February 11, 2012

will you be my (super inappropriate and degrading) valentine?

I found this on pinterest this week. It made me feel sad inside. Then I read the comments underneath the image, and felt not only sad, but somewhat disappointed by the majority of the comments which praised the card, calling it funny and perfect and the best valentine ever. The few people who showed any kind of negativity against the card were called out for having no sense of humour and for taking everything too seriously -- after all, it's just a card.

Or is it?

I recently read David Batstone's book Not For Sale which is basically an analysis of the global slave trade in the 21st century, aka human trafficking. Before reading it I had a vague understanding of human trafficking and knew that it was going on somewhere... out there... outside of my comfortable happy world... but learning the extent of its far-reaching, horrific arms put a large dent in my aforementioned comfortable happy world.

The global slave trade impacts everyone. There are more than 30 million slaves in the world today (more than ever in the history of civilization), and human trafficking rings are going on everywhere, all the time. Overseas, in South America, even here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. You may have unknowingly eaten at a restaurant where the kitchen workers are actually slaves who are forced into labour with the threat of being turned over to the police as illegal immigrants breathing hotly down their necks. Those women who work in sketchy massage parlours that you think badly of, those women who should get some dignity and get real jobs -- there's a pretty huge chance that they're under the stringent control of a brain-washing, greedy pimp and have extremely limited options for escaping the way of life that they've been tricked into living. That 12-year-old girl you don't even know about in southeast Asia -- the one whose value lies only in her virginity and the fact that a john will pay a huge sum of money for it -- chances are she's been kidnapped, or even more tragically, sold into this way of life by her parents.

The book doesn't touch on the subject of drugs much -- oftentimes when trafficked slaves are in a foreign country illegally, the threat of law enforcement is all it takes to keep them from escape attempts. That may seem like an empty threat to you, especially considering the illegal nature of the trafficker's business, but when you've been dumped in a strange country, can't speak the language, know absolutely no one, and are told that the police are the "bad guys", it's easy to see why there are so few traffickers being brought to justice.

Anyway, back to the image up at the top -- basically, it's not funny. Not at all. Let's see what other human and social plagues and addictions we can joke about.

Excuse my poor photoshop skills, but yeah. Totally not funny.

So -- as you swap valentines, load up on chocolate, and kiss your sweetheart during the upcoming week, remember that there are people out there who have no understanding of the love that you are able to experience. Don't mock them for it with some crappy pseudo-creative valentine's card. Do something about it. Learn about it. Because when you're ignorant, everything can be funny. Don't be ignorant. Just don't.


  1. I so agree! Great thoughts--and photoshop skills:) But yes, I saw that card on pinterest and was slightly disturbed as well.

  2. I know, right?! Awful! Glad you think my mad photoshop skillz pass the test. Thanks for the comment!

  3. I'm reading a book called "God in a Brothel". The author is an undercover police officer who worked to rescue child prostitutes by posing as a "customer". He shares stories of his successes, but a significant number of stories have a less-than-happy ending. It's very eye-opening, especially when he points out that a majority of the men he encountered in these brothels were sex tourists from North America.

    I totally didn't know you that had a blog. I'm reading through all of your previous posts, and it's super interesting and very Suzanne-ish. Keep it up! : )