“The ancient Greek historian Herodotus, the ‘Father of History,’ described how at least once in her life, a Babylonian woman had to sit in the Temple of Aphrodite with a crown of cord on her head and wait for a man to drop coins in her lap and have intercourse with her outside the temple. No matter how little money the stranger offered, the woman could not refuse, ‘for that would be a sin.’ Herodotus said the ‘uncomely’ women had to wait a long while for a man to prostitute them before they could go home.
“Scholars debate the tradition’s authenticity, but authentic or apocryphal, when it’s passed along by the Father of History, this story of compulsory prostitution helps to shape the way men view women and the way we women experience ourselves. How many men sexually objectify women, and how many women believe we must be beautiful to be ‘chosen,’ connecting our worth to our body and our youth? It all starts with these stories. Even if we know, intellectually, that physical beauty does not equal worth, we respond emotionally as if it does: The belief has been embedded in our perceptions for thousands of years.”