Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Poverty Zoo

There is a Tumblr blog I usually find pretty funny called Saskatoon Dog.  It uses that meme of having some animal face doling out advice or whatever in one picture, and in this instance it's a gopher making fun of Saskatoon.  My favourite was something like "Big night out at Earls / Wear new Lululemon pants".  It's funny because it's true yayyy.  There is a lot to laugh at in Saskatoon and this blog does a pretty great job overall.

However the other day they posted one that made me really mad:  "Nothing to do? / Drive down 20th LOL at hookers".

I admit with some shame that I probably would have found this super funny in high school and would have participated in this activity often, had I grew up here.  However, as you get older and start to think a little more about the issues of poverty and prostitution in Saskatoon, it's not funny and should not be encouraged by being posted about on a blog with a lot of followers.

Before you dismiss me as being oversensitive about this, please try to see my point here - driving down 20th Street to "LOL at hookers" is like treating people who are down on their luck enough to sell themselves like zoo animals.  Let's go laugh at the poverty zoo!  Haha, people who are poor and have addictions and 14 year olds being forced to have sex with old men are sure funny!

I'm sorry, no one is going to win an argument that the 20th Street prostitutes are choosing to be there because they made an empowered decision to be a prostitute because they enjoyed the work, rather than becoming a doctor or lawyer.  Because there are women out there who do make that empowered decision, and while it's not something I can truly put myself in their shoes and understand why they'd choose that as a career, it was, ultimately, their choice and I can respect that choice if it is honestly what they want to do.  But these women generally become higher-end prostitutes who work for escort services - no one who legitimately wants to be a prostitute stands on the corner of 20th Street.  You end up on 20th Street because you feel like you've got no other options, and that's not funny - that's heartbreaking.

Maybe that post on Saskatoon Dog truly is representative of Saskatoon after all though - as the gap between the middle class and the lower class continues to widen and the middle class gets further removed from serious, real social issues facing our city, it becomes more acceptable to treat those living in poverty more like zoo animals and less like humans.

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