Prostitution: from Sacred Temple Harlots to Sidewalk Crack Whores
In our old, battered, ugly English language, the word ‘prostitute' signifies someone who sells both their body and their soul. To study the array of unsavory nuances we've slathered onto the word is to comprehend how our sick, impotent, double-standard-flaunting society views the lowly prostitute. The avid researcher also gleans a golden understanding about how our culture—yours and mine—views men, women, and sex. As always, it doesn't look good for the guys.
To be a prostitute means only to exchange sex for pay; but to prostitute oneself is a heavy bummer head trip involving spiritual suicide and a permanent fall from grace. To “prostitute” or “whore” oneself is to degrade, abuse, cheapen, and devalue oneself. It is to befoul, blaspheme, and contaminate thyself.
It matters not, my tastefully seasoned little butternut squash, whether you prefer to call her a harlot, strumpet, tart, trollop, concubine, courtesan, hooker, whore, or streetwalker. Each of these words, at least when referring to the female members of our species who have historically comprised the majority of prostitutes, implies a woman who trades gash for cash. (Male prostitutes trade cock for cash…or ass for cash…or a cock-and-ass combo platter…but I'm not interested in male prostitutes here. I'm trying to make a point about prostitution and gender, and all those sweaty male jockers and hairless boy twinks just get in the way.)
Ancient Sanskrit is said to contain over three hundred nouns synonymous with “prostitute,” including Khumbhadasi, which, roughly translated, means “sperm spittoon.” To the Greeks, those wanton girls who would in more enlightened modern times be christened “sex workers” were known as “chopper-ups,” “she-wolves,” “kneading-troughs,” “ground-thumpers,” and “bedroom articles.” The very word ‘pornography' is derived from a Greek phrase meaning “the writings of a prostitute.”
The word ‘prostitute' itself has its roots in a Latin word meaning “to expose in public for sale.” Among other colorful sobriquets such as “night moths” and “grave-watchers,” the ancient Romans commonly referred to prostitutes as meretricis, meaning simply “girls who earn.”
In many ancient societies, prostitution was inextricably tied to the sacred rather than the profane. It was an indelible feature of religious rituals worldwide, yet world religions ultimately turned against it and deemed it a bad, bad, naughty, evil, stinky thing.
It is my task to trace the historical trajectory of prostitution, from sacred to profane. Then, failing any substantial insight regarding the historical lesson, I will offer my personal opinions about why prostitution is forever doomed to be something less-than-kosher.
ALTHOUGH COMMONLY KNOWN AS "THE WORLD'S OLDEST PROFESSION," there is evidence that prostitution may be older than civilization itself. Throughout the zoological kingdom, girl animals consistently give up the pussy to the strongest male who controls the most turf. Biologists refer to this giving-up-of-the-pussy as “presenting behavior,” in which the female primate deliberately presents her genitalia to the male, signifying she's ready to GET IT ON. Animal behaviorists have observed female Bonobo chimpanzees exhibiting “presenting behavior” to males in exchange for food and protection. Male chimps will reportedly act much more tolerant of females stealing their food after having had sex with them. Similar behavior has been observed in female penguins—they're more likely to throw some pooty to whichever boy penguin can provide them with rocks for nest-building.
A LONG TIME AGO IN LANDS FAR AWAY, before the Christians and Jews and Muslims came on the scene to ruin everything, men would flock to the local temple and fuck the shit out of “sacred prostitutes.” For a small honorarium, a man could simultaneously enter the harlot's vagina and the realm of the divine.
The Sumerians, who were around, like, a million years ago, employed “temple maidens” who accepted donations in exchange for a roll in the hay and a promise that she'd talk to God about providing abundant crops that year.
Sacred prostitution was likewise practiced in ancient Babylon, which required all Babylonian gals to turn a trick at the Temple of Mylitta (AKA Ishtar) at least once in their lives. Women were not allowed to leave the temple until a male had tossed a coin (of any value) in her lap, uttered the phrase, “I summon you in the name of the goddess Mylitta,” and took her hand as they proceeded to knock boots until he achieved the proper release.
For thousands of years (until India finally outlawed the practice in 1988), Hindu devadasis (slaves of god) sucked and fucked their way onto higher karmic planes. Unlike the implicitly low status of modern-day stretched-out/dried-up crack whores, the devadasis were highly esteemed members of Hindu culture who occupied lofty tiers in a highly terraced class system. These temple prostitutes, and all their dirty positions which came in handy during fivesomes and sixsomes, are amply depicted in ancient Hindu sculpture and paintings.
