Cultural Grooming

I was recently sent a link to a new Nicky Minaj video by a fellow abolitionist. He shared with me how he had heard this song multiple times, but only once he watched the video did he pay attention to the lyrics and realize how promoting the video was of pimping culture. A long discussion followed that I wish to reflect on because I think it is so important that we, as a community—especially the faith community—discuss these situations more often.

I recognize that we live in a broken world with broken, dark, twisted views of women, men, children, race, sexuality, humanity and so on. Because of this brokenness, I also realize that I have bought into some of the unhealthy views and actions promoted by others.

This is why I understand, first hand, what Kenneth Morris is explaining in Ending Demand Starts with Building Strong Children:

Our culture is, in many ways, complicit in creating demand for commercial sex. One way is by normalizing prostitution. Media representations of prostituted individuals, various forms of sexual exploitation and Pimp Culture are reaching boys on computer screens and cellphones at younger and younger ages. While some of their female counterparts are being lured into commercial sex, huge numbers of boys are systematically being groomed by pornographers to become future buyers of sex in person and on video. As pornography proliferates on the Internet, the financial stakes and the risk to children increase exponentially. Right now, pornographers have the upper hand.

Simultaneous to this boy-grooming is the girl-grooming of finding her identity and relation to others in her sexual attraction.  Nicky Minaj has clearly fallen into this lie…but haven’t so many of us?

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am not going to rant against “secular” music, movies or fashion. I listen to my share. But one thing I appreciate my upbringing is that my parents encouraged me to pay attention to the lyrics of the songs I listen to, the movies I watched, the books I read, even the clothes I wore (probably the biggest battle at my house!). Did the art forms promote unhealthy thinking/behavior or simply describe them? (I believe there are beautiful forms of art that describe unhealthy things without promoting them.) Would I be willing to sing these songs at the top of my lungs to others? Do they numb me to the pain of others? Do they build up or tear down (Ephesians 4:29)?

Luckily, many organizations are recognizing the need for prevention education—to break this unhealthy cycle of turning boys into abusers and girls into objects. But while it is essential for girls to be able to avoid exploitation and abuse and boys to avoid consuming porn or perpetrating violence against girls—there is a whole topic being missed. We can keep identifying what unhealthy sex looks like—but we aren’t describing healthy sexuality.

The reason there is a broken, violent, rape culture—and why that culture has even penetrated the Church—is because we are not reminding ourselves what healthy sexuality is—and we are certainly not teaching our children healthy sexuality or even how to have healthy relationships.

This is what I would like to change…slowly…as I keep learning myself of course. But I would like to imagine a world where we took the initiative to invest in the young people of our world–helping them understand healthy relationships, healthy sexuality, so that they can change the culture away from normalized demoralizing.

So my question to you is: How are you combatting this cultural grooming in your own life?  What resources are working well? What is missing? What would prevention look like for you?