There have been several articles and some documentaries about the
plight of women sold or kidnapped into sex slavery, but the general public knows
little to nothing about it. The simple truth is that in underdeveloped countries
some women are sold to criminals for the sex trade.
When I speak about it, the responses are, “If such a problem
exists, why aren’t the authorities doing something about it?” For one thing, this
horrendous problem is given less importance than say, illegal drug dealing.
Whether it’s because the women generally come from a disadvantaged class with
little to no voice or because it is assumed that prostitutes engage in the
profession willingly, I do not know.
One thing that can’t be overlooked is the fact that billions
of illicit dollars are involved. Slavery brings in approximately 35 billion in
profits. It is estimated that 1 million +/- people are trafficked throughout
the world. But it’s possible that the numbers can be higher.
is among the top importers of sex slaves which includes young female children.
Approximately 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States every year. That
estimate might be on the low side because so many of these women and children are
invisible and never surface to the authorities.
In The New York Times, September 25, 2008 article by
Nicholas D. Kristof he said: “World leader are parading through New York this week for
United Nations General Assembly reviewing their (lack of) progress in fighting
global poverty. That’s urgent and necessary, but what they aren’t talking
enough about is one of the grimmest of all manifestations of poverty – sex
“This is widely acknowledged to be the 21st-century
version of slavery, but governments accept it partly because it seems to defy
solution. Prostitution is said to be the oldest profession. It exists in all
countries, and if some teenage girls are imprisoned in brothels until they die
of AIDS, that is seen as tragic but inevitable.”
Women and girls as young as 12 and even younger – are sold
and forced into prostitution and often work 14 hours a day, six days a week in
a variety of places like strip joints, bars and brothels. In many ways
traffickers feel it is better than selling drugs because the women can produce
money repeatedly for a number of years, if they survive. Many of the enslaved are
also used for labor. For instance, they are forced to sew, work in factories,
on farms, perform janitorial services, become domestics and work the
construction trade. It is a global problem.
Many are transported and controlled by Organized crime, and
the women come from all parts of the world – particularly Asia and Eastern Europe. Often, they are told they will be going
to countries to get good jobs and will find a better life. They are duped into
believing they will have better opportunities in a new country.
When they arrive in the country of destination, they are
forced into prostitution and told they have to work to pay back their passage.
Even when women make a plea for getting another job with the promise to pay their
“debt” they are still held captive and often subjected to starvation, rape,
extreme physical and mental abuse and imprisonment. They are too profitable for
the criminals to let go.
Rebecca Clarren wrote an article in Ms. Magazine entitled,
“Forced Sex and Labor Trafficking in the U.S. It was posted on August 15,
2007, Printed on October 27, 2008.
“Due in large part to the efforts of feminist groups, in
2000 Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which
created a special “T-visa” that enables victims of sex and labor trafficking to
remain temporarily in the United
States – if they agree to assist in the
investigation or prosecution of their traffickers. After three years, the
attorney general can admit them for permanent residency…”
The article goes on, “But seven years after the passage of
what was hailed as a very innovative law that created powerful new tools to
prosecute and punish traffickers, the Bush administration has failed to fund
and implement its provisions in a meaningful way. There has been a shocking
lack of trafficking investigations – just 639 were opened by the Department of
Justice between fiscal years 2001 and 2006. Only 360 defendants have been
charged, resulting in 238 convictions.”
Our best defense right now is to become aware of the plight
of these women. It is dreadful. Is there not something we can do about it? I
would hope so.
In my opinion, the concept of cheerleaders has the lasting
effect on women that keeps a glass ceiling for women in the workplace as well
as in male/female relationships.
In an article I read online entitled “Cheerleading: Why the
bad rap? By A. Mejia, Aug. 21, 2006 it stated: “Before beginning this paper, I
asked ten people to tell me the first five words to pop into their mind when
they thought about cheerleading; the results likely will not surprise you.
Every individual questioned associated cheerleaders with short skirts and being
loud. Three out of the five males questioned replied “hot” or “sexy” as one of
their first responses. Six of the respondents replied that they associated
being “ditzy” with the word cheerleader. None of the respondents said that male
cheerleaders were even considered when forming their answers…”
I have maintained for a long time that cheerleading is
demeaning to women and creates a subtle hierarchy of gender importance. Because
women dominate cheerleading in the US the activity is thought of in
sexual terms and easily dismissed in importance no matter how talented the
cheerleaders are. Basically, these women are in the background of the sporting
world, cheering on the heroes on the field. It seems to be such an out-dated
notion and supposedly harmless, but I see it as very damaging to the female psyche.
