Monday, March 15, 2010

On another note...

Seeing as everyone is talking about the Juarez situation, I'm going to write about something else. An article on the interesting site True/Slant caught my eye: a man defending watching porn. (Link is in title, I suggest reading it and the comments.)

I don't believe that porn is amoral, or degrading – in its essence. It's fantasy, and healthy, functioning people should be able to tell the difference between fantasy and reality, and not expect their girlfriend or wife (or boyfriend, for that matter) to act like a pornstar.

But... (there's always a but in my posts, isn't there.) There is a really dark side to porn, that US and Western European consumers don't often see or know about. It's called human trafficking. There exist women around the world who are trafficked for the sole sake of becoming porn stars. (Except you never see these women win awards in Las Vegas at their version of the Oscars).

In markets in Mexico, Cambodia, Thailand, Senegal, and Brazil, to name just a few countries, you can buy porn featuring these young women. Some are children. Some are little children. There is something dreadfully wrong and amoral with that.

Some of these women don't make it to the "silver screen." They end up as prostitutes. Again, from a moral standpoint, I don't think prostitution is the most horrendous of ills. People pay for dates, they sleep with their dates. Prostitution is basically just cutting to the chase and making a business transaction. Not romantic, no, but not exactly evil either.

But... that's what happens in an ideal world where prostitutes have rights. In most of the world, they barely have any. I've interviewed some in my reporting on the drug trade (I was once told by a former military man that the first person you should interview in any neighborhood is the prostitutes, because they know everything – he's right) and some have told me just how dangerous life is. You don't really need to be told, to be honest, it kinda goes without saying.

On the beach in Guerrero once, I was also approached by a "pimp." (In quotes because he's not in charge of anything.) He actually worked for the government, as a lifeguard. The government paid him to watch the beach, while he approached tourists to sell drugs and women. He offered me a variety of ladies – from Japanese to Russian to Mexican – and even asked if I would like a "young" lady. I looked him in the eye, trying hard not to show my deep disapproval/rage/outrage/disgust, and asked how "young." He repeated, "YOUNG." I politely declined. He pointed me to the house where the girls were, just in case I changed my mind.

I thought about investigating it, but then thought better of it. A friend who has investigated human traffickers and child prostitution rings claims they are among the most dangerous people on the planet. I don't doubt it.

So next time you or anyone you know is at Pie de la Cuesta in Acapulco, stay well clear of the big yellow house on the hill, you can just see it from the beach. And watch out for those lifeguards. If you buy pot from them, you are also helping them run a side business in human trafficking. Just tell them to piss off.

And stop watching porn that isn't US industry standard. (I've been told the actors have rights there.)

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