We need to be better than a rape culture.

I can’t even begin to express my feelings in something as short as this blog to explain how angry, sad, and broken I am for our culture today. We, America, have a long history of having the wrong opinion, wrong action, and poor judgment when it comes to rape and assault.  We have allowed for generations to live and die without having something substantial to show for having action and justice for victims of rape.  This needs to change. Now.

I have found myself at multiple times wanting to write something about this subject. But I usually find myself too upset or too angry to coherently write something capable of getting my thoughts across. But tonight, tonight I am here and ready to say something. We have created and endorsed a culture that glamorizes violent sex, rape, trafficking, prostitution, and assault. The very fact that we need to have this conversation shows how far we really are in this ugly pit.

Don’t believe me? Here are some examples…

  • movies like 50 Shades of Gray– manipulative and exploitive relationship
  • rape fantasy porn
  • phrases like “I’ll rape you in this game”
  • slut shaming (but boys will be boys…right?)
  • making jokes about rape
  • thinking its cool that celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence had her privacy betrayed so the world could “enjoy her” a bit
  • when we allow and enjoy songs like “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and endorse the thought that its okay to have blurry vision about consensual sex and possible rape
  • victim blaming

I could honestly make a longer list but there’s the gist. We have collectively taken such a light stance on rape and assault that we don’t even realize the tragedy taking place in our society. Just today pop-star Kesha was denied in court her request to terminate her contract with Sony because she claims a producer assaulted her. I don’t know Kesha. I don’t know her alleged attacker. But what I do know is that her right to remove herself from a place that she finds unsafe was denied. She will be forced to work alongside the producer over and over.  What I find most sad about her case is that, it being so public, will probably prevent so many victims of rape and assault from coming forward because the justice system has failed her, so why would it work for them?

Less than 2% of all rapes are reported with an even lower percentage for men reporting their assault. Women and girls are terrified of their attackers. Kids are petrified of their molesters. Boys and men feel humiliated because in society’s eyes they are less manly for having been assaulted, and even worse if their victimizer was a woman. Yes men can be raped by women too.

What it needs to come down to for us in our American culture is that we need to have a paradigm shift in our society. Enough is enough. Too many rapes happen. Too many victims stay silent. Too many victims lack justice being served. And too many rapists are set or kept free. We need to stop the jokes that make light of rape. We need to stop supporting porn (its all unhealthy) but especially rape fantasy porn. No more crying wolf because of regretful sex.  We need to learn that consent is vital in a sexual relationship. If consent is not given on either party…then don’t have sex. No means no. Silence means no. Yes means yes. We need to stop glamorizing artists/music whose lyrics not only glamorize but endorse rape, assault, abuse, etc. Snoop Dog (Snoop Lion?), Nicki Minaj, Robin Thicke and many others but just to name a few. We need to realize that as much as we have embraced something like the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, we are also embracing the objectification of women. We need to stop it. Stop it all. We need to understand that even if someone has given sex before, it is also their right to refuse. We need to understand that regardless of what a woman or man, boy or girl, is wearing it does not mean it is the right for the taking. Enough with the victim blaming. Enough with the objectifying. Enough. ENOUGH. ENOUGH!

 

We need to be better than this. We are better than this because we were created for more than this.  Do your part to better the world around you. Is this really the world we want our children to grow up in? Is this really a world you want to live in? No. Speak up. Act. Do something. But don’t sit around and allow for this rape culture to continue. Not on your watch. Not on mine.

 

 

 

 

Red light district love.

the-red-light-district

I am certain this will not be a popular thought. But my silence is not okay. For those of you reading this who might be offended, that’s fine. Just be offended in the right way. Red Light Districts are not a joke. They are not romantic. They are not glamorous. The other day I was in a conversation with various people (some of you who might read this). In this conversation, someone brought up very casually that he and his brother, among others returning from a deployment training, went to a European Red Light District. He said that some of them “did stuff”. Now, I am no fool and I can assume that by doing stuff that meant that had some sort or variation or sexual acts with the prostitutes who work in that Red Light District. What broke my heart is that not only did he say it so casually, but that he probably didn’t even realize (nor those he was with) that the very women (or men) that they might have “done stuff” with were probable victims of human trafficking. I don’t say any of this to belittle or trash talk those who were a part of this conversation yesterday.  But I literally went home and wept.

