Great piece about Les Mis.
I dunno, I find the statement that the majority of women are forced into sex work suspect. In the sense of trafficking, I’m pretty sure that’s not true; in the sense of economic coercion, well… there are a lot of jobs people don’t like and work because otherwise they wouldn’t eat. I think it’s kind of whorephobic to treat sex work as special because it’s ~~the sexysex. I mean. Unless you say retail workers or domestic laborers or coal miners are forced into it.
I think this is about the context of Victor Hugo’s work. They’re forced into it because they have literally no other option. The book makes it very clear that this is a condemnation of the inequality of society and it’s meant as a mirror to the Jean Valjean story (essentially how upwards mobility is limited by gender). Prostitution was incredibly dangerous back then, even more so than it is now, and an early death was a given. In the context of the story, it’s roughly analogous to a man being forced to work in coal mines.
So it can seem whore-phobic from a modern perspective, but it’s really meant as a critique of an unequal society. It’s meant to show how ugly reality can be when people don’t have the social support to choose their own paths.
And this is also a very good point, along with Ozy’s.