|Quotes • Headscratchers • Playing With • Useful Notes • Analysis • Image Links • Haiku • Laconic|
Grace: Wood doesn't actually burn.
Welcome, viewers, to Nerd Hunter.
Today we will examine one particular peculiar oddity; when choosing a mate, the wild Nerd and Geek are not as impressed with physical features, but with spectacular displays of intelligence and geeky knowledge in potential mates. Unlike in the wild, when Hollywood casts non-geeks in the role of potential mates, said potential mates will be at worst Hollywood Homely; in written fiction they are likely Suetiful All Along.
Those impressed with such displays will reciprocate with their own call of "That's so hot," or "That's such a turn on," or "Marry me."
This reaction is achieved even if said displays are actually threats of pain, insults, technological or other, stranger things that that particular subspecies values. In the end, we may never know the full mysteries behind these magnificent beasts.
When the mating process is successful, some rigorous fluid mechanics ensues in order to grace their species with a new soul.
- In Black Lagoon, Greenback Jane is massively aroused by watching Benny break a tricky encryption. The fact that breaking the encryption resulted in her getting a lot of money probably didn't hurt either. And soon they become a sort-of Official Couple.
- Battle Programmer Shirase gives us a female Programmer who tells the main character that seeing the way he coded "Made me a little wet..."
- The Witches Five in Sailor Moon.
- Full Metal Panic:
- Sousuke tends to get very happy and enthusiastic whenever he engages in conversation with anyone who's as enthusiastic about Humongous Mecha and battle tactics as he is. The fastest way to gain friendship with him is to be able to speak on equal terms as him.
- On the other hand, Nami is definitely shown to be this way with him. When he first surprises her and starts talking Arm Slave jargon, her overwhelmed reaction pretty much equates to "What a man."
- The first Tiger and Bunny Drama CD shows that, back in high school, Kotetsu Kaburagi and Tomoe Amamiya (the future Mrs. Kaburagi) were rather antagonistic towards each other... until she saw him trying to come up with a superhero name for himself.
Tomoe: Huh!? You're going to try to become a superhero?
- Yorick being attracted to girls with obscure interests is a bit of a Running Gag in Y: The Last Man. A shining example is when he, upon learning that that a woman named her boat after the ship in Sirens of Titan, instantly proposed to her. Yorick's sister Hero lampshades this when Beth (not that Beth, the other one) starts rattling off side notes about the Swiss Guards that kidnapped them both in the name of the Catholic Church.
Hero: "Yup, you're definitely the sort of chick my brother would bone."
Kitty: 'Well, Indiana Jones, you certainly haven't forgotten how to show a lady a good time.'
- The Ultimate version of Mary-Jane Watson. Which, considering her mainstream counterpart is a cheery, party-girl/glamour model, is a bit of a surprise. And of course, she's a redhead.
- Mainstream MJ presents us with something of a one-sided varient. While there's no character A says x geeky thing and character B says y geeky thing, it's was pretty clear that during their marriage to each other MJ considered Peter's science talks a turn on. [Insert obligory griping about One More Day ruining everything here].
- This trope explains about 50% of the interaction between Oracle and Blue Beetle in Birds of Prey. At least from Ted's side, anyway.
- In Watchmen:
- Silk Spectre is turned on by the Nite Owl when he goes in-depth about his ship, his costume, his gadgets...
- Dan himself being turned on by wearing/seeing Lauri in the tights may count as well.
- Of course if we go down that road we may have to face that Hooded Justice, the original superhero who started it all, did it because he liked to beat up people. LIKED liked.
- Done very poorly in a Jason X comic series. Where after two lovers stumble upon a crater left by what seemed like a meteorite, the woman says "science makes me horny." The two promptly begin having sex right there as the guy starts spouting out scientific equations.
- One of the factors in Doc Brown falling in love with Clara in Back to The Future Part III is a shared interest in the works of Jules Verne, the prototype for Science Fiction as we know it.
- One of the reasons Denys fell so hard for Karen Blixen in Out of Africa was her ability to tell stories... really, really good stories.
- Mikaela in the live-action Transformers films manages to make both Sam and Leo fall for her with her detailed knowledge of cars and engineering. But then, that pales in comparison to her other assets.