Hebrew biblical prophets, those fucking killjoys, were among the first to publicly start hammering on the idea that low-cost sex with temple harlots was something less-than-holy. Then along came the Greeks and Romans to further secularize the prostitute and make her a strictly commercial being—a sex worker rather than a sex goddess . From then until now, in every culture under the sun, prostitution has been increasingly associated with the defiled rather than the divine. The fall from grace is now complete—civilization has plummeted all the way from bronzed temple goddesses to scabby shit-stained crack whores who'll float you a beej for three bucks. We've sunk from royal courtesans of exquisite beauty and refinement to truck-stop lizards who'll let you stick fingers up their ass in exchange for a few hearty tugs on your meth pipe.
CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS AND RADICAL LEFT-WING FEMINISTS will tell you that prostitution is innately rotten—that it can't be rehabilitated or reformed and must be destroyed. They use different pathways to arrive at this dire conclusion—one side blames “the Devil” while the other blames men, AKA “the Devil.” But if prostitution is getting worse, they argue, it is only because bad things tend to get worse if left untreated.
Both groups will bark statistics at you about how the screaming bulk of prostitutes were forcibly diddled as children and shoved into the sex biz while barely in their teens. Some will claim that most prostitutes get raped at least once during their career…others allege they'll get raped multiple times a week on average…and some will claim that the very act of being prostituted is rooted in misogyny, rape fantasy, and smelly, beer-bellied-male domination.
Prostitution's opponents will enthusiastically trot out exhaustive and graphic tales of brutality for anyone willing to listen. They'll tell the stories about prostitutes being punished in olden days by having their noses cut off, cauterized with red-hot irons, dunked underwater while trapped in cages, and paraded through town on an animal cart while citizens jeered and threw doody at them. They'll talk of a global sex-slave market which pitilessly shleps around nearly one million starved, battered, bruised, and shrieking victims yearly, most of whom are ultimately burned with cigarettes while being forced to fellate a row of unwashed, HIV-positive guerrilla soldiers. They'll talk about herpes sores and pelvic dislocations and kicks to the face and forced hormone injections and multiple suicide attempts.
They'll dredge up Jack the Ripper's disemboweled strumpets and the dozens of soggy victims left strewn by the Green River Killer, who claimed he murdered whores because nobody cared enough about them to wonder who killed them. They'll talk about women stuffed into trunks and child prostitutes who drink detergent to kill gonorrhea and boy eunuchs in India who have priests create surgical vaginas for them in order to pimp them out for high-risk sex.
They'll tell you—and they wouldn't be lying—that there are as many hookers in the Philippines as there are factory workers, and that Thailand has more whorehouses than schools. And they can't help but remind you that the Nazis were known to patronize sex workers of both genders.
PROSTITUTION'S DEFENDERS—basically a bunch of fat chicks in San Francisco—may concede that all such abuses exist, but they'd pin it on entirely different reasons than the ho-haters. To the whore apologists, prostitution truly is something sanctified, if not outright sanctimonious—it's just that a patriarchal pig society and its horrid suppression of Mystical Female Sex Juices has defamed and debauched and stigmatized this once-holy ritual. They argue that hooking should be legalized and that “sex workers” should receive governmental protection, support, and possibly even medals. They form honest-to-God organizations such as The International Committee for Prostitutes' Rights and the Sex Workers Outreach Project. They hold events such as the Sex Worker Festival and the World Whores Conference. There's even a “Whore College” which holds seminars in “Boundary Roleplaying” and “Advanced Courses in Sexuality and Erotic Touch.” These brassy wimmin teach workshops and build support groups and foster networking and offer alternative health resources. They strive for empowerment, dignity, respect, autonomy, and universal human rights, especially for sex workers. In short, they're possibly even more full of shit than their opponents. They're prostitarded.
NATURALLY, I DISAGREE WITH BOTH SIDES. I laugh at the sphincter-gripped censor-moralists because I don't view the flesh trade as a Bottomless Pit of Human Evil, nor is it worse than any other prohibited vice.
I'll concede to the sex-positive sex workers, as well as all their proud sisters lurking in the mystical menstrual night, that hooking would probably be safer for all involved if it were legalized. But the idea of gash-for-cash ever being uplifting or noble or—gasp— sacred? Never in a million years. It has nothing to do with misogyny or the idea that whoring degrades the whore.
Nope. It degrades the john. It degrades the overworked husband. It even degrades the male chimp who trades chimp food for chimp pussy. Underlying the whole stinking biz, there's an implication that when a male and female have sex, this somehow doesn't constitute an equal exchange of services. At the end of his orgasm, the man still owes . The female is expected to give sex; the man is expected to give sex plus something of value, because his sex is deemed worthless. The idea of men as lousy, inept, unsatisfying lovers is what underlines prostitution and taints the entire equation. It's unfair to men, and it hurts our feelings.
