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For instance, he is scathing about the campaign of the journalist WT Stead, who in the 19th century bought a year-old girl in order to prove that sex with children was available. Stead did not really highlight a major problem, Ringdal says, explaining: "There were few underage British prostitutes in other countries and very little demand for them. The one abducted teenager the world became aware of was a construct of the press. Dostoyevsky, for instance, visited London in , and wrote: "In the Haymarket I saw mothers who had brought their young daughters, girls who were still in their teens, to be sold to me.

Little girls of about 12 seize you by the hand and ask you to go with them. Sadly, the lack of clear annotation in this book made it impossible for me to find out who it was who originally found British prostitutes to be overweight rather than underage. There are other places, too, where you cannot help but wonder whether Ringdal is weighing up the most urgent issues of the period under consideration. When he deals with the prostitutes who served the German army in the second world war, although he admits that in eastern Europe there was "an increasing number of sexual attacks on civilian women", he still says happily: "The German army and navy were characterised by strict discipline.

Stern measures were meted out to soldiers suspected of sexual violence.

That is not to say that Ringdal never deals with the nastiness and violence that can accompany prostitution. He discusses the comfort women forced by the Japanese to provide sex for the army and the prevalence of gang rapes in Europe in the s and s. But you sense a sort of relief when he returns to his anecdotes of beautiful geishas and well-educated New York call girls with their "fabulous undergarments It is not always easy in this book to distinguish dream and desire from historical experience.

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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 up to the modern red-light district. It shows how different societies have dealt with prostitutes—ancient Greece, Rome, and India incorporated them into several social echelons, including the priestess class; their close relations with artists in 19th-century Europe made them muses to the modern sensibility; the Victorians campaigned against them.

Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published January 18th by Grove Press first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions 8. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Love For Sale , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. It is in essence a global social history of prostitution, particularly its ever-evolving position of tolerance or ostracization in society.

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The mixed results of legalization policies on those points are clearly visible when the state relies too It is in essence a global social history of prostitution, particularly its ever-evolving position of tolerance or ostracization in society. The mixed results of legalization policies on those points are clearly visible when the state relies too much on overzealous Social Justice Warriors in the implementation of its policy. Antiquity is fairly uniform. This comprises the Ancient Middle East, the first civilization of the Indus valley, the Egypt of the Pharaohs and our own Classical world.

The omnipresent pejorative distinction between questionable streetwalker or doorwaystander, to be precise and the unattainable courtesan has, by contrast, has survived into the present day in the low-level prices of the red light district and the high-class escort.

The focus lies on the comparatively rich and accessible source material of the Greco-Roman world, which operated within an entirely different mental frame. The position of Christianity was understandably conflicted from the beginning, which translated into a sharper social division of prostitution. The Church preferred it as a lesser evil to homosexuality among the clergy.

In the secular world, the licensed brothel prospered, under close medical supervision of the urban authorities and with generous contributions to religious architecture. For some reason, the author speaks of the predominant use of the missionary position here. Is it possible that the very art of lovemaking went into decline? I chose to question this part vehemently. The Renaissance meant, in the realm of love for sale, foremost a Renaissance in venereal disease.

Syphilis reared its ugly head around and caused a severe decline of the brothel, driving ordinary prostitution into an unsanitary underground. On the other end, high-class courtesans attained an unprecedented level of fame, not by sheer virtue of their looks or amorous talent, but also by their skills as donna universalis and as a source of inspiration for artists.

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In other fields, the shadow of the Middle Ages stretched forth across the centuries. Within the nobility and royalty, the political influence of the blonde nymph had her roots there; my favourite anecdote concerns a courtesan who was the only woman to ever seduce Henri II of France, who mostly preferred male company until the captain of his bodyguard accidentally pierced his brain with a lance splinter at a tournament, as recorded by Nostradamus: "The young lion will overcome the older one, On the field of combat in a single battle; He will pierce his eyes through a golden cage, Two wounds made one, then he dies a cruel death.