It perpetuates the inbred concept that puts women in their proper place – helpers always on the sidelines.
In another article; Commanding TheRoom in Short Skirts: Cheering as the Embodiment of Ideal Girlhood
by Natalie Adams, Pamela Bettis – Gender Society, 2003; Vol.17: pp. 73-91. The
abstract for the article stated: “More
than 3.5 million people participate in cheerleading in the United States, with 97 percent
being female. A staple of American schools, American life, and popular culture,
the cheerleader, however, has scant attention scholarly research…”
Starting at a young age, play toys usually have females in helping
roles rather than dominant ones. I assume that the seeds that give a secondary
role to females starts early in childhood and leads to an unconscious acceptance
of that standard for both boys and girls. From there, it seems like a natural
progression, to cheerleading. Young ladies go into the activity without
understanding the consequences. As the boys are led to fight on the field and
win no matter what, the girls cheer on. Adulation follows the winners off the playing
field. Not necessarily so for the cheerleaders. Of course, only the best
looking females with the best bodies are encouraged in that endeavor. And so,
despite physical talent and agility, the cheerleader is generally seen as a
flighty, not-very-bright but very sexy person. She becomes a sex symbol.
The problem is that cheerleading exists today as it always
has only the clothing might be scantier. If women really want be on an equal
par with men then they must reexamine all of the seemingly harmless and subtle
ways the gender gap is perpetuated on them and deal with it.
Not long ago, I wrote a blog for Wild River Review about the
stagnation of the Woman’s Movement and asking mature women to come together and
get back into activism. Many younger women have the stress of career and
domestic responsibilities and may not have the time for continuing the fight
for women. One of many reasons for not letting up on the fight is that not only
does the glass ceiling still exist in the working world, it exists in relationships.
We never want to slip backwards. The fight should continue to be a forward movement.
It seems that my plea, in an ironic twist, might have been
answered in the form of Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska,
who we all know is the candidate for Republican Vice President of the United States.
Perhaps the outcry from various places and groups, both pro and con, tends to
polarize women but it has seemed to galvanize a portion of the female population all over the
country. It awakened a sleeping, giant bear. “Hear us roar.” Protests against
Governor Palin’s reputed values have appeared in pockets across the US from Rochester,
NY to, believe it or not, Anchorage, AL.
The online archive of Chicago Women’s Liberation Union had
this to say: “The nomination of anti-feminist Sarah Palin to be vice-president
of the United States
has mobilized the feminist movement to oppose the Republican ticket even more
strongly. As many news reports attest, Sarah Palin has a terrible record on
issues important to feminists. She made rape victims pay for their own rape
kits. She opposes reproductive choice and sex education. She has done nothing
to deal with the long standing racial discrimination in Alaska
and has ignored the findings of the Alaska Advisory Committee to the US. Committee
on Civil Rights.”
Also noted in many various other publications, Sarah Palin
is against abortions for rape and incest victims. If only half of what is said
about her is true, it is extremely chilling as far as women are concerned. The thinking is that women can’t make decisions about themselves or their bodies.
I guess from every downside, some good appears. It would
appear that Sarah Palin has become a rallying cry for women to unite. A huge
number of women vehemently reject the concept of potentially losing all that
they have struggled to achieve over many, many years. The other upside of her
nomination is that female comedians have fared exceptionally well in the arena
of political satire. They have come to the forefront of the media in an area
generally dominated by men.
So, folks, keep looking for the bright side. We must have faith
that women will battle to keep what they so arduously struggled to achieve!
We are once again at the bottom of a chasm created by greed.
Our fiscal situation is horrendous. It is world wide, and has put us on the
brink of yet another disaster.
In a previous blog I wrote about a contagious disease called
affluenza that strikes at the heart of our society and creates an addiction to
accumulate fortunes – at all costs. I referred to other writings such as the book
entitled: AFFLUENZA: The All-Consuming Epidemic, by John DeGraaf, Thomas H.
