I’ve written about Shelley Lubben before and her questionable behavior towards other survivors of the sex industry. Now, I definitely think there are women who come out of it and “find God,” if they weren’t religious before. Okay, that’s their business. But I’m realllllly skeptical of Christian anti-trafficking organizations for the same reason radical feminists, or anyone in a social justice movement, are skeptical of males, or male-dominated groups claiming to be allies, or liberal/sex-positive indvidualists: they’re in it for themselves.
Not only do these people have the political and social clout, the money, and the privilege to have an influence on society, but they’re supportive of organized religion, which is itself political. They’re often anti-abortion, xenophobic, homophobic and transphobic. The xenophobes would like nothing better than to deport everyone working “illegally” in prostitution, the anti-abortionists would like the prostituted women to have “trick babies,” and the homophobes and transphobes want to deny LGBT people their rights. It is well-known that conservative men advocate for criminalizing prostituted women on the one hand and visiting them on the other. And it’s not like they’re against all forms of the sexual contract, since they’re for it in terms of marriage where the woman depends on the man. It makes me suspect they want to trade one type of sexual contract for another. After all, marriages were historically done for convenience (and procreation); marriages done out of love were more common among the poor.
Everyone is aware of how annoying proselytizers are. Combine that with an anti-trafficking cause, however, and it’s not even about the victims anymore – it’s about Jesus. That’s right, I said it. They take the platform and make the cause about religion instead.
What makes these people a step above the average proselytizer is that when you’re part of religious groups they want to attribute everything good in your life to “God’s will.” Take a trafficking victim, and that becomes taking credit for their exiting the sex industry. Whatever they did to survive was not really they’re doing; they’re just a pawn for Jesus! It wasn’t enough that they were saved from from further harm and possibly death, now they have to be “saved” spiritually, too.
This is not much better than the sexual liberals. On the one hand you have the sexual liberals who hate victims of any kind, blame them for their “choices,” and trivialize things like rape – men saying,”rape isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a woman,” or one prostituted woman who wrote that “my rape wasn’t that bad, feminists should stop making it into such a tragedy” (paraphrase). On the other hand you have the conservatives who feel the need to be superior to victims. They are self-righteous and patronizing. For someone to accept any help they can get from whoever they can, does not automatically mean an endorsement of the helper’s ideology, so they try to force it on people with guilt-tripping. Only then, in their minds, is it genuine gratefulness.
In the end though I know it’s really about themselves, the same way people who donate to homeless people but don’t want to be around them, or charities and missionaries who only give help with the promise of conversion (basically bribing them). They pity the victims. That is condescending in itself. They’re doing it to make themselves feel better. Another thing is dicating how the money is used. Governments do this with welfare recipients, such as limitations with foodstamps. People complain about it then, and recognize it as a form of control – so why is it acceptable to do so when it comes to the homeless? Those who say “beggars can’t be choosers” are expecting the unfortunate and the victims to never make any demands, have privacy, or take actions for themselves. This is classism, and contempt for the poor. It is little different from saying the oppressed have no right to hate the oppressor or to speak out in anger – “don’t fight hate with hate.”
So now a question remains: Is it necessary to be religious to care the most about social justice issues? I don’t think so. Rather, it is the religious groups who have the most power. And when such groups – or any group of a dominant paradigm – desires power over truth, they are sure to throw other people under the bus to achieve their goals.