A Letter to Men

LetterToMen

Dear Men,

A few months ago, a conversation on Twitter got my attention. Using the hashtag #YesAllWomen, women shared incredible and awful stories of ways in which they had been harassed, marginalized, ridiculed, leered at and exploited by men.

Yes, all women.

Soon the conversation changed, and people began to respond with #NotAllMen hashtags. Not all men are rapists. Not all men are addicted to pornography. Not all men pay for sex. Not all men disrespect and degrade women.

No, not all men.

This letter is for you: the not all men. And I’m writing to say We Need You. And, Please Help.

I am just beginning to uncover how close to home some very dark things are. Vulnerable women and children are being trafficked in our neighborhoods: they are preyed on and prostituted, and I didn’t know that so many of those who seem to be prostitutes are, in fact, victims who are drugged, manipulated and abused to be there.

Economics 101 teaches us that supply meets demand. This is true in the sex industry too. I didn’t know (and maybe you didn’t either) that the primary demographic of those buying sex are white, middle-class, well-educated, white-collar workers. Women and children are being trafficked to supply the demands of the very people society deems to be the most respectable.

But not all men are like that, which is why we need your help.

If you are a man who is white, or middle-class, or well-educated, or white-collar (or any combination of those descriptions), then you have a voice with these men that we don’t. You may not know who they are, exactly, but they’re among the every day guys at work, in class, at the gym, at the game. They’re the guys on the golf green, and at your business conference.

Women talk differently around women than when men are around, and men talk differently around men than when women are around. When women are around, men are less likely to suggest a couple of hours of entertainment at a strip club, or to make lewd remarks about how they’d like to “see her naked”.

Perhaps you hear men around you talk like that, and you find it uncomfortable. It might be funny, but it’s not who you are – so you say nothing. You let it go, finish your drink, and make your way home. I want you to know first of all that I really respect you not taking them up on the invitation.

But I am writing to ask you to do more. I’m asking you to please speak up and take a stand that it’s not okay to speak to women or about women like that. To point out that the massage parlor or gentlemen’s club they’re suggesting probably has trafficked women or children working there – did they know that? To say that prostitution may not mean what they think it means. To say you’ve heard some stories from women who worked the streets and it has changed your opinion on what was really going on there.

But maybe you don’t even need to say that much. A man saying something like “hey, that’s not cool,” in response to a “guy’s joke” might not seem like much, but it means so much.

If you stay silent, you may have protected your own character in that situation, but your silence is interpreted as indifference. “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,” wrote Bonhoeffer. The sex trafficking industry relies on secrecy to thrive, and when we fail to say something, we allow it to keep its secrets. Our silence become complicity.

Art by Corrie Haffly.

Art by Corrie Haffly

Please, don’t let the sexist joke go unchallenged.

Please, don’t let the guy next to you jest about “showing her who’s boss” without speaking up.

Please, don’t stay silent when someone makes a “movie suggestion”. The line between pornography and trafficking is a very thin on.

Please, if you are on a business trip and are invited out for an evening of entertainment, don’t just say “no thanks” and walk away. Say, “You shouldn’t go either.” Perhaps even invite them to do something else.

There are men in our communities who are predators and pedophiles. But not all men are like that. You are not like that. So I’m asking you: will you please be our protectors? Would you be a voice of conscience to the men around you?

For my sake. For my daughters sake. For all the #YesAllWomen,

Please, speak up.

We need you.


End-New-3DChris and Beth Bruno have written a FREE E-BOOK entitled End: Engaging Men to End Sex Trafficking. Download your copy today.

I am grateful to the Brunos for offering this resource as part of the #ACourageousOne project.


This #ACourageousOne project is a 5-day series of blog posts to raise awareness, money and hope about the reality of sex trafficking right around us. There are tens of thousands of invisible women and children – courageous ones – in need of rescue and restoration.

We can help. This week, support a courageous one by giving #ACourageousOne of your own:

  • Donate ONE DOLLAR to fight sex trafficking (here, here, or here, if you need a suggestion.)
  • Pray for ONE MINUTE for God to rescue victims, and give courage to women and men to speak and act as we ought. (Here is a Psalm to meditate on, as a suggestion)
  • Share ONE POST on social media to raise awareness about this issue. This is happening in our communities, so if we speak up within our communities, someone directly involved is going to hear.