- In 17 Again, two characters fall madly in love with each other when they discover that the other speaks Elvish. Cue the following exchange:
"You can plunder my dungeon any day."
- Commander Galloway in A Few Good Men is very thorough and very book-smart. She also rants.
Galloway: If this case is handled in the same fast-food, slick-ass, Persian Bazaar manner with which you seem to handle everything else, then something's gonna get missed. And I wouldn't be doing my job if I allowed Dawson and Downey to spend any more time in prison than absolutely necessary because their attorney had predetermined the path of least resistance.
- In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Flint falls for Sam when she starts showing off her geeky side, and he eventually convinces her to embrace it.
- In Mozart and the Whale Isabel is turned on by Donalds math abilities.
- In The Sorcerers Apprentice, near the end Dave tries to let Becky off so she doesn't end up in danger, explaining to her about the evil sorceress trying to destroy the world, and Becky (who has no magical powers) says that she wants to help and insists on going with him. He responds: "You're sexy."
- Little actual historical information is known of legendary Chinese strategist Zhuge Liang's wife, but popular folktales characterize her as a plain-to-unattractive woman who was extremely gifted in astronomy, strategy, and geography. According to the tales Zhuge Liang asked for her hand in marriage specifically upon hearing of her great intelligence, and he was particularly impressed by her numerous mechanical inventions... making this one Older Than Feudalism. (A different version of the story claims that she was actually quite beautiful but spread rumors of her own ugliness as a Secret Test of Character for potential suitors. Zhuge Liang was the one who passed. This can still be considered a Geeky Turn On since in nearly all tellings of the story, both fall in love when they realize they've met their equal in cleverness.)
- Many Impossible Task stories, such as the variations on the "peasant girl saves her father from the whims of a capricious king by answering his bizarre riddles; he's so impressed that he marries her" theme. In some versions it even saves the marriage -- the king has a case brought before him about the ownership of a colt (or whatever) and absent-mindedly rules that the man who owned the wagon the colt was born under owns the colt, rather than the man who owns the mare. His wife hears about this and advises the rightful owner to set up a fishnet in the middle of the road when the king rides by, and when asked for an explanation, to say, "It's as easy to catch fish in the middle of the road as it is for a wagon to give birth to a colt." The king gets the message, but is annoyed at being shown up and divorces her -- she can take anything she wants from the palace, but she has to be gone by morning. He wakes up to find himself being trundled down the road in a wheelbarrow; he said she could have anything she wanted, and all she wanted was him. D'awww.
- Cu Chulainn and Emer's first meeting was essentially two intelligent supermodels having a conversation so full of riddles that nobody else could understand them. And in modern times, not even THE AUDIENCE can figure it out right off the bat.
- Early on in Jim Butcher's White Night, Murphy quotes Monty Python and The Holy Grail at Harry. He responds with the second half of the quote, and then:
Harry: And you're really turning me on with the Monty Python reference, Murph.
- Admiral Alexander didn't realize his feelings for Honor Harrington until she embarked on a passionate defense of new weapons systems proposed by her on a board headed by his archrival.
- The title character of The English Patient realizes his attraction to Katharine Clifton when she reads aloud from Herodotus' Histories. The story she reads probably doesn't hurt.
- If any readers had the slightest doubt whether or not Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane were made for each other, it was dispelled the minute they started quoting the classics at each other; the only person who didn't catch on immediately was Harriet.
- In The Silmarillion, Feanor's wife Nerdanel. Considered 'not the fairest among her people', the Noldor widely wondered what the canonically gorgeous king's son and prodigious polymath wanted with her, but Nerdanel became widely renowned for her wisdom, being the only one who could 'restrain Feanor' in the beginning. She also was a skilled sculptress, whose more abstract works escaped comprehension. Both of these things perhaps comprise an acceptable example of elven geekdom.
- According to comic-esque novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexei, the main character's new nerdy friend gets metaphorical boners from books.
- Scherarzade in Arabian Nights won the heart of a psychopathic tyrant-and cured him of his psychopathy-by telling hundreds of stories while making love.
