Prostitution, the oldest profession in the world
According to some research reports, prostitution was considered the oldest job in the history of mankind. Ancient jobs came into being primarily due to the earliest of basic human needs. Sex featured alongside farming, toolmaking, carpentry, hunting, and being a butcher.
But even in such primitive circumstances, it's possible to envision situations where mates frequently fell victim to their prey. Mainly due to hunting with primitive weapons. Also, disease or injury would often result in a unbalance between the male & female species. It is easy to see how a caveman with surplus meat might entice a ravenous 'widowed' female into exchanging some late night company for a late-night meal in those lonely caves. Perhaps, she might even be the instigator of the 'transaction' in such circumstances.
It is therefore easy to see that the 'natural ways' of trading for survival was common currency before the creation of what we now call money.
Way back when........
According to The Bible though, when God created Adam & Eve as human beings, they were capable of community, society, and development. It indicates any society that begins to develop material wealth, inevitably will before long also develop some form of prostitution. The Bible also depicts many Israelites as having a large number of 'concubines', who could be viewed as either wives or prostitutes. According to 1 Kings 11:3, King Solomon had "700 wives and 300 concubines".
In ancient Rome, you could simply hand over a token in exchange for sexual favours. However, the idea of prostitutes as a unique group of social outcasts walking the streets, may not have arisen until well into the Victorian era. At a time when health officials pointed the finger blaming them for the spread of sexual diseases. Prostitution now exists in the 21st century across many cultures, societies, and political systems.
It was written
The original phrase of "the world's oldest profession" came from Rudyard Kipling in 1888. His story about a prostitute begun "Lalun is a member of the most ancient profession begun". Debates followed at the turn of the century, on the best way to deal with prostitution. Doctors soon began to cite and misquote Kipling, and the original phrase took on a life of its own. Some wanted to do away with the vice altogether, as it spread sexually transmitted disease. Their opponents believed fighting prostitution was a waste of time. It was the world's most ancient profession, and because of that, "You can't change human nature".
Although the claim didn't offer any real historical evidence to support it. Some may have been thinking of the harlots and concubines as depicted in the bible, while others it was simply a figure of speech.
Twenty or so years later, authors were naming books after the idea. These included William Josephus Robinson's social and medical assessment, "The oldest profession in the world: Prostitution" published in 1929. Also, Joseph McCabes history "The story of the worlds oldest profession" published in 1932.
Through the ages
It was around this time, that the great depression began. Banks and people started losing their money, creating far fewer jobs and times of poverty. During this madness, there was one occupation that didn't fail. Prostitution in the USA was big business. Prostitutes would typically get paid two dollars for fifteen minutes. There were two types of premises - the 'Ringer' and the "Independent". A 'Ringer' belonged to a chain, with a central office. Girls were registered at the office according to age, complexion, measurements, years of experience. In a good house on a good day, with ten to fifteen customers, it wasn't uncommon for the prostitutes to earn an extra five dollars. This helped them cover their laundry bill and provided payment for two square meals per day. Half the regular house fee was paid as protection to the mob.
Prostitutes would often go on call for private parties, with their eight-hour shift starting at 3 pm and finishing at 11 pm. The more mature ones would work from 11 pm to 7 am to capture the late-night drinkers and workers. The average age of the customer was thirty-five years old and most were married.
The prostitutes would be rewarded up to seven days off per month. Some of the girls would strike lucky and get called to a party on a millionaires yacht. This typically resulted in them getting paid up to one hundred dollars, as well as kept in alcohol and food. Others would work from a call house, usually having a day job as a waitress, usherette, factory worker, or movie extra. They would leave their phone numbers listed with HQ so they could visit a client at their hotel or apartment.
Fast forward to the end of the second world war, women were required to work as well as keep the family working. With their husbands away fighting, housewives were required to 'soldier on'. Without them, the whole country would have sunk. Life wasn't at all glamorous but wartime women relished in their dual role as homemaker and breadwinner.
SoHo's working girls, by comparison, seemed like movie stars and prostitution boomed in London, especially with the arrival of the GIs. Before the street offenses act of 1959, women based themselves in the doorways and windows of Old Compton St. They were dressed in the finest outfits of the 'black market'. Some of them would carry a poodle under one arm or jangle a bunch of keys to draw the attention of passers-by. The 'working girls' that were walking the streets, were often self-employed or perhaps working for a brothel or 'pimp'. Also, you had the casuals working for 'cash in hand' as extra income on the side.
Swinging Sixties & beyond
By the 1960s almost every doorway in SoHo had red-lit doorbells. They had open doors with large postcards just inside advertising "large chest for sale" or "French lessons given". The police turned a blind eye, due to the level of corruption seen within The Metropolitan Police at the time.
SoHo area has undoubtedly been at the heart of London's sex industry when the first brothel opened in 1778. Since the gentrification of the area in 2014, SoHo has reduced the number of premises significantly. Nonetheless, the area remains the main redlight district of London. The modern-day trade though is booming. There are one thousand escort agencies operating within the centre and over thirty thousand girls working within the industry. An industry that has stood the test of time. The oldest profession in the world continues