Responsibility of Freedom – Amsterdam, Holland

In the late afternoon, I decided to head to the Anne Frank House. The line up only lasted a few minutes which left me plenty of time to go through it. I had been here before years ago in 2002 but for some reason, now it was different. I didn’t get the same heavy feeling as it seemed to be more touristy, more forced. Perhaps this type of experience will only have that strong shocking effect in the initial go-round.

Similar to last time, I thoroughly enjoyed the interactive Free2Choose exhibit at the end. The provocative questions were designed to illicit strong feelings on controversial issues such as right to privacy, discrimination, freedom of speech, and other ethical hotspots.

On the way back through town, I passed by a few of the infamous red lit windows Amsterdam is known for. Slightly uncomfortable I quickened my pace as I stole a glance at who was for sale. I made eye contact for just a second as a blond forty-something shot me an gentle yet inquisitive smile. With her shoulder length bob and freshly made up facade, I couldn’t shake the knowing that this was someones daughter, sister and perhaps (most likely) someones mother parading around as flesh for rent. I smiled back mustering up as much compassion as I could offer with my limited understanding of prostitution. Long after I looked away, her solicitous eyes burned in my mind.

There was something dreadfully unnatural about these women and the air around them reeked of slavery. Many of the scantily clad bodies appeared to be self medicating in one form or another. Some took the effort to smile seductively and even made it look like they were having fun, dancing and laughing. But you could see that if they didn’t get the response they wanted their face flipped to something more sordid.

I wondered what it would be like to be shut up in a small dark box. Both Anne Frank and the red light district sellers evoked powerful yet confusing feelings with regard to freedom and human rights. I suppose I just don’t perceive much respect or positive healthy feelings when it comes to the sex trade. The wind picked up as I scampered back to the ship for dinner and ended up staying in for the night.

Grateful for contradictions.

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