Monday, December 21, 2009

Musing a Bit on Prostitution

So, in John Irving's novel A Widow for One Year, there is quite bit of time spent in the Red Light District of Amsterdam, which I happened to walk through when I was 14 or 15. I was a little bit shocked then, mostly amazed. I think having been there probably enhanced my tolerance and compassion for this kind of work later, as a grown up, having read a lot more about a lot of things.

Notably, the connection between sexuality and spirituality and some things about sex workers and the sex trade. I don't want anyone to be forced into sex work, or kidnapped, or offered some legitimate job as a waittress or seamstress, only to be trapped into prostitution. But I liked the idea that young women could observe in order to find out if this was work they wanted to do. I doubt that very many women or men with other options do want to do this work, but some surely do. So I don't want the work to be looked down on, nor the workers to be in terrible danger, especially since this is known as "the oldest profession" and the demand never stops. I am glad there are spots--in Amsterdam or Nevada--where the work is legal, regulated, and somewhat safe.

Nor do I believe all the people who dismiss prostitutes or porn actors as having fully chosen their line of work. Many haven't. Choice was absent, minimal, or compromised in complicated ways.

And I sure came to love or care about the prostitutes in Irving's novel, yet another testament to his storytelling skills. I care about all the people in his books, even the assholes, as I can hope they will change...for instance, if they read his novels. (Snake eating its own tail a bit there, I know.)

To all the sex workers who chose their work and like it and want it, happy holidays. To all who don't, I hope you find a safe way out.

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