Be A Man

“Be a man!!”  “Man up!!” “ Don’t be such a girl!!”

 

When the worst insult a boy can receive is “Don’t run/throw/hit/act like a girl”, what is our society teaching boys about girls? They are weak, and they don’t deserve respect. When boys and girls hear this from coaches, fathers, teachers, and even girls and women, why should they believe differently?  When girls hear this insult over and over, what do they come to believe about their value?

Watch this 3 minute trailer about masculinity:

http://therepresentationproject.org/film/the-mask-you-live-in/

“As we are assigned the designation “male” at birth, thus begins the life-long process of “masculinization” in which society teaches us that if we are to be considered worthy of respect and pride, we must be athletic, independent, assertive, domineering, competitive, tough, that we must bury our emotions deep within the recesses of our souls, and, most importantly, that we must search for and destroy any signs of “femininity” — “the woman” – within, which clearly represents society’s devaluation of females.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/warren-j-blumenfeld/hypermasculinity-twin-pea_b_7417522.html

Watch this 3 minute film about being “like a girl”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs

 

“The quest for turf through hyper-masculinity literally kills.” Hyper-masculinity in our culture is a driving force behind male violence, the systematic degradation of women, and other factors that increase the demand for human trafficking. While no one aspect of society directly causes human trafficking, our society creates an environment in which human trafficking can grow and flourish, in part by glorifying male violence and hyper-masculinity. From a young age, boys are told to “Be A Man” anytime something goes wrong. This implies that men are responsible for handling or managing everything in life, and that’s a lot of pressure. Because our society so blatantly devalues women, men are forced to live up to an impossible standard in an attempt to avoid seeming weak or non-masculine and thus often resort to violence to prove their masculinity. Hyper-masculinity goes hand in hand with objectification of women, something we see every day in our society, we are just so desensitized to it that we normalize it except in extreme cases.

“Surely many social issues work together to produce the environments in which this dangerous thinking flourishes, but it seems to me that there is also a too-often unspoken link between men resorting to violence and the same hypermasculine culture that’s made shooting virtual human beings one of America’s favorite pastimes, alongside the harassment of women, and the celebration of misogyny in sports. It’s a culture which all of us, to varying degrees, participate in.” <http://everydayfeminism.com/2016/03/hypermasculinity-for-muslims/>

Toxic masculinity isn’t innate. Watch this 3 minute video about how young boys treat girls.

https://youtu.be/b2OcKQ_mbiQ

Ending the cycle of male violence is so important to abolition because it lessens the pressure on men to perform, to feel ‘manly’, allowing them to treat women with respect and as equals rather than as objects of sexual conquest. The attitude that women are objects for men allows for the buying and selling of people for use of their bodies, thus leading to human trafficking. More on this subject later, but the most important aspect to preventing trafficking is understanding how we enable it in the first place.

 

Disclaimer: Sexual assault and human trafficking know no gender, sex, age, or race. However, because a vast majority of sexually violent crimes are committed by men against women, for the sake of argument, this article only discusses hyper-masculinity and male violence in our society. This is not meant to discredit or diminish violence against men, which is a very serious issue and one that deserves equal attention and discussion in its own right.

 

Writing for Freedom,

 

Darien Smith

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Rape Culture

17.7 million American women have been victims of rape

3% of American men have experienced rape

15% of all sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12

98% of rapists will never serve a single day in prison

47% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance of the victim

Rape Culture

One of the biggest hindrances to stopping human trafficking is our society’s views on women. We live in a world where women are considered second-class citizens and objects to be used, while simultaneously expected to remain ‘pure’ and ‘valuable’. These conflicting beliefs lead to the punishment, abuse, trading, and overall dehumanization of women. This phenomenon is often referred to as ‘rape culture’.

What is Rape Culture?

 “a complex of beliefs that encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence against women.”

“an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture.” https://www.marshall.edu/wcenter/sexual-assault/rape-culture/

We are all aware of what ‘culture’ is, the norms in a society that bind us all together. But how can rape be a normal part of our culture?

We don’t necessarily live in a society that openly promotes rape, but we are a society that enables rape, which is almost more dangerous because people are unaware of the consequences of their seemingly innocent actions. These commonly accepted social practices are often overlooked, trivialized, or joked about, leading to higher and higher instances of rape and sexual assault.

“But I don’t make rape jokes!”

