The Problem with Men?
The problem with men is that they have traditionally been silent and have taken a back seat in the movement to end modern day slavery. But it begs the question of why?
Men have been demonized in the anti-trafficking movement as buyers and pimps, perverts and abusers. We have raised our collective voice in outcry against the very real and vicious acts that buyers and traffickers have done to their victims. We have decried the force, fraud and coercion used by them and we point to the fact that the main drivers of demand for commercial sex are men. It could be disheartening to come across these blogs or articles and feel like you aren’t wanted in the fight…that you would be viewed with suspicion…unwelcome in discussions. So, I think many men have just kept quiet. But men are a critical player in this war on human trafficking. We can’t end slavery without them, nor should we try.
At Truckers Against Trafficking, I am privileged to interact with, at least from the professional driver numbers, a lot of men. Men who are kind, compassionate, protective and desiring of a world where women and children are treated with dignity and respect. Men who have always known that prostituted women were victims at some level. Men who have learned recently that trafficking victims exist and that sexual exploitation doesn’t end at age 18. Men who are starting to see porn in a slightly different light as a feeder for the sex industry and thereby a feeder for sex trafficking. Men who are standing in the gap for those who others may have dismissed. Men who are asking the question, “What is her story?” when they see someone prostituted. Men who wear the mantle of a TAT proudly and with dignity. Men who speak up. And that is what we need…men speaking out. Men speaking to other men. Men talking quietly in their group of friends about showing respect for women. Men building up other men to be honorable and their better selves. Men rejecting the “boys will be boys” mantra as justification for causing pain and suffering to others. Men who understand that to be a man does not mean tearing down/objectifying/dominating a woman…that a true man builds up and strengthens those around him. These are the men I know in the space of the anti-trafficking movement TAT occupies. We need more of them…and we need more of them in every segment of society.
And it starts in the home, as cliche as that may sound. Yesterday, I watched for the sixth or seventh time, America’s Daughters, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTAVZChvLR4 and this line stood out to me, “We’re all just slaves for love; degrading ourselves for a man who’s the closest thing to a father figure we’ve ever known. We were once just girls with aspirations and a small piece of hope, now who will notice us?” So many victims of sex trafficking…so many caught up and exploited through prostitution talk about the lack of a father. The lack of appropriate love from a father figure. The lack of a good example in their lives of how a man should treat them. And the men they meet, once they are victimized, are the ones we decry…the traffickers/pimps and buyers. Men, you are needed in your daughter’s and son’s lives. Your example, your love, your kindness, your advice are needed in your homes. Watch that 4 minute video…see what the lack of it can bring, and know your value and worth as fathers or as someone’s father figure.
Look around you…you most likely know some solid, upstanding men…maybe they are relatives, educators, co-workers, friends, spouses, sons, and/or community members. Maybe you are one. I’d encourage you to speak up, to get in the fight. We need you. We need the male voice mixing with the female voice to produce a loud enough sound to bring about true and radical change. And yes, there are men (and women) who have abused and bought and sold humans. There are men (and women) who have done horrible things whose actions we will continue to decry, BUT we soundly reject the notion that all men are evil, that their only part of the movement is as the abusers. We reject it because we know better. And men, we need to hear you. We need to see you in action. We need to see an army of you arising to end human trafficking and challenging a society that conditions us for it.
Get loud, engage, and help bring about a truly free world. Let’s counteract those headlines and show them men’s real and authentic place in this movement!
P.S. This isn’t to discount women. Not at all. Women in the trucking industry are proud and incredible supporters of TAT. Women lead the anti-trafficking movement in disproportionate numbers. Women do amazing things. But this blog entry was for the men.