- There's a rather endearing example in "Shindig". The resident Wrench Wench, Kaylee, accompanies Mal to a grand ball. She is snubbed for her store-bought dress by the resident Alpha Bitch, when an elderly gentleman (in a Crowning Moment of Awesome) cuts said Alpha Bitch down by commenting on her loose corset. Kaylee, grateful, starts a conversation with him. A few minutes later, she's surrounded by several more gentlemen engrossed in her highly technical talk of spaceship frames and engines. And when one of them tries to ask her to dance, the rest shush him so Kaylee can keep talking.
- For that matter, Kaylee's arrival on Firefly was the result of another geeky mating call: Kaylee turned up to enjoy some nookie with the previous engineer, but it turned out that she was just sleeping with him because the engine, er, got her engine running, and when it came out that she knew how to fix it and he didn't, he was fired and she was hired.
- Simon agrees, sort of, in "Jaynestown," saying that Kaylee is especially pretty when covered in engine grease.
- Stargate Atlantis: Dr. Weir distracts a scientist by talking about World of Warcraft. Incompetently.
- Step by Step:
- The geeky child and his date have the geek version of Slap Slap Kiss: Going back and forth trying to stump each other with increasingly difficult trivia questions turns into a make-out session.
- Another example might be JT falling for Sam because of her skills as a mechanic. Now where have I heard that before?
- The X-Files's Mulder has lots of those.
Mulder: Looks like the fuselage of a plane.
- Or the one from "Chinga":
Mulder: Maybe you don't know what you're looking for.
- This one from "War of the Coprophages":
Scully: The very idea of intelligent alien life is not only astronomically improbable but, at its most basic level, downright anti-Darwinian.
- Also, in "Kill Switch", The Lone Gunmen were turned on by Invisigoth's programming expertise much more than by her actual hotness (of which there was a plenty).
- In "First Person Shooter", a record reveals the suspect as a sexy young woman in Stripperiffic outfit. Byers' reaction: "Holy Toledo..." Frohike's follow-up: "...she is packing a flintlock!"
- Also, in "Kill Switch", The Lone Gunmen were turned on by Invisigoth's programming expertise much more than by her actual hotness (of which there was a plenty).
- In The Middleman, Wendy Watson and her boyfriend find an ultra-rare, frequently banned video game. $17 worth of quarters and a victory later, they can't keep their hands off each other.
- On Veronica Mars:
- Mac and Max get into an "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" conversation about whether Mac can take down Max's term-paper-selling website. Logan picks up on the subtext and wonders if he could sell tickets for this "hot nerd-on-nerd action."
- When Mac sees the supercomputer, she remarks "Hello, lover!"
- On Chuck, the title character and his girlfriend Jill turn each other on by communicating a time for a meeting through a chemistry-based code to avoid surveillance.
- Numb3rs: Charlie is trying to break a code for one of his FBI cases, but he's only gotten halfway. Amita looks it over and tells him the solution to the second half. Charlie just stares at her for a moment before blurting out, "Do you want to go out sometime?"
- Sports Night has Jeremy and Natalie. "Say some computer things. Right now." Subverted in one scene, where Natalie gets hot and bothered over Jeremy's Techno Babble until she gets mad that he obliviously keeps rambling instead of playing "phone sex" with her.
- In Season 2, when Jeremy and Natalie have broken up, Jeremy is over at a bar one night, and becomes attracted to a woman named Jenny because she corrects him about the parallelogram he's trying to make, and she's turned on by the fact he works at "Sports Night". Subverted again when it actually doesn't go anywhere (though nothing to do with the geeky turn-on; he finds out she's a porn star).
- Criminal Minds: The hacker battle between Garcia and Kevin, as can be seen here. (Note that this is before they'd ever met face-to-face.)
"Oh, you seriously not trying to backhack me!"
- In the last episode of season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Anya comes up with some very helpful suggestions to win the day. Xander's worshipful comment of how hot smart girls are prompts Unlucky Childhood Friend (now gay) Willow to remark somewhat wistfully, "You couldn't have figured that out in tenth grade?"
- On Angel:
- Wesley responds to Fred's description of a demon's life cycle ("A Hole in the World") with "Are you trying to turn me on?"
- While Willow just briskly explains that she's seeing someone already, to Fred's bewilderment.
- Cordelia's taste in men is wide-ranging. She's been turned on by financial analysis, Xander's goofy wit, and pretty much everything Wesley said before their disastrous first kiss.
- The financial analysis bit is a particularly noticeable version of this trope.
