I am part of a local anti-trafficking and sexual exploitation group which reaches out to women caught in the adult entertainment industry with the hopes of helping them and telling them they are not alone, and in fact, are loved.
During one outreach, my friend and I pulled into the parking lot of a massage parlor we had visited several times before. Eager to head inside, I jumped out of the car only to see the front door of the parlor swing open and a guy walk out. Quickly hopping back in the car, my friend and I waited as the customer looked around, got in his SUV, and pulled away.
Good grief. I remember thinking. I hate that guy. I hope something terrible happens to him.
Yeah, that really was my first thought.
But then another thought quickly followed: What in the world is he doing here? I soon began wondering about his life. Did he have a family? Why did he feel the need to come here? Does anyone else know he comes? What is it like to live in that kind of hidden life? Does he even feel shame?
For five minutes, my friend and I talked about that man, and the ‘johns’ who supply the demand for trafficking. In less than ten minutes, I became convinced that anti-trafficking outreach must include a place for johns. Yeah, others knew this way before I did and have been implementing programs and outreaches to help men get out of the chain of addiction.
Equality is so hard because equality demands that even when we want to fight for the marginalized and vulnerable, we can never do so by stripping others of their humanity. We must put aside the desire to demonize in an effort to truly be impartial. We must see the value in all people, even when our eyes are drawn towards only one group.