Thursday, September 13, 2012


Prostitution is legal in Belgium, and Antwerp has its own red light district where scantily dressed young women display themselves in full length windows.  Today as we wandered through, a few were posing but many were texting, reading smart phones or the newspaper, smoking cigarettes or just looking bored.
Only three adolescents passing by were giggling.  Other men looked more nonchalant as they strode through the district.
Yesterday, my companion and I were feeling a bit shy and embarrassed.  Today, we waved and smiled at the girls as we passed through.
It’s a strange experience.  I’m not necessarily for the criminalization of prostitution nor am I big proponent of legalization.
Still, in this country, apparently the women do get medical care and health issues related to prostitution are not an issue.
We Americans live in a society that has sexualized much of our culture – film, TV, advertisements whether on billboards, in newspapers or on TV – using sex to capture audiences and tempt consumers to purchase products.  Yet we are shocked – I’ll speak for myself – by the baring and selling of real flesh as a commodity.
I didn’t take any photos – that would cross my line of exploitation – even though surely I could have rationalized such as necessary to illustrate to my readers.
Instead, I leave you with pictures of other scenes in beautiful Antwerp.
Looking Toward the Red Light District near the Mission for Sailors

1 comment:

Sandy said...

One of the most interesting things about foreign travel for me (still) is how it makes me think when I see something I'm not used to. Why does this make me uncomfortable or make me laugh or make me angry? Why do the people of the country I'm in not feel the way I do? Which part of their point of view can I accept? (and there should be at least a bit if I'm open-minded). Glad you are having these enriching experience -- even in a country as unexotic as Belgium. Hope your students are, too.