Thank you for supporting the thousands of courageous ones with your Courageous One. We can make a difference!

Psalm for the 29 Million

A Psalm for the 29 Million - #trafficking #endit

There are 29.8 million slaves in the world today. 60,000 of those are in the USA. Reflecting on this led my friend, Liz Below, to write a Psalm for the 29 Million. In support of this week’s #ACourageousOne project, she kindly agreed to share it.

Hear my cry, O God,
O Lord, listen to my plea.
You are merciful and just,
Your righteousness and love know no bounds.
But where do you hide your mercy?
Why does Justice slumber?
Night and day evildoers roam the earth
Morning, noon, and night they steal away innocence
They trade gold for pleasure
Offer treasures for a moment of ecstasy
They torture, threaten, and terrify
They kidnap, keep, and kill
They sell innocents for profit
They barter lives for luxuries
The lost and fatherless scream in pain
The hopeless and forgotten cry out in desperation
Are you not God, the Father?
Speak up for your Children!
O that you would reach down your mighty hand of Justice
And wipe away these vile creatures who defile your offspring.
O that your Spirit would come down and free these slaves;
Restore to them their purity,
Return to them their innocence,
And give them a home like they’ve never known before.
Hear my cry, O God,
O Lord, listen to my plea.
Rescue the children from these hungry lions,
Save them from the monsters of this world.
The lonely and abandoned,
The lost and forgotten –
Let them be loved and adopted,
Found and remembered.
Give them Courage and a Hope
For your Love endures forever.
Hear my cry, O God,
O Lord, listen to my plea.

********

The #ACourageousOne project is aimed to raise awareness, money and hope on behalf of those individuals who are hidden and suffering among us in sexual slavery. To read more about The Courageous One project, click here. To read the story of a survivor of childhood sex trafficking, read Liz’s story.

There are more courageous ones out there in need of rescue, like Liz. This week, show your support by giving YOUR Courageous One:

  1. One DOLLAR to end sex trafficking (consider Courage Worldwide and International Justice Mission)

  2. One MINUTE in prayer (pray today’s Psalm!)

  3. One ARTICLE SHARED on social media. (Share Liz’s story, or why Prostitute doesn’t mean what you think it means. Share today’s Psalm, or  this excellent article on 10 things you didn’t know about sex trafficking (and what you can do about it.) And use the hashtag #ACourageousOne, if you’re into that kind of thing. 🙂

Your Courageous One can help one of the courageous ones. Thank you for partnering!

I Can Raise An Army

Please welcome Liz Mallory to the Words That Changed My World series. I met Liz through the College Ministry I served with for a few years, and got to know her as a fantastic person in real life, long before I knew she was a fantastic writer too 🙂 I’m delighted to have her over in my corner (pun intended!) today.

I really wanted to play soccer. So I signed up. Doesn’t sound that crazy, right?

I was 12. Long past the age when kids start soccer. In San Diego, maybe it’s the Latino influence, but everyone plays soccer and everyone starts when they’re 5 years old. Except me.

Oh, and no one starts later than 5 years old. You just don’t. Either you start as a kid and get good by the time you’re old enough to play in real leagues, or else you don’t play at all.

Except me. I wanted to play.

Soccer Field, by Shena Tschofen

Soccer Field, by Shena Tschofen

I didn’t know one thing about the rules. I didn’t know the names of the positions. I learned about throw-ins and corner kicks, forwards and sweepers. I learned how to dribble and how to aim…well, roughly.

My teammates ignored me. They were experts and I was a liability. My coach didn’t bother with me and stuck me in the goal. I had one friend who taught me almost everything; I didn’t make friends with anyone else. They didn’t want me. I was the lousy one who knew nothing.

It was a horrible season, too. We didn’t win a single game. But I was initiated now. For some reason my parents couldn’t fathom, I wanted to sign up again.

