– Courtesan –

640px-Madame_de_Pompadour Hwang_Jini_portrait_from_1910_text_book Sjhhanfu2 LadyoftheCamellias memoirs-of-a-geisha-memoirs-of-a-geisha-7216772-1416-2000 360px-VeronicaFranco

While I was feeling ill and missed watching “Frankenstein” broadcast replay, I was reading an article call The Perks of Being an 19th Century Courtesan. This as a result made me re-think a few things that I have known on courtesan, especially on the possible relationship they might have had with sex work (especially escort). According to Sophie Day’s 2007 work On the Game, a book written on women and sex work, it is shown that some sex workers have to take duties that often required in the position of courtesan. 

Sex workers and courtesan often shared a few strong similarities: 1) they have to be skillful at entertainment to the clients, enable clients to feel joy and being at ease. 2) they have to be knowledgeable at times, in order to be able to converse with different clients (for example Madame de Pompadour’s constant conversations with Louis XV in Nancy Mitford’s biography). 3) they often have to spend time and money to present themselves well-mannered and well-appeared. 4) they often enable to enjoy freedoms such as independence in finance.

While sex workers in current world received a series of stigmas, courtesan to my surprise was either being praised or managed to achieve a great deal of success that many women could not imagine, especially when those happened at a time when women received greater restriction toward their freedom.  For example Veronica Franco the Honest Courtesan from Venice, despite her ending was rather sad. However according to Maggie McNeill she was able to participate in discussion and write poetry, it was something for women around the similar time very difficult to achieve. A lot of the time when certain historical matter needed to be solved (in Veronica’s case, to save Venice), courtesan were often very useful for their ability to seduce therefore persuade.

In current days the sex work that shared such deal of similarities are high-class escorts, many of them came from backgrounds filled with knowledge, for example Belle de Jour the writer. Many used sex work to fund their education/professional qualification, as many often require a high amount of payment to get to a certain job. Some of the SWs on the other hand, use sex work either to spice up the lives they have been leading from day time work, or simply sick of so-called day time jobs. This as a result glamorized the work in some ways, while privileged positions enabled them to negotiate greater safety  for their work and personal lives – for example reliance on technologies (internet)…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18dsLICuy64 (Life of Hwang Jini trailer)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBk_uG7uzVM (Interview with Belle de Jour the writer)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYu37jF0d3c (Dangerous Beauty trailer (Veronica Franco)


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