April 09, 2016

Source: Bigstock

My neighbor also galvanized the police. When she first went down to the station to apprise the upholders of law and order of what was happening, the local chief told her that he didn”€™t propose to victimize the poor girls further because they were already victims enough: exploited crack takers from broken homes. My redoubtable neighbor thumped the desk and said, “€œThat is not the law.”€ The policeman looked into her eyes and saw that she was more dangerous than all the sex work human resource managers in the world put together, and he ordered his men to move the girls to one of the many parts of the city where skeletal, edentulous women having sex in the street would not be noticed.

I had a few patients who were prostitutes. I remember one well-dressed lady in her 40s, whose profession I asked in the course of my history-taking.

“€œDominatrix,”€ she said.

She was obviously very good at it because she had an international clientele, including, for example, a judge in Alabama. She told me that she never went anywhere in her car without her kit, for she might receive an emergency call at any time from Hong Kong or South Africa. You might have thought that being whipped by one woman in black fishnet stockings was as good as being whipped by another, but apparently this was (and I presume still is) not so: It’s the words and gestures that go with the whipping that count as well.

This activity of hers gave her a very good living (her car was far better than mine); she was sending her daughter to private school. I admired her enterprise and thought of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Was she or the judge in Alabama to blame? Was either of them to blame at all?

Of course, she wasn”€™t typical of the profession, and hard cases, as they say, make bad law. But I am not at all sure that I saw the poor prostitutes in my street as merely victims, as the new French law would have them. Not everyone with their life history becomes a crack-taking prostitute. This does not mean that I did not pity them for what they had become. If we can truly sympathize only with those who have done nothing to contribute to their own fate, we shall have very restricted sympathies indeed.


Sign Up to Receive Our Latest Updates!