“Contains enough scholarly detail to allow one to employ the ‘I read Playboy for the articles’ defense.” Jared Paul Stern, New York Post
Love for Sale
A World History of Prostitution
978-0-8021-4184-2 • $15.00 • Paperback • Feb. 2005
An authoritative and entertaining world history of “the world’s oldest profession,” from the Whore of Babylon and Mary Magdalene to The Happy Hooker and the contemporary sex-worker movement
The exchange of sex for money is often cited as “the world’s oldest profession” and is certainly the most controversial: from Eve and Lilith to Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, the prostitute has been a lightning rod for changing notions of love, sexual identity, morality, and gender. Now eminent historian Nils Johan Ringdal delivers an authoritative and entertaining world history of this most maligned, and most persistent, form of human commerce, from the Whore of Babylon and Mary Magdalene to The Happy Hooker and the contemporary sex-worker movement.
Beginning with the epic of Gilgamesh, the Old Testament, and ancient cultures from Greece to India and beyond, Love for Sale takes the reader on a tour through the entire recorded history of prostitution around the globe up to the modern red-light district. It shows how different societies have viewed and dealt with prostitutesfor example, how ancient Greece and Rome incorporated them into several social echelons, even the priestess class; how the rise of the courtesan in nineteenth-century Europe shaped literature (with Zola’s immortal Nana), fashion, the arts, and the modern sensibility. It uncovers the first manuals of sex and seduction, and tells the stories of the British Empire’s campaigns against prostitution in India and about the “comfort women” who served the armies in the Pacific theater of World War II. It closes with the rise of the sex-workers’ rights movement and “sex-positive” feminism, and a realistic look at the true risks and rewards of prostitution in the present day.
Love for Sale spans a wide historical swathe armed with a lively wit and no-nonsense grasp of sex that recalls Camille Paglia’s Sexual Personae.