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Posted in Nonfiction with tags , , , on July 7, 2009 by scarlettbottom

I’ve always been fascinated by courtesans.

Merriam-Webster defines “courtesan” as “a prostitute with a courtly, wealthy, or upper-class clientele.” I don’t like this definition very much. It says nothing about the glamour associated with such a position. Prostitute is to courtesan as scullery maid is to celebrity chef.

The difference lies in the courtesan’s duties. She is the evening’s entertainment and that might include anything from philosophical debate, to hosting a party, to seduction. Her reward is a lifestyle of freedom and comfort, and not necessarily just creature comforts, but intellectual pursuits as well. Upper-class men went to courtesans because their wives were uneducated and boring. Courtesans are glamorous and interesting, good conversationalists, witty, playful, and intelligent. She’s not stuffy, and she’s not a prude.

The courtesan is also determined to be independent. She is not interested in marriage. In many cases, she already holds some sort of upper-class status. She is open and honest about her profession and relationships; in fact, being seen with a particularly popular courtesan is a status symbol. Many courtesans are actively pursued by politicians and high-status professionals.

I think the best part about the courtesan is that her patron supplies her with (almost) everything she needs; lovely clothes to flatter her figure, perhaps dancing lessons, a nice suite for entertaining, maybe a household staff, perhaps passes to academic lectures, a mani-pedi once in a while, tickets to the theater.

I see nothing wrong with using what you’ve got to get what you want. As a child you knew that being cute or throwing an embarrassing tantrum was the best way to get what you want. As an adult woman I realize that the best way to get what I want to to use my natural talents, in the best aesopian tradition. In my last post I gave an example of just how that might be done.

I’ve started seeing a gentleman. Our relationship is not well established, by any means, but he’s interesting enough to go out with once a week for a month or two perhaps. He’s not looking for anything serious, just a pretty girl to lavish with expensive dinners and spa treatments. Will this be a sexual relationship? I don’t know. He’ll have to do quite a bit of work for that; part of “using what you’ve got” is making sure that it’s known that other people want it too, so get in line.

This is new for me. I’m generally so insistent on paying my own way and not owing anyone anything. I have a friend who insists that she never pays for anything. Her date is paying for the pleasure of her company. This is a very antiquated way of thinking, in my opinion, but it seems to be a standard mode of operation for upper class men. She says, “It makes men feel good to be able to pay for things for a girl. Paying your own way is emasculating.”

If there’s anything I don’t want to do, it’s emasculate a man.