Guest blogger: Leah Wankum
Leah Wankum is a graduate student of mass communication at the University of Central Missouri. Leah is also the managing editor of the Muleskinner/digitalBURG, a student-run publication that covers campus news as well as news in Warrensburg and Johnson County, Missouri.
Prostitution is the act of engaging in arguably the most intimate activity for money. And we all think we know something about prostitution. That was certainly the case for me, so I didn’t expect any surprises when I got on Netflix and watched a film on prostitution. I was very wrong about that.
“Whores’ Glory,” a 2012 documentary, shows the lives of prostitutes from Thailand, Bangladesh and Mexico, taking viewers on a journey through the commodity of sex. The stories of these women force you to come to grips with their everyday realities. I wrestled with a wild variety of emotions as I watched the documentary, from anger at men for their powerful sex drives, to sadness for the women who don’t know life any different from this kind of work, to awe as all the people in the films go on living each day, no matter how dire the circumstances got.
“I come here to buy myself a little happiness,” said a man who was a customer at a brothel in Thailand.
This is their way of life. This is their reality. Men visit the brothels seeking respite from their daily toils or personal problems. Women work the brothels as a way to make enough money to survive.
I began watching the film full of judgment and disgust. I kept thinking, “How can these women endure through such degrading circumstances? Have they no self-worth?” But I listened to what they had to say, and then I began to understand.
“Men don’t realize how we sacrifice our sense of shame for money,” said a woman who worked in a brothel in Bangladesh.
And then, as their stories unfolded in front of my eyes, I realized how little I knew about these women and what life was like for them on a day-to-day basis. Shame on me for not first trying to understand the circumstances before I label them as degrading!
“We have to enjoy what we do,” said a woman who worked as a prostitute at a brothel in Thailand. “Otherwise, it would make us unhappy.”
As I mentioned before, some of these women don’t know life outside of prostitution.
“I’ve been working in this job for more than 20 years,” said a woman who owned and operated a brothel in Bangladesh. “This is our whole life. What else do we have?”
The images you see in this film cannot be unseen, nor should they be. My heart breaks for these women because of their situations. Their stories are so important to hear. It’s a daily contradiction between hate from the outside of the brothels to lust on the inside.
“Outside, they’re disgusted by us. In here, they love us and our bodies,” said a woman who worked at a brothel in Mexico. “The outside world pushes us out of the way to make room.”
I hope everyone will take the time to see these stories, because they are as much a part of reality as ours. And I hope to see more films like this in the future.