While rape jokes are the most obvious example of rape culture, they are not the only things that perpetuate rape culture. Things like :

  • Blaming the victim (“She asked for it!”)
  • Trivializing sexual assault (“Boys will be boys!”)
  • Sexually explicit jokes
  • Tolerance of sexual harassment
  • Inflating false rape report statistics
  • Publicly scrutinizing a victim’s dress, mental state, motives, and history
  • Defining “manhood” as dominant and sexually aggressive
  • Defining “womanhood” as submissive and sexually passive
  • Pressure on men to “score”
  • Pressure on women to not appear “cold”
  • Assuming only promiscuous women get raped
  • Assuming that men don’t get raped or that only “weak” men get raped
  • Refusing to take rape accusations seriously
  • Teaching women to avoid getting raped instead of teaching men not to rape

<https://www.marshall.edu/wcenter/sexual-assault/rape-culture/>

“Does rape culture exist in America today?”

http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/03/examples-of-rape-culture/

http://www.rantpolitical.com/2015/06/12/15-real-life-examples-of-rape-culture-in-our-society/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/25/rape-culture-hashtag-twitter_n_5029729.html

Even a Google news search for “rape” brings 42,500,000 results in .55 seconds. Check out the second and third headlines.

rape culture

“So what can I do to prevent rape culture?”

  • Be aware. You can’t prevent something you aren’t aware of, so keep an eye and an ear out for perpetuation of rape culture.
  • If you see something, say something. Speak out against sexual assault jokes and mentions in casual conversation or media.
  • If a friend says they has been raped, take them seriously and be supportive
  • Think critically about the media’s messages about women, men, relationships, and violence
  • Be respectful of others’ physical space even in casual situations
  • Always communicate with sexual partners and do not assume consent
  • Define your own manhood or womanhood.  Do not let stereotypes shape your actions.
  • Get involved! Join a student or community group working to end sexual violence.

How does any of this relate to human trafficking?

Human trafficking is made possible by elements of our society, like rape culture, that allow for and normalize the buying and selling of people and the use of victims for their bodies. By speaking out against rape culture, we are enlightening our society and helping to end the conditions that create human trafficking.

 

Writing for Freedom,

 

Darien Smith

It’s On Us (in honor of International Women’s Day)

According to No Boundaries International, “Normalization of the oversexualization of our women is bigger than just “having a good time” or “everyone is doing it…”. Once the message that a girl/women is only as good as her body parts is engrained into a young girl who has low self-esteem or a poor support system, it becomes an easy entrance into the world of human trafficking, online prostitution sites, addiction and violence.” http://neverforsale.com/societal-influences.html

Half of the battle of stopping human trafficking is preventing it in the first place. One major facet of prevention education is exploring societal norms that lead to trafficking and encouraging societal change.  Our mission statement, “Eastern North Carolina Stop Human Trafficking Now, desires to create a community that actively works towards abolishing Human Trafficking locally and globally”, emphasizes the importance of community involvement in creating a world without Trafficking. We believe that human trafficking is a violation of human rights and dignity and must be stopped.

Our society has created the perfect environment for human trafficking to grow. Like a mold, human trafficking will grow rapidly when placed in the right environment. In order to stop trafficking, we need to eliminate the conditions we have created for it. Our society’s emphasis on hypermasculinity leads to violence and domination rather than equality, the oversexualization of younger and younger girls creates pressure to perform and live up to demands, and the weak laws and policies against trafficking do nothing to discourage pimps.

Never For Sale said it best “The reality is that main-stream pop culture is shouting, “Sex is EVERYTHING”—glorifying it as the end-all, be-all of a person’s life. That message is pervading every aspect of our culture although in reality, they are really cheapening sex and stripping it of it meaning and true significance…So what is the message sent to women?  The message is to conform—conform to this hyper-sexualized picture of what they view a woman is. Again and again, women and girls are taught that your worth is directly linked to your sexuality. It’s a view driven by a sexist view in which women are perceived as having less value than men and the value they hold is purely sexual. And what is the message sent to men? The message is to consume—consume women and consume at great frequency. It’s hinted that masculinity is shaped by one’s ability to dominate and control women. So when a man lives up to this standard, he is considered a stud or a player.”

Our society enables:

Rape Culture

Victim Blaming

Hypermasculinity

Oversexualization (of people in general but especially young girls)

Glorification of Violence

Lack of Prosecution

Read More:

http://humantraffickingcenter.org/posts-by-htc-associates/rape-culture-and-sex-trafficking/

http://gcm.unu.edu/publications/articles/a-human-rights-approach-to-human-trafficking.html

http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2015/February/Hyper-Sexualized-Culture-Fueling-Human-Trafficking

http://www.psmag.com/business-economics/five-studies-our-very-real-problem-with-human-trafficking

 

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”

What can we do to reverse these societal conditions?

