Dehumanization and Consent

Although there may be variation in our senses of humor, we all love to laugh. How far is “too far” when making a joke? Are people being too sensitive? Can making light of a situation in order to cope be over the top?

When a joke, unintentionally or purposefully, dehumanizes a group of people or insinuates that someone is deserving of assault, it is no longer a joke–it is hate speech. Punchlines that suggest child sexual abuse images [previously called child pornography], rape, or assault of a prostitute or sex trafficking victim is acceptable or that perpetrators are funny are not amusing. More importantly, they are dangerous because they stigmatize and degrade a vulnerable portion of the population.

Sexual assault and rape are topics of discussion that are thankfully being moved from the back-burner, although there is the presence of biases and difficulties in our society that results in victims being ignored and not receiving necessary respect and resources.

This problem is further compacted when those involved in sex trafficking [or prostitution, although I do not believe that the two are separate] are involved. Part of the problem with this relates to consent.

Consent and Sex Trafficking

“Consent,” is a word that is often misunderstood.

If a person consents to one act, and a partner does something else and does not stop when told to cease, assault has occurred.

If intercourse with the use of protection is agreed up but then a condom is not used, then consent was ignored.

Agreeing to relations with one person, to then walk into a room with multiple men and control is easily taken by the assailants means consent was also taken.

This is a great video about consent and is explained using tea:

Even if a person is acting as a prostitute, the other person does not have the right to do whatever they want and then throw extra money at the victim. Yes, this happens especially in situations when the person is not respected as a human.

You don’t go to a restaurant and smash a bunch of plates and then throw a fifty on the table before you leave. “Well, if you didn’t want the plates to be broken why would you work in this business?” or “I’m the customer and that means I’m always right so you have to do what I say, including respecting my wishes to damage dishes.”

In the event that a person is raped or assaulted while acting as a prostitute, that does not mean that the assault did not happen. Even if money was taken.

If a person is financially or otherwise vulnerable, it does not give someone else the right to sexually exploit them. This statement goes for traffickers (otherwise known as pimps) and those who “buy” services with adults and children. “Buyers” by legal definition are also participating in trafficking when the crime is occurring.

“the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.”

If a person will be injured or a family member has been threatened if a sum of money is not met, they will likely take money after an assault. If someone is experiencing personal trauma coupled with monetary crises, they might take money that an assailant leaves. That does NOT mean that a rape or assault did not happen.

When Stigmatization is Present, People May Be Less Likely to Reach Out

Trafficking means that people are being abused. If we as a society continues to make those involved in prostitution feel like they made poor choices or that they are unwelcome in the world or unfit for the world, then those people will be less likely to ask for help or to try to get out of the life. If they will be refused, if they will be hated, if they feel like they have no other skills anyway why would they try? It will just lead to disappointment.

That is not true. It may take time, but every person matters and deserves to live freely and to be treated with respect. We all deserve to be as free as books are with words and birds are with wings.

Choose to stay away from the belittlement and dehumanization of others. Be the reason that someone reaches out, not the reason they feel like they have no choice in their own lives. When someone says something inappropriate, speak up.

To Report a Tip or Ask for Help Call: 1-888-373-7888


Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” -Theodore Roosevelt


Writing for Freedom,
Kari Carr