Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

My personal “Europe News”

8 Comments

I just remembered that I wanted to post a lot more on daily life and experiences…. well, I haven’t done a post like that in months! But I do have some interesting things I experienced since.

I never mentioned it, but we took a shopping trip to Frankfurt a while ago (in January). I didn’t think it was that interesting but I keep remembering how different life was there.

We only went for a day and by no means I have seen much of the city, but I’m sure I saw two of the most interesting things! One being the Konstablerwache, somewhat of a market place in the city center, and second the red light district (during day time).

Avoiding Konstaplerwache is impossible if you’re in Frankfurt for shopping as it connects the main shopping streets (since there are no malls). However, it’s not exactly a nice place. Don’t get me wrong, it looks nice! But I was warned not to speak to anyone there, and not to get into a conversation if I’m spoken to. To be very friendly but distant. To avoid eye contact with the “weird” people. I thought this was a little over the top. After all, how bad can it be when it’s the hot spot for city life? But now I understand why this has been said to me.

On the square as well as around it, you see “weird” people. They aren’t weird by nature but by behaviour. They’re standing around, smoking, looking at people, checking them out. Trying to find someone looking for eye contact. Konstablerwache is the city’s hot spot to buy drugs.

At first I didn’t see them. Until I noticed a guy standing about 10 feet away from me. He was looking at Daniel – apparently, most of the time it’s men buying drugs. I kind of stared at him, which caused him to look at me. He gave me a short nod of head, kind of asking “What can I do for you?” with that movement. I realized that I must look very… strange to him. Wanting something. This short nod scared me so much that I immediately gave a panicked shake of head and turned away. However I have to say: I was not approached by anyone, I was left in piece and to my own surprise, I still felt very safe. There were A LOT of normal people just walking around shopping, so I guess as long as you don’t actually get involved with any of those weird people, you’re safe.

We had to go through the red light district in order to reach the train station. I was told what to expect before hand. prostitution is legal here, hence in certain districts, you’ll find prostitutes roaming around freely, doing business. I still expected it to be kind of hidden and not as obvious as it really was. Seriously, the entire district is plastered with brothels, sex shops, food corners and something called “wank cabins” (figure that out yourself!). I thought people would be very rude and dirty there, all on drugs and criminal, but they weren’t. I saw a transvestite in a window shop (probably selling himself) who gave me a friendly nod and a wink when I stared. I saw friendly women, business men in suits, students on bikes, people walking dogs, a hot dog stand with younger girls getting food. I saw a young prostitute (at least I guess she was one) entering a house with an older man. It said “Hour hotel” on the door. And I saw that “red light district” is not just a name, it’s literal. There are red lights everywhere!

Everything was very strange to me. A bit like my parents described these places would be, but not exactly. I didn’t think you could walk through that kind of places without getting robbed or killed. It was such a different world. I guess that’s the world you live in when you don’t belong to some sheltered group of religious freaks. These are just the things that happen in the real world. Obviously I would never go there at night or alone, but after my initial problems with it I’m glad I got to see this ‘other side’.

I don’t think prostitutes are the way they’re sometimes made out to be. I think it’s something you have to accept at some point. They’re doing a very hard job, some just got into it at some point, others are forced, others again do it because they genuinely like their job. I hate to see when people talk bad about them, using terms like “sluts” and “whores” and whatnot. It’s not like cheating on your spouse will magically disappear when there’s no prostitutes. It’s done everywhere, even in the fundamentalist circles. I honestly do believe there would be a lot more sexual violence if not for the women who work there. I think I’ve even read a study on it.

Anyways, I’m not trying to make it look good or anything. I’m just saying there should be more respect for what they do. At the end of the day they’re still people, not objects. Nobody should be treated like an object, even if she sells her body.

8 thoughts on “My personal “Europe News”

  1. Hi! I’m enjoying your posts and hope to read through your archives sometime when I have a spare moment. I too am a “broken daughter” and even though it’s been 14 years since I left, I’m still processing my upbringing.

    I especially wanted to applaud this post and your argument that sex workers deserve respect. Throughout history prostitutes–and anyone considered a “loose woman”–have been the scapegoats for socialized sins. Why aren’t the men who buy their services ever called into question? Because guess who has been writing the laws… It’s always easier to criminalize the least powerful individual in a given situation. Sigh.

    • Absolutely true. Women we not allowed to run their own businesses, own much of their own land and so on (from what I learned in history class), and if they tried to make a living that way, they were being mistreated, locked up, killed. So sad. So unfair.

  2. Sadly, prostitution is (at least somewhat) closer to what you imagined in the US. Being illegal here, both the prostitutes and their clients often end up in very “dodgy” areas, as they cannot call on the police to protect them or enforce compensation for their “services”, at least not without implicating themselves. Comparing the way prostitution is in the US to the way it is in Europe makes something pretty clear – making it illegal does *not* make it go away, it just makes it dangerous (to both worker and client, and even society at large, due to the larger “crime area” that develops).

    • I tried to gather some information about the situation here. “Prostitute” is a legal job here – meaning you can write that on your tax papers, you can get health insurance (though very expensive if you admit to being a prositute due to the risks) and you’re supposed to be accepted as any other worker. Of course, there is still forced prostitution and the dark side, but I agree, it doesn’t go away because you make a law against it. I think if making it legal makes the situation better for just 1% of the prostitutes, it’s already been worth it.

      I always thought (was told) that prostitutes are “lower” beings, they weren’t like real people and all that. But now I saw them and they are! They’re eating, drinking, they shop and they are friendly. Real people.

  3. I can understand that parts of Frankfurt feel odd and slightly creepy to you – but I get that same feeling when I’m with fundamentalist Christians! It’s partly what you’re used to. So I find it easy enough to understand people selling drugs and sex (even though I have never bought or sold either, but I understand why people do it. But I can’t get into the minds of people obsessed with worshipping their perverted image of a god and showing their obsession with that by bullying their family and forcing them to submit to their whims.

    From what you have written, I suspect that you don’t need the warning that some Americans need when visiting Europe – that many Americans do tend to talk much more loudly in public than Europeans!

    Glad to read that you seem to be enjoying life, go for it girl!!!

    • Hah! Yeah it’s true, the fundamentalists can be equally scary. I remember showing my friends a sermon on youtube. They looked scared, I personally thought it was a rather modest one. I’m just used to hearing much “harder” stuff!

  4. Hi Lisa

    There’s something I’ve been wondering about the fundamentalist / QF / patriarchal ‘movement’: there is obviously a strong emphasis on family but everything I’ve read seems to focus on courtship, marriage and having loads on kids. The emphasis always seems to be on the relationship between relatively young parents in their 20s and 30s and their young children to the exclusion of other family relationships. What particularly stands out for me is that they never seem to talk about older people and especially elderly grandparents. How do these couples with 10+ young children cope with ageing parents as well? Why don’t they talk about it? (or do they? Maybe it’s just my imagination). I imagine that in a family with 15 kids the parents are quite old when the youngest children are still in their teens – do they end up taking care of their parents? Or do their older, married siblings take on the responsabilty for everyone? Do older relatives tend to live in nursing homes?

    I guess the ultra-fundamentalist movement is still quite ‘young’ so families like the Duggars haven’t had to go through this phase of life yet (maybe?).

    Thanks in advance!

    I LOVE your blog!!! You are SUCH a good writer.

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