I heard my friend Lamont, Co-Founder of Love146 give a talk recently, challenging boys to rebel against a hyper sexualized and pimp culture that they are growing up in. He used the definition of Rock and Roll from the movie School of Rock, as a rallying cry: “Sticking it to the man!” (The system) I loved it!
(Jack Black giving a "Sticking it to the man" lesson in School of Rock)
Here's the reality…Very few people wake up in the morning at 40 years of age and make a spontaneous decision to rape a child or exploit a woman. That kind of “behavior” can be a result of many things, not the least of which is a “grooming” that has taken place over the years by a culture that normalizes and even glorifies objectifying and disrespecting women and girls. The ultimate “sticking it to the man” is to rebel against that culture.
Certainly, a key to preventing exploitation is educating and empowering girls. But a big missing piece is doing the same for boys. After all, boys will be the future “customers”, representing the demand side which continues to fuel trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. So much of our effort in the anti-trafficking movement centers on creating stronger laws, and then enforcing those laws. This is obviously crucial and a powerful deterrent. But we need to start much earlier, by educating and empowering boys to defend, respect and protect instead of exploit, hurt and abuse.
While I was driving recently, I pulled out into traffic and had made the mistake of not looking well enough. I ended up cutting someone off and almost causing an accident. After blasting his horn, the guy I cut off roared past me and gave me “the finger.” He justifiably flipped me off. You should have seen the anger and defiance in his eyes.
That’s what I want see in the eyes of young men when it comes to responding to the twisted culture that is attempting to not so subtly shape them. Shoving the proverbial middle finger in the face of pimp culture. Flipping off the culture of objectifying women and girls. Boys standing up and saying I’m not buying into this! Now THAT would be “sticking it to the man.”
Right about here, I was going to post the classic photo of Johnny Cash at San Quentin Prison when he was captured on film, defiantly giving the finger. After some discussion here at our offices, I thought it best not to, in case we have any young readers, or easily offended readers.
The fact is, I’ve just recently returned from spending time with our girls who are survivors of child sex trafficking and exploitation. And quite frankly…I’m angry. I’m “flipping off” angry. I’m angry that I live in a culture that is shaping and grooming young men to eventually become those who abuse and exploit children just like these girls. So if you’re offended, I beg you to channel that offense against a culture that continues to fuel the exploitation of women and girls. And then be part of changing it.
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