David: "Oh. That's easy. You could look into seller financing, take over the owner's payments and skip the bank completely, or you could make a play for a preservation grant. Offer to restore the original décor and get the city and the feds to give you a tax break and a loan at a sweetheart rate. Or you could apply for an FHA and get a PMI in lieu of a down payment."
- Not stereotypically geeky, but in Pushing Daisies, Alfredo Aldarisio becomes intensely attracted to Olive when she asks if he's ever felt like all the oxygen left the room. She's talking metaphorically, but he has a phobia of the Earth literally losing all its atmosphere and everyone floating into space, and feels that she's a kindred spirit.
- The West Wing does this a ton:
- Discussed by C.J. and Toby:
Toby: You negotiated that?
- Or the scene where the President admits that he loves when his wife goes into Doctor mode.
- Or "Process Stories," when Bartlet, Leo and Bruno Gianelli all flirt with their womenfolk using data from that night's landslide election victory.
Bartlet: I won the Dakotas. The Badlands. The Black Hills. But let's go down, way down, to the Deep South and the humid bayou of Louisiana and its nine electoral votes. What manner of man it must take to win the state. Which by the way is the only one operating under the Napoleonic Code of France, and I still don't know what that's all about, but back to me...
- In the second half of 20 Hours for America, Mallory (Leo's daughter) admits to Sam (with whom she has some Unresolved Sexual Tension from the first couple of seasons) that she was "weak" after hearing a speech that Sam wrote.
- NCIS: This happens every now an then when McGee Techno Babbles something or other, be it hacking, codes, or cracking something with super geek powers. Abby makes a comment along the lines of, "And it's completely getting me hot"/"Sometime I think I love you". Abby is a master manipulator of this trope too.
Abby: (to Gibbs, who has just walked in) McGee is rewiring my hotbox.
- Obligatory Star Trek the Original Series example: Kirk falls for Edith Keeler ("City on the Edge of Forever") not when he sees how pretty she is (and this is Joan Collins, after all) but when he hears her enthusiastically discussing the possibilities of space travel and atomic energy. And then Spock gets very very jealous.
- From Castle:
- "Vampire Weekend". They're investigating the murder of a comic artist.
Castle: He was good. His stuff reminds me of early Frank Miller.
- And from "Suicide Squeeze":
Castle: Did you just use the word "veritable" in a sentence?"
- In Dollhouse, both Topher and Bennett end up essentially Squeeing over each other's technological knowledge and aptitude.
- Not to mention both Tophers' reaction to her wearing glasses on a chain.
- In Top Gear, pretty much whenever James May talks about physics, like during the Winter Olympics where he explained gravity is pretty much a constant around the world. It gets flung right back at him when, during a challenge, he drives a group of people home from the pub and talked shop with the woman who owned the car. (She knew more about the car than he did.)
- In the ICarly episode "iSaved Your Life", Carly tells Freddie that his computer talk is geeky and cute at the same time, leading to her coining the combination word 'cukey'.
- In How I Met Your Mother Ted considers a woman being a Star Wars fan a big turn-on. When he and Barney are hitting on a pair of girls together, and one of them compares the blizzard outside to the planet Hoth, Ted tells Barney, "Dibs."
- From Caprica:
Zoe: [Extended explanation of how to programme a computer to generate an infinite variety of trees.]
- Unfortunately, that one is a subversion since a): Zoe never liked the military and hates military technology and b): she is his top secret military robot. Although she really did like him, she was still using him.
- Peep Show: "She knows about cubits, she's uncomfortable in her own skin -- she's one of me!"
- In Bones, after Angela has described a complicated procedure:
Hodgins: That's so cool.
- Henry and Jenny's mutual attraction is built on these in the web series We Need Girlfriends.
- The guests on QI sometimes exhibit this, given the nature of the show.
- Pretty much every attraction in Fringe has this at some point. Peter's reaction to Olivia's ability to count cards, to Astrid's and Olivia's communing on coded messages and many a female viewer's reaction to Peter.
- Sabrina's aunt, Zelda Spellman often falls for guys who share her interest in science. One of the earliest examples is in the episode "The true adventures of Rudy Kazootie" where Zelma gets attracted to Sabrina's biology teacher, Mr. Pool, and vice versa, when talking about some science thing I can't even pronounce.
