Kiri Blakeley started it, this story I mean, so let me give her credit. Then again, maybe it was her book that I can’t find or the incredulous audacity of the Village Voice and Seattle Weekly. I don’t know, but when Kiri tweeted out ‘@aplusk (Ashton Kutcher) and Charlie-you-know-who #donthitwomen couldn’t be more different’, I knew the battle had come full circle and I couldn’t imagine I couldn’t do more than simply agree.
At 5:45am I was cursing the Tour De France organizing body, tier 2 Cable TV and TSN2 and NBC executives who failed to secure #TDF live online broadcast rights in Canada. By 8:45 I had a chai latte in my Starbucks North Shore Hawaii cup, an apple fritter and was standing in my boxers shouting, “What a race!” – after an un-named source had indicated there may or may not be a live TDF link to British Eurosport. I made it to work by 9:00, or so, and by noon, checked out Twitter and was thrust back to the reality of women and children who have suffer so many issues so much larger than mine by Trevor Neilson’s ongoing campaign to force a spotlight on child sex slavery openly advertised in Seattle Weekly – sister paper to the Village Voice.
Why me? Once upon a time I watched the animated short by Girl Effect (.org) followed soon after by, “Paper Lamps and a Lemon Tree”; a story I wrote for my daughter and in turn all the daughters and too young mothers and wives and sisters around the world that need our help.
Why me? Because I’m Canadian? Because I’m a dad, a husband, a son and a brother, and because where I’m from we tip our hats and do the right thing. While I wrote about my little girl and the paper lamps in my living room the plight of women and girls in Afghanistan was front of mind (Canadian Forces have been sacrificing their lives in combat defending simple basic freedoms Afghan girls have never known) but today I scroll through Twitter, Google+ or Facebook and hear the voices of social media pressing on with a long list of equally devastated regions that beg the attention of the developed world…Congo, Thailand, Nepal (as seen last night on CNN with Mrs Kutcher aka Demi Moore)…and so many more.
Meanwhile back home in my comfortable west coast bubble, where my greatest concern a few hours earlier was how I couldn’t imagine a network satellite wasn’t dedicated to beaming the TDF to Canada, Kiri, Trevor and Mr and Mrs Kutcher had sent me on a mission.
In 140 characters or less I shared their message, read more articles on both fronts – including a ridiculous rant in the Village Voice somehow justifying their repeated refusal to ban ads which were (according to police) directly linked to the sexual exploitation and slavery of young girls and to add insult to my audience, they threw in a 7th page statement claiming outright, “prostitution is not illegal in Canada”, as if to validate their position offering no further clarification. (For the record, in Canada hiring a prostitute is illegal…so Village Voice readers please don’t come to Canada looking for it.)
Back to the “real men don’t buy girls” campaign. Clearly, the Village Voice doesn’t accept or understand that men are the current problem and their ‘spending millions’ screening these ads is counterintuitive…and who are they kidding, the revenue from the ads must offset their perceived risk otherwise they wouldn’t run them. How do you measure the scale at issue (which is greatly debated)? By counting the number of teenage girls arrested in the United States as the Village Voice claims? They are the victims. Isn’t that obvious? Isn’t that common sense? Like I said, I couldn’t imagine that I couldn’t do more. Mr Neilson said “thank you” for sharing his concern…and here I am.
The truth is I don’t know Trevor Neilson but I know he cares enough to say those two words and to do what he can. I don’t know Kiri Blakeley, but I certainly knew how she felt as she copied Ashton Kutcher after I suggested she mention the Girl Effect organization and their “Save a girl, save the world” campaign to which she replied, “I think @aplusk plugging @girleffect would mean a bit more than me doing it!“ I definitely don’t know Ashton and Demi…but, but, but…this is the point people…no more ‘buts’.
In 2006, when my son was my daughter’s age, I wrote this;
“Are we teaching our children to limit their lives? Is time watching TV’s and computer screens robbing them of the power to create their own worlds? Bend the tide and hold TRUE. Make it the world you dreamed of with open eyes. Choose to look within and you will see there is more creation in imagination than the whole world in that empty little box…fill the empty spaces where the TV goes, where the Cheesies fill your mouth, where your emotions and frustrations turn to lashing out. Fill the empty space with your dream, with the elements of life that make you a better you. The you, you want to be. Imagine you were a child…” Imagine…
The truth is Seattle Weekly’s ‘Adult Pages are the tip of the iceberg. Look in your local paper. (NO…I mean get up and go get it right now!) You have the same type of escort ads and the pictures you quickly flip past to get to the classifieds, don’t you?
“Imagine she were your little girl…” The voice at the end of the CNN report lingered and echoed in the empty spaces as my daughter slept down the hall.
Would you flip to the next page or turn your head if you saw the same faces right there in front of you like Demi did in Nepal? Would you scroll past and say nothing if it were your daughter or your sister? Don’t do that now. I know you would never do that. Let the world know you want to make a difference.
What can I do? What can we all do?:
- Demand change by exploding awareness of these crimes locally and around the world. Start here with social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and share what you feel and what you’ve learned. *Please leave any additional comments, links below and I will pass them along!!
- Move a step further by writing and calling and having a voice. Lobby your media outlets, advertising businesses and government representatives at all levels to act and respond.
- Take it to the street and lend a hand at your local shelters, food banks and support organizations. If you don’t know what they are, educate yourself.
- and finally, fill the empty spaces with education. Fill your daughters mind’s with dreams, awareness of risks and knowledge.