Dear Cubbie, Dodger, and Rex: When the World Tries to Break You

amnesty-international-logo-1My dearest Cubbie, Dodger, & Rex,

Today you are 6 years old, 4, & 1. This year you’ve discovered tubing, kayaking, boating, climbing walls, and the masterful art of walking (Rex! 😀 ). Cubbie, you’ve finished kindergarten and you’re reading to us now, as well as having us read to you; Dodger, you’re cleverness questions how everything works and seeks to find a pragmatic solution to every challenge; Rex, you refuse to let your voice be drowned out. You will be heard! Your huge smiles and fearlessness bring light into our lives daily.

I love you all.

And while I see you growing up terribly fast, you aren’t quite old enough to comprehend many of the injustices our world creates for itself. There is hunger, a lack of clean water, slavery, war-mongering, hatred, greed, racism and so much more. If you let these injustices drag you down, you will be sucked under all too easily. I don’t want that for you. But I do wish with all of my heart that your spirits will be tender to the needs around you, and wise to the holistic responses that are required.

Today, Amnesty International announced:

Amnesty International adopts principles to protect and uphold human rights of sex workers

While some are celebrating this move as a victory, many of us are sensing a huge defeat. A major international human rights body has succinctly called for the continued violence of pimps and johns and traffickers in our world. Read between the lines of the public statement.

Those calling for a full decriminalization of prostitution and those calling for the Nordic model BOTH want the violence inherent in prostitution and trafficking to end; we both want everyone to live freely with their choices; and we both want women, LGBTQ+ people, indigenous people, and children to honoured and affirmed the world ’round. Yet our particular sides believe very different methods are required to achieve the same ends.

I don’t believe sex work is a healthy option for anyone. Some have chosen this path freely and make a living wage off of their profession, it’s true; but in my experience these people are few and far between. Yet sadly they are the loudest voices in this mess because they have the freedom and ability to use their voices.

“Amnesty International has long expressed concern over the high levels of violence facing sex workers in Canada, especially the heightened risks faced by the disproportionate numbers of Indigenous people in the sex trade. We have called on government and law enforcement to ensure that their actions reduce, rather than increase, this risk. The issue of harm reduction was at the heart of the Supreme Court decision in the Bedford case which struck down Canada’s previous prostitution laws. This is one of the issues that Amnesty International will review once a new global policy is adopted.” (August 11, 2015)

Victims of violence, rape or abuse in prostitution, or victims of trafficking?

We can’t force them to speak about their experiences in order to substantiate any argument. You’ll find, my boys, that even with the best of intentions we can all too easily re-victimize people, use them for our own causes, or turn them into trophies. AI’s stance would lead us to believe that a full decriminalization of the sex trade will make it safer for marginalized groups seeking to create a living from the profession.

Only… in an effort to create freedom of choice and equality for marginalized groups, a select few will profit and benefit. The approval of prostitution, adult entertainment, and even trafficking will be fueled. It will grow and continue to dominate our cultural scene. In the end: sex still sells. And money is a relentless temptation.

Mostly, the declaration by AI affirms and approves the subjugation of women and other marginalized groups so johns can have access to no-strings-attached sex.

And, I am sorry to say my beautiful boys, the majority of the johns in this world are men. The harm reduction method is not a method I would classify as equal, opportunity-creating, or life affirming.

As you grow into young men, the realization will descend onto your shoulders that the world is deliberately tantalizing you with adult ads and websites, magazines, stores and… approval. The world WANTS you to indulge, engage, explore and pay for all those services advertised in front of your eyes.

What is your auntie wanting you to learn here?

I want you to learn that men and women are both visual. As crazy you might feel navigating your tweens and teens, maybe pause for a thought that young girls are struggling too. However, young girls have been told that we aren’t, nor have we ever been, sexual beings (at least not in the uncontrollable way boys are). This is a lie. Know how to spot the lies when you see them. That young women are visual, too, in no way diminishes your natural impulses and desires. Not at all! We’re only coming to understand sexuality better as time goes on.

And believe me, there is an industry of prostitution aimed at female consumers — one which is growing. Saying “NO” to a certain profession, believing it to be oppressive and violent, is not a bad thing. Have we not learned from the centuries before us?

And consider this: if the sex trade is peddled to women as a liberating, freeing and income-generating, ask yourselves: “Why isn’t this profession being aimed at US just as much as women? Isn’t that peculiar? Isn’t that a bit odd?”

If hard reduced prostitution is about equality and freedom of choice, why is it still shoving women into places of sexual oppression, while nominally tolerating men in specific adult entertainment roles? Prostitution is okay for women, but for men? Heck no!

Why is that?

Question this reality, my boys.

I want you to learn that prostitution rarely begins from a place of equality or love. Question why someone is in the sex trade; question what motivated a person to pose for a porn shoot; question the conditions of younger “models” when the engage in activity that is barely legal, and how they learned such things so fast; question why many of those in prostitution struggle with addictions, mental health issues or PTSD (lowering the ability to consent to any act, sexual or otherwise); question why these things are being directed at you, and what it is they want from you.

You won’t find relationship.

You won’t find companionship.

You won’t find intimacy.

You won’t find faithfulness.

What you will find is an industry aimed at destroying the lives of women, children, LGBTQ+ people… and you. Policies like this are wolves howling at the door wanting to devour everything in their paths. That might sound dramatic, but I assure you it’s not. The world will try to break you, justifying it’s wolfish lust by giving tired old arguments like “Everybody’s doing it”, “It empowers women”, “It reduces violence”, “It’s a victimless crime”, “It’s normal for you to be sex-crazed”.

Sex curious? Yes. Sex-crazed? We all have our moments, but again: listen for the lies. You are more than a sex drive. You are more than consumers. You are more than glands. You are much, much, much more!

You are intelligent, curious, compassionate, sensitive, emotional, spiritual, and loving boys. These aren’t childhood playthings to put aside when you’re older in favour of something shallower. These are good and true and powerful ways of being that fly in the face of policies like AI’s. You are living, breathing, walking examples of how men treat each and all. You are examples of how Christ would treat anyone meeting him on the road.

Having said all of this, you will meet sex trade workers who believe firmly in their accomplishments and freedom of profession. As intelligent, curious, compassionate, sensitive, emotional, spiritual and loving beings, I would hope that you would show genuine respect and mutuality in these moments. While I disagree with the sex trade as a life-affirming profession, this is no way allows me to mistreat anyone choosing this route; I am not at liberty to attack, demean, or dehumanize any person who declares themselves to be sex trade workers. In fact, while I want you to question the circumstances why one is in prostitution, my prayer is that you will first and foremost see a person — fully whole, and fully beloved of God.

We are, in fact, called to be in community with each and all. As difficult as community is, this is our mandate: to love God and to love one another. Christ modeled the “how” before us, and we are committed to living out this love as best we can in an imperfect and broken world.

So when the world seeks to break you, my nephews (and it most certainly will) remember this:

You are loved.

We are loved.

We are ALL loved.

And there are many, many ways to express this love in the face of social injustice.

I am so proud of all of you, my boys. I will always be proud of you. I know how hard it will be to live in our world at times, but I have hope that through tough life experience, the support of a fabulous family, and the love of God, you will learn how to be as God has called you to be.

All my love,
Auntie Erin

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