I am going to tell you something that might offend you, but it needs to be said. Unless you are changing your own views about human sexuality, unless you are engaging in conversations that redirect “taboo” topics to make them more comfortable to talk about, your hashtag won’t change a damn thing.
I am on board with you, don’t get me wrong. I want to end pedophilia, sex-trafficking, sex slavery, and the manipulation and exploitation of children every bit as much as you do. But if we don’t change the way we talk about sex overall, nothing will save the children. Nothing will save us, either!
Ending sex trafficking begins with an erotic embodiment. But first, it starts with a conversation.
Impact Change Locally
A couple of years ago, our small town confronted a barrage of child molestation and child abuse cases. Over the course of a month, article after article in our local newspaper highlighted the cases that were being presented to the court system involving sexual child abuse/molestation.
In one instance, a childcare provider willingly allowed her son (who was in adolescence at the time) to repeatedly engage in sexual abuse with the children she looked after. This young boy forced little girls into a closet and “played” with them while the mother turned a blind eye. The mother claimed the son had mental health issues and she didn’t know how to handle it and couldn’t inform the parents because she depended on the income. The child was not charged, and the mother was given significantly reduced sentences. She lost her ability to hold certifications as a childcare provider in the county.
One mother, whose 2 daughters were victims of this sexual abuse, hosted only 2 live Facebook videos in which she declined to comment on the matter at hand. She wanted this to be private and was working with one “journalist” (who ended up exploiting her family’s story for his own personal gain on social media) in sharing her story. I reached out to the mother, shared with her my experience and practice in eroticism, and asked if there was anything I could do to help her. But since sex was the problem, talking about it would only make it worse. A horrific trauma swept under the rug. Her husband later committed suicide. I am not suggesting it’s directly related, but trauma affects everyone differently.
Two separate cases were presented in which elderly men were molesting young girls for almost a decade. Did the local school district hold any meetings to discuss these discoveries? No. There was no need, as the pedophiles were charged (and subsequently released back into the public later).
A few years before that, rumors circulated about teachers knowingly allowing young male athletes to use locker rooms and weight rooms to entice and coerce young girls into oral sex and other sexual activities, such as group sex or “gang banging” as it is commonly known. Girls as young as 13 were alleging they had participated in these activities with senior athletes. One student was expelled from the local district and was not allowed to graduate with his class. His parents acted as if nothing happened. The local newspaper reported nothing of this, despite the eye-witness testimony presented by students. I do believe charges were filed, but it was all swept under the rug.
I tried to organize parent meetings. I reached out to the local churches, the school board, and other parents that I knew, to see if we couldn’t address these issues and come together to find a way to inform our youth about sexuality in a healthy and fruitful way that could help prevent some of these horrific events from repeating. My goal was to host a community forum in which we could ask questions and plan ways to better inform our children how to understand and embrace their sexuality. But most parents and teachers and church members want nothing to do with the topic of sex + children. Perhaps this is why children are so easily led astray?
I had one pastor share her interest but then she declined to further communicate and moved on to a more important issue. Other parents thought the discussion topics I had presented were too inappropriate to discuss. I reached out to the local newspaper to share my concern as well, but to no avail, that wasn’t a subject matter worthy of print. How the reporting of the cases was but a community-based effort to inform our families was not, is beyond me.
Impact Change in the Home
Yesterday, my 9-year-old daughter asked if she could have some of my shirts. I told her to go pick out a few and let me know. She settled on a v-neck shirt that has the word “love” on the front in gold. But she was upset. I asked what was wrong. She said, “it is too big.” She was holding the front of her shirt closed tight in her fists. I asked her to put her hands down and let me see. The shirt dipped down to the top of her breastbone. She felt embarrassed. She said, “you can see my…chest!” And I asked, “What’s wrong with that?” She said, “I don’t know?” So, I said to her, “Sweetie, there is nothing wrong with the shirt. You are not exposed; it is not inappropriate. But do you know what I don’t think is fair at all?” She asks, “What?” I respond, “I think it’s odd that boys can walk around without shirts on in the summer and we feel embarrassed to do it when we are just as hot and sweaty but we have to cover up our nipples. It doesn’t make sense, does it?” She shook her head no. I then told her, “God made her body this way and that we should never be ashamed of it. We decide what we want to show and if someone else doesn’t like it, that’s their problem. You look beautiful. The shirt looks wonderful on you and you don’t ever need to hide your chest. And besides, you show that much of your chest when you wear a swimsuit and that’s OK, right?” She nodded in agreement and was instantly on to the next subject: “What’s for dinner?”
In the past, I once relied on shame and ridicule tactics with my eldest daughter. Whenever she tried to wear something low-cut, short, or tight, I would remind her that she was sending the wrong message, that she would be a distraction, or that she would invite unwanted attention from boys who didn’t appreciate her. The problem was every shirt she wore only accentuated her cleavage. She had boobs before most girls her age, and they are large.
My husband’s step-mother (my monster-in-law) use to always reprimand her and me for the clothing she wore. Out of my own humiliation and inability to confront bullshit standards and expectations, I imitated that woman and berated my daughter. In school, she would get sent to the nurse’s office or sent home if her clothing was “too distracting” to the teachers and students in the class. My daughter had enough and refused to let me blame her this time. She was right. It wasn’t her fault. She didn’t do anything wrong. God made her that way and who was I or anyone else to shame and blame her?
I confronted the principal and the superintendent of the school. Neither of them wanted to touch this topic and always assured me that it was school policy. Ask me why I homeschool, and that is the first reason why I chose to. Her school wouldn’t see her as a child or as innocent, they labeled her as a provocative dresser and tarnished her school record with report after report of indecent dress violations.
Impact Change Globally
The truth of the matter is difficult to accept. If we cannot impact change within our homes, we cannot impact change locally or globally. If a person really believes that our focus should be on saving the children from sexual exploitation and trafficking, we have to closely examine our habits and practices in the home before we set any sort of expectation that we can effect change out there.
It’s foolhardy to believe that hiding our children from the ugly truths of the world will protect them. My family has a long history of sweeping shit under the rug. The only thing that comes of that is a big fucking pile of rubbish that we trip over, repeatedly. To think globally is to act locally, and personally. It always starts at home. It starts with conversations. The tough conversations that make us feel uncomfortable. We are doing our children no favors if we send them off into the world unequipped with the information they need to not only survive but thrive. The more information they have, the better informed they will be to know what to do should their environment become corrupted or conflicted. Don’t we want to protect them? Shielding them isn’t protection. Preventing them from joining the discussion won’t help them. We have to stop cutting children out of the conversations. If we include them, then they will know!
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”(Matthew 19:14 NIV)
The Truth belongs to the children. We owe it to our children to teach them a healthy view of their bodies and what their bodies can (and will eventually) do. Once we overcome our own insecurity with sexuality, we can create a new outlook with healthy standards and expectations for our own children.
We can begin by asking ourselves these questions and really reflecting on them:
What is sex?
What does sex mean to me?
How do I use sex?
Why is sex a scary topic to discuss?
How was I first introduced to the topic of sex and what do I remember thinking and feeling?
Do I appreciate sex or tolerate sex?
#SaveTheChildren by informing the children.
Share your thoughts.