If you had walked through downtown Pasadena this past Friday night, you would have witnessed a lot of unusual spectacles. On one corner, a homeless man named Ricardo handed over his dog, “Big Moose,” for pictures as he shouted, “BIG MOOSE SAYS TRAFFICKING MUST STOP!”
You would have passed a large group of people bundled up in beanies and scarves, all holding signs that read, “Men take a stand against trafficking,” and “Real men don’t buy girls.”
You would have heard loud car horns honking in agreement as drivers read and understood the signs, some rolling down their windows and letting out a, “WOO!”
Many of you know that my sister Dominique and I participated in a freedom walk that night; one of many put on by Care 18. Our friend Jordan Black organized the walk specifically for men, naming the event, “Men Stand For Justice.” I had never done a silent protest before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I picked up a sign and followed the crowd heading towards the heart of downtown.
What surprised me was the incredible support and agreement that came from the passers by. Many cars honked and made noise. People took photos, thanking us for what we were doing. Some stopped and took the brochures we had for the big Los Angeles Freedom Walk coming up in January. So many cared already, harmonizing, “Yes. This is terrible. It must end.” I walked away feeling so bonded with the rest of humanity.
Making the noise brought awareness, which is an important facet of anti-trafficking work. What I didn’t expect was to be made aware of how many people already DO care. When others made noise with us, we felt the expansion of our cause; these were the people speaking up in their own lives everyday.
Our street was busy, chaotic, exciting, and colorful. But above all: it was LOUD.
There is a loud voice that insists, “A young woman is a sexual object. The best thing she can be is attractive. The worst thing she can be is ugly. Ultimately; she is nothing more than decorative, and absolutely dispensable.”
There is a loud voice that claims, “A young man is at the center of every great story and success. The best thing he can be is rich, powerful, and dominant. The worst thing he can be is womanly or weak.”
There is a loud voice that insists, “Prostitution is a victim-less crime: decisively participated in by naturally provocative and moral-less women. These women have chosen their fate; they are disposable and deserve no respect.”
There is a loud voice in our culture that says, “Pornography is normal – just something that boys participate in. It is meaningless, harmless – has no real consequence.”
Like a game of telephone, the voice begins with a source and trickles down, spreading like fire, morphing and distorting as the message grows. And who are the messengers that carry these ideas, delivering them throughout culture?
It is you. It is I. We are the voices.
So, where are the truth holders? Who will be counter-cultural and exclaim, “NO! YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! Many of the women you are seeing in the Pornographic films that you watch are being FORCED TO PARTICIPATE by their traffickers. These addictions grow and grow, always demanding more perverse and shocking imagery, escalating to child pornography, and rape. THIS PERPETUATES the sexualization of young women and abuse, thus perpetuating SEX SLAVERY!” Pornography is NOT inconsequential; it is an engine that fuels the demand for sex slaves around the world.
When confronted with the stigma, who will intercept and argue, “Buying a prostitute is NOT cool or appropriate no matter WHAT the occasion. She is NOT provocative by choice. She is putting on an act. She is being threatened. She is being trafficked. That money you’re paying is going directly into the trafficking industry! And REAL MEN DON’T BUY GIRLS.”
When a woman is made to feel like an object, who will OBJECT and say, “A woman is NOT a sexual toy, manufactured for the choosing and buying of men! She is a valuable, indispensable, and totally unique human being, with intelligence and importance to offer humanity!”
When a man is belittled for showing gentleness or emotion, who will defend him and say, “A man is a multi-faceted being with every right to expression! Women have no patent on the natural showing of emotion! If we do not encourage our young men to express themselves in a healthy way – when will they ever learn to feel or communicate?! Where is all that pent up energy going to be channeled?"
The media may have a megaphone, but I believe that justice can speak louder. And it is our responsibility to BE THE LOUDER VOICE. Wherever you are, whatever you do in your daily life - SPEAK UP. Educate yourself, and object to ignorance - lest it continue in your neighborhood.
If “actions speak louder than words,” then let us be people of action. These traffickers certainly are. We’ve got to fight: action with action, strategy with strategy.
We have got to be the reason... that.
Justice Speaks LOUDER.
(images found HERE.)