Prostitution

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Tyrion Lannister with a whore - by Nordheimer ©

Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment, most frequently coin. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute but they are far better known in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by the term whore.

Whores are quite heavily featured in the background of the novels. The best known frequenter of whores is Tyrion Lannister.

Contents

About

Amongst whores, there are many hierarchies. Some cater to highly exclusive clientele, make a good enough living and may to a certain extent pick and choose their clientele, while others take who they can get and do whatever they have to in order to survive, often living miserable lives. In Essos many whores are enslaved.

Whores in Westeros

Whores are normally on the bottom rung of the societal ladder, even the wealthier ones, and are looked down upon by most people because of their trade. It is considered dishonorable for a nobleman to openly frequent whores and brothels, hence the secret passageway that runs from brothel in King's Landing to a nearby stable. Despite these attitudes, Westeros teems with brothels and whores. Tywin Lannister is well known for his disdain of whores and those who take advantage of their services.

Many of the Night's Watch visit the whores in the Mole's Town brothel. Despite their vows to remain celibate, a blind eye is turned to it out of pragmatism.[1]

In Dorne attitudes towards prostitution are more relaxed and the keeping of a paramour, for example, is not frowned upon - although further north they might be termed a whore no matter how discreet or cultured they may be. Some brothels in Westeros cater to more exclusive clientele, such as Chataya's. In contrast, the Lazy Eel is renowned for offering some of the oldest whores in White Harbor.[2] A black brothel may be an especially unsavory kind of brothel, there are black brothels in Oldtown.

A certain kind of whore, referred to as a camp follower follows armies and sellsword companies. Theon Greyjoy contemplates this at Winterfell:

Even here in this half-frozen lichyard of a castle, surrounded by snow and ice and death, there were women. Washerwoman. That was the polite way of saying camp follower, which was the polite way of saying whore.

Where they came from Theon could not say. They just seemed to appear, like maggots on a corpse or ravens after a battle. Every army drew them. Some where hardened whores who could fuck twenty men in a night and drink them all blind. Others looked as innocent as maids, but that was just a trick of their trade. Some where camp brides, bound to soldiers they followed with words whispered to one god or another but doomed to be forgotten once the war was done. They would warm a man’s bed by night, patch holes in his boots at morning, cook his supper come dusk, and loot his corpse after the battle. Some even did a bit of washing. With them, oft as not, came bastard children, wretched, filthy creatures born in one camp or the other.[3]

Female whores feature most in Westeros, but it is mentioned that Satin was a boy-whore in Oldtown before joining the Night's Watch,[4] and the whore Hother "Whoresbane" Umber disemboweled in Oldtown was a man.[5]

On Maiden's Day maidens of noble houses are required to go to the sept to light tall white candles at the Maiden's feet and hang parchment garlands about her neck. Mothers, whores and widows are barred from the sept along with men.[6]

Petyr Baelish owns many brothels, he hid Jeyne Poole in one of them. A virgin whore’s maidenhead can cost a golden dragon.[7]

An ironborn sailor with a whore. © FFG
Known whores in Westeros


Known brothels in Westeros


Whores in Essos

In the Free Cities, and other towns an cities, the attitude towards prostitution is slightly different, there appears to be less ignominy in engaging the services of a whore. This may be because many of the Free Cities practice slavery and where there is slavery there will be sexual abuse and exploitation, many whores are of course also slaves. In the Free Cities and elsewhere the slave-whores bondage is indicated by the tears tattooed beneath their right eyes.

The practice of slavery has also created a thriving business in trained male and female bed-slaves, particularly from Lys, although whether all enslaved whores are also trained bed-slaves is unlikely. Many slaves are forced into prostitution during childhood. Most have little or no hope of escaping this way of life, aside from suicide, and are crushed by the abuse and despair they endure, such as the one visited by Tyrion in Selhorys. Her back is crisscrossed by ridges of scar tissue. After he is finished with her a drunken Tyrion deliberates her:

This girl is as good as dead. I have just fucked a corpse. Even her eyes are dead. She does not even have the strength to loath me.[8]

In Braavos there are no slaves, so all the prostitutes are free. However, there are three classes of prostitutes on Braavos: the highly esteemed professional courtesans; whores kept in a brothel; and the lowest street-walking dockside whores.

Known Whores in Braavos
Known Whores in Selhorys

Courtesans

See also: courtesan

The highly esteemed profession of courtesan exists in Essos. A courtesan is not referred to as a whore although they may also offer sexual services. Braavos is famous for its courtesans; they enjoy high status and are renowned worldwide.[Citation Needed]

Red Graces

The Ghiscari Red Graces are cult prostitutes housed in the Temple of the Graces in Meereen. There is no shame in their prostituting themselves; the same could not be said of the Westerosi counterpart the septa.[9]

Summer Isles

Summer Islanders esteem the art of lovemaking; there is no stigma to prostitution there.

Those known to frequent whores

City of sin. © FFG


Quotes

Brothels are a much sounder investment than ships, I’ve found. Whores seldom sink, and when they are boarded by pirates, why, the pirates pay good coin like everyone else.[10]

- Petyr Baelish, to Eddard Stark


Whores did have charms, especially if you had a face like Petyr’s.[11]

- thought of Merrett Frey


A whore learns to see the man, not his garb, or she turns up dead in an alley.[12]

- Shae


Some men keep their whoring secret.[13]

- Ser Daemon Sand

References and Notes

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