“There is in every true woman’s heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.” Washington Irving
This morning I read a post by fellow blogger Lisa-Jo Baker and her thoughts on a specific Super Bowl commercial with tears in my eyes. I literally could not keep from crying while I read about her 5 year old’s reaction. The ironic thing was during the game I received a text from a 24-year-old man with a reaction to the same commercial. But it’s just entertainment, right? It doesn’t really influence anything, it’s just for fun. Isn’t it? You need to learn to relax, you need to learn when to take things seriously and when to let things go, you need to learn to be in the world. You need to buy into the lie that our culture is selling.
In fairness, I didn’t watch the game or any of the commercials. I could say it was some personal statement against the fact that the Super Bowl is the single largest human trafficking event, but really I just don’t have cable. Not that I have much interest and I probably wouldn’t have watched it anyway, but I’m certainly not trying to incite a riot against the Super Bowl. Even the commercials, which I used to enjoy when I was younger, have become nothing but vulgar attempts for attention. Throwing tens of millions of dollars into a 30 second clip of nonsensical shock value and doing nothing but trying to get attention the same way my 4-year old does when he talks about farts and poop – because he knows I will react to it, not because it’s actually funny or actually entertaining – why would I waste my time with that?
The truth is, I try really, really hard not to be that person – you know who I’m talking about, the person who takes everything just a little too seriously. I try really hard to avoid getting the reaction that Lisa-Jo describes in her article when she states, “So before you call me a prude, before you click away, roll your eyes, mutter under your breath about stay-at-home moms with no sense of a good laugh at no one’s expense, let me tell you about the conversation I had with a five-year-old and seven-and-a-half-year-old beneath the white Christmas lights strung from their bunk bed.” Yes, I try really, really hard not to be that person. But there are certain things that one cannot simply turn away from. There are certain things that as a mother, as a Christian, as a productive member of society (take your pick) I cannot just laugh along with the crowd, or turn my eyes for a second and pretend it didn’t happen. Because the truth is, it is changing our culture, it is changing our children, it is even changing us, and the real truth is, if it put Him on the cross it is not entertainment.
When the Superbowl is the #1 event for sex trafficking, and I’m trying to FIGHT that, and at the same time I’m trying to enjoy the “entertainment” that is the sex appeal of the commercials and the half-time show, and when your kids start to notice the flippant sexuality in the world… then what are you supposed to do other than take it seriously? I have been in strip clubs talking to the girls. Hearing their stories, trying to give them information about getting the help they need to get out, at least to get some healing for the pain their lifestyle causes. I’ve watched them cover their bodies with the most modest clothing imaginable before they walk out the door because they hate the feeling of the eyes that look at them with nothing but lust and longing and want and desire. Then the next day as I walk through the mall and I see our children dressing in the same way these women do on stage. I see young girls desiring that attention, that want, that lust after her body that brings such destruction, because our culture teaches them that that is what is important, that that is what it takes for you to become somebody. Our children. No, not mine, and maybe not yours specifically, but they are the children of our culture and that makes them mine. That makes them my responsibility. That makes their problems my problems, their struggles my struggles, and their future the mission of my present.
Face it. Sex sells. LITERALLY. And we have to wake up to that. 34 billion. More than Starbucks, Google, and Nike combined. More than ABC, CBS, and NBC combined. More than the MLB, NBA, and NFL combined. Sex sells. Real sex, real people, real life. It sells a lot, it sells more than anything else. And we are the ones who keep buying it. Over and over and over and over. No, I’ve never walked down the street and bought a man to spend a couple of hours with me. I’ve never gone to a strip club and stuffed money into the thong of the woman on stage. But I have bought that magazine with a naked woman on the cover, the one that advertises the 37 different sex positions, because I wanted to see if it were really true that that celebrity is going to have triplets and I really want to know how to do my hair like that. But more so than spending actual money on products that promote the mindset of sexuality in our culture I have bought into it. I have bought the lie.
Like every woman I have struggles with self-esteem. I have struggles with loneliness and wanting to be desired. I have thought about taking pole dancing classes to make myself feel sexier (it’s ok when you’re married, right?). I have bought the clothes that were a little too tight, a little too low-cut, a little too sexy because I wanted to be viewed as attractive and desirable (it’s ok when I’m not forcing other men to look at me and lust after me, right?) I have danced a little too provocatively at weddings (it’s ok because everyone is doing it and it’s just fun, right? It’s not like I’m jumping up onto the bar somewhere vying for attention or, heaven forbid, getting paid to do it). I have totally bought into it. I have totally let society convince me that sex is what I need to use to sell myself. And the worst part, is that I am not only contributing to it by buying into it, I am contributing to it because I am selling it. With my actions, with the clothes I wear, while my daughter is watching me, I am selling the idea that sex appeal is what it takes to get noticed. Shame on them for sending this message out, shame on me for believing it, shame on me for then sending this message out to others, shame on them for believing it, shame on them for sending the message out to others, and on, and on, and on. This cycle will never stop. UNLESS. WE. STOP. IT.
The reason I cried while reading Lisa-Jo’s blog and her sons’ reaction to the flippant sexual attitude of our culture is because I have had these conversations with my own three and four year-old. Three and four. And I will tell you that since I began working with human trafficking I have become much, much more conscientious in what I wear and how I act. I take responsibility for how others view me physically and for how they react to me. I absolutely do. It’s not like my children have viewed these things on TV. I would never allow my children to watch the half-time show for the Super Bowl, I just wouldn’t, that is my convictions. I would never wear something super tight and super short and have them see that as an example of proper dress (Praise God I did not have my children while I was in college!) I say this not as an “I am so much better than you,” rant, but to show that I do not take sex lightly in my home, I take great caution in what I wear and how I present myself, I am especially careful about the things that enter the eyes and hearts of my children, but as careful as I am we have not been able to escape the damage done by living in a culture that is absolutely saturated with sex. I mean, call me crazy, but when they sexualize a commercial for drain cleaner I think we have a major problem in our society! So I cried, as I read her story about how this culture of sex and ungodliness is hurting her children, I cried. Because the only hope we have of ever reversing the pain of human trafficking, of sexual slavery, is by instilling in our children the mindset that people are people – not objects – and that people are valuable – not for what they have to give to others, but for who they are as people, as children of God. The only hope we ever have of stopping human trafficking is by raising up a generation that refuses to participate in it, and how do we do that when everything our kids see is pointing them in the opposite direction.
It starts with me, but I am so scared that it will end with me. That it will end with us. I am so afraid that there will be a good number of us that really take a stand, that really do our part, that really put our hearts and our souls into ending the violence and the hurt and the absolute devastation that our culture is causing, but that every single thing that we say and do will be drowned out by the billboards, by the commercials, by the magazines, by the clothing designers, by the celebrities, by the activities of our culture… It’s going to take a lot more than just me, and it’s going to take a lot more than just you. It certainly does seem like it is an impossible fight, but there is a solution and that means that it is possible for change to happen, it is possible for us to eliminate a culture of selling sex. All it is going to take is for us as parents, as a society, to stand up and say, “Sex sells, but I’m not buying it!” All it is going to take is for us to stand up and say, “Sex sells, but I’m not selling it!” All it is going to take is raising up a generation that refuses to buy into this lie.