I have been reflecting this week on the case of the Stanford rapist. I know it is not a case about human trafficking. But when you deal with any part of sex trafficking in the midst of human trafficking, things like rape get on your radar pretty quick too.
I have seen many things posted that have angered me. I have seen some things posted that have given me hope.
I wanted to write personally, not to toot my own opinion about the whole thing, but to talk about how rape culture impacts things like sex trafficking. Because I don’t know that a lot of people understand how all these things intertwine to become nasty cesspools of horridness.
One thing I have seen come out of all the awfulness of that case is a lot of good men who feel threatened and judged for being men. And as I said recently, I hate that. It is never what I or any other person I know working with these issues want. We do not want to take your dignity because someone else’s has been taken. Quite the opposite really. We want you, MEN, to be so confident in your dignity and the gift that it is to be male that you would ABHOR what others choose to do with their maleness. If you are a good man, who looks out for your daughters and sisters and neighbors etc, feel confident that you being a safe male is a major part of what teaches small girls about their worth and their dignity. And if we have girls that know what safety and dignity feel like, they are less likely to be taken in by someone who wants to manipulate them to misuse their body.
The other thing I have sadly seen is victim shaming. If a person chooses to harm another person, it is never ever ever the fault of the victim. You may not agree with prostitution, but do you think a prostitute’s choice to use their body in that way gives others license to then beat them or kill them or do whatever they want? Sure, they have put themselves in a less safe environment. But does that make them responsible for what others baseness causes to occur? A girl or a guy who goes out and drinks does put themselves at risk. It’s true. But does that mean that someone who beats up a drunk person, or steals their wallet, or rapes them is not the one responsible? No, because human beings that are good human beings have the responsibility to help those more at risk. Not to blame them for being more at risk. Also, a girl who is drunk and gets raped does not in any way need anyone saying that she put herself at risk. She knows that and she will most likely never live that one down. So let’s all take a page out of Jesus’ book and when a woman caught doing something we don’t approve of, let’s instead of shaming her, love her and tell her God loves her.
Now, how all this relates to the sex trafficking portion of human trafficking. Sex trafficking is only a thing because there are still people who believe that sex trumps everything. That it is a natural desire that needs to be quenched and to not do so is inhumane. Here’s the problem, half that statement is true. Sex is a very natural desire. But, it is completely false that it is a desire that needs to be quenched or that not being sexually fulfilled is inhumane. The same horrid teaching (or lack there of) that tells some men they can rape a woman is the same teaching that tells other men they can buy a little girl to do with whatever they want. It’s the same teaching that tells some men they can rape other men because they have a NEED and it HAS to be satiated. And the list goes on. Some will argue that it’s not. And yes, there are other messages that have to go in with that message. But it’s all from the same core. That sex is paramount and must be indulged. Start there and you find boyfriends who shame their girl friends into sex in high school before the girl is ready. Start there and you find pedophiles who will move on to why it’s necessary for them to take advantage of that child. Start there and you find every person who has ever used another person for their body, whether visually through the internet or physically on a stage or physically through a pimp. And that is a twisted and disgusting version of sex.
Sex should be the culmination of two people loving each other so much that they want to be as intimate as possible. They say, “I choose to be as vulnerable as possible with you.” That is a relationship and activity about respect and safety. And indeed, the relationship is paramount, not the sex. If there is a scenario where there is sex involved and one or neither side has said “I choose to be as vulnerable as possible with you” then sex is off the table. It is always wrong in that context. It is a beautiful thing twisted and warped into the ugliest and basest of acts. That is what rape culture is and does. It’s the starting place for all the awful things that happen in the world. Sex is not the problem. Being male is not the problem. The belief that you should ever be able to participate in sex without your first priority being the care of the other person is the problem.