17 December 2007

Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story by Chuck Klosterman

We all have the potential to fall in love a thousand times in our lifetime. It's easy. The first girl I ever loved was someone I knew in sixth grade. Her name was Missy; we talked about horses. The last girl I love will be someone I haven't even met yet, probably. They all count. But there are certain people you love who do something else; they define how you classify what love is supposed to feel like. These are the most important people in your life, and you’ll meet maybe four or five of these people over the span of 80 years. But there’s still one more tier to all this; there is always one person you love who becomes that definition. It usually happens retrospectively, but it happens eventually. This is the person who unknowingly sets the template for what you will always love about other people, even if some of these loveable qualities are self-destructive and unreasonable. The person who defines your understanding of love is not inherently different than anyone else, and they’re often just the person you happen to meet the first time you really, really, want to love someone. But that person still wins. They win, and you lose. Because for the rest of your life, they will control how you feel about everyone else.

03 December 2007

Sex Trafficking

The rise of sex slaves in America
The rise of sex slaves in America

NBC's Today recently did a piece on the Sex Slave industry, interviewing a 20 year old woman from Russia who was brought to the US under false pretenses and then forced to work as a stripper in a club.

This piece really exposed just how manipulative men can be. And while the piece paints these men as menacing and malevolent, I believe there is more to blame here than these men. The report shows how men were in fact more concerned with money than with the women. These women were forced to bring in a certain profit each day; they were brutally beaten and raped if they did not meet their quota. Moreover, each man was able to use these women for sex when ever he pleased.

So why didn't these women just leave? Fear. Plain fear. These men used violent force coupled with convincing stories to terrorize the women, keeping them fearfully in their place of abuse and marginalization.

So what's to blame? I believe that, once again, it is our concept of masculinity that is responsible for the actions of the men and the treatment of the women. This hyper-masculinity that views women as secondary sets up a power inequality, allowing for the men to exercise dominion over the women. Men in the sex trafficking industry use traditionally masculine tactics to keep their position of power: fear and physical force. Both of tactics reduce the women to objects, dehumanizing them completely. What's worse is that this formation of masculinity forms a vicious cycle that maintains the power structure. Hence why the women in the Today's story felt there was no way to escape.

Once again, I believe that society needs to revision masculinity. Profeminist organizations need to take up this issue to help make a redefined masculinity a social possibility. It is no longer enough to report these cases of sex trafficking. It is no longer acceptable to be passively sympathetic. It is time that we push for equality of the sexes but allowing men to reject hyper-masculinity as a self-definition. It's only when men can actually look at women as completely human beings that we will see an egalitarian world.