Wow, am I the only one getting antsy at this renewed kind of look at sex trafficking? Quite a splendor of passionate opinion, if I do say so myself.
You see, it all started with Ashton Kutcher tweeting about how The Village Voice ran ads on escort service and other personals that he deemed contributed to child sex slavery. And thus, a spat has started and has gone on for several weeks now.
The Voice, a publication I respect, took time to rebut many slurs, trolling and general baiting going on from Kutcher. In Kutcher’s video campaign “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls,” celebs and friends make male stereotypes funny (or mildly annoying?), and Jessica Biel makes you feel sexy by being a real man. Bravo, Ashton, on the gender-baiting.
And ah yes, the numbers game. “Every year between 300,000 to 100,000 children are sold into sex slavery in the U.S.” claimed FBI director Robert Mueller in 2005. But the figure is so vague that it may be only hundreds or it may be thousands — the population is so transient and unaccounted for that we may never know.
I, like any other ethical human being, will agree that any number of persons (not just those under 18) who are bought and sold or pimped out is wrong and should be stopped. It’s the approach that’s important. When does the efforts to eradicate sex slavery turn into criminalization and abuse of those on the street economy? Usually right away. And those doing social work on the frontlines of the street economy often report that these young women are not being trafficked, but are coerced into sex work because of their situation.
So, who should step in to “save” or “help” these “girls”? What would that look like? This is not a simple game of us versus the pimps, or this versus that. Personally, I believe in a harm-reduction model that serves the needs of those on the street economy first and then moving to eradicate the problem. What would a campaign based on listening to sex workers and asking them how to eradicate trafficking look like?
So, for the many guys out there — some Johns, others who just love a good sex toy or two — stay informed and stay caring, but lets not start a holier-than-thou crusade based on some lore that celebrities come up with.
Post-script: Another article which I find very revealing is a post by Tits and Sass where a sex worker dissects the organizations involved in Ashton and Demi’s crusade.