Hemning Sternberg (moonshadow) wrote,
Hemning Sternberg


Okay. So something about the media pisses me off. ("Just one thing, LadyA," you chorus? "Please, tell us more!")

In fact many things piss me off about the media, but the one I'm thinking of right now has to do with the media portrayal of human trafficking. Recently, the CSI crossover trilogy was focused on trafficking, and also I saw the movie The Spartan which had that as well.

Here's a brief summation of the portrayal I'm talking about:

A young, pretty white girl, Caucasian, with no history of disciplinary problems suddenly vanishes. It turns out that she's abducted - generally grabbed by some big burly guys and pulled into the back of a van. She fights back but they are too strong. And then you find out the worst - she's being taken to be a SEX SLAVE! No no no! Not that! The angry grieving family goes to the authorities and demand that all available resources be devoted to getting their baby back. Wrath and press conferences ensue until you FIND THOSE EVIL MEN AND STOP THEM.

From where I sit, there are two main problems with this portrayal.

1) While sex work may seem scandalous and exciting, it is not the only form of human trafficking. If someone is being held with no means of escape and forced to work, it does not matter if they are turning tricks, working in a field, sewing Nike sneakers, or washing someone's kitchen floor. It's still wrong and dehumanizing. And quick hint - some of these forms of work are more crucial to the Western economy than others.

2) I am by no means a hardened criminal, but even I know better than to violently abduct white American girls from the bosoms of their loving resourceful families! It's not a very viable business model. It's less risky and way more practical to go to places of great economic hardship and show off the brochures about the rug factory you need to hire girls for, or tell the parents their daughter will be somebody's maid. Or pay her dowry and tell them you're going to marry her to your younger brother who's not quite right in the head. Or find someone who has already run away and is selling sex and make them work for you. Or be her boyfriend for a while and get her hooked on drugs.

This idea of "white slavery" is very titillating, and it has been since at least the Victorian days, I know, but it's pretty hard for me to believe that's how things really work.
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