The following are a number of quotes I’ve collected about prostitution and related subjects. I’ll add to it from time to time, and you may also see these pop up as epigrams to my posts. All are listed alphabetically by author.
Polly Adler (1900-1962)
The women who take husbands not out of love but out of greed, to get their bills paid, to get a fine house and clothes and jewels; the women who marry to get out of a tiresome job, or to get away from disagreeable relatives, or to avoid being called an old maid — these are whores in everything but name. The only difference between them and my girls is that my girls gave a man his money’s worth.
Madeleine K. Albright (born 1937)
There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women.
St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
Prostitution in the towns is like the cesspool in the palace: take away the cesspool and the palace will become an unclean and evil-smelling place.
W.H. Auden (1907-1973)
You must go to bed with friends or whores, where money makes up the difference in beauty or desire.
St. Augustine (354-430)
Suppress prostitution, and capricious lusts will overthrow society.
Georges Bataille (1897-1962)
Not every woman is a prostitute, but prostitution is the natural apotheosis of the feminine attitude.
Brendan Behan (1923-1964)
The big difference between sex for money and sex for free is that sex for money usually costs a lot less.
Martin Behrman (1864-1926)
You can make prostitution illegal, but you can’t make it unpopular.
William Blake (1757-1827)
Every harlot was a virgin once.
Prisons are built with stones of law, brothels with bricks of religion.
Georg Büchner (1813–1837)
Freedom and whores are the most cosmopolitan items under the sun.
Josephine Butler (1828-1906)
Beware of purity workers [who are]…ready to accept and endorse any amount of coercive and degrading treatment of their fellow creatures in the fatuous belief that you can oblige human beings to be moral by force.
George Carlin (1937-2008)
I don’t understand why prostitution is illegal. Selling is legal. Fucking is legal. Why isn’t selling fucking legal? You know, why should it be illegal to sell something that’s perfectly legal to give away?
Angela Carter (1940-1992)
What is marriage but prostitution to one man instead of many?
The whore is despised by the hypocritical world because she has made a realistic assessment of her assets and does not have to rely on fraud to make a living. In an area of human relations where fraud is regular practice between the sexes, her honesty is regarded with a mocking wonder.
Cato the Younger (95-46 BCE)
Blessed be they as virtuous, who when they feel their virile members swollen with lust, visit a brothel rather than grind at some husband’s private mill.
Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992)
A country without bordellos is like a house without bathrooms.
Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)
Whores are the most honest girls. They present the bill right away.
Mary Barnett Gilson (1877-1959)
Women cannot claim the right to be considered mature and responsible until they decide the course of their lives for themselves and refuse to be a “manipulated group.”
Glycera (late 4th century BCE)
It makes no difference whether youth is corrupted by a philosopher or a courtesan.
Emma Goldman (1869-1940)
To the moralist prostitution does not consist so much in the fact that the woman sells her body, but rather that she sells it out of wedlock.
Why waste your life working for a few shillings a week in a scullery, eighteen hours a day, when a woman could earn a decent wage by selling her body instead?
Robert A Heinlein (1907-1988)
It is possible that the percentage of honest and competent whores is higher than that of plumbers and much higher than that of lawyers. And enormously higher than that of professors.
…a true lady takes off her dignity with her clothes and does her whorish best. At other times you can be as modest and dignified as your persona requires.
Whores perform the same function as priests…but far more thoroughly.
Whoring is like military service…okay in the upper brackets, not so good lower down.
John Heywood (1497-1580)
Nothing agreeth worse/Than a lady’s heart and a beggar’s purse.
Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)
A woman cannot be herself in the society of the present day, which is an exclusively masculine society, with laws framed by men and with a judicial system that judges feminine conduct from a masculine point of view.
Samuel Milton Jones (1846-1904)
Why is it constantly necessary to do something to people? If we can’t do something for them, when are we going to learn to let them alone? Or must this incessant interference, this meddling, this mauling and manhandling, go on in the world forever and ever?
Kathy Keeton (born 1939)
I think if a woman has a right to an abortion and to control her body, then she has the right to exploit her body and make money from it. We have it hard enough. Why give up one of our major assets?
Florynce Kennedy (1916-2000)
Prostitutes are accused even by feminists of selling their bodies; but prostitutes don’t sell their bodies, they rent their bodies. Housewives sell their bodies when they get married.
.. tobacco kills 52,000 people a year from lung cancer, and there’s no telling how many lives have been ruined through drinking. But to my knowledge, no one has ever died of a blow job.
Karl Kraus (1874-1936)
Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country.
D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)
If a woman hasn’t got a tiny streak of a harlot in her, she’s a dry stick as a rule.
Henri Leclerc (born 1934)
I challenge you to distinguish a naked prostitute from any other naked woman.
C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.
