Prostitution : Monkey Business

The practice of prostitution was part of monkey business already 30 million years ago. Inevitably, it became part of the human way of life.

“Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog. Nobody ever saw one animal by its gestures and natural cries signify to another, this is mine, that yours; I am willing to give this for that.”

Adam Smith, ‘Wealth of Nations’

Well, guess what.  Adam Smith was wrong about that.

Keith Chen’s Monkey Research

The preceding quote is at the beginning of Keith Chen’s report on his Monkey Research. His research suggests that Adam Smith was wrong about the allegation that humankind’s knack for monetary exchange belongs to humankind alone.

A NY Times Magazine article reported on Keith Chen’s Monkey Research and states, “The capuchin has a small brain, and it’s pretty much focused on food and sex.”

The article describes how Ken Chen and his associates taught their monkeys about money and the value of money to make purchases. They conditioned one monkey to become altruistic, another to become a selfish jerk. Chen and associates then released the altruist and the jerk into the community of other monkeys and observed what happened. They saw predictable reactions that one would expect from humans under comparable circumstances.

The researchers observed their monkeys develop the concept of budgeting, measured the monkeys’ reactions to price shocks and wealth shocks, fake money, inflation, budgeting, relative value of different goods, gambling, potential wins and potential losses. They saw their monkeys adhere “to the rules of utility maximization and price theory,” display behaviour characteristic of loss aversion, even stealing.

Sex for money is prostitution

The research identified a surprising aspect.  The monkeys grasped the concept of the fungibility of money.  It can be used to buy anything.  In their cages, the monkeys had nothing other than themselves, money, food and sex to buy or barter.  It appears that the monkeys did not develop bartering.  Still, they did something that is, involving money, quite natural and easily obtainable under such circumstances.

“Chen saw something out of the corner of his eye that he would later try to play down but in his heart of hearts he knew to be true. What he witnessed was probably the first observed exchange of money for sex in the history of monkeykind. (Further proof that the monkeys truly understood money: the monkey who was paid for sex immediately traded the token in for a grape.)…” «
Full Text of Article

The study, titled “How Basic Are Behavioral Biases? Evidence From Capuchin Monkey Trading Behavior“, can be read here.

Dr. Keith Chen’s Website

Findings contradict feminist dogma

Obviously, the observation of monkeys exchanging money for sex clashes with the popular, feminist narrative.  That is, “All sex, even consensual sex between a married couple, is an act of violence perpetrated against a woman.” — Catherine MacKinnon 
Read more at All Heterosexual Sex is Rape, and All Men are Rapists

None of that precludes altruism as the motivator when sexual transactions of an interpersonal nature take place. Benjamin V. Hubbard determined that more than a hundred years ago. He asserted that feminists say:

“That love without marriage is holy, and that marriage without love is illegitimate.” and 

“That only a narrow soul would object to an intimacy between its mate and an outsider when the giving of love to the hungry was a real charity.”
Read more from Bejamin V. Hubbard on feminism 


Keith Chen’s monkey research suggests that, already 30 million years ago, the practice of prostitution was part of monkey business.  It was inevitable that prostitution became part of the human way of life.

It seems that prostitution is:

  1. Older than humanity;
  2. Part of human nature and customs since time immemorial, therefore
  3. The feminist notion that ‘All Heterosexual Sex is Rape, and All Men are Rapists’ is baseless.

By human standards and common sense, rape is a relatively rare crime.  Rape is the taking by force of what can be obtained through negotiation and trade, via purchase or barter.


See also:

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