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There are so many wonderful, interesting, thought-provoking, insightful, moving, irritating, enlightening, encouraging, aggravating, knowledgeable, ignorant, stereotypical, liberating, factual and nonsensical articles and books written about sex work and sex workers that would take a lifetime to quote them all. We will bring you the best that we find and hope that you will share with us any which you might be aware of that we have not presented here. Please feel free to e-mail or write us, listing the author, source, publisher and date of the quote or article. If any of the information contained herein is used by our readers, please list the source and author as provided at the end of the quote. Thank you.

"The simple fact is that there is a definite prostitute type, all the intellectuals to the contrary." Lee Mortimer, Women Confidential

"The typical prostitute doesn't exist." Theodore Rubin, M.D. In the Life

(quotes courtesy of "Prostitution and Morality" by Harry Benjamin, M.D. & R.E.L. Masters Julian Press 1964

"If they don't like the brothels, they needn't go to them." Charles II King of England

Cops and Muggers

"Without exception, every cop who entraps or persecutes homosexuals, every judge who vindictively sentences them, every prosecuting attorney who pushes vengefully for gay conviction, every rabid police chief who rants against homosexuality- without exception each is to some extent at war with his own sexual fears... the intensity of his unexplored self-doubts determines his danger to true law and order. The main reason for becoming a vice cop on the gay detail is one of suppressed sexuality.... Entrapment- illegal (at that time editor's note)- is rampant and provides cops a sexual exorcism.... In public places they fondle themselves. They can thus "pretend" for a short period to be what they fear they are.... A midnight call from a friend: 'I've been busted! the guy propositioned me! Please get me out!' And you feel the surrogate horror- tonight it's not you."

The Sexual Outlaw by John Rechy/ Grove Press 1977

Flora and Fauna

"Flora, when she had amassed great wealth by the arts of the courtesan, made the people her heir and left a settled sum of money, the annual interest on which should enable her birthday to be celebrated by the production of the games which they call the Floralia, which seemed scandalous to the senate, they were please to find an argument for, in her name, that some dignity might be added to a disgraceful business; and they pretended she was the goddess who presides over flowers and that it was meet that man should appease her, that the fruits, with the trees and the vines , might flourish well and prosperously..... And so these games are celebrated, as befits the memory of a courtesan,with every kind of lasciviousness, for besides the licence of language, which is an outpouring of all obscenity, courtesans, who on this occasion, play the part of actresses, upon the fierce solicitation of the people, do even strip off their clothes and are so kept dancing obscenely in the public view, even to the surfeiting of lustful eyes."

Dictionary of Courtesans by C. Hayward/ University Books 1962

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"Then at the end of the week came the visit to the police station, as instituted by the government, where doctors- men in the service of the Government- sometimes seriously and strictly, sometimes with playful levity, examined these women completely destroying the modesty given as a protection not only to human beings but also to animals, and gave them written permission to continue in the sins they and their accomplices had been committing all the week. Then followed another week of the same kind: always the same every night, summer and winter, working days and holidays. And in this manner Katusha Maslova lived seven years...

What astonished him most was that Katusha was not ashamed of her position- not the position of prisoner (she was ashamed of that), but her position as a prostitute. She seemed satisfied, even proud of it. And yet how could it be otherwise? Everybody in order to be able to act, has to consider his occupation important and good... She was an attractive woman, and it lay in her power to satisfy or not to satisfy this desire (in men), and therefore she was an important and necessary person. The whole of her former and present life was a confirmation of the correctness of this conception.... This, then, was how Maslova understood life and with such a view of life she was by no means the lowest but a very important person. And Maslova prized this view more than anything else; she could not but prize it, for if she lost the importance that such a view of life gave her among men, she would lose the meaning of her life."


Dictionary of Courtesans by C. Hayward/ University Books 1962

Ninon de Lenclos

"Mlle Anne de L'Enclos (for Ninon was only a pet name) was born at Paris on May 15th, 1616.... At fifteen she found herself an orphan, possessed of a strong inclination to employ to the enjoyment of her liberty a natural boldness, seasoned with wit and tempered by good taste, that was to revive in her the life of the courtesans of Greece...... Ninon was one of the first women to emancipate herself, to affirm that there is in reality only one morality for men and women alike; that in reducing, as society does, all women's virtues to one alone, society depreciates her, wrongs her, and disables her; that she seems to be excluded, as a class, from the exercise of probity, that more masculine and comprehensive virtue, which in fact includes them all; and that this probity is even reconcilable in a woman with the disregard of that quality to which alone, in conventional language, the name virtue is attached. 'Women's virtue is man's best invention'- is the striking saying of a wit of our own times,

Dictionary of Courtesans by C. Hayward/ University Books 1962

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Urban Prostitution in the Middle Ages

In fifteenth- century France, public prostitution was condoned by all sectors of society. Clerics and municipal officials not only tolerated prostitution, but were often its principal beneficiaries, owning and frequenting brothels quite openly.