Naylor and David Wann. They gave this definition of affluenza, “a painful,
contagious, virally transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste
resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.” Psychologist Oliver James also
dealt with the topic of wealth accumulation and how it affects our thinking and
emotional life as reported in an article in The Guardian, January 24, 2007.
We’re now paying the price for unleashed greed. How many times do we have to go through these catastrophes? In my
lifetime I’ve seen the savings and loan debacle, the Enron disgrace, the smoke
and mirror high-technology bubble and now the global, financial cataclysm. In all of the mentioned
disasters, there wasn’t a care in the world given to what will happen to those
ordinary people who inevitably will be financially devastated.
And who is to blame? I’d say everyone from the greedy
investment/financial institutions to the politicians who wanted deregulation to
the buyers and investors. Individuals were offered an easy way to obtain
property or an investment without any responsibility. Many (not all) knew full
well they couldn’t or didn’t intend to pay for it. Both Republicans and
Democrats have to take responsibility in this latest (and perhaps worst) fiscal
crisis in my memory.
How much money is enough? Take for instance someone who has
made twenty million either legally or illegally. Isn’t that enough for someone
to live very comfortably in a lifetime and still have overage to pass on? But
when someone is infected with affluenza, that is not enough. Like any addictive
drug, there is a push for more and more at a feverish pitch. Addicts will often
steal to get the next fix as will people infected with affluenza who must devise more schemes to keep accumulating. And
then – here we are. We have to think about what compels someone to accumulate, with
highly questionable manipulations, hundreds of millions of dollars non-stop until
their house of cards comes tumbling down?
I’d like to deal with the more psychological/emotional issues
in this piece rather than the technical ways the political/financial system
failed us. Here’s an example on a small level. I once had an acquaintance who owned a highly
profitable business. He committed acts of fraud over the years that
incrementally became riskier. When he hit the final and biggest fraud, he got
caught. He was indicted and sentenced to jail and when I asked him why he did
it he said he didn’t know. And he admitted there was no reason for committing
these outrageous and elaborate means of thievery. He was very wealthy (born
into wealth as well).
In his case, I see it as someone who loved the power play -
he could manipulate people and firms like a chess game. It pumped him up. When
he wasn’t doing “deals” he was down and feeling empty. He got high on people
looking up to him, and fawning in his presence because of his great and growing
fortune. My suspicion is that playing everyone fed his ego
mightily. He even did this in a social context.
Is ego underlying the desire to build fortunes? It certainly
is a part of the deal. In a society that worships money no matter how one gets
it, ego is a major element. Riches or the appearance of prosperity brings instant
adulation. Our society is rife with demands that people display material
possessions and with it comes power.
Where does it start? It starts early in life when boy
children are told they must be only care about being successful as adults, not cry and don’t ever show emotion. Those edicts come into play when little boys go into Little League. The games that
were designed to teach team spirit cam become a breeding ground for corruption.
There is a minority of parents and some coaches who destroy the best intentions.
Winning at all costs is demanded by some parents who jeer and yell at coaches and
other kids rather than treat it like the innocent childhood game it is supposed to be. A small mistake on the
part of a coach is booed. Children are encouraged to use dirty methods against
the opposing teams.
The first person that I knew personally who went to jail was
a professional man who bragged about how he subtly disabled players in baseball
games as a kid. When someone ran into a base that he covered, he’d catch the
ball in such a way that he’d deliberately hit the runner on the head or in
sensitive parts of the body to hurt them. He had to win no matter what it took
and thought his behavior was amusing.
As an adult he no longer had
sports as an option, he went into a professional field and, according to his
conviction years later, continued his cheating methods. He supposedly defrauded
a government agency, wound up in jail and lost his license to practice when he
got out. It wasn’t so amusing after all.
I happen to know a lot of professional/business types who
got in trouble with the law or went to jail. These people didn’t have to do it.
They had the capacity to earn very nice amounts of money without breaking the
To my way of thinking, affluenza is a bottomless pit that is
never satiated. Because of the apparent obsessive quality of the disease it has
to be detrimental to relationships. Unless that person infected undergoes a
cure, it seems nearly impossible to care about love and compassion.
