The news and the world-wide web are ringing loud the alarm of the tragedy at Steubenville. Where boys, just young boys…saw a vulnerable young girl…and used her body for their pleasure and entertainment while she was unaware. They callously photographed her and blasted their exploits on the internet shamelessly. Eye witnesses treated the incident with a casualty that borders cruelty. The blogosphere is running wild with brilliant words and brutal words about this story. But what I’m struck with is how at the core of this Steubenville rape story is the same mindset that is enslaving 27 million people around the world.
No matter which way you look at it, “Trafficking is an exploitation of vulnerability” she said.
I’ve meditated on those words since I first heard them in the Nefarious documentary.
There are many who believe that those involved in commercial sexual exploitation are there by choice. No matter what way you look at it, sex for sale, sex trafficking, strip clubs, escorts, prostitutes and pornography, it’s all an exploitation of vulnerability. No matter what way you look at what happened in Steubenville…it’s an exploitation of vulnerability.
Two young men have been sentenced to juvenile detention for their exploitation of that young girl and a wake up call has rattled a community and a nation. Yet this month in the state I live in it is estimated that 7,200 men will purchase commercial sex. And nearly all of them go un-sentenced. If they are arrested at all, the slap on the wrist they receive is not painful enough to stop them. They will use the body of a woman, who is likely a slave to her pimp whose controlling and abusive ways have exploited her vulnerability, to service their lust. And just like all the teenagers at that party in Steubenville…we know it’s going on, we look the other way and we don’t stop it. We casually accept this as a part of life, part of our society that will never go away.
People want to place blame in every direction. But I say we all take ownership.
All of us. All humans.
Because somehow we have created a world where boys can rape unconscious girls. And men can order up women, as they would order take out, to be delivered to their room and service their sexual needs.
How did we get here? How did we become so callous that it is common for the vulnerable in our world to be exploited in so many different ways?
How can one human decide another human’s value is less than their own to the point of exploiting the other’s weakness to their own advantage?
So what are we going to do? What are you going to do? Enough is enough already people! We have to do something.
Where do we even start?
How do we shift from a culture of exploitation to a culture of edification?
How do we shift from a culture of hate to a culture of love?
I am going to start….with my children.
I will teach my daughter:
Her beauty and her strength. The gift that her vulnerable heart really is to the world. How incredibly valuable she is and how incredibly valuable each person is.
I will teach my son:
How to respect himself. How to respect and honor girls and never to objectify them. How to use his strength to fight for good.
I will teach my children:
That they are loved. To honor all life and all people. How to stand up and speak up when someone is being taken advantage of. To speak for those who have no voice. That we encourage those who are weak and never exploit them. To take responsibility for their actions. To take responsibility for the atmosphere they create everywhere they go. That all that is necessary for evil to continue is for good men and women to do nothing. That it is their calling in life to be a funnel of God’s love. The only way to love people well is to love God first and let all that amazing love overflow out of you and onto everyone around you. That everything is about loving God and loving people.
The only way I will teach that to my children is by living it out in front of them everyday.
So I guess really….I’m starting with me.
That is a place to start.