How Pop Culture Fuels Sex Trafficking

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While on Instagram, I came across a thread shared by Just1 International. The post shared the key battlegrounds for fighting sex trafficking in society. One of the battlegrounds was pop culture. I began to get curious about this issue, and decided to delve in further. After doing this, I can now say that pop culture fuels human trafficking. 

In today's Western society, pop culture plays a significant role. Music, literature, film, social media, and television are aspects of pop culture. So how does this coincide with human trafficking? Let's go through each industry. 


A 2008 study on popular music found that "one in three are about sexual intercourse," and about two-thirds of these songs contain "degrading sex and sexual activity." Back in 2003, popular rapper Snoop Dogg (dubbed America's Most Loveable Pimp) attended the red carpet at the MTV Awards leading two women on leashes. Western society has sunk so low to the point we celebrate the pimp lifestyle, and praise music that talks about women like they're objects. You've also got music award shows like the MTV Awards, VMAs, or even country music award shows that basically allow performers to perform half (if not more) naked. Adolescents who listen to contemporary music, as the study stated, "are frequently exposed to sexual content..." In addition, there are constant references "to substance use and violence frequently accompany references to degrading sexual intercourse but not to non-degrading sexual intercourse. "


The film and television industry has slowly normalized sexual activity and pornography. Think back about popular TV shows, like Friends, where porn consumption was often discussed and laughed about. Joey and Chandler both loved consuming porn (there was an episode where they got free access to the adult channels). Think how these shows impacted teenagers and young adults. The brainwashing and desensitizing to pornography was slowly pushed until society was okay with this. Regarding movies, they're equally bad. Again, think of how many movies include a sex scene, strip club, prostitution, half naked women/men, or escort. Films like Pretty Woman are beloved by millions, yet the main character (Julia Roberts) is a prostitute who finds love. This is even dangerous to push, because traffickers make their victim believe what Pretty Woman's plot is. That the pimp/trafficker (aka the "man of their dreams") can make their life better. 50 Shades is another prime example of excusing sexual abuse because the woman thinks that man is who theyre destined to be with, and that they can change him from his abusive ways. These lines of thinking are dangerous, yet our children are being shown this content (either accidentally or on purpose by classmates, friends, etc.).

Social Media:

Regarding social media, this is two-fold. The first aspect is how traffickers can easily target a victim through social media. Online recruitment via social media reached an all time high during COVID. The Human Trafficking Institute found that in 2020, "The majority of online recruitment in active child sex trafficking cases in the U.S. last year took place on Facebook." Now remember this: Facebook is not commonly used by minors. That's insane to think about. I've gotten dozens of DMs, followers (who I block), or people seeing my story that are porn accounts. It's not shocking at all. The second part would be how pornography and CSAM is allowed on these platforms. Adidas not long ago posted on Twitter topless women as an ad. Now, Twitter claims to be fighting pornography on their platform, yet allowed Adidas to post this with zero repercussions. There are numerous other cases like this.


Numerous young adult novels contain some "steamy or sexy" scene. Romance novels, action books, sci-fi, young adult include some sex scene. Some can go into specific detail. Just like the film or movie industry, it's not shocking to see literature has an impact on desensitizing our youth.

Understanding How Pop Culture Fuels Sex Trafficking

Once you've become desensitized to pornography, what do you think happens next? You become desensitized to horrible acts like rape or sex trafficking. Society basically shoves pornography down our throats, and it is getting worse because now it's affecting children and teenagers. Billie Eilish is a prime example of how dangerous consuming porn as a child can impact their development. 

Nobody is saying you should stop watching movies, or stop listening to music. I just think being cognitive of what you're listening to or watching is important. Exposure is key, especially when it comes to what your children are listening to or watching on television. We don't want our children to become what these songs or movies push. To think by being a prostitute means you'll "find the man of your dreams," or by being a pimp, buying women, and treating women like they're only sex objects is a dangerous line of thinking. We cannot continue to praise these ideas or lifestyles. We must speak out against this.

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