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March 2018


Tomorrow I’m meeting with some people from the city. We’re scheduled to discuss the prostitution problem in my neighborhood. We don’t have streetwalkers and pimps, we have massage parlors.

We have massage parlors that no one ever enters from the street. We have massage parlors that use their rear entrances with free parking. We have massage parlors where no one speaks English and the older woman at the front desk wears rainbow eyeshadow.

These massage parlors are admittedly not good for property values and I have some concerns about that, but we’re in a spot where our home values will continue to rise in value regardless of the local criminal activity. Nonetheless, I have made it a habit in the past to wander in and ask about an appointment. I’m hopelessly suburban. I look like your mom, I look like the lady who’s going to call VICE and it freaks them out. You know why I look that way?

Because I am the lady that calls VICE.

And I didn’t call VICE when I realized there were brothels popping up around my house. I called VICE when I realized that no one comes and goes. That perhaps women might be living there. I called VICE not after I recognized the fact that none of these women were American women but when I saw a teen there, not 18 or 19 either. I called VICE when I saw children being bought and sold.

And then VICE told me about all the ways they couldn’t help, but a few ways they could. So I encouraged them to please to keep visiting. And I kept visiting and flipping out the women in their 50s who wear too much rainbow eye shadow and pretend to look through empty appointment books to tell me there are no massages available for me.

And when my friends introduce me to their friends who are running for public office I ask these candidates what they’ll do about human trafficking. I watch them shrug and talk about what a terrible problem it is. One even let me know about places where it’s worse.

But I’m walking four blocks to the gym and I’m walking past a child in a brothel who is unlikely to read and write English. So I can’t turn my head and I won’t stop asking. This is ripped from the headlines human trafficking. And 30 yards from that massage parlor is a family like mine with a child the same age as the happy ending masseuse. And they’re freaking out because their daughter isn’t in the top 5% of scores for the SAT and how will she ever have a future…..

You cannot be a good person and worry about your child’s future while ignoring someone else’s daughter.

And I’m not a Pollyanna, okay, maybe I sometimes am. But I’m not opposed to legal prostitution. I’m not silly enough to think that sex isn’t a commodity and that women won’t sell something that men want to buy. I’m bothered by illegal prostitution for a million reasons that begin with disease and end with bringing crime to my neighborhood. Mostly though, I’m alarmed by women who don’t have agency selling something that they may or may not realize they own.

definition of agency sociology

So tomorrow I’m meeting with some folks at City Hall. I’m not overly concerned with having prostitutes rounded up for arrest. I am looking to have landlords held accountable. I am looking to have minors removed from this… existence. I don’t have solutions yet I’m hopeful that the people I’m meeting with will.

Overall though, I’m afraid to be hopeful. This isn’t a city that has done much to care for it’s most vulnerable citizens.