- Cody and Bailey from 'Suite Life On Deck tend to revolt others when they coo nerdy facts to each other and Cody often comments "I love that you know that."
- Surprisingly enough, generally averted on The Big Bang Theory. Whenever Penny expresses an interest or familiarity with any of the guys geeky habits it's generally considered a surprise but nothing so great that it changes how they see her. The fact she hangs out with them at all is considered enough of an appeal. In one episode she was trying to sort of "lay claim" to them when a new, attractive tenant was shamelessly flirting and manipulating them; her sudden interest in Battlestar Galactica was seen as odd, not hot. That said, when she and Leonard had finally gotten together she made a Star Wars reference (complete with listing the proper character and movie) that got Leonard really excited.
- In The Psychic Vortex, Raj can only convince Sheldon to be his wingman at a university mixer by giving him a Lantern, which Sheldon insists on taking. It attracts two girls, one of whom is mildly interested, and her friend who is clearly head over heels for Sheldon because of it.
- There was an SNL sketch with a phone sex line for nerds. There was a Star Trek girl, a Star Wars girl, a Lord of the Rings girl and a Dr. Who girl (among others), all of them knowledgeable on their topic.
- On one episode of Parks and Recreation, Official Couple Ben and Leslie are overheard role-playing as political figures.
Leslie: Oh, President Reagan, my blazer popped open.
- Fargo and Holly on Eureka. Of course, when you have a character portrayed by Felicia Day, you gotta figure it's going to be on the horizon.
- Well, on Eureka, it's kind of a common situation, given the setting.
- Claudia on Warehouse 13 after learning that Todd is in the witness protection program, and instead of being someone who works in a hardware store and knows nothing about computers, is actually a very, very good hacker. Next scene during their make-out session, she has him talk about computer coding in between kissing.
- Also, in the episode Warehouse 13.1, after fighting robots off with a freaking lightsaber together with Eureka's Fargo, she says "Marry me".
- The song Conventional Lover by Speck, describing a romantic date in geek terms. And no, "conventional" here does not mean "stereotypical." It means...well, if you don't know, you're probably on the wrong trope.
- At the end of one concert performance of "In A Little While", after showing footage of the space station, Bono sings "Space travel turns me on." several times.
- The song Geeks in Love by Lemon Demon is completely about this trope.
- This cheerful (and NSFW) ditty about Ray Bradbury.
- "Lady Java": A cover of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance"... ABOUT JAVA.
- Ludo does this a lot. In Laundry Girl, for example, the eponymous girl tells the narrator to read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
- In Fiddler On the Roof, Fyedka first notices Chava at the bookseller's, noting - when he finally manages to talk to her - that "Not many girls in this town are into books."
- In the musical version of Disney's Beauty and The Beast, it turns out that Belle and the Beast are both huge fans of fantasy books. This scene was first shown in the movie (cut but then restored), however the musical version expands on their conversation more.
- in Steve Martin's play Picasso At The Lapin Agile, when the countess arrives and finds Einstein, she says: "Now what's that you were saying about it being impossible to distinguish motion produced by an outside gravitational force?" and Einstein says aside: "God, she's sexy!"
- Variation: In a Dilbert comic strip, Dilbert asked out Webmistress Ming and she asked him why he would be attracted to someone who was never nice to him. He replied that "Good personalities are overrated", to which she said "You're getting me all hot over here".
- Mordac and Ming also started dating after insulting the other's firewall and HTML skills respectively. They embrace passionately and one says, "Talk COBOL to me, baby!"
- Ratchet and Clank Up Your Arsenal introduces Ratchet's Girl of the Week Sasha with her telling him about her impressive space ship, citing size, weaponry, living quarters with game system, etc. Ratchet promptly asks her to marry him (not literally, just as playful banter). And then she only gets a cameo in the opening of the next game.
- Francis in Super Paper Mario proposes to Peach after having the player confirm statements such as "My first love was an anime character" or "I love going on message boards and complaining about games I've never played" as "true".
- Following exchange between our two engineers from Mass Effect 2:
Gabby: The new armor reinforcements really threw off the gravimetric profiles. But engines are good to go. I rebalanced the Gillbourne coefficients and adjusted the anterior intakes on the second tier stabilizers.
