Jeanne de Clisson

The Honest Courtesan

Impenetrable in their dissimulation, cruel in their vengeance, tenacious in their purposes, unscrupulous as to their methods, animated by profound and hidden hatred for the tyranny of man…  –  Denis Diderot, “On Women”

As I have written on numerous occasions, the fallacious notion of the prostitute as a specific type of woman, with characteristics that set her apart from all other women, is a relatively recent one.  Prior to the mid-19th century it was widely understood that transactional sex was a normal female behavior, one that any woman might engage in under the proper circumstances.  This is not to say that it was accepted and condoned; far from it.  But nobody imagined that a woman was entirely defined by the act, either, nor embraced the foolish fantasy that only women of a certain background or experience made the choice.  I have also often pointed out that women are…

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