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Evolutionary Forensic PsychologyDarwinian Foundations of Crime and Law$
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Joshua Duntley and Todd K. Shackelford

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195325188

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195325188.001.0001

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The World’s Oldest Profession

The World’s Oldest Profession

Evolutionary Insights into Prostitution

Chapter:
(p.121) 7 The World’s Oldest Profession
Source:
Evolutionary Forensic Psychology
Author(s):

Catherine Salmon (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195325188.003.0007

Prostitution, sometimes referred to as the world's oldest profession, arouses strong sentiment. It is defined as “the act or practice of engaging in sexual activity for money or its equivalent.” From a cross-cultural perspective, this definition can be problematic in that gift giving, of goods or money, often occurs in the context of courtship, extramarital affairs, and marital relationships. It is usually males who give such gifts to their sexual partner, even when females have the same degree of sexual freedom as males. Nevertheless, in the United States (except in certain counties in Nevada) it is illegal to be paid for a sex act, as it is in many other countries. Yet there is strong debate over the nature of the act and whether it should be considered a crime. This chapter examines the insight an evolutionary psychological perspective can provide on these issues; addresses the reasons for the existence of prostitution; and explores why it is a service almost exclusively provided to men, typically by women.

Keywords:   prostitution, evolutionary psychology, women, sex

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