James Madison (1751-1836)
That is not a just government where arbitrary restrictions, exemptions, and monopolies deny to part of its citizens that free use of their faculties, and free choice of their occupations.
Bernard Mandeville (1670-1733)
If courtesans and strumpets were to be prosecuted with as much rigour as some silly people would have it, what locks or bars would be sufficient to preserve the honour of our wives and daughters?
Herman Melville (1819-1891)
There is all of the difference in the world between paying and being paid.
Wilson Mizner (1876-1933)
Treat a whore like a lady and a lady like a whore.
Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962)
Why? It paid the rent. (after being asked why she had once posed nude for a calendar)
Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)
Women are not altogether in the wrong when they refuse the rules of life prescribed to the World, for men only have established them and without their consent.
Alison Neilans (1884-1942)
The prostitute is the scapegoat for everyone’s sins, and few people care whether she is justly treated or not. Good people have spent thousands of pounds in efforts to reform her, poets have written about her, essayists and orators have made her the subject of some of their most striking rhetoric; perhaps no class of people has been so much abused, and alternatively sentimentalized over as prostitutes have been but one thing they have never yet had, and that is simple legal justice.
Margaret Oliphant (1828-1897)
For everybody knows that it requires very little to satisfy the gentlemen, if a woman will only give her mind to it.
Camille Paglia (born 1947)
I view the prostitute as one of the few women who is totally in control of her fate, totally in control of the realm of sex. The lesbian feminists tried to take control of female sexuality away from men — but the prostitute was doing that all along.
The most successful prostitutes are invisible, because the sign of a prostitute’s success is her absolute blending with the environment. She’s so shrewd, she never becomes visible. She never gets in trouble. She has command of her life, and her clients.
The prostitute is not, as feminists claim, the victim of men but rather their conqueror, an outlaw who controls the sexual channel between nature and culture.
The stigma of the prostitute is the badge of her identity. That is why the client goes to her. If he wanted someone without a stigma, he’d go and screw the lady next door.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (born 1921)
I don’t think a prostitute is more moral than a wife, but they are doing the same thing.
Marcel Proust (1871-1922)
A woman one loves rarely suffices for all our needs, so we deceive her with another whom we do not love.
William Prynne (1600-1669)
It hath evermore been the notorious badge of prostituted strumpets and the lewdest harlots to ramble abroad to plays, to playhouses; whither no sober girls or women, but only branded whores and infamous adulteresses, did usually resort in ancient times.
Anna Quindlen (born 1952)
The issue is privacy. Why is the decision by a woman to sleep with a man she has just met in a bar a private one, and the decision to sleep with the same man for $100 subject to criminal penalties?
Helen Rowland (1875-1950)
Every man wants a woman to appeal to his better side, his nobler instincts and his higher nature-and another woman to help him forget them.
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
The total amount of undesired sex endured by women is probably greater in marriage than in prostitution.
Margo St. James (born 1937)
Punishing the prostitute promotes the rape of all women. When prostitution is a crime, the message conveyed is that women who are sexual are “bad,” and therefore legitimate victims of sexual assault. Sex becomes a weapon to be used by men.
Margaret Sanger (1879-1966)
No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body.
Olive Schreiner (1855-1920)
A little weeping, a little wheedling, a little self-degradation, a little careful use of our advantages, and then some man will say-”Come, be my wife!” With good looks and youth marriage is easy to attain. There are men enough; but a woman who has sold herself, even for a ring and a new name, need hold her skirt aside for no creature in the street. They both earn their bread in one way.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Thou rascal…hold thy bloody hand!/Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back;/Thou hotly lust’st to use her in that kind/For which thou whipp’st her. (King Lear IV.vi.)
‘Tis the strumpet’s plague/To beguile many, and be beguil’d by one. (Othello IV.i.)
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
Women are called womanly only when they regard themselves as existing solely for the use of men.
Gail Sheehy (born 1937)
There is no more defiant denial of one man’s ability to possess one woman exclusively than the prostitute who refuses to be redeemed.
Madame de Stael (1766-1817)
The desire of the man is for the woman, but the desire of the woman is for the desire of the man.
J.G. Stedman (1744-1797)
To be sure an European woman would blush to her fingers’ ends at the very idea of appearing publicly stark naked; but education and prejudice are everything, since it is an axiom, that where there is no feeling of self-reproach, there can assuredly be no shame.
Roberta Victor (pseudonym)
When I was a call girl, men were not paying for sex. They were paying for something else. They were either paying to act out a fantasy or they were paying for companionship or they were paying to be seen with a well-dressed young woman. Or they were paying for someone to listen to them. …What I did was no different from what ninety-nine percent of American women are taught to do. I took the money from under the lamp instead of in Arpege.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
A man who moralises is usually a hypocrite, and a woman who moralises is invariably plain.
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
She was a Phantom of delight/When first she gleamed upon my sight;/A lovely Apparition sent/To be a moment’s ornament.