- In the third Sly Cooper game, Bentley admits to being sweet on Penelope after she makes a NASA reference.
- The Futurama episode "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back" combines this with an Insult Backfire. The Central Bureaucracy inspector Morgan Proctor finds out that Fry is a slob, and in her own words...
Morgan: Admit it, Fry: You're a slob. [She kisses him.] A dirty, filthy slob. [She kisses him again.] Dirty boy! Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!
- In The Simpsons episode Lisa's Wedding (set in the future) Lisa and Hugh are reading a book together to decide who could read it faster:
Hugh: I'll get the dictionary.
- The same thing happens in an Arthur episode, but this time within a (perhaps slightly) Romantic Two-Girl Friendship.
- On Total Drama Action, Leshawna seems to secretly enjoy watching her nerdy love interest, Harold, practice his weird yo-yo tricks. As does Heather.
- In an episode of Totally Spies, Alex falls hard for a TV character, but then is crushed when she discovers that he is a computer-animated virtual character. However, she immediately falls for the computer programmer who created the character.
- In Danny Phantom, whenever Maddie Fenton kicks some ghost butt, husband Jack will say, "Man, that's hot!"
- Popped up at least once in Casey and Andy: A "geek knowledge" quiz, where Casey mostly scores the big points, while Mary provides slightly blander replies. Then she gets an extremely obscure question about the Lord of the Rings 'verse right, and Casey replies, "It's so hot that you know that."
- This was what caused Dominic Deegan to really start falling for Luna.
- Narbonic's Helen Narbon is particularly susceptible to those.
- In an example which might border on NSFW, Gus of Rooster Teeth was very happy when his wife started playing World of Warcraft...
- This is one of the chief recurring themes of Xkcd. This strip is a good example.
- And another.
- In this one, the male character is beaten up by
RiverSummer Glau, and thinks "I've never been so turned on in my life."
- And again in Map Projections, in which the narrator speaks mainly in armchair psychology... save for the obscure Waterman butterfly projection, which ends with "Are you doing anything tonight?"
- This one from Ctrl+Alt+Del
- Unshelved has an excellent example of this.
- This example from Real Life Comics.
- Random Guy (it's his name, really) is immensely attracted to Jayden from Jayden And Crusader when Jayden is talking about Futurama in a geeky fashion on this page
- This one from Ardra while her brother and his girlfriend are visiting.
- Particulates: "Sorry, I just got the biggest boner of my life right as I was swallowing my drink. It kind of caught me off guard."
- Repeatedly occurs in Girl Genius. It seems that the best way to impress Agatha (or any Spark) is with a fully-equipped workshop. Not a euphemism.
- Or a project they can really sink their teeth into. Again, not a euphemism.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal mocks the concept.
- In Something Positive, Tamara had an intrauterine device installed after a pregnancy scare. Her boyfriend Mike had been sort of hoping she was pregnant and got disappointed...until she pointed out she was technically a cyborg now, which perked him up a bit.
- Meta Example: Mel'arnach of Drowtales suffered several major redesigns both to her attire and her personality. With each remake, she became less insane and more dressed. In a scene that takes place before the reveal, she is shown as completely sane, fully dressed, and discussing clan politics with one of her guards. The fans were delighted.
- Dovecote Crest provides an example here.
- Dumbing of Age: Alternate Universe Amber has started screening potential boyfriends thanks to her particular Geeky Turn Ons.
- Sinfest demonstrates with an Incredibly Lame Pun.
- In Tripping Over You, Milo's interest in Liam began during an extended conversation about time travel paradoxes.
- Marten and Dora do this in Questionable Content.
- Mister Cool of the Whateley Universe is a supervillain who in Real Life is a physics grad student. When a fellow physics grad student (female) realizes he has built his own working cryogenic armored suit, she doesn't call the police. She jumps him.
- The word 'sapiophilia' means turned on by intelligence.
- Some historians theorize that Cleopatra was not considered that physically attractive, but rather was considered so attractive partially because she was so smart. She was fluent in several languages. Though being powerful herself didn't hurt.
- In countries in which respectable women were traditionally cloistered it has sometimes been the case that courtesans were able to ply their trade less because of their looks and more because they were educated and could carry on an interesting conversation.