An Elon University essay says that “Men should advocate behavioral change and social responsibility because of their position in society. And that media messages should portray positive images of masculinity associated with them nurturing their families and maintaining a sense of responsibility towards themselves and their sexual partners.” https://org.elon.edu/summit/essays/essay9.pdf

But it’s not just on men. We as women can stand up for ourselves and educate our daughters, sisters, friends, and neighbors about their power as women and the fact that they don’t have to conform to society’s standards. Limit your exposure to negative media and influences.

“The power of one man or one woman doing the right thing for the right reason, and at the right time, is the greatest influence in our society.” – Jack Kemp

“Never question the power of one! Throughout history it has been the actions of only one person who has inspired the movement of change.” – Steve Maraboli

 

Get Involved, Make a Change, End Human Trafficking

 

Writing for Freedom,

 

Darien Smith

 

HT in NC

Still don’t think Human Trafficking is a problem in North Carolina? Check out these recent news articles:

02/04/16
Fayetteville man forced Fort Bragg soldier into prostitution.
http://www.fayobserver.com/news/crime_courts/fort-bragg-soldier-forced-into-prostitution-authorities-say/article_ad0ebc75-dee7-5be6-be8b-a3ca04ca170c.html

02/04/16
Suspect led prostitution network from his home near elementary school.
http://www.witn.com/home/headlines/Leader-of-human-trafficking-ring-arrested-by-Pitt-County-deputies-367625121.html

02/11/16
Marshals arrest Raleigh fugitive in Greensboro on child trafficking charge.
http://www.greensboro.com/news/marshals-arrest-raleigh-fugitive-in-greensboro-on-child-trafficking-charge/article_df496c30-cc0b-5cfb-bc29-7fbf40efb567.html

02/16/16
Cary man gets seven years in prison for human trafficking.
http://www.wral.com/warrant-cary-man-held-women-in-sexual-servitude-/15377058/

02/19/16
A Raleigh woman was arrested Thursday on charges of twice prostituting a teenage girl last year.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/crime/article61286682.html

02/28/16
A woman from Tampa, Florida, was arrested Friday in Wake County on human trafficking charges.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/crime/article63026807.html



Why is NC such a hotspot for human trafficking?

  • Military/International Travel:
    • There are 7 military bases in North Carolina. Military bases increase demand for prostitution because of the large number of (often) young, unmarried men seeking easy sex. This also allows for an increase in international travel, which helps facilitate the transport of victims.
  • Highways
    • Major highways like I95, I40, and I85 run through North Carolina, making it an easy target for traffickers. Victims can be quickly transported to and from cities all along the east coast without arousing suspicion.
  • Gangs
    • In 2014, a reported 1,041 gangs were present in North Carolina. Gang members often date young women to seduce them into ‘the lifestyle’ and then pass them around the group and trade them with other gangs as if they are public property.
  • Agriculture
    • North Carolina’s large agricultural economy demands workers, and employers often seek to minimize expenses and maximize profit. That’s where labor trafficking comes in; migrant workers, often non-English speakers, are brought to the US to work and are left at the mercy of their boss when their visa expires. North Carolina’s rich farmlands are attractive to labor traffickers who seek to make a profit off of their helpless victims.
  • Major Airports/sea ports
    • North Carolina is home to over 50 airports, 4 of which are international hubs. This makes transporting victims, both domestically and abroad, much easier for pimps. This also creates a perfect spot for traffickers to set up, airports are often surrounded by hotels and so many people are constantly passing through that a lot goes unnoticed.
  • Sporting events (NASCAR)
    • Just like the Super Bowl, sporting events such as rivalry basketball games and NASCAR races draw a testosterone-driven male crowd, which drives the demand for prostitution and human trafficking. Charlotte, NC is home to the Carolina Panthers, the Charlotte Hornets, and NASCAR’s Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Did you know?

Since 2007, North Carolina has reported 571 documented cases of human trafficking.

North Carolina has reported 1,213 victims of human trafficking in the last 8 years.

In 2015 alone, there were 110 cases of human trafficking reported, and 463 calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline from North Carolina.

https://traffickingresourcecenter.org/state/north-carolina

*While these statistics alone are shocking, keep in mind that these numbers only detail the number of calls and cases recorded by one particular group (National Human Trafficking Hotline). Many cases are reported directly to law enforcement and more still go entirely unreported.


Human trafficking happens all over the globe, but we can’t forget about the horror that is happening right here in our own backyard. Join us in the fight to make our community a safer place.

Learn more at www.encstophumantrafficking.org

 

Writing for Freedom,

 

Darien Smith