In this session, I am taking Prostitution and The Sex Trade; a course that includes a study tour to Amsterdam. Like my previous class (Psychology of Human Sexuality), this course really pushes me out of my comfort zone in terms of course content. For the first week of class, we talked to a former prostitute, learned how to pole dance, and witnessed a visual sex work lecture, and it soon became evident that this was like no other class I have taken.
What this course means to me
Coming into this course I knew that it would contain some sensitive topics. However, I thought it would be extremely interesting to learn about an extremely taboo topic in American culture and even to go study in a place where it was legal. My goal coming into this summer was to push my limits and study topics unique to Europe, and I can safely say that after visiting Amsterdam and the Red Light District, I have achieved that goal.
Day 1 in Amsterdam
After landing in Amsterdam and checking in to our hotel (super nice btw), we had some free time to roam around and explore the city. My friend and I found a flea market and browsed for a bit before settling down at a café to enjoy some Poffertjes (Dutch Mini Pancakes). Afterward, we caught up with the rest of our class to visit the Anne Frank House, which is a must-see for anyone visiting Amsterdam. After a lovely dinner provided by DIS, we had the option to visit a live sex show in the Red Light District. Needless to say, it was an eye-opening experience.
Day 2 in Amsterdam
Starting bright and early, we attended a workshop with a feminist porn director and Harvard Grad, Jennifer Lyon Bell. We talked about how the porn industry could be shifted to favor the female gaze and other underrepresented indidiuvals like people with disabilities. Then, we had some free time to explore the city and discovered a cute all-pink café. Afterward, we toured an exclusive sex club and learned about a former sex worker’s experiences working there. We ended the night with some delicious Indonesian food provided by DIS.
Day 3 in Amsterdam
For our third day, we focused on conducting research for our podcast assignments by interviewing former and current sex workers. We interviewed a wide range of sex workers including a male sex worker, a sex assistant for people with disabilities, and a Red Light District window girl. My podcast focused on self-image and sex work, and these individuals provided me with a lot of insight on that topic. It was extremely interesting to listen to their stories. We had some more free time in the evening, so I took a tour of the Amsterdam Canals.
Day 4 in Amsterdam
On our final day, we visited the Museum of Prostitution in the Red Light District, and then attended a burlesque workshop. I really enjoyed the burlesque workshop because we actually got to dress up and perform at the end of it. By the end of the day, we were all exhausted from the week but glad that we got to experience the Red Light District together.