Red Light Districts in Europe, along with many places around the world, are the primary locations of the sex industry. In so many areas, especially in Europe, the prostitution is completely legalized. Anyone, from anywhere, can go and pay a certain price for whatever sexual acts they desire. Its compared to ordering a pizza. When did sex because so casual? When did sex become something downgraded to the value of pizza? When did the value or worth of someone else’s life drop to near nothing? The men and women who work these districts are pimped and prostituted out. They are physically broken down so they won’t run and flee. They are emotionally broken so they will not betray those who own them. There families and loved ones are threatened. They are kidnapped, coerced, beaten, broken, raped, and tortured. Yet, people still go to these districts and pay to have sex with them.

Legal doesn’t equate right or just.

Dear friends and readers, please understand the heaviness of my heart tonight as I write to tell you: please for their sake, do not embrace the Red Light Districts, do not engage in sex or behaviors with prostitutes, do not treat sex so casually as that of a pizza. They are worth more than that. YOU are worth more than that. End the demand of the commercial sex industry that is really the forced sex trafficking of individuals who have no other option or way out. Use wisdom in your travels. Value your own sex and sexuality more than offering it up to just anybody. Don’t buy into the lie of buying sex or giving sex because you can.  Find your value somewhere else, not in the using or abusing of someone else’s sexuality. Be offended at sex being treated like a recreation instead of something valuable. We were designed for more and far greater things.

Fantine dreamed a dream…a reality still today

Life has killed the dream…I dreamed!

reg_1024.10lesmis.ls.12212

{Anne Hathaway as Fantine in Les Miserable}

Today, I watched in amazement at the movie musical of Les Miserables. The passion, the power, the inspiration that is brought to the table while you watch the musical…jaw dropping. This is not a review of the movie, at least not intentionally, but I do want to commend the entire cast and crew at a powerful production.

Probably the most famous song of the musical is the song “I dreamed a dream”. As Anna Hathaway sang the song, I felt the emotion of what Fantine [her character] would have felt. I felt the brokenness, the heartache, the bitterness, and above all the loss. I found myself during her song…actually crying. For anyone who knows me well knows it takes a lot for me to cry in a movie. That song did it.

For anyone that hasn’t seen the musical [or movie version], Fantine is a younger single mother who loses her job and left destitute having her daughter kept with a corrupt innkeeper. She is desperate, lost, and broken. Her vulnerability was exploited. She cut off all her hair for a mere 10 Franks. She had teeth removed for more Franks. The pinnacle of her despair led her to being forced into prostitution. After her first sexual encounter, she is left weeping, broken, and shamed. She had a dream that was lost that day. At one point before the song (where she first prostitutes herself), she actually sings “they don’t even know they make love with someone already dead…” [referring to the men she has to sleep with].

[a trafficking picture]

[a trafficking picture]

During that song, my heart sank deeply. Though Fantine is not real, her story is very much alive. She represents a group of women and girls, and even men and boys, all over the world that are forced to leave behind any dreams of a better life to service someone sexually. They no longer live, but walk as empty vessels. No hope. No dream. Nothing. Empty. As Fantine sang, “someone already dead”. No woman or girl [or anyone for that matter] should ever have to go through that hell. No one should have to resort to sexual slavery, whether by choice or force or because of circumstance. It is hell on earth. Something needs to be done for the women (and men) walking dead like Fantine. Victims of a broken world. Lost and nameless to most. But they still matter.

What if we can instill hope? What if we can inspire? What if one of those women or girls, men and boys dreamed again…? What if life actually hasn’t killed their dream? What if they could be restored?

{Unmasked}

Once again I find myself at Starbucks with many books and journals and magazines open taking over an entire table, or in this case, the bar. That’s what they get for letting me come in while writing my thesis. I basically treat it as my (second) office. Today I read through a 300 page book called Unmasked: Exposing the Cultural Sexual Assault and I have to say that I have much to think about. My focus for my thesis right now is about human trafficking and thus, my heart is heavy once more. A common occurrence as of late. If you haven’t noticed, just read my recent blog posts. I wanted to share an excerpt of the book as it hit me really hard.

