by Elizabeth Fox, Sex and Sensibilities.com student intern
Real men know how to start a fire. Real men know how to make a meal. Real men do their own laundry. Real men are distrustful of robots.
You get the idea. But now, thanks to the DNA foundation, there’s a new phrase in this series: Real men don’t buy girls.
The DNA (Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher) Foundation, which was created by the famous duo in order to raise awareness about global human trafficking, challenge the mindsets that perpetuate the industry, and aid trafficking victims, launched a new interactive video campaign this week entitled “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls.” The videos, which focus their condemnation on female sex trafficking, feature some prominent celebrities as they demonstrate their “real man” abilities. In “Real Men Prefer a Close Shave,” for example, Justin Timberlake shaves with a chainsaw. In “Real Men Know How to Use an Iron,” Sean Penn irons himself…a grilled cheese sandwich. In “Real Men are Distrustful of Robots”—well, you’ll have to see for yourself. At the close of each movie, a picture of the real man in question joins a veritable hall of fame of real men—Tom Selleck, Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, and so on. To top it off, add the “Real Men” app on Facebook and you can even put a photo of yourself into one of the movies.
The campaign is, admittedly, little goofy—after all, it is Ashton Kutcher; what else could we expect?—but below the surface silliness is a serious issue. According to the DNA Foundation website, over 12 million people worldwide—men, women, and children—have been trafficked and currently live in modern-day slavery. These innocent people are enslaved for many purposes, including but not limited to prostitution, pornography, forced labor, and indentured servitude.
The Philippines, according to a 2008 study by the National Bureau of Investigation, is one of the top five countries in the world where human trafficking victims come from, as well as a common destination country for trafficked individuals from other countries. Numbers indicate that 80% of Filipino human trafficking victims are girls under eighteen, most of whom will be sent to other countries in Southeast Asia to work as household help, entertainers, or sex workers.
Humantrafficking.org, a web resource for combating human trafficking, estimates that around 350,000 Filipino women and around 80,000 Filipino children are currently being trafficked, many suffering from sexual exploitation. And while Filipinos who travel overseas to work generally do so voluntarily, during their time abroad many will be manipulated in some way. The government supports a variety of prevention programs but the problems persist, and reports exist of immigration officials and police officers who have become involved in the industry.
Last year, the Philippines was listed by the US State Department on the Tier 2 Watchlist for failure to initiate efforts to put a stop to human trafficking. The government has been scrambling to get off that list and progress has been made in the last year. But there is still much to be done by the government to avoid a further downgrading and the potential loss of USD 250million of economic and humanitarian aid.
“Freedom is a basic human right and slavery is one of the greatest threats to that freedom,” says the DNA Foundation website. “No one has the right to enslave another person.” Yet, as Demi and Ashton suggest, the crisis of human trafficking, and especially sex trafficking, will not disappear unless there is a fundamental change in the mindsets of those perpetrating these crimes–men. The real men need to stand up.
Because they know that “Real men don’t buy girls”.
And as any girl worth her SASs would know, a real man is always better than a knock-off posing as one.
About Elizabeth Fox
Elizabeth is a junior at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where she studies comparative literature, participates in a lot of extracurricular theatre and music, and sleeps very little.
Elizabeth came to Manila hopeful for a new experience and an internship in writing and women’s health. During a lengthy, late-night search through much more tame and lackluster options, Sex and Sensibilities jolted Elizabeth awake by merely having the word “sex” in its title, and appeared as an oasis of SASsy-ness. She shot Ana an email immediately and the rest, as they say, is herstory.