Promote The Worth of Women And The Meaning of Sex
By Confronting Sexual Exploitation

Note from the Editor: This is a guest post from Katherine Blakeman, Director of Communications at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. We hope Katherine’s words encourage you to keep speaking for yourself about why women desire and deserve better than sexual norms that disrespect or disadvantage them. No matter how discouraging the environment around us may be, we must continue to advance a holistic view of sex that supports women’s authentic health and happiness—namely, reconnecting sex with marriage and kids for the good of all people!

The fact that the #MeToo movement engaged our nation in a discussion about sexual harassment and assault proves that Americans are looking to change sexual norms.

It is good that the #MeToo movement has as its mission eradicating sexual harassment and assault. But what needs to happen for a new era of respect, sexual integrity, and healthier sexual relationships to take root?

Real change begins by understanding that sex has meaning. While sexuality is not the entirety of our human experience, nor is it the pinnacle of the human experience, our sexuality is central to the human experience. We need to remind the world that all human beings have great worth, and that as sexual beings, we must always respect both our own sexuality and the sexuality of other people.

Establishing new, respectful sexual norms means recognizing that all forms of sexual exploitation-not only sexual assault and harassment- are an attack on human beings. This includes pornography, sexual objectification, prostitution, sex trafficking, violence against women, and child sexual abuse.

We cannot condone one form of sexual exploitation (i.e. pornography or prostitution) while simultaneously condemning another (i.e. sexual assault or child sexual abuse). All forms of sexual exploitation stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the truth that all people are worthy of respect. Moreover, all forms of sexual exploitation are connected and fuel each other, whether directly or indirectly.

Think of the harms pornography does to relationships, to the brain, and to physical health. Porn does not exist in a vacuum. Pornography consumption can cause erectile dysfunction in men and is associated with increased behaviors that put individuals at a greater risk for sexually transmitted infections. Studies show the connection between pornography consumption and sexual violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, divorce, and more.

Porn is even connected to sex trafficking. How often are the individuals used in the production of pornography actually sex trafficked persons?

As we work to create a world where human sexuality is respected, we cannot fail to address the harms of all forms of sexual exploitation (even when they are socially or legally sanctioned). We cannot fail to acknowledge the connections between each of them, and support instead a holistic, meaningful, respectful view of sex.

If you are interested in helping to tackle the problem of sexual exploitation, one highly impactful thing you can do is to attend the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Global Summit.

The Summit brings together survivors, activists, academics, subject matter experts, and other individuals working to create a world free from sexual exploitation. Many of the key leaders in the movement to end sexual exploitation will be together, for a few days, all in one place discussing strategy and research findings, sharing testimonies, and collaborating for a better future.

The Summit will equip you with the most up-to-date knowledge about combating sexual exploitation, provide you the opportunity for networking with the movement’s premiere leaders; and inspire you to work hard to create a world free from sexual exploitation. We hope you will leave emboldened to become an activists in this movement, because while we may never eradicate all injustice, we can turn the tide and influence sexual norms for the better.

 

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