The roots of sex slavery can be found in our junior high hallways. We see those roots by observing the effects of the negative message of our culture on the identity of our daughters [referring to females]. The roots of sex slavery are also seen in popular entertainment that enshrines those same values. We have allowed our daughters to be sexualized, depersonalized, and objectified, creating an atmosphere in which sexual predators thrive. This objectification and sexualization of our daughters leads to the creation of a pornography industry, which, in turn, feeds a sex-slavery industry. When we permit the message that the primary value of a women is her sexuality to pervade our entire culture, how can we shocked when people act out on that indirect invitation to partake of what is being offered to them? The appetite of the western nations for sex slavery is a direct result  of this alteration of identity, this identity theft on a generation of young women. [Unmasked by Jim Anderson p. 29]

I actually had to reread the whole section multiple times. In today’s world, we wonder why things are so bad. We wonder and then justify sexual behavior in teenagers. The same goes for involvement in pornography and the sex industry. Yet, when it comes to sex slavery, we act as if it is only foreign or has nothing to do with us. When we allow a world of sexual misconduct, promiscuity, extremities in dress, or justification of other sexual behaviors, like Anderson referenced, we actually allow for and  endorse sex slavery…without really knowing it. I have many more thoughts on this and will probably write more later, but this was a definitely impacting book. Get a copy of it and read it! 

The Cause Within

I believe everyone has something that, at their core, they would do anything for. I am not simply talking about  something that someone enjoys doing but instead I am referring to that which is in our deepest part of our being. Our dream. Our purpose. The cause within. If we look deep enough, we each have one.

I have often dreamt about what I could do for the world. Realistically, I feel like I cannot offer much. I have often wondered that if I could do anything, be anything, be a part of anything, what would that be? I am incapable. However, those are the lies we tell ourselves to keep us from moving forward. Those are the very things that prevent us from doing exactly what we must. For the past seven or so years I have had such a burden for the sex industry-women of the night, madams, brothels, strip clubs, and…human trafficking. I have written about this many times. Finally, after years of discontent in my heart and an increasingly deep passion about this, I MUST ACT!

I cannot sit by and pretend like I cannot do anything. I cannot stand idly by as women and children are being sold as commodities and merchandises, then left for dead. I cannot maintain inaction while women, girls my age, continue to work the streets and clubs to make money off the lust of others. I cannot pretend that pornography does not affect me…or you. Men, women, and children alike are being filmed for the sake of fueling selfish desire. Yes you may say they choose it, but many do not. Regardless, I cannot ignore this burning in my soul to stop this or die trying. With God’s help, power of his love, and victory and freedom he offers, I need to this. I have no other option.

This is my cause within.

 

Nameless. Faceless.

Ripped from the normal, from home. Sold for meager wages. By mom. By dad. Or snatched off the street. Beaten. Forced to take deathly amounts of drugs. Poisoned. She is 15. He is 9. She is 11. He is 14. She is young. So is he.

Raped. Over and over again. Many times up to 40 men get serviced by her, even him…in one day. HIV runs through their veins. Infections. Disease. But again, every day the cycle of rape is repeated. Just a child. No longer innocent. They will never get to just be a child. They are coerced into tourism by men visiting their land. Video taped. Recorded. And the internet exposes them even more. Their nakedness. Their privacy is not their own. Nothing but an object of pleasure. A slave.

Work. Work more. No payment. Just more bruises.  No longer just sweat shops. They make clothes. They clean. They do hard labor. They are in your local dry cleaners. Ice cream shops. Pizza parlors. Construction workers. Landscapers. They are waiters. Waitresses. You’ve seen them. Somewhere, you’ve passed them. Maybe you’ve spoken to them.

Don’t be naive enough to think that this does not affect you. Don’t be selfish and not care. These children, the average age is 11 years old. The oldest are barely old enough to be of college age. The youngest… puberty is years away. Yet somehow, by some series of circumstances they were either sold or kidnapped into a slave trade where they are nothing. They have no name anymore. They have no face. They are just a slave with an eternal debt to their trafficker. It is a debt that will not be paid. Between the cost of buying them, clothing them, feeding them, and providing condoms…their debts continue to be raised daily. Many die of sickness. Or abuse. Or overdose. Most victims will not be rescued.

They are not nameless. They are not faceless. They are innocent victims. They are slaves. The cost of their slavery makes more money than all professional sports. They are imported and exported like fruit all over the world…America is one of the largest ports. Don’t think this doesn’t affect you…