While PJ and I were in Amsterdam last month, we walked around the Red Light District, mostly following the walking tour suggested by Rick Steves guide to Amsterdam. This walk was one of three aspects of Amsterdam that really reinforced that it is unlike any where else I’ve ever been: the legalized prostitution, the pot, and the canals definitely make this city unique!

This statue of a prostitute stands outside the Oude Kerk, which is surrounded by the Red Light District. It’s really bizarre to see bars, sex shops, and prostitutes standing in glass doorways in the buildings surrounding the church! Nothing like this exists anywhere in the U.S.

Two things impress me about this statue. First, it seems to try to capture a kind of dignity in its subject. This woman is standing tall with an almost haughty demeanor. She’s not a victim.

Second, and in contradiction to the first aspect, the dark material and the doorway framing the prostitute conveys a sense of imprisonment to me. There is a darker side to prostitution, this statue seems to say. [PJ notes the fact that she’s not bound by the frame and is emerging from it might also complicate this reading.]