At Beyond, there was more than just music and song. There were also workshops, and some great talks too. One of those was given by Melinda Tankard Reist, a writer, researcher, and campaigner for women's rights; particularly dealing with issues like pornography (though this is becoming increasingly an issue for everyone), violence, sexualisation/objectification in media (and generally), sex trafficking, and sex work/prostitution. It's this last one that she was focussing on in her talk.
There was a lot that she talked about which I either already knew, or guessed. But it makes your blood boil to hear first-hand accounts of it from people who have 'worked in the industry', as you might put it. Something she kept coming back to - it's often called the oldest 'profession', or line of work, that there is. But what other professions do you know where people are regularly treated violently, sworn at, constantly degraded - and then told it's just 'part of the job'? And it's possible that you may know others who work as strippers/prostitutes/escorts who enjoy it, and are doing just fine. And there probably are people like that - but if there are even a few cases where this is happening, that's NOT okay. Not even remotely okay, no matter how much money that they pay. You can't buy the right to hurt someone, and abuse them however you like! Argh! Okay. Attempting to calm down. This gets me a bit emotional, as you may be able to tell. So yeah. It was a pretty powerful talk.
More awesome, was she actually had someone there who had contributed one of the chapters to the book that she was talking about, where she told first-hand accounts of people in the sex industry. Her name was Alice - possibly (probably) a fake name, like the ones in the book, to protect her. They attract a fair bit of the not-so-good sort of attention.
Anyway, she had a pretty incredible story. It's not really one I can tell here, but you can read a bit of it in the blog two links back. It's....yeah. Pretty crazy. And she's incredibly brave to be able to share that, which was really awesome for us. She really went in deep into how it all effected her emotionally, and psychologically, even now, after she's been out for a little while. Because when you've been creating highways in your brain - it's hard to change their course. You have to create new highways; and that takes time, unfortunately. It's not an overnight thing.
What was probably one of the best things about it, was that it was the fullest gig that I saw in the venue that I was running sound for. It got pretty packed - the guy that played afterwards had it pretty tough! He did well, though. What disappointed me, though, was that there were almost no guys there at all.
And the thing is, this needs to be fight for the men as well, not just the women. But the hard part is - though there are certainly cases of men being victims of sexual abuse, and that should never be ignored - much more often, we're on the other side of the coin. Rather than sharing a story of what's been done to us - we're sharing the story of what we've done. Even if that's just porn, masturbation, fantasy - that's something that can be really hard to do, particularly if it has us in over our heads. Porn is made for addiction - and it does the job very well. And it keeps getting darker and darker; getting more violent, less personal (though now we have equality - there's plenty of porn that objectifies both women and men!), and more extreme in any way it can. All of it just a Google search away, in our world. It's all about lust - the oldest obsession.
And that's not even touching the surface - what about guys that have gone from the screen to actually doing things in person? Taking advantage of people, sexual exploitation, slavery, or manipulation, trading money for sex, rape - I could go on. There are people who have done all of that, and worse, some of whom you may know without realising it. The problem isn't so much that we have so many of these people. Well, that is a problem, yes, but that's actually maybe not the big one. The problem is, there are still way too many people that look at what I've written there, and are still thinking in the old way.
Still going, "Lock these people up! Put them all into a deep, dark hole, that they can never get out of!" Some of you might want to bring back the death sentence - or for those of you reading in a country that still has it, implementing that. I'm rather glad that I live in a country that doesn't have it, and I very much hope that the rest of the world will come to their senses before too long. But that's another blog post.
If you didn't watch the video - we need to change our attitude. Because addiction - even addiction to porn, or sex, of any type - is actually to do with a lack of connection, and good relationships. Not people being crazy and deranged or psychopathic. The more we're locking people away....the worse they're going to be. That's a general rule, by the way. We totally need to rethink prison. Another blog post! (Though I'm really not educated enough on that to comment.)
I've been rambling for way, way too long already, and I've still got another post to go. *sighs* If you've come this far, you're either very patient, or about as interested/invested in this as I am. Probably both. I'll wrap it up.
Whether you're talking about porn, the sex industry, or sexualisation of women/people in general - this is something that is permeating our society. You can't avoid it unless you're a hermit. It's in advertising; movies and TV; magazines; how we talk, dress, and act. If that's something that we want to change - and personally, that's a rather big YES for me - that's going to take some gargantuan effort. Because some people have invested rather a lot of time and money into making this all work, and they don't really like it when you take that away.
But for what we might be able to get out of it - a better chance at real relationship, and actually perceiving people better; I think that's well worth it. :)
And because you got through it all, here are some photos of cute baby animals! :D