Explaining The Red Light District to a 10-Year-Old

I think there is something seriously wrong with me, even more than usual.

Hours have disappeared organizing my Pinterest boards. The clutter of curriculum, teaching tools and resources drive me insane. I’ve also started dreaming about lesson plans and last weekend, while I was enjoying a scrap booking and card making retreat with girlfriends, I actually spent as much time creating foldables and planning lap books, as I did crafting.

Sick, right?

Since my mind is occupied with things other than writing ideas lately, I have been relying heavily on my “go-to” resources for inspiration.

So, you can imagine where my mind wandered this morning when I took a look at this week’s writing prompt from Write On Edge.

This week we asked you to use this photograph to inspire your post, in whichever direction your mind should wander, in 450 words or less.

I bet you thought the exact same thing I did, right?

Tenement houses and immigration.

The minute I saw this picture, all I could think about was a conversation The Hare and I had on Tuesday. We were taking a virtual tour of the Tenement Museum in New York, City. It is amazing how we were able to step right into the lives of past immigrants, catch a glimpse of what life might have been like for them in such small, crowded spaces. The Hare hung on every word of our “tour” guide, asking very few questions.


The tour guide suddenly revealed a piece of information I was unprepared for, a statement about how some women chose to provide for their families during times of desperation. The woman in question, at this point of the tour, didn’t actually partake in that line of work, but rather, was the dedicated seamstress for several of these women of the Red Light District.

I waited quietly. I knew it was coming.

“What was the Red Light District?” asked The Hare concerned, although the tone of her voice revealed she had already come to her own conclusion.

“Well,” I sighed, “It was a part of town where ladies lived and worked together to provide a specific service to men. A service that is actually illegal and very degrading.”

The Hare pursed her lips, “So, when you say service, you mean…?”

“I mean sex, with no intention of marriage or babies. Just for money.”

“That’s awful!” she said shocked and embarrassed.

“It is pretty terrible, I agree.”

“But I don’t know which is worse – that women did that to feed their families, or that men wanted to give them money. I’m assuming they wouldn’t have offered if someone wasn’t willing to pay.”

Out of the mouths of babes.


12 thoughts on “Explaining The Red Light District to a 10-Year-Old

  1. Such a difficult thing to talk about with young people. I recently read an article about a woman who was the first daughter in something like four generations NOT to have been a prostitute. Reading about it was so heartbreaking because these women were simply doing what they could with the only valuable commodity they had at the time.

  2. Conversations like that are a great, big “atta girl!” from the universe that you’re doing a great job as a mom and homeschool teacher. Please accept both a big pat on the back and a big hug from me. 🙂

  3. Did you talk about how desperate the women must have felt and been to do it? I can’t read the tone in your daughter’s words “they did *that*” but I will bet it wasn’t an easy decision to make. Excellent springboard for discussion, though.

    1. Yes! We certainly talked about what a desperate decision this must have been. She was visibly sad that this occurred but I think more distressed that people would pay them for sex rather than just do the right thing and help them.

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