Prostitution really is the oldest profession in the world and it’s a part of human society I’ve been fascinated with ever since my first trip to Amsterdam’s Red Light District when I was nineteen years old.
With my teenage naivety no longer in existence, I’ve come to form a more accepting and maybe even appreciative view on the exchange of one human’s body in return for another human’s cash.
But these posts aren’t about my opinions, not just yet anyway. For now I’m regurgitating my favourite chapters of my favourite book – Why Him, Why Her – A Natural History of Marriage, Mating and Why We Stray by Helen Fisher.
And when it comes to whoring it up, Fisher gives plenty of examples from around the world that may just get you thinking…
In agrarian societies with a strict double standard, women long embarked on one of two quite different sexual careers, becoming either cloistered housewives or courtesans, concubines, or prostitutes. In these cultures, therefore, some women had only a single partner, while others copulated with a lot of men.
These “ladies of the night” were not unique to farming peoples either.
Among the Mehinaku of Amazonia, the most sexually active person in the jungle village was a woman – who received fish, meat or trinkets in payment for her trysts with a variety of partners.
Some traditional Navajo women chose not to marry; instead they lived alone and entertained a variety of male visitors for a fee.
Women in many other American Indian tribes traditionally accompanied men on their hunting expeditions, returning home with meat in exchange for satisfying several of these hunters’ sexual needs.
An unmarried Canela girl of central Brazil who wished to earn food or services selected a would-be lover and asked her brother to arrange a date. Many of these trysts became long-term business relationships.
Madams flourished among the traditional Sierra Tarascans of Mexico. These older women had a string of girls they could summon at a moment’s notice.
Nupe women of sub-Saharan African came to the marketplace at night dressed in their finery and jewels; here they sold kola nuts, but buyers could also purchase the woman for the night.
So it looks like prostitution is not only the oldest profession in the world — one we like to pretend isn’t happening or like to turn our noses up at — but it exists in all sorts of different societies and cultures.
And so, as a former Buyer there are three words I’d like to leave you with on this: