I love catchy songs. I love dancing to them, singing at the top of my lungs while driving through town, and memorizing their lyrics as I play them over and over again. However, I hate the majority of the song lyrics out there. Take Jason Derulo's song, "Talk Dirty To Me," for example. In the simplest of terms, it's a song about how Jason is so good at getting women, that he can expand his borders into international waters and "spit mad game." When I first heard the song, I loved the hooks, the samples from other songs the producers used, and the incorporation of different cultural elements. It's really good musically. However, in my opinion, the lyrics suck.
The lyrics suck for many reasons, but most of them simply have to do with being a decent human being. I am an advocate for the awareness of human trafficking and the perpetuation of cultural stereotypes that further sexualize women as objects. His song literally hit every branch of my concerns.
I didn't hear "Talk Dirty To Me" until a few weeks ago, but it was released in the United States on January 7th of this year. Around that time, you may have seen this image or ones like it:
These images flooded social media sites and despite awareness being raised on these issues, there were still criticisms. The criticisms were that this isn't an accurate statement and that human trafficking exists on a wide-scale level throughout the U.S. everyday, and bottom-line, people simply do not know enough about this issue.
I defended these types of campaigns because it at least introduced the idea to people that the United States isn't completely separated from issues that plague the globe. People are trafficked everyday in the United States and most U.S. people have no idea.
Derulo's song doesn't even cover the United States. His song, with international themes, talks about the worldwide pursuit of hot women. So why would I get upset over a song about pursuing hot foreign girls? Because everything his song represents fits under the notion of sexual tourism. In a June 2013 Huffington Post article, it reported that the U.S. State Department released a report saying that only 46,570 out of an estimated 27 million victims of human trafficking were identified in 2012. In recent reports, that number sounds more like 30 million.
30 MILLION PEOPLE ENSLAVED
What perpetuates a system that enslaves people is the concept of supply versus demand. In the U.S. alone, a poll suggests that about 15% of men will pay for sex. People, when dehumanized, can be a product that is for sale. A young girl can be bought and sold for years until she is either injured, becomes ill, contracts an STD, becomes pregnant, loses her youthful appeal, or is killed. The cycle then continues as pimps purchase or steal more people. As the Not For Sale Campaign states, "vulnerable people and communities are targeted by recruiters, and traffickers and through deception, fraud and coercion are brought into slavery." One component in the definition of human trafficking is exploitation.
With sexual tourism, organizations around the world market to (predominantly) men that they can have the sexual fantasies that they desire with women from [fill in the country]. These men can have a girl for an hour or rent a girlfriend for several days. They can be as ridiculous as they want with these women, with little to no regard for what these women and children go through. One of the countries that Derulo mentioned in his song was Thailand. Coincidentally Thailand is one of the world's most notorious locations for trafficking and is considered the Disneyland of sexual escapades.
A Bangkok-based children's rights group has been tracking tourism in the popular city and found that 2 million foreigners visited the country in 1984, 4 million in 1988, and more than 11 million in 2003. Out of the total number of foreign visitors, roughly two-thirds entering Thailand were unaccompanied men. In other words, about 7.3 million unaccompanied men visited the country in 2003.
Not only are women and children being exploited but the "virgin ideal" is being heavily manipulated. Parents of children in these countries hawk their children's virginity because they know that men will pay good money for virgins. One week a daughter is worth $1000 and the next week she is having sex with 10 different men for $2.50 per guy. There is even the practice of sponsoring a child, where clients will pay a family really good money to make sure that their child is taken care of and whenever the client visits, he will get to have sex with said child.
These sexual escapades are not solely reserved for sexual tourists but is simply a part of the culture for certain countries. A night out of with boys will commonly end with stopping in a red light district. Business clients expect to be treated to beautiful women in order to secure deals. Wives expect that their husbands will sleep with a person who is being trafficked or is a prostitute because they "have needs" and they would rather not have their husbands leave them.
When men like Jason Derulo, who as a music artist has some leverage in life, perpetuate sexual tourism in his songs, he glamorizes an industry that exploits millions of people. He adds to this belief that every woman is ready to get laid and that's all they want in life. That regardless of language barriers to give consent or an understanding cultural importance, he can still "spit game." He perpetuates a problem of men believing that sexual fantasies conducted with women and children who have little influence over their own lives is okay. In a country like the United States, where sex trafficking happens but is not a blatant part of our everyday lives, he degrades the quality of life for people who were either manipulated, deceived, or are trying to survive in circumstances that are out of their control. You can put a great track to a song, but it's not going to cover up that the young people that hear this song think that treating women this way is okay.