Toxic Masculinity

Ending Human Trafficking: Is Toxic Masculinity to Blame?

I’m not entirely sure where to begin this post. I’m feeling a mess of emotions as I write. It’s been 5 days since the super bowl … I anxiously watched the stats of men being arrested and charged for soliciting prostituted women for “sex” rise all week long. I’m not entirely sure of the last number of this stat, but if I’m being honest 1 person is more than enough to bring tears to God’s eyes and thus mine.

Our last post, “Angelina’s Story” was by far our most viewed and shared post on the blog. We’re incredibly excited about this. It reached thousands of people’s computers and hopefully the heart wrenching words of her experience pierced through the walls and barriers people have. Our prayer is that her story is a beacon of change, that spurs in the hearts of everyone who read it and now they’re ready to take the next step.

Awareness of a problem is so important. You know what they always say, “acknowledging the problem is the first step to recovery”.

Well – we’ve acknowledged it. Don’t get me wrong, I love awareness projects and events. They are so incredibly important to our fight, but if I’m being honest sometimes I think we get a bit caught up in “awareness” events.

This makes me worry because no change can come from just being “aware” of the problem.

We have to move. We must act. We have to critically think, plan, pray, and problem solve the issue. As I mentioned in the very first blog post, this is a scary and tough next step. But we must take it. We must, or we will continue to see stories like “Angelina’s” have record breaking views and shares.

Truth be told; I don’t want to hear anymore victim/survivor’s stories. I don’t want there to be anymore victim/survivors of violence. I want violence to go away – especially violence that is so easily changed.

Violence against women, purchasing “sex” from others, and selling humans – it all just doesn’t need to happen. It does not benefit us as a society, and it certainly doesn’t bring glory to the kingdom of God.

I watched the super bowl this year (and every year) simply for the commercials. I used to watch football with my dad when I was growing up, but lately the amount of violence off the field many players have committed against women and children (and other men) has been enough for me to dislike it. Don’t even get me started on the suicide and mental illness that is caused from injuries in this game…

The last couple of super bowls I have been “excited” to see domestic and sexual violence PSA’s broad cast during the commercials. Considering the amount of people that watch the super bowl strictly for the commercials the awareness that happened was amazing!

So, this year was no different. I sat down and waited for every commercial break in a state of anticipation.

I waited … and waited … and waited … and nothing.

Not a singled PSA highlighting violence against women and children, sexual violence, domestic violence, human or sex trafficking…

In a year of #MeToo and #TimesUp. With stories of Harvey Weinstein, and our political and media climate where everyone is being accused of sexual misconduct, how could there not be one single PSA?

What is so different about this year than any other year? I can’t help but wonder if folks wanted this super bowl to be “light” and “fun” for their viewers.

There’s nothing wrong with this, right Jess. I mean, sometimes It’s nice to just watch a good ol’ sports game with the kiddos and not feel ashamed …

And then I think of “Angelina’s story” and the countless other untold stories of women and children, and men out there whose stories are anything from “light” and “fun” on super bowl night, weekend or ANY OTHER DAY/NIGHT of the year.

I think of the 25 MN residents who were murdered in 2017 by abusive partners and spouses; and the fact that not a single [major] reporter or journalist showed up to the conference that the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women held last week (whereas in previous years they were always there.)

What were they doing? Covering the super bowl of course. . .

I realize there are a lot of “ …” in this post, but it’s hard to finish a thought in this moment. There is so much I want to say, so many things I want to convey, and so many hopes I have for how this post and all futures posts will be received by each of you.

Like I said, “Angelina’s Story” received the most shares and views out of any of our posts – like 600 more shares and views than our other posts. So, I ask myself, what’s the difference in this post Jess?

Since I don’t have the answer because I’m pretty sure it’s subjective, here is what the Lord softly spoke into me as encouragement during this week.

We live in a culture of gore and graphic everything. Her story brought tears to my eyes, as well as everyone who read it ( I can’t be sure everyone cried, but I’m pretty confident I’m right). Hitting the share button felt like the right thing to do in a time when it feels like there is nothing we can do.

If I share this, it’ll stop. Right?

If more people read stories like this, it’ll wake them up too. Right?

And these are all valid reason’s to share testimonies, hold awareness events and become aware! But… as I said before – being aware solves nothing if we don’t dig deeper and ask ourselves the scarier question.

How did I let this happen?

I watched the new documentary “Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution” by Exodus Cry – the same creators that brought us Nefarious, on Netflix. I was so excited to see another powerful documentary by them, and was really looking forward to the new hope I would feel after watching it.

After 10 minutes of watching it, I hit the pause button and took a break. I felt nauseated.

The amount of sexual violence, sexual exploitation, violence against women, rape culture and coercion in this documentary is hard to swallow. It took me an entire day to watch it. Some of my fellow anti-trafficking justice fighters couldn’t make it through the documentary period.

It is just “unbelievable” what our world has come to. No… It’s heart breaking. I know, I’ve said that word a lot but I can’t come up with a better word for it.

God is weeping.

Liberated takes a look at rape culture in a raw way, by showing it for all to see. And while many may claim that there needs to be a larger discussion about our drinking culture, I stand firm in my belief that drinking culture isn’t the problem. There are countless people who’ve been under the influence who’ve not violated another person!

The problem is the way we are conditioning our boys to become men who are afraid to speak up for themselves, for women, and be honest about the way they feel about toxic masculinity.

We live in a world were being “a man” means taking what you want, most often times in an aggressive nature. This is highlighted to an extreme in the documentary. Not all men experience this extent of masculinity, but ask any man and they will tell you they feel pulled to behave a certain way in order to continue claiming their “manliness”.

Masculinity has unfortunately become synonymous with words like, powerful, player, aggressive, and dominate. Boys are expected to lose their virginity in order to hold onto their “man card” with other men around them. Women and girls become conquests rather than partners, friends, and lovers.

Losing your virginity as a man (and women too), has become a rite of passage rather than an experience two people share together in the way God intended. It’s become a commodity, one that has now required the selling of human beings in order to achieve and maintain your status in society.

I spoke briefly two posts ago about the importance of men getting involved in this fight. I’ll reiterate, we need men in this fight like we need air.

“We will not survive this if we don’t deeply consider the way we are raising our young boys into men.”

We will not see a decline of sexual violence towards women if we continue to use phrases like, “boys will be boys” when they are caught snapping the bra straps of their female friends at school instead of holding them accountable. We cannot continue to police the clothing our girls wear instead of teaching boys to not  sexualize women. (Don’t worry… There’s a post on this coming soon!)

We will not see a decline of sexual violence towards women if we continue to encourage boys to “toughen up” and “be a man” when dealing with normal emotions.

Toxic masculinity leads to the gang rape of girls and women all over the world. {read here … and here … and just do a google search, there’s too many to list…} Toxic masculinity is killing our men, our women and our children.

It is one of the biggest lies Satan has convinced us is truth.

I know if I asked the men in Liberated if they felt like rape was okay, they’d all say “no!”

If I showed them the tapes of what they did, perhaps some of them would be ashamed, but I fear that most would continue to look at it and deny it was violence.

The problem is we have mislead our boys into believing violence is actually manliness… How can we possible change violence against women if we’ve conditioned men (and women) to see sexual violence and aggression as “sexy” or “manly”?

If what it means to be a man is to be aggressive … than what does that say about God? God made man into his own image.

As we raise our boys into men, let us remember that.

Men, you are more than our culture has raised you to believe. I’ll fight for you, and not solely because you are worth it.

But because my very life depends on you knowing it.

-Jess

 

 

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