Over the course of the next four years, I went on to play 10 seasons of soccer. By the end, it didn’t matter that I’d started years too late; I was as good as the rest of them. It turned out to be my favorite sport, and my best sport, too. I never would have known if I hadn’t taken the risk.

I started playing soccer because I wanted to, not for anything else. And I reaped rewards.

But unbeknownst to me, other people were watching. Listening. My mom shared with other moms how her daughter was playing soccer even though I was by anyone’s standards too old to start. The story got around.

A few years later, an older girl who I knew from homeschool was telling me about her soccer experiences. She hadn’t started until she was 14. Whoa! I laughed with her about how hard/brave/crazy it is to start playing so late.

“You know, Liz,” she said, “I started playing because of you.”

“Me?”

“Yeah. I heard you were starting soccer and I thought, if she can start late, why can’t I?”

That comment stunned me. She was brave enough to defy soccer culture because of me? I hadn’t known she’d heard my story. I hadn’t been trying to set a precedent for late-bloomers. I just wanted to play soccer.

But what I’d done for myself had laid a path for other people. When I thought I was doing things for my own sake, I was being watched. And followed.

Even though it was just soccer, maybe because it was “just” soccer, it was that comment that made me realize what I do has an impact on other people’s actions and attitudes. I am a role model even when I don’t mean to be.

At any moment, my innocent actions could be the catalyst for someone else’s courage.

The story still heartens me. As a freedom fighter, I try to make every word and action of mine count towards ending modern-day slavery, but sometimes it doesn’t seem enough. My small actions of buying used items and trying to mention sex trafficking at every opportunity so people will be aware—how can my small voice and my one pair of hands mean anything?

But it’s not just my voice I’m raising. Every time I speak out, someone else might really be listening. They might realize for the first time what slavery means, that it’s real, and that they want to stop it. Next time, it’ll be them speaking out against slavery.

I can’t stop slavery alone. But I can help raise an army. If I can get one girl to play soccer, I know I can get people to join me in the fight against slavery and sex trafficking.

Liz small thumbnail

Liz Mallory is a writer, editor, and abolitionist. When she’s not drinking tea and writing stories, she writes about how hilarious and surprising life can be. Follow her at elizmallory.com.

 

 

Hope engaged

 

I would love to introduce you to my friend Katie. I met Katie in 2005 when we served on a short term mission trip together, and it has been my great joy to stay in touch with her in the years since then. She has been on all sorts of adventures.

katie

A while back, Katie started a blog. She called it “hope engaged”. She and Kevin had recently got engaged and I assumed from the title of her blog that she was writing a couples-blog. Not being a big partaker of romantic sentiment, I skipped over it. My loss.

Far from being a blog about romance, Katie’s blog is her record of being brave with life.

…. For there is a world of heartache and brokenness out there. So much injustice and pain and loss. This is a topic that is close to my heart. But there is a God who cares about us and this world and who has done something about it. Jesus’ death and resurrection set into motion a new Kingdom: and there is life, restoration, peace and forgiveness to be found in Him. This is our HOPE.

… But our hope is not an airy-fairy-pie in-the-sky-when-you-die type of hope. God’s concern about life and justice is not a cheap comfort held out as a celestial carrot – offered only in the future. Rather, the New Testament says that God, both directly by His Holy Spirit and indirectly through his church, is concerned to act in this broken world NOW, and to bring eternal life to humanity NOW. To show glimpses of the comfort, peace, justice, truth that is to be had fully in the future by living that way NOW. In other words, this is our hope ENGAGED.

Katie and Kevin took a brave step and asked God: “We know we could live a comfortable life here in California – but what do YOU want us to do? What’s important?” Hope engaged is the blog recording where that prayer has led them. At this moment, that prayer has led them to Nepal, where they are working in a home for little girls who have been rescued out of sex trafficking.

Katie’s blog is full of beautiful pictures and beautiful words: images and thoughts which encourage me to be brave with my life too. So without further ado, let me lead you to the click you’ve been waiting for:

… a great introduction to Katie and her blog, and the most recent post which left me weeping for joy.

We have a great hope. Let’s engage.