We are at an interesting time in our culture where people are more aware of problematic, unhealthy behavior. Cancel culture is where someone does something we view as wrong, and we collectively decide the response is to ban them, strip them of accolades or withdraw our support.
Since 2017, the news has been filled on a daily basis, with human interest stories that bring to light sexual harassment, sexual assault and child molestation. We have been forced to confront things that have been silenced in the past.
But, sometimes I wonder what this approach actually accomplishes.
It seems as though banning is the new book burning. And, book burning merely served to silence discussion.
When a celebrity is revealed to have been predatory in their past, we jump to banning their art. Which in theory makes sense-to starve them of financial gain if they earned it while preying on vulnerable people. I understand the purpose.
I wonder if we use this approach to feel like we are doing something to address the issue. By banning the person, we’re effectively putting them in the jail of our minds so we can get back to our lives-until the next scandal hits.
With cancel culture are we missing the opportunity to have a deeper conversation about the underlying sexual dysfunction that hides behind closed doors and silenced victims? Are we missing the chance to hear from those victims and understand their journey after suffering abuse?
What conversations are we not having by focusing on criminal or financial justice, instead of talking about how this person was able to get away with their crimes for so long?
Abducted in plain sight.
Recently, I watched a very troubling documentary called, “Abducted in Plain Sight” on Netflix. It’s the story of a young girl named, Jan Broberg, who was abducted twice and sexually abused by a friend of her family named, Robert Berchtold.
The story occurred in the 1970s, but it was still shocking how Berchtold befriended the parents to gain access to their daughter and how they too were complicit in her disappearance.
The documentary is shocking to watch and it is hard to understand how the parents allowed the perpetrator repeated access to their daughter following the first abduction. The subject of the documentary-Jan Broberg, said she considered her parents to also be victims of Berchtold.
It caused me to wonder what was going on in the family that they would allow Berchtold to, not only take their daughter but engage in affairs with them as well?
According to Forbes magazine, human trafficking is a pandemic. They published an article that quoted UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) a charity that works for children in danger.
The quote stated that there are 21 million trafficked people around the world. 5.5 million of them are children. It is an issue that mostly affects women and girls, but the trafficking of men and boys is also on the rise.
Human trafficking generates $32 billion annually. Surprisingly, in countries where they obtained the gender of traffickers, they found them to be primarily women. This demonstrates that human trafficking is not a gender issue, it’s a human issue.
Silence around sexual abuse.
Why is there so much silence around sexual abuse when it continues to be exposed as a global issue over and over again?
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. Are we informing and empowering our children to speak up? Are we teaching them to recognise when someone violates their personal boundaries?
When I was in school, in the 3rd grade, I remember we received a workbook that talked about the difference between good touching and bad touching. The images in the workbook showed children in bathing suits and said that being touched under the bathing suit was something you should tell a parent about.
But with all these stories of abuse emerging and human trafficking running rampant a different approach might be needed. Perhaps we need to take this as a sign that it’s time to educate everyone and empower them to scream as loudly as possible if anyone is violating their agency. And should we feel satisfied with a priest or celebrity going to jail or not being a consumer of a television show or song?
This is something that cancel culture alone cannot determine.
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