In light of Eliot Spitzer's recent announcement that he was involved in a prostitution ring, the HuffPost Living editors have put together this handy-dandy list of everything you need to know about the world's oldest profession. Then we want you to tell us below in comments what you think of prostitution, if you think it should be legal, if you've ever used a prostitute (no judgment here!), and what we've left out.
1. First, let's get the boring legal business out of the way. What exactly is prostitution?
Prostitution is "the act or practice of engaging in sexual intercourse for money."
2. Okay, got it. So is it common for men to use prostitutes?
According to Dr. Teela Sanders, a senior lecturer at the University of Leeds, and the author of Paying For Pleasure: Men Who Buy Sex, nearly one in three men will buy sex at some point in his life. . .and we're not talking porn.
Keep reading at Tango.
3. But why do men pay for it if they can just do it for free?
Married relationships can't provide this special "time out" stuff. Marriages are centered around finance, around children. This is a time out where it's purely about men having sexual satisfaction outside the bounds of a normal relationship. Men use their financial privilege to buy an intimate experience they can't get in their conventional relationship.
Also, this relationship is protected by the exchange. The men don't feel as though there's going to be some other emotional component, because the contract is very clear. This level of intimacy is an exchange, and the women who do this emotional labor make a lot of money. That's why you see this high end.
Keep reading at Tango.
4. Why do powerful men who seem to have it all, then go and screw everything up?
In [social psychologist Dr. Gerri] King's view, most everyone is reasonably comfortable being an average person. "There's room in most people's self-image for mistakes and foibles and inconsistencies," she says. "If you're just a normal person, you're allowed to be you. What's expected of you is reasonable. You have normal friends. And maybe most of all, you have normal expectations."
But if suddenly you're elevated into an elite level of society or business, you may have to retrofit your identity or conduct. Making these changes in your life can be an unsettling challenge. Let's say you're promoted to group president from a low-profile position.You have to put your characteristic sarcasm on hold during press conferences and corporate events. Your circle of friends or acquaintances may shift, as may your array of choices and freedoms.
Keep reading at Best Life.
5. How do blowjobs fuel the demand for prostitutes?
A 2001 study by Martin A. Monto, published in the Journal of Sex Research, indicates that "the desire for fellatio is an important reason clients seek female prostitutes." Monto's study gathered questionnaires from men arrested while trying to hire hookers; according to the pervy perps, fellatio was the most common practice they "had ever experienced" with a prostitute--a whopping 81% had received a blowjob as compared to 55% who had had sex.
Keep reading at Tango.
6. Why do prostitutes rake in so much dough?
Prostitution is, seemingly, a low-skill but high-pay profession with few upfront costs, micro-miniskirts and stiletto heels aside.
According to data assembled from a wide variety of times and places, ranging from mid-15th-century France to Malaysia of the late 1990s, prostitutes make more money--in some cases, a lot more money--than do working girls who, well, work for a living. This held true even for places where prostitution is legal and relatively safe.
...One normally cannot be both a wife and a whore. "Combine this with the fact that marriage can be an important source of income for women, and it follows that prostitution must pay better than other jobs to compensate for the opportunity cost of forgone-marriage market earnings."
Keep reading at Forbes.
7. How does one become a prostitute?
A flat in a block in a suburb of London: Karen (not her real name) thinks her neighbours probably realise she sells sex for a living. A few years earlier, Karen had left an unhappy marriage and began using internet chat rooms to meet men. "I started going on blind dates and it slowly started to evolve into having sex with strangers," she says. It wasn't such a huge leap, she says, into charging for what she was giving anyway. "I had a bad month, financially, as I invariably would, and it started as a trickle.
Keep reading at The Guardian.
8. What's the craziest prostitution story of all time?
A Polish man got the shock of his life when he visited a brothel and spotted his wife among the establishment's employees. Polish tabloid Super Express said the woman had been making some extra money on the side while telling her husband she worked at a store in a nearby town. "I was dumfounded. I thought I was dreaming," the husband told the newspaper. The couple, married for 14 years, are now divorcing, the newspaper reported.
From The Daily Telegraph.
9. Why is prostitution illegal?
In the late 19th century a variety of changes in Western societies revived efforts to suppress prostitution. With the rise of feminism, many came to regard male libertinism as a threat to women's status and physical health.
In the United States, prostitution was at best sporadically controlled until passage of the federal Mann Act (1910), which prohibited interstate transportation of women for "immoral purposes." By 1915 nearly all states had passed laws that banned brothels or regulated the profits of prostitution. After World War II, prostitution remained prohibited in most Western countries, though it was unofficially tolerated in some cities.
Authorities also intervened to prevent girls from being coerced into prostitution ("white slavery"). Prostitution is illegal in most of the United States, though it is lawful in some counties in Nevada.
Keep reading at Britannica.com.
10. What's new with prostitution outside the U.S.?
Apparently in Japan, a country where shrinks are taboo, visitors to "love hotels" are sometimes just looking to chat, while Kenya has recently seen an upswing in older female sex tourists.
11. What does it feel like for a woman to discover her man is sleeping with hookers?
I stayed up all night that night, unable to sleep or work or even think. I couldn't believe that the nice Jewish guy I was falling so hard for, the one with the high-powered job and Upper West Side apartment, who could be so sweet and tender, was doing this. I felt disgusted.
I didn't say anything to him the next morning. I just gathered what little I'd stored at his place and left. It all felt like a dream--especially since I was so overtired. When I finally confronted him a few days later, he told me it "had nothing to do with me." I was stunned all over again by the realization that he could rationalize it that way. If that were true, his ability to compartmentalize sex--something he also engaged in with me--made me realize we would never have worked in the long-term.
Keep reading at Tango.
12. So do women use prostitutes?
Once, sometimes twice, a month I meet up with Justin, a 36-year-old divorcé. We go out for a meal and maybe to a club before spending the night in a hotel. I am a divorced mum and work part time to spend as much time as I can with my four children. Justin also has four children. But what differentiates our dates from the norm is that I pay for Justin's company, including having sex with him.
Keep reading The Times Online.
13. Are brothels safe?
Since the institution of mandatory condoms in Nevada's brothels in 1988, not a single sex worker has contracted HIV.
Keep reading at LAist.com.
14. This is all very informative. So where can I find prostitutes?