Men are More Than Consumers
Alright, men, this one’s for you. We spend a lot of time here at Dressember highlighting the work that women are doing to take a stand against human trafficking, but today we are talking to the guys! We are here to acknowledge the special role that you play in taking a stand against abuse and how you can help get more involved in ending sex trafficking.
Today we’re covering what three different guys think is the role of men in ending sex trafficking, what they are doing about it, and why they believe #RealMenDontBuyGirls.
First up is Brendon, who is nineteen years old and first heard about sex trafficking from his sisters when he was in high school. He quickly got involved with the campus chapter of International Justice Mission when he started college, realizing his role in raising awareness for this issue within the male population at his school. Brendon believes that men have the most important role in ending sex trafficking due to the fact that they make up the majority of the consumers in the industry.
“People continue to consume sex because they don’t understand how destructive their actions are, including a misunderstanding of the direct role porn plays in the sex trafficking industry. Not only does it promote a culture that normalizes the unhealthy treatment and objectification of women, but it also often includes trafficking victims forced to perform against their own will.”
Brendon points out that many men who believe they are engaging with voluntary prostitutes are potentially being deceived by pimps who set these women up. He’s learned that pimps have control over the market and don’t easily let an individual sell herself without a third party’s involvement.
Two examples of men taking a stand and having these conversations are father and son duo, John and Noah, who take the time to advocate even as a working dad and high school student. For Noah, a current senior, he was amazed by what a great conversation starter his participation in Dressember was and how many of his peers were surprised to see a man taking a stand alongside the women. Their reactions saddened him, however, because he doesn’t feel like his activism should be seen as an exception.
“It’s important that guys get involved to show that women aren’t alone. Even if men (for the most part) aren’t experiencing [this victimization], we need to be there to be supportive in whatever way we can.”
Noah sees his role as one of support and standing up for a culture that respects all people equally. John agrees with Noah and Brendon but adds in the perspective of a father. He sees his role as raising a respectful son who is confident enough to speak against a culture that sexualizes women (we think he’s doing a great job). He also knows that he has to put this into practice with his own words and actions, especially since he’s part of the demographic that makes up the majority of the sex consumers in America. He shares that his go-to response when others are talking in a degrading way is to try to change their perspective on the situation:
“As a man around other men who may not respect women, especially with regards to porn or other objectification, I can try to humanize the conversation by making simple comments like, 'Man, I wouldn't want that for my daughter.'"
His belief is that the role men have is working to change our culture’s view on women entirely to then help decrease demand.
We live in a culture that promotes the objectification of women, and to hear the ways that these men, and many others, are taking a stand against it is incredibly encouraging. During our conversation, Brendon quoted Albert Einstein saying, “those who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act,” and there is no quote more relevant to this situation.
A man’s role in combatting sex trafficking is to go against the grain, speak up to his peers, and educate those around him on the impact of their actions - no matter how uncomfortable it might be. By discouraging porn use, commercial sex, and the sexualization of women, men can greatly decrease the demand for this industry.
If you want to take a more active role in the fight, you can contribute monetarily, volunteer at local organizations, be an activist in your community, lobby, influence the political atmosphere, or even go into activism vocationally. But by eliminating the demand, men in every single profession can use their actions, and non-actions, to contribute to ending human trafficking.
Here is a special shout out to all of the Dressember men who are having those tough conversations and standing up for what is right. Change is hard, but with steps like these, and the others that you are taking, we can get closer to our goal of ending trafficking.
About the Author
Ali Pollard is a winter gal at heart who loves trying new things and traveling to new places. When she's not finishing her homework or consuming absurd amounts of coffee, she loves skiing and playing the saxophone. Ali is hoping to turn her passion for human rights into a career as she studies the sociology of law, criminology, and deviance (yes, that's all one major!) and political science at the University of Minnesota.