My job search this past week hit a slight slump; I was becoming increasingly anxious and burnt out. While seeking out means of distraction and reconnecting with my humanity, I encountered a German documentary on Netflix titled “Whores’ Glory.” Quite the provocative title, huh? I figured since the seemingly endless stream of job applications and follow-up emails numbed my mind and emotions thoroughly – I mean, how else do deal with repeatedly not hearing anything – I should find a means of rejuvenating. Sure, watching a documentary about prostitution in three different countries, Thailand, Bangladesh, and Mexico may seem like a non-traditional way, but it did work.
A brief summary before I offer any personal reflections. The film begins with taking the viewer into the red light district of Bangkok, Thailand where we observe up close night life and how “clients” select a woman for a few hours. The individuals visiting the brothels are interviewed along with the prostitutes; both groups speak rather nonchalantly about their transactions. It is just about desiring sex and doing a job – that is it. After about thirty minutes documenting this scene the film transitions to the narrow alleyways of a city in Bangladesh, whose name slips my mind. Similar to the structures in place in Thailand, brothels in this city center around a family head of sorts, in this particular case typically a matriarch. She provides for her “daughters” in all senses: food, shelter, make-up, spiritual guidance (yes, even in this setting God(s) can be found), and receives new women who wish to become prostitutes. For example, there is a scene where viewers witness an older woman bring in a girl, probably no older than her early twenties, to sell her to the matriarch and their exchange about the price. Because of the intense empathy I began to feel for those involved in this industry, I decided to call it a night and not continue on with the documentary anymore.
As I watched it amazed me how nonchalant some of the people are about visiting brothels, especially the men (in different settings) who mention needing to relieve themselves and prostitutes to prevent other women from being raped on the street. Watching this makes me so mad inside and sad that women are exploited like this. I mean, I do understand maybe some women prefer this profession to an alternative but fuck, it just is horrible that anyone has to sell their body for money and are subjected to abuse. It also made me tear up seeing these women be physically and mentally wrecked by their pimps. Perhaps the thing that stopped me from continuing was seeing Muslims running brothels. Am I missing something that advocated for this means of making money? Not that I am any advocate for what are in my opinion regressive views of sexuality, notably abstinence-only campaigns, but even I have my red lines so to speak and this being one of them. This aspect of the film disturbed me and left me wondering why did the documentary not address the underlining reasons why someone might turn to prostitution? Yes, we are probably never going to end the practice, but I do believe we as a global community can lessen some of the reasons individuals become sex workers in the first place and offer services to help those who want out.
Enough heavy stuff for the time being; going to check on my garden or something. Salaams for now.