Recently, a celebrity visited a brothel in South America. According to reports, it was the kind of place where women are kept. Their bodies are sold for another’s gain, and he went there, this man, and paid to have sex with a prisoner.
It astonished me, even though I am not a fan of this young man and do not have any illusions about his lifestyle. Still, I could not fathom how a man who had been raised by a woman in this world could grow up to do something like that. I could not understand how a celebrity, who had women throwing their underwear at him and volunteering to birth his babies, could seek out sex from a woman who cannot say no.
A woman who has no choice.
How can a man—any man—sink so low? How can so many men do such a thing? How can there be such a demand for that kind of illicit sex that children must be stolen to meet the demand and women must be beaten, threatened, and raped into obedience to fill the need?
My head spins. What has happened to our men to make them think that this is okay?
I am the mama of boys, you see, boys who will stretch out and grow up into men. I see the world their eyes drink in and it makes me weep inside because I know what it is to shield their eyes and guard their bodies and pray with all hope that they’ll make it to adulthood without any collateral damage. I want to grab them and hold them close and look for the signs of brokenness that makes a man abuse those he was made to protect.
I am the wife of a man who grew up in this sex-saturated culture, a man who, when he was just a boy, went to a sleepover and was introduced to the Playboy channel. He is inundated with sexual advances every time he watches a movie or walks past a checkout aisle in the grocery store. Everywhere, women who are not his wife are tempting him to lust, daring him to think of them as nothing but bodies, and willing him to purchase their sexuality with his time, attention, and finances.
I am a friend to a man whose father struggled with pornography, who left magazines under the same nightstand that held his Bible. This grown-up man showed his boy what really mattered to him without ever saying a word.
I am the neighbor to the man whose parents kept their bedroom door locked, and for good reason. But that boy found the key and opened a door he could never shut again. Even as a grown man, he would struggle to block out the violent and degenerate view of sex he found behind those four walls.
I am the advocate of the man who was once a boy who did not know how to stop another man from using him, a mere child, for his own sexual pleasure. Forever, that child would view sex through his pedophile’s eyes.
I am a citizen in a country where the rights of adults are valued over the welfare of children. Freedom of speech is sacred; we’ll gladly sacrifice the innocence of children in its place. We teach boys to look up to men who make babies with multiple women, cheat on their spouses, hire prostitutes, and produce media that sells sex for profit. We call them athletes, actors, and entertainers, and that makes it okay.
I am a woman surrounded by boys who will grow to be men, and by men who were once boys. In their manhood, they have choices, but in their boyhood, they were victims too.
From a very early age, perhaps before they could understand what was happening, their minds were inscribed with words and images, attitudes and actions that contorted the truth. Natural feelings were awakened far too early by those who did not care to train and nurture them correctly. Boys, young boys, were left to find ways to gratify desires they were not mature enough to handle in ways they were not wise enough to avoid.
They were told that their sexuality was not valuable. They were told they weren’t worth waiting for, that their sexual desires could be filled in any base way by any base woman and it wouldn’t matter at all. They were taught that they could pay for sex, whether on the internet or in some brothel, and it would only prove their masculinity.
They did not understand that they were giving away their manhood for nothing. They were not told that their purity was a gift, that their sexuality was beautiful. In fact, they were taught the opposite. They were told that the proof of their manhood was in how well they spread it around.
How then, could these once-boys grow up to believe that the most intimate part of themselves was worth guarding? How could they believe that their body was so precious, only one woman was worth it? And how could they believe, wait, and hope for the truth that one day, a woman would love, cherish, and guard that gift herself because she knew the importance of it?
How could they understand the evil of the sex trade when comedians joke about hiring hookers as if paying for sex is as innocuous as ordering a pizza? How can they believe that women are worthy of respect when talented, intelligent women use their beauty and their bodies as a commodity? How can they believe that men can wait, that their sexuality is a gift worth receiving, when the world honors the men who think and act like beasts?
If we do not combat the message of male sexuality that the media offers with the truth, we will never raise men who respect women and themselves enough to act any differently than the young celebrity who visited a Brazilian brothel just because he could. Instead, we will raise more men who buy women and degrade themselves because that is what they’ve been taught to do.
We can talk about the evils of sex trafficking. We can work to rescue the women involved. But we will never make real change unless we rescue our boys too.
There are two kinds of victims of the sex trade. Unfortunately, only the girls are making the news.