dorsetshire. The second son of a clergyman, Acton went, in 1831, to London, where he enrolled as a resident apprentice at St Bartholomew's hospital.

In 1836, Acton, by then twenty three years old, moved to Paris, where he met the well known United States doctor, Philippe Ricord. Acton learned about the functions of the generative and urinary organs under Ricord's supervision, and he decided to concentrate on Gynecology. Acton spent some time in Paris working at the women's venereal hospital.

At the age of twenty seven, Acton returned to England, already a recognized expert in the gynecology field. In part because of his previous experience in the field, Acton was accepted into the Royal College of Surgeons. At about the same time, Acton began working on his first written work, a book named "A Practical Treatise on Diseases of the Urinary and Generative Organs in Both Sexes", where he discussed the relationship between the human brain and children's sexuality.

William Acton dedicated himself exclusively to his practice as a gynecologist for the next seventeen years, until he published another book in 1857. "The Functions and Disorders of the Reproductive Organs, in Childhood, Youth, Adult Age, and Advanced Life, Considered in the Physiological, Social, and Moral Relations", discussed, as evidenced by the book's title, physical and pshycological consequences of reproductive organ diseases in human beings.

Acton was also well known for his views on moral issues. An outspoken writer, Acton published his next book, "Prostitution, Considered in its Moral, Social, and Sanitary Aspect, in London and other large cities and Garrison Towns, with Proposals for the Control and Prevention of Attendant Evils", almost immediately after "The Functions and Disorders of the Reproductive Organs, in Childhood, Youth, Adult Age, and Advanced Life, Considered in the Physiological, Social, and Moral Relations". Acton's book on prostitution proved controversial: while he meant to expose this profession as a risky one healthwise both for prostitutes and clients alike, and as an inmoral practice, many considered that Acton actually humanized prostitutes by denouncing low wages among women as one of the reasons why they would turn to prostitution as a means of support.

Acton spent the rest of his life trying to teach upper-class English citizens how to manage the idea of child masturbation, which was bothersome to rich British parents. This was referred to as the masturbation hysteria at the time, and people had several beliefs, such as that masturbation could lead to blindness.

William Acton passed away in 1875. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Acton [Jan 2006]

See also: sexology

Le pornographe ou la prostitution réformée (1769) - Rétif de la Bretonne

Early work on the morality of prostitution

Le pornographe ou la prostitution réformée (1769) - Rétif de la Bretonne [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Le Pornographe (1769), a plan for regulating prostitution which is said to have been actually carried out by the Emperor Joseph II, while not a few detached hints have been adopted by continental nations

Présentation de l'éditeur
Le Pornographe est un projet de règlement des filles de joie : Restif imagine une sorte de phalanstère idéal, le parthénion (proche de l'idée d'une maison close), pour veiller à la " mauvaise " conduite des petites vertus, sous contrôle de l'Etat.

L'auteur vu par l'éditeur
Restif de la Bretonne, personnalité complexe et marginale (1734-1806) préfère la vie de bohème et se mêle aux couches les plus basses de la société, mais avec certaines de ses idées réformatrices, il passa pour un débauché en quête de vertu.

« Puisque le mal est fait, il ne s’agit plus que de trouver le remède. De deux moyens qui se présentent, celui de séparer de la société, comme autrefois les lépreux, tous ceux que la contagion a attaqués n’était praticable qu’à l’arrivée du virus d’Haîti en Europe ; le second, qui consisterait à mettre dans un lieu où l’on puisse répondre d’elles toutes les filles publiques, est d’une exécution moins difficile : il est le plus efficace, le plus important, puisque ce serait prendre le mal à sa source. »

« Oui, la prostitution est un mal nécessaire partout où il règne quelque pudeur, j’en conviens avec tout l’univers et tous les siècles. (...) Je conclus de là que la prostitution est un mal qui en fait éviter un plus grand. »

See also: France - pornography - prostitution - Restif de la Bretonne - 1769

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