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Erotic Exchanges: The World of Elite Prostitution in Eighteenth-Century Paris [Kindle Edition]

Nina Kushner

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In Erotic Exchanges, Nina Kushner reveals the complex world of elite prostitution in eighteenth-century Paris by focusing on the professional mistresses who dominated it. In this demimonde, these dames entretenues exchanged sex, company, and sometimes even love for being “kept.” Most of these women entered the profession unwillingly, either because they were desperate and could find no other means of support or because they were sold by family members to brothels or to particular men. A small but significant percentage of kept women, however, came from a theater subculture that actively supported elite prostitution. Kushner shows that in its business conventions, its moral codes, and even its sexual practices, the demimonde was an integral part of contemporary Parisian culture.

Kushner’s primary sources include thousands of folio pages of dossiers and other documents generated by the Paris police as they tracked the lives and careers of professional mistresses, reporting in meticulous, often lascivious, detail what these women and their clients did. Rather than reduce the history of sex work to the history of its regulation, Kushner interprets these materials in a way that unlocks these women’s own experiences. Kushner analyzes prostitution as a form of work, examines the contracts that governed relationships among patrons, mistresses, and madams, and explores the roles played by money, gifts, and, on occasion, love in making and breaking the bonds between women and men. This vivid and engaging book explores elite prostitution not only as a form of labor and as a kind of business but also as a chapter in the history of emotions, marriage, and the family.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 695 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 311 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: 0801451566
  • Verlag: Cornell University Press; Auflage: 1 (24. Dezember 2013)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B00H99TZ2E
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Nicht aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #433.115 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.0 von 5 Sternen  3 Rezensionen
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Highly recommend! 14. Januar 2014
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This is an expertly written Academic work, looking at elite prostitution as a form of work and placing the importance of this work in our understanding of women's history and sexuality in eighteenth-century Paris, both culturally and socially. The police had a department called Département des femmes galantes dedicated to reporting the lives of dame entretenue (kept women). It was a way for them to avoid scandal, which also meant that their focus was not so much in helping women in the Demimonde, but controlling it and wielding power over it.

At this time, it was important for girls and women of all walks of life, to work, to be wallflowers and then get successfully married. In many cases when the girls and women got deflowered before their marriage, it meant they could lose their job or/and not get successfully married. Virginity and youth was revered, and that is also why so many kept women and prostitutes were teenagers when they first started out - some not more than twelve years of age. There were many parents who were struggling financially who sold their girls to prostitution, often against their girl's will. In this time, parents had enormous power and rights over their children and the police rarely stepped in. Even if what the parents were doing was illegal; it wasn't always a question whether something was illegal or not, but more about avoiding scandal and making sure things were running smoothly, without too much notice. (It was surprising to see first hand through the reports the amount of network the police had and how much they actually knew.)

When a girl was successfully enrolled with a Madam, the goal was to find a patron they could become a mistress for. It meant security in that the girl would have a monthly salary, a household, and would have a "degree of agency and a potential for financial success." It also meant that their bodies were not "common to all", as was the case for a "fille du monde, or a prostitute". Many were theater performers and some worked in fashion, and would sometimes find patrons this way; the salaries for dances, for example, at the Opéra or at Comédie Française, were incredibly low and they struggled. There is so much more I could say about this book, but Nina Kushner did an excellent job of explaining the central arguments of the book in the beginning of the book.

Throughout the book, you come to understand how life was socially and culturally for these women at this time in history. If you're interested in women's history and social history, I would highly recommend this book. Though a word of warning, this is an academic work which means that the book can be a bit of a challenge and not so accessible to read. It's an interesting subject, or it can be if written well. I think Nina Kushner excelled at being very clear throughout the book. She weaves quite a complicated tale, but it felt very level-headed and understandable in the writing, I thought.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Erotic Exchanges 15. März 2014
Von Geonomeak - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
A very scholarly and detailed investigation of the circumstances that the more exclusive kept women of 18th century Paris. I had no idea that the Parisian police kept track of so many women and their patrons, predating the Stasi and our current NSA, and it is amazing that so many of these records have survived. The role of women in that society and in those times was quite precarious and in many ways simply awful. This book discusses the many aspects of the few available means of survival for some women. It was a surprise to find that the Theatre, Opera and Ballet played such a role in in grooming and preparing a 'resume' for young women to enter into liaisons with upper class 'gentlemen'. It put a fresh light on the works of Degas and Lautrec et al.
0 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Two Stars 5. Oktober 2014
Von John Pike - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Text book boring. First 1/3 of book just copied all the arcane laws that intertwined in the 18th. Century.
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