Thursday, September 30, 2010

How 19th Century Prostitutes Were Among the Freest, Wealthiest, Most Educated Women of Their Time

Good piece, you should pardon the expression, at AlterNet (!)

In the nineteenth century, a woman who owned property, made high wages, had sex outside of marriage, performed or received oral sex, used birth control, consorted with men of other races, danced, drank, or walked alone in public, wore makeup, perfume, or stylish clothes -- and was not ashamed -- was probably a whore.

I think the word 'whore' is better applied to politicians and right-wing gasbags than it is to the ladies who practice legal prostitution. Call a hooker a whore in a legal Nevada brothel and count your bullet holes. But I digress...

High-end madams were not the only prostitutes who acquired substantial wealth. A middle-class reformer in Virginia City, Nevada, noted with disdain that local prostitutes were "always dressed the richest." The historians Blackburn and Ricards concluded that while prostitutes in Virginia City were not the richest people in town, they "did amass more wealth than most of their customers. In addition, compared with other women of the city, the white prostitutes were well-to-do. This was because virtually none of the married women and very few unmarried women had any money at all. If the prostitutes came West to compete economically with others of their sex, they were successful."

Today's women attorneys might also find their earliest ancestors among western madams, who regularly appeared in court on their own behalf and won quite frequently. [...]

Ladies, if you should decide to return to the strategy of those halcyon days in order to advance in society, I offer you the secret of success:

Senior citizen discounts.

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