'Liberated: A Sexual Revolution' - A Documentary Review
I remember the first time I learned about sex-trafficking. I was in the car with my dad, and we were listening to a talk radio show. I must have been a freshman in high school, if not younger. I felt uncomfortable listening. I thought I understood what was being said but I wasn’t sure. I can still vividly recall that feeling in the pit of my stomach.
“Dad, what are these men talking about?”
“Well...they are talking about women who are forced to sell themselves for sex,” he responded.
Needless to say, that was not a comfortable moment for me. Sex, intimacy, rape, prostitution — these were not openly discussed subjects in my family growing up. So I tried to put that memory out of my thoughts and I went on with life.
Fast forward to now, where I’m sitting here writing on a very taboo subject in our culture. I regularly engage my peers, my elders, and college students in conversations about sex-trafficking. I research trafficking and modern-day slavery. I watch documentaries on trafficking, process the information, and watch them again to try to analyze and retain what I’ve learned.
One of the first documentaries I ever watched on sex-trafficking was Nefarious: Merchant of Souls directed by Benjamin Nolot, founder of Exodus Cry. To this day I still recommend it as one of the most informative and well-done films on sex-trafficking as a global issue. It takes elements of storytelling and drama that enhance the poignancy of the realities it tackles.
Exodus Cry recently came out with a second documentary called Liberated: A Sexual Revolution. Liberated follows a group of college guys and two college girls on their spring break trips. These students allowed the documentary team to film them as they attended clubs, hung-out on the beach, and engaged in casual sexual encounters. The documentary focuses on America’s culture of casual sex and tackles what it means to be masculine and feminine in today’s society.
What I watched was not blunt, it was explicit.
What was documented was not hurtful, it was damaging.
What I felt was not sadness, but heart-wrenching anguish.
What I learned was not gross, it was appalling.
What I encountered was not casual, it was intense.
These men and women in the film were not empowered, and they were not liberated. They were chained to a culture that tells them that sex without emotions is the ultimate goal. The men were in bondage to the “proverbial fist-bumps” from their buddies for how many girls they could “shag.” The women were subjugated to sexual harassment and hyper-sexualization. We have created and fostered a culture where both men and women objectify, degrade and belittle one another.
Liberated shows the demoralization that is rampant in our culture. It displays the grotesque and harmful culture of our society, highlighting a disrespect and degradation of ourselves and others. This is a society where sex is a number, virginity a bet, abstinence a shame, abuse a norm, and safety a joke. This is rape culture.
This is a society where sex is a number, virginity a bet, abstinence a shame, abuse a norm, and safety a joke. This is rape culture.
I have always known that pornography and a sex-crazed culture has amplified human trafficking. But after viewing this film, I am much more aware of the vast depth of the problem. There are no words to describe the keen pain I now feel. There are no words that hold enough weight to describe the problem we have on our hands, the danger of the precipice we stand at the edge of when we participate in “hookup culture”. When we celebrate hookup culture, we are cultivating pornified rape culture.
While watching Liberated I had to pause the documentary several times. I had to stop multiple times to process what I had seen. I felt hopeless.
A friend reminded me that it is not too late, that we are not without hope. Cultural revolutions and societal change can happen and is started by the younger generation. It is started by those who care and catch fire — individuals can change the world.
Liberated: A Sexual Revolution was eye-opening and informative. Exodus Cry put before the world a real-time commentary which critiqued modern society’s attitude towards casual sex, rape, porn, and abuse. Our society thinks it is empowered and liberated in its hypersexualization, but it is truly enslaved, desensitized to the exploitation and damage it creates.
But we are not without hope. We can speak up against a culture that praises pornography and prostitution. We can stand against abuse and exploitation.
So, what are ways that we can stand up and stand against these things? We can choose not to be silent in front of our peers. We can choose to challenge each other to treat people with respect: not laughing at a sexual joke or discussing boundaries before going out for a night on the town. We can learn statistics about rape and sexual harassment, and then learn to view each of those statistics as a person with a voice and a story.
We can choose to be leaders.
We can choose not to be silent in front of our peers. We can choose to challenge each other to treat people with respect: not laughing at a sexual joke or discussing boundaries before going out for a night on the town.
View the full documentary exclusively on Netflix, and find out more information at Magic Lantern Picture's Official Website.
About the Author
Amanda Kinney recently graduated from The Master’s University and calls Southern California home. She enjoys long walks, rain, photography, and all things peppermint. On a daily basis she can be found eating vegan food and talking with her peers about ethical issues. She is enthusiastic about joining the Dressember team and plans on being a life-long advocate against slavery.