I just heard Glendyne Gerrard, the director of Defend Dignity, speak at an anti-trafficking conference about the connections between pornography and sex trafficking.
As an organization that wants to target the root causes of sexual exploitation, Defend Dignity has just launched an exciting new campaign, Choose Change, to reduce the ease of access to violent, sexually explicit images.
Here’s the campaign in a nutshell: they’re asking the public to contact certain companies (via email, fb and twitter) to encourage them to change detrimental practices and embrace action that benefits the overall health of Canadians.
Here are the companies they’ve selected:
- Fairmont Hotels
- Toronto Public Library
- Tek Savvy
- The Keg
Here’s what Glendyne Gerrard, director of Defend Dignity, has to say about the campaign.
Why are you doing this?
Defend Dignity exists to end sexual exploitation in Canada, and this means addressing the root causes. A major root cause is the demand that exists for purchasing sex. There are many connections between pornography and sex trafficking.
The first is that porn is used to groom trafficking victims. Many of the survivors we work with at Defend Dignity speak of this reality. Learning how to please a customer means being prepared for their requests, many of which are based on the porn they’re watching.
Also, women in the porn industry can be trafficked. They’re targeted for the same reasons – past sexual abuse, poverty, racism, and family dysfunction. Former porn stars talk about starting out by saying they’ll never do certain scenes, and then through coercion, end up doing them.
Porn also fuels the demand for paid sex. Catherine MacKinnon, a professor at Harvard Law School, says that “consuming pornography is an experience of bought sex.” It creates a hunger to continue to purchase and act out what is seen.
Canadian researcher Dr. Susan McIntyre from Mount Royal University in Calgary studied the connection of porn on johns (men who purchase sex.) She found that “viewing pornography is often the catalyst to further involvement as consumers.” The men in the study began viewing pornography at very young ages, in some cases younger than 11 years of age.
When pornography is the source of sex education for our generation, the natural outcome is a culture of commercial sex and sex trafficking. Every trafficked victim must adhere to the same set of values that women in porn adhere to. She is there for the use and abuse of men, and she must be willing and available to fulfill every one of his desires. She is a commodity.
The link is clear. Our pornified culture has set the stage for sex trafficking.
Why these companies?
The reason we selected each company is listed on our website. We wanted companies that would be familiar to the Canadian public in a variety of sectors. We also felt that if these companies changed, they would be powerful influencers for change in their sector.
The Choose Change campaign will be celebrating organizations who have or will pro-actively change policies and practices to reduce the ease of access to violent, sexually explicit images. The Change Maker List will highlight these organizations. We hope all our challenge organizations will join this list. We’ll possibly add other companies next year or keep our focus on these companies if they have not yet changed.
We’ve modelled the campaign after The Dirty Dozen in the US, but Canadianized it. The U.S. campaign has had tremendous success. Hotels Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, IHG, and Starwood have all pulled adult content videos from their hotel rooms, and American Apparel has pulled nudity from their ads.
What else do people need to know?
That the campaign will only be successful if people engage by sending the email, tweet and fb post. We need thousands of people participating to have major impact on these companies.
In particular, I’d like to highlight the Toronto Public Library. The largest library system in Canada has unfiltered access to pornography on their publicly funded computers in adult areas of the library. Just as someone shouldn’t be allowed to pop in a DVD to watch porn in a public space where kids may be present, libraries should be safe spaces where all ages can roam freely without being exposed to explicit content.
Just last year, my husband, Jay, was at the library and saw a man watch pornography on a public computer while kids played just a few feet away.
Defend Dignity is meeting with the Toronto Public Library today, so please make your voice heard! Choose Change makes it super easy to take action, even from your smart phone.
Get started here!