Up to that point, Maria Magdalena had been a contradiction in extremis par excellence for many Christian thinkers and, according to diaries preserved in the archives of the religious orders, a nightly temptation for the more imaginative monk. Devout yet fallen, she was more human and easy to relate to than many figures in the pantheon of saints, gaining fame as a patron saint not just for the ladies of the night, but also for such borderline crafts as glove-making.

She was omnipresent in the art of the crucifixion, gradually letting her hair and her gown down. This tells us something of what was considered seductive from generation to generation.

Love for Sale: A World History of Prostitution

To the modern eye, the evolution is appreciatively revealing. Christ and the Penitent Sinners by P. Rubens vs. Tilman Riemenschneider's Ascension of Maria Magdalena Away from the creamy skin on dark satin, adventurous explorers came into contact with cultures whose mores were different and deceptively more easygoing than those of the Old World.

Here the story really spreads its wings. African polygamy, the equality of the sexes on the isles of the South Seas and the truly matriarchal philosophies of Native American cultures all precluded the existence of prostitution as understood in a brutally economic context.

Love for Sale: A World History of Prostitution by Nils Johan Ringdal, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

The next two hundred years would see these practices pushed to the periphery as the global economy became more rigid under the umbrella of imperialism first and neoliberal capitalism second. Time and again, a work force made up predominantly of young unmarried men concentrated in mercantile and industrial areas, resulting in a corresponding concentration of bordellos. Japan, as so often, proved an exception to the rule prior to the arrival of commodore Perry. The formality to prevalent in Japanese society created a unique aloofness where the girl would not so much as smile or make eye contact during the preceding meal, but at the same time these visits where the talk of Edo thanks to the mandatory presence of her entourage.

Alas, Josephine Butler, in her laudable fight against the discriminating Contagious Diseases Acts and "White slavery" both actual trafficking and moral panic , has created a political framework that sanctions intervention by the police force and social welfare organizations out of a perceived moral superiority, dangerously oversimplifying the complex reality of 21st century prostitution.

View 2 comments. Sep 17, N rated it it was ok Shelves: history , non-fiction. A global history of prostitution? From ancient times through to modern? Cataloguing every country on the globe? And all in the space of pages? Wow, Nils Ringdal must be quite a writer! In fact, Ringdal is not remotely up to the challenge. It would have been a much better effort had Ringdal narrowed his focus and given a history of prostitution in one country or during one time period.

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What we have instead is an overambitious mess. There are interesting bits and pieces to be found in Love For Sale — although, often, just as I was becoming interested in a chapter, it would end. Just as often, however, I zoned out because Ringdal wandered off the subject of prostitution into boring irrelevance. Context is important, but Ringdal often brings in needless details that just weigh the book down. The historical relevance of this is not clear.


A critique by an academic about what other academics are doing is not really what I wanted from a history book. Delving deep into history, Ringdal has the unenviable challenge of trying to use documents that were overwhelming written by men to try and deduce whether women were actually getting what they wanted. But who knows? Apr 08, Gail rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction. Ringdal begins with The Whore described in the Gilgamesh epic and devotes chapters to such diverse topics as Middle Eastern temple prostitutes, pre-colonial Africa, the tango and its Argentinian brothel origins, forced sex slavery during WWII, and on up through the NYC call-girl rings of the s.

I quite enjoyed reading this book--intriguing topic and a well-rounded i. I really enjoyed how many chapters, though roundly covering the specific topic at hand, were threaded through with one or two more detailed personal stories. It was informative and entertaining to see the broad concepts and trends discussed in the chapter exemplified in some real-life personal histories. My one problem with it, however, was the horrendous citation. There is a list of references at the back of the book; however, there are no in-text citations or footnotes, thus making it nearly impossible to track down any of the facts for a fact checking or b further reading!