Men and Boys can no longer be Invisible Victims

Upon returning to the office after hosting a successful press conference announcing our Cosmo Harms Minors campaign about 18 months ago, I received two phone calls that really changed my perspective on how we are addressing these issues. The first call was a young high school student, who rather shyly explained how grateful he is for our efforts, but he urged us to address the impact that things like Cosmopolitan magazine and other media has on young men. He spoke about the peer pressure that he feels to act as males portrayed in this media do and about his own self-esteem issues as a result. Just about an hour later, another young man called with a similar plea to us. I was completely dumbfounded.

You see, I often talk about the harms of this media to young women’s self-esteem, to their physical and emotional development, and to the choices they make. I have largely focused on how bad porn culture is for girls and women, but after hearing from these guys my heart ached over the fact that I was forgetting the fight for their dignity as well.

Just about a week later, Associate Professor Joseph Prud’homme of Washington College and a student from Georgetown asked for a meeting with out staff. They came with an agenda–again pointing out that we had left out the harm happening to boys around the country.

These bold men were the catalyst to changing some of our messaging and set us on a course to develop new way of waging this war. 

Last Friday, after months of preparation with Washington College, we hosted a consultation meeting on the sexual objectification and exploitation of boys and men. Seventeen experts and survivors came from all over the country (and one from Israel!) to present research and key perspectives on how young men are affected by our current culture. It was astounding. My heart still aches for the world that our young boys are inheriting, but I am encouraged that we will be able to lead the charge in the movement and stop ignoring these “invisible” victims. We know now, they are plain to see if one has the eyes to look.

I can’t share details with you right now, but want you to know that we are working on this issue. We must fight for the dignity of all–BOYS, girls, MEN, women. We at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation are doing all we can to this end.

My simple call to action to you today is: Will you share this article on social media to educate your networks on some of these realities?

RELATED ARTICLE: Men and Boys in Sex Trafficking Overlooked

dawb hawkins

Dawn Hawkins

EDITORS NOTE: This column is by Dawn Hawkins, Vice President and Executive Director, National Center on Sexual Exploitation Director, Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation.

Those readers wishing to donate to help protect and defend our men and boys from sexual exploitation may do so by clicking here.

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