"Nevertheless, it was in the towns and cities that prostitution really flourished, took on complex forms, and became institutionalized. Most of the urban centres of south-east France had a municipal brothel, a prostibulum publicum, constructed and maintained by princely or municipal authorities...(the cities of France) all had their maison lupanarde, their bon hostel.... in popular parlance it was usually simply referred to as le bordel, the brothel.

More often than not, the urban brothel was built with public funds (that is, with tax revenues) and was leased to a manager, who in theory held a monopoly of prostitution in the town or city...If need be- for example, if the 'abbess' should die or leave during the time of her lease- the city fathers did not hesitate to take over the running of the house themselves.... City councils made only somewhat lukewarm attempts to control prostitution, however. It was an exceptional occurrence when the construction of a prostibulum publicum was undertaken in order to bring morality to city life, as was the case in Bourg-en-Bresse in 1439, where the municipality wanted to put an end to the scandals being committed daily in he market square. More commonly, the councils voted to give prostitution official recognition 'for common utility' or 'in the interest of public good.'

Medieval Prostitution by Jacques Rossiaud/ Barnes and Noble Books 1996


"I am not begging for sympathy. I chose with my eyes open to do what I am doing today. And I know that I have never enjoyed such self-esteem as I do now. I have escaped from emotional sponging. I cannot be put upon. If you want my body, you must pay for it. However odd the adjective may sound, there is, to me, something clean about that. What I am doing is a job like any other, a way of keeping alive..."

Sheila Cousins autobiography "To Beg I am Ashamed" (1953) as quoted in "Harlots, Whores and Hookers- A History of Prostitution" by Hilary Evans /Taplinger Press 1979

Daughters of the American Revolution

"In the first seventy- seven years of the seventeenth century somewhere between 9000 and 12,000 officially undesirable women were transported to the American mainland colonies. Given the projected number of descendants of the English slatterns a century later, it is surprising that the Daughters of the American Revolution are so mightily proud of their ancestry.... An idea of colonial demographics can be gained from the knowledge that aboard one ship bound for America in 1686, one fifth of the passengers, twelve of sixty, were 'notorious prostitutes.'"

Great Bordellos of the World by Emmett Murphy Quartet Books 1983

Prostitution is Caused by Feeble-Mindedness and other Fables

"A surprisingly high percentage of prostitutes were described as feeble-minded and gradually the belief in feeble-mindedness as a cause of prostitution received widespread acceptance. The Massachusetts White Slave Commission found that only 154 out of 300 interviewed prostitutes could be described as "normal." The 'mental defects' of the others, they asserted 'were so pronounced and evident to warrant the legal commitment of each one as a feeble-minded person or as a defective delinquent.'.... "

"What was feeble-mindedness?.... Another writer noted that two kinds of feeble-mindedness existed among prostitutes: those 'whose sexual inclinations are abnormally strong or whose power of self control over natural impulses is abnormally weak' and those 'who are passive, non- resistant, and will yield to anyone.' The Massachusetts investigation into white slavery further explained that the 'well known immoral tendencies and suggestibility and social incapacity of the feebleminded cause them to drift naturally into prostitution. The feeble-minded need only opportunity to express their immoral tendencies.'"

"It appears, then that feeble-mindedness had little to do with women's mental capacities; rather, the term 'explained' both 'inherited strains of degeneracy'- for which the prostitute could not really be blamed- and willful immoral behavior. That many prostitutes expressed contempt for middle-class niceties and values was offered as strong evidence of their feeble-mindedness.... Rather than indicating mental deficiency, the label feeble-minded instead referred to prostitutes' refusal to conform to middle-class values and behavioral patterns. Using the scientific language of the day, reformers could both excuse and blame prostitutes at the same time, thus expressing their deep ambivalence about the nature of prostitution and female sexuality."

The Lost Sisterhood- Prostitution in America, 1900-1918 Ruth Rosen/John Hopkins University Press 1982

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