The same unjust principle applies from the temples out to the jungles. Females are expected to provide sex, and that's it. Males are expected to provide sex PLUS DURABLE GOODS. That's a fundamental inequality between the sexes. If you don't see that point, well, you must be a sexist. You don't find female chimps and penguins offering their boyfriends food or building materials or protection—nah, the girl-beasties just give up the gash and call it even.
What are you saying, Miss Ho? My sex isn't as good as your sex? Sex with me is worth less than sex with you? My pink ding-a-ling pales in comparison to your purple snapper? Fuck you—I'd rather jack off than give you a penny. Prostitution is a dirty business insulting to all males, from the dirty billionaire who buys a trophy wife all the way down to the dirty penguins and the dirty little chimps.
Rise up, boy monkeys, and revolt!
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Quotes About Whores
Prostitutes are a necessity. Without them, men would attack respectable women in the streets.
Whores...are dreadful, shabby, stinking, loathsome, and syphilitic, as daily experience unfortunately demonstrates....Women were made either to be wives or prostitutes.
Grown men should not be having sex with prostitutes unless they are married to them.
The profession of a prostitute is the only career in which the maximum income is paid to the newest apprentice.
For when she is sleepy, she cannot sleep; she must stay awake to caress some scurfy man, a huge, ugly buffalo, who has a mouth that smells like turds, and will bang away at all of her.
The prostitute is not, as feminists claim, the victim of men but rather their conqueror, an outlaw who controls the sexual channel between nature and culture.
Prostitutes are accused even by feminists of selling their bodies; but prostitutes don't sell their bodies, they rent their bodies. Housewives sell their bodies when they get married.
—Florynce R. Kennedy
Prostitution is not an idea. It is the mouth, the vagina, the rectum, penetrated usually by a penis, sometimes hands, sometimes objects, by one man and then another and then another and then another and then another. That's what it is.
The simple fact that a girl can earn far more than in any other way, and earn it far more easily, by lying on her back and spreading her legs, is evident to every female.
The truth is that prostitution is one of the most attractive of the occupations practically open to the sort of women who engage in it, and that the prostitute commonly likes her work, and would not exchange places with a shop-girl or a waitress for anything in the world....So long as the average prostitute is able to make a good living, she is quite content with her lot, and disposed to contrast it egotistically with the slavery of her virtuous sisters. If she complains of it, then you may be sure that her success is below her expectations....It was established, indeed, that fully eighty percent [of former prostitutes] married, and that they almost always got husbands who would have been far beyond their reach had they remained virtuous.
—H. L. Mencken
Girl's don't pay—guys pay!
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Weird Tales of Whoredom Throughout the Ages
• Roman Emperor Tiberius liked his prostitutes so young that he was known to force unweaned babies to perform fellatio on him. In 84 A.D., such excesses led Emperor Domitian to outlaw prostitution for any child under seven.
• Ancient Tibetans believed that tobacco grew only if sprinkled with the blood of menstruating prostitutes.
• Circa 100 A.D., Teutonic tribes punished Women of Ill Repute by smothering them in feces.
• The lawyer for an ancient Greek hetaera (high-class courtesan) named Phryne, sensing he was losing his client's trial for “impiety” charges, abruptly tore off Phryne's clothes, revealing her legendary breasts to an awestruck courtroom. The judges acquitted her.
• In 1501, Pope Alexander VI allegedly threw an orgy featuring fifty nude prostitutes who delighted onlookers by crawling between rows of lit candles while picking up chestnuts with their labia.
• French whores in the 1700s could escape legal punishment by joining the opera.
• In 1991, three men in Tennessee were arrested after soliciting a female police officer who was wearing a hat with the word POLICE on it.
• Taiwanese police claimed in 2001 that they were attempting to aid an 82-year-old prostitute nicknamed “Grandma” in her journey to find a way out of the business.
• Italian police arrested a 24-year-old prostitute in 2001 and charged her with “unfair competition” because her prices were too low.
• In 2002, an Israeli man requested an escort for his hotel room and suffered a heart attack when his daughter arrived.
• During 2005, a Richmond, VA, transsexual hooker named Monica Renee Champion had simultaneous arrest warrants as a male (south side of town) and a female (north side).
• In March, 2006, after failing to receive payment from a john, a British prostitute bit his penis so hard that he required surgery.