I recently saw Mary Bonnett’s new play MONEY MAKE’M SMILE a play about domestic sex trafficking of youth, written for high school and college age students as well as adults. It’s a journey through youth, choice, impact of family and community. The young girl appears to be doomed from the beginning. A mother who does not want her and she enters the system…the journey takes her to numerous foster homes, eventually a home where the young man is angry the parents brought into the home and encouraged by his friends to “show her whose the man” he rapes her. She has choices along the way to say what really happened but she does not and she enters into an online relationship with “daddy” who says he will love her, protect her, keep her safe and buy her pretty things. She becomes his “sex slave in stilettos” kidnapped, physically abused and tortured unless she makes money for him. She reaches out to a boy with a crush on her for help but he feels paralyzed and does nothing.
At different points throughout the play everyone can make different decisions and choices. She could have told the therapist from child services what really happened. The boy could have called the police when he saw her abducted. Mary has taken many questions about our times, blue versus pink, cultural expectations of manliness, girls and science, what will lead people to action when they see injustice, the big business of sex trafficking, on line grooming and has created a powerful vehicle for conversation. There is guide for teachers to have meaningful conversations about issues that matter.
One of the lines that stood out for me was slaves in stilettos. I googled that and it was all porn sites, and foot fetishes. Personally I was disgusted and felt dirty seeing 13,000,000 results. I wanted to go take a shower. But that is a starting place. We as a community need to own the truth. “These girls are slaves. They are bought and sold every day. They are branded and tattooed with a barcode so that traffickers can identify their “stock”. They are dressed provocatively because they are forced to. Men buy the look. They want to feed the fantasies they see on porn sites. These girls, these little girls, they are someone’s child. In Chicago on any given day 16,000 to 25 000 children are sex trafficked. There are boys and girls. Yet the majority are girls. They need our help.
Learn the signs a child may be being trafficked. https://polarisproject.org/recognize-signs
Call the police or hotlines when you see something. 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree (233733)
Encourage your schools to have programs that talk to young men about the exploitation of women. http://caase.org/
Host programs in your community that talk about this issue. firstname.lastname@example.org
Support movies, art shows, books that talk about this subject.
These are difficult conversations and often through the varied “Arts” of story telling you can open up meaningful dialogue like Mary Bonnett’s plays. To see more about her work go to www.HerStoryTheater.org
~~Rae Luskin is a member of the JCAST Chicago Steering Committee and a Creative Activist, Speaker, Author and Artist. This blog article is reprinted with her permission. See the original article at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/slaves-stilettos-rae-luskin.