We have to root out the elements that create a climate that
accepts swindling as a way to do business. We must stop actions that cause
people to lose their jobs, savings and retirement. We have to stop cheering for
those who have bundles of money. When destruction of whatever hurdle is in
the path to great wealth occurs it has to bleed into our personal relationships and
destroy those as well. When all is said and done, it is human relationships
that comforts the soul and not money.
In the last few years of dating I found that intelligent men
can be frustratingly immature. For instance, some like to make plans and then
pretend they forgot – maybe not even show up. Another guy always asked me to go
out to a restaurant while I was in the middle of cooking dinner. And how could
I forget the romantic moment when a man I was dating went to kiss my hand and,
at the last moment, wiped his nose on my fingers? The last time that happened
to me I was in junior high school. He thought it was very funny. How did I
feel? We don’t date anymore. Then there’s the dentist who brought me a button
to sew on his shirt on the second date. Although he’d been a bachelor for a
number of years his excuse was that it cost ten dollars for the cleaner to do
it. These incidents and many more inspired me to find out why there is this
apparent arrested development in men. Why do they seem out of touch with how
their actions impact other people? Why can’t they understand how someone other
than themselves might feel? You’d think it would be easy. Not so.
Why is male judgment so often impaired? There seems to be a
syndrome that especially afflicts professional/business men who are quite
successful in their careers but seem sorely lacking in common sense. Why can’t
they see beyond the words and deliberate creation of smoke and mirror
personalities? Why can’t they put themselves in someone else’s position to see
how they feel? Why can so many of their female counterparts cut right through
the bull and put their finger on why a personality is not what they see?
People often devise personalities of what they would like to
be and present that to the world. It’s not necessarily who they really are. Discerning
the differences is a vital ability. Men with dulled perceptions are easily fooled
if they can’t see through persona guises. They miss the contradictory signs
between a façade and behavior. I believe this is a problem among men more than
women because of how early socialization is indoctrinated between the sexes.
For one thing, women are encouraged to understand and deal
with relationships from an early age. They are told that they are responsible
for making any number of people happy – their mothers, fathers, brothers and even
future mates. Most times, a man is told to concentrate on his studies, sports,
career and becoming successful at whatever he does. A woman who seeks a career
is still told she has other tasks in her life that go beyond a work life. She
is given the job of emotional multi-tasking from childhood on.
When a man goes to professional/graduate school, he has only
to reach the goal of achieving his profession. It starts in high school
(perhaps for some earlier). Male physicians are more vulnerable to blind spots
in human conduct because everything is aimed at pre-med studies, medical school
and residency without the demand for emotional or social awareness. It also
happens in other one-minded professions such as accounting, engineering and
professions where higher degrees are important.
Because a person is so one-sided between ages eighteen to
perhaps early thirties he loses those important years that are ripe for developing
street smarts. After that, it doesn’t seem to happen easily if at all.
If someone’s focus is rigid and narrow during those
sensitive years, the crucial broader understanding of how humans operate will
not occur. Because women have been trained for this from an early age, despite being
involved in complex academics, they learn to distinguish behavioral patterns in
themselves and others.
These skills are hard enough to achieve, but when this all
translates into personal lives – trouble begins. Lots of lip service is given by
men who say their wives are equal to them, but it doesn’t always compute in
real life if all of their efforts went only into building a career. Many of you
will say that the notion men don’t treat their partners equally is outdated.
But all that’s happened is the disparity has gone underground. People don’t
come right out and make statements about what is technically considered passé.
But these subliminal messages are alive and well and living quietly (sometimes
noisily) in our society. Take for example that a woman still only earns
seventy-seven cents to every dollar a man makes for comparable work.
If a woman is still basically responsible for the well-being
of the home, even though she works as much as her husband, then she is still
the major caretaker and ultimately responsible of the comfort and security of
the family. If glitches or bad patches in relationships occur, the finger is
pointed at women, rarely the man. Resentment sets in. Both are soon miserable
and, of course, that unhappiness seeps into the bedroom.
A young woman I know is doing research for her Ph.D. in
science. Her female lab director informed her that women who wish to be
successful in research shouldn’t get married or think about having children–ever.
This happened in the year 2008!! Would they even begin to think about telling a
man the same thing?
We’ve got to go back to childhood. The same societal demands
on girls have to be extracted from male children. It’s the basics. It’s where
it all starts.