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Whores’ Glory

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‘Whores’ Glory’

Saturday at 10.30am at Liberty Theatre

“Why do women have to suffer this much? Isn’t there another path of us? Is there a path at all?” asks one of the young women interviewed for the documentary ‘Whores’ Glory’.

The film is as full of irony as any film title could be there’s little of the glorious in this frank, non-judgemental look at the world’s oldest profession.

Directed by Michael Glawogger, the film examines prostitution in three distinct locations: The Fishtank, Bangkok, Thailand; The City of Joy, Faridpur, Bangladesh and La Zona, Reynosa, Mexico.

Sexually explicit, this is definitely a film for mature audiences, but there is, perhaps surprisingly, little that’s salacious about it except for a short episode at the end. For the most part, the women talk matter-of-factly about the necessity of earning a living, the challenges of keeping the customer and the boss happy, and dreams for the future not much different from any other young professional. In fact, the girls working at The Fishtank actually punch in and out of their rather sleek, modern place of work.

Though the standard of living and working conditions vary significantly between the locations, the lives of the women are surprisingly similar. They are known only by their numbers. While fighting off boredom as they wait for clients, they chat about clothes, hairstyles, kids, hopes and dreams. They follow the same rituals of applying makeup, arranging their hair and dressing in what are deemed alluring outfits for the social context.

We hear also from the customers, who are at each of the establishments “to buy ourselves a little bit of happiness”, for “there’s no comparing these girls with my wife”. Another states, “having fun with them makes us feel good”, while yet another admits “our girlfriends don’t do what these girls do”. Through their language, however, what comes across clearly is how little they respect these women, and in turn, how little they are worthy of respect themselves.

The madams and pimps explain how they got into the business, and we learn of some of the financial implications of their business decisions.

Another element that links the women in very different cultures is their spirituality. At a roadside shrine the Thai girls offer incense and prayers for “money, luck and all things good and beautiful”, while the Mexicans pray to the Goddess of Death to keep them safe from black magic and spells.

Shot in a straightforward manner, the film presents an honest, clear-eyed view of their world, with no attempt to whitewash, glamorise or sermonise. The viewer is left to draw his or her own conclusions. The occasional music is linked in theme, though perhaps too consistently ‘western’ and not reflective enough of the respective cultures occasionally energetic, sometimes sultry, sometimes soulful and sad.

The film might be summed up through the comments of one of the young women: “We try to forget sadness with a little laughter but the pain still remains.”

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Published March 14, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 14, 2012 at 8:48 am)

Whores’ Glory

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