Beggars Who Choose

Anne Hathaway as working girl-turned-“working girl” in 2012’s Les Miserables.

We saw Les Miserables on Christmas Day. As the scene of Fantine’s descent into a messy and unregulated underworld unfolded, I was struck by how incredible it is that vulnerable women were able to demand money for sex in the first place. We owe a lot to prostitutes, perhaps more than we are willing to admit, for asserting ownership of their own bodies – something that we (yes, we) still cannot take for granted.

We owe a lot to the grisettes who stood up to their filthy bosses, even when it cost them their jobs, until their collective resolve turned the tide. We owe a lot to the first women who refused marriage proposals to men who were not their equals. We owe a lot to every woman who ever saw an obstacle and turned it into an opportunity. Continue reading