Friday, September 21, 2007

Amsterdam not really "cleaning up" brothels

Despite what the Raw Story headline says. Title link leads to story.

Since the Red Light District has been around for over a hundred years, which means around during the 1950s, around during the 1920s, I really doubt that there's suddenly a moral crisis here--especially since the Dutch largely practice a severe form of Calivinism which if it was going to shut down prostitution would have done it long before now.

Instead, the first two paragraphs of the story, before it goes into the history of the Red Light district etc.. tells the tale:

"The city of Amsterdam announced Thursday that it will invest up to 15 million euros (21 million dollars) to help clean up its famous red light district by buying brothels there.

The city will help a real estate developer buy 51 storefront windows where prostitutes ply their trade to convert them into apartments or commercial premises."

So the city of Amsterdam is helping redevelopment in the heart of the city, facilitating a buyout of what is surely prime real estate, that will be developed no doubt into high priced apartments, condos, and high end stores and restaurants.

What this seems to me to be about is gentrification. Also attracting tourists with more money by cleaning up an area that might offend them, basically what gentrification does for yuppies only it's for the benefit of yuppies who come to visit an not yuppies who come to stay.

Just look at New York City and Times Square, and New York City and the Lower East Side, both of which have been cleaned up and gentrified in order to boost tourism and make rich people feel safe about living in the Village, the East Village as the Lower East Side is now known.

It's really funny, if you read the article, how a council member who's pushing for the redevelopment has said that the Red Light District has gone to hell since prostitution was formally legalized in 2000. I'm sure that there's much more crime there now and more seedy people around than when the Red Light District serviced sailors on shore leave in the earlier decades of the 20th century up till the sixties when the rest of the world found out about it.

Again, what this story boils down to is more titillation for English language readers and an implicit and very false nod saying that the morals of uptight Americans are secretly right. And coming from the Agence-France Press news service! Maybe the AFP should let their American readers know that prostitution has been legal in France since, well at least since the turn of the century, the last century, and that it's most definitely been completely legal since the end of World War II.

But Americans wouldn't buy that. They want to think the rest of the world goes into a fit when a nipple is accidentally broadcast on television, just like them.

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