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sex-trade, right in your lap.

When we believe what we see and hear in hollywood and other media forms, we think of sex trade as occurring only in other countries, like East Europe. We think that women and girls are brought to the USA for the purpose of sexual exploitation. This stereotype of foreign women and girls as sex workers is reinforced when we comb the pages of newspapers like the village voice, where we see Russian or East European women advertising their trade and ‘goods’ to lure men. But, sometimes, too, the same Hollywood films which give rise to stereotypes of other women being sex traded, can be the same vehicle which shows who’s behind it. Thus, a movie like Whistleblower also portrays these unfortunate Eastern European girls and women servicing the many American and European military men. Whistleblower shows the women who are kept in dark, underground houses en masse, readily and easily made available to the men in high positions or low.

We never think that Americans are trafficked by Americans. However, it occurs right under our eyes, and right in our laps. We, too have sex-trade workers who service famous men [Tiger Woods, Elliot Spitzer and their ilk] and this is no different from what hollywood shows us of East European worlds or the so-called third worlds.

The women we see in Whistleblower are drugged, forced and tricked into sex trade; they don’t willingly do it. They are commodified as (sexual) goods, with no fame or profit coming their way. These women are afraid for their lives, terrified of getting out of the sex trade, and even refuse if someone tries to help them escape for fear of torture and death. There’s no escape for them and they are beaten back into submission and killed if found out. In their huis-clos, they don’t stand a chance against the VIPs from USA and Europe who keep the sex trade machine pumping, the same way the Whistleblower shows it. That is not to say that in the USA women aren’t forced into sexual slave trade or duped into coming here for a better life; they very much are. Some end up as indentured sex slaves, and others could use it as a platform for prostitution which we only know of when they have been busted or when a Berlusconi-type scandal erupts.

Sex trading – which includes prostitution and sex trafficking –  has come to eclipse previous forms of pornography in popularity everywhere, if not in total revenue, according to a sex-trade industry journal. Whether in eastern Europe or in USA, it’s a business. It is a big business motivated by money where both the person supplying can make money as the person demanding; in the USA one cam model can get 50-60 percent of the industry’s profits on her videos, and fame. In fact in seven US cities revenue between $40 million and $300 million is generated a year [http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/tracking-scope-u-s-underground-sex-trade/#.VGirpl3fxEI.mailto].  It’s driving the adult industry, and young women willingly or unwittingly go into the industry because it is also a cash cow.  For those who aren’t forced but choose to do it, sex trade is quick money, easy to do, no special skills required except titillating men mostly, which is something girls and women are taught to do anyway, via sexualized clothes for little girls or magazines like Cosmo, music videos etc.

Besides military men, the sex trade flourishes in other places, too like the NFL, as evidenced in the spikes during Super Bowls etc of advertising for sex trafficking and prostitution inviting customers to get cozy with women. Traffickers take advantage of the increased demand for prostitution by bringing girls from across the region http://youtu.be/4b5CB81YKlY

There was a time in the early late 80s and 90s, that Times Square, too displayed sex workers in XX and XXX booths. VIP men were not clients but every Tom, Dick and Harry who had a coin to put in booths could see live women would perform, dance almost naked, gyrating against the glass windows of the tiny booths. Eventually that public, visual form of adult entertainment was removed from times square and the many booths that made the pre internet sex industry flourish. Now the sex trade is carried on largely online.

The internet made the sex trade of/for women private; instead of public spaces like Times Square etc it is now in-house, in apartment, in dorm; like shopping in the comfort of your home. Viewing women who are sex traded or who trade sex for money in the confines of your bedroom is at the press of a button: one font fits all!  Movies like Don Jon clearly show how easily available this virtual trend of sex trading is. The Gordon Joseph Levitt’s character views women for sex not only in his bedroom every night, but in class, too, his device hidden under desk while professors teach. With internet, sex trade has gone viral.

In an era when we are no longer hearing about politicians being discovered a la DSK and Berlusconi, isn’t it is possible that they are finding newer and better ways to hide their sexual activities?  Like college women who are hiding behind screens to pay their tuition? With internet widely available to all, sex trade recruitment of girls and women is done online, and that doesnt mean it’s gone. The sex trade is here to stay as long as there is demand for it, and money to be had from it. The Mahoneys and Ted Poes can move all they want to pass legislation on trafficking women, but this human rights abuse is a cancer that remains malignant until more effort and money is pumped into it to eradicate.


3 Comments

  1. evwoods says:

    see article in the guardian.uk about former sex worker in ohio who opened up an org to help women cover up their gang tatoos, tatoos that were forced upon them–they were branded like cattle. and the numbers for u.s. sex trafficking are unbelievable…

    • the no of women trafficked is indeed incredible; very sad to see once again how the poor and unfortunate are most prone.
      the words “…pretty much every woman … comes out with some kind of mark on her body” strike hard. whether they’re tattoed like property, the way cattle are, those marks are perhaps less traumatic than the permanent marks that sex trading leaves inside them, even though these tattoo marks are a visible reminder and skin deep. thankfully, their creativity and resistance to that past turns these marks into positive marks like flowers or their kids’ name. i see a will to survive, and the org jennifer launched is aptly called survivors ink. it reminds me of those women stricken with breast cancer who’ve had double or-single mastectomy and have tattooed the space where their breast/s once was/were. i think it’s awesome how they transform their grief using art.

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