John sat at his desk. Drumming his fingers along the wooden table, he leaned back in the large chair. Boredom wouldn’t even begin to describe the laziness swirling around the room. The multiple cubicles in the office were supposed to be buzzing with hard work. But it was two o’clock and the entire workforce was groggily typing out their reports.
John glanced at his watch. Yikes, he thought. He still had hours left in that droll place. Glancing over his shoulder, the young man peeked at his open door. Hearing no one, he casually moved his mouse to the safari engine. Googling his desired outcome, he waited for the correct sites to pop up.
Within a millisecond, hundreds of available videos and pictures were on his work computer. Knowing that he had time on his hands, his heart rate accelerated with anticipation. It wasn’t John’s normal to do this on the clock, but he was so bored… just for a little bit.
Continuing to click, John’s mantra was to make sure that whatever explicit sites he visited, he never paid for them. That way, no one was getting hurt. He would never hurt anybody. John only wanted to get his adrenaline and energy back. What better way to do that than by getting sexually aroused?
It made sense in his mind. So, click, click, click away he went. Before he knew it, John had been on countless sites, looked at hundreds of pictures, and viewed multiple videos. Feeling a mixed wave of pleasure and guilt, he decided that now was a good time to continue getting work done. Rather than feeling motivated for more paperwork, John felt numb to the world. Strange feeling, he waited for it to pass.
This certainly wasn’t the first rodeo for John. He had been viewing porn for over a decade, beginning when he was eleven. Only now, it was getting more frequent and the content was changing.
It used to be simple to get him pumped. Now, he found the old stuff boring. Needing more excitement, his searches continued to get more graphic and increasingly violent. It’s not that he wanted women hurt. But on the screen… it was just different. If they didn’t want to be in those scenes, then they wouldn’t act it out. So, obviously, John had the belief that anything he watched online was consensual and essentially harmless.
The clock on the wall finally showed five o’clock. Gathering all his stuff, John got ready to exit the building. Nodding to his fellow coworkers, they all drifted in a long line heading out the door. Having left his car at home, John started along the sidewalk for the short walk to his apartment.
With no family to go home to, he thought that the fresh air would clear his head. Seeing a pretty girl crossing the street, John’s mind flashed to the sexy images dancing on the screen only hours before. He fleetingly wondered if this stranger ever had put out arousing images online… Did she get paid? Was she enjoying all the attention? John scratched his head. Maybe he needed more coffee.
As the grind would have it, another work day approached. John awoke ready for another gross day at work. Feeling unmotivated, he grabbed his to-go coffee and briefcase. Picking up his keys, he headed to the office for another standard day juggling numbers and scribbling on papers. Ah, the coveted American Dream…
But after getting to the office, he noticed that the conference table was all set and ready to go. Quickly scrambling his mind, John could not remember a meeting scheduled. Sauntering over to his buddy's cubicle, he was relieved to see him sitting at his desk.
“Hey, Mike. Quick question, umm… is there a meeting today?”
Nodding slowly, his coworker played with the pen in his hands, “Yeah, man. There’s a mandatory office ‘talk’.” For effect, he motioned his fingers into quotation marks, the pen bobbing along.
“Oh, cool. Thanks.” Tapping the wall, he headed out and looked around the office. People were starting to head over to the table, so he decided now was a good time to find a seat. Sitting near the back, John placed his now-cold coffee on the wooden table and waited.
After everyone had been seated, his boss spoke up from his chair. “Hey, guys. Thanks for taking the time to have a chat.”
Little snickers traveled around the room. Mandatory meetings took out any room for opting out. But still, time not in a tiny cubicle, right?
Ignoring the slight laughter, he continued, “Anyway, our speaker for today is Lindsay. Please give her a welcome.”
The lady waved at everyone and introduced herself. She thanked everyone for their presence. Then, she did the unexpected. After her intro, she asked a unique question. One that almost tipped John out of his chair.
“Did you know that the men sitting here are assisting in the second most criminal activity in the world?”
Not making any sense of her words, John shook his head. He certainly wasn’t a lawbreaker. Nerd, maybe. But that was his only crime.
The lady continued on. “It has been discovered that there’s a major tie connecting a hideous crime to everyday activities. As you may or may not be aware, sex trafficking is the crime I’m referring to.”
John scrambled his mind yet again. Trafficking? Like selling humans for sex? He would never do anything like that! Or even be a part of it! Ludicrous woman. Maybe some of the other guys in the office were into that, but not him.
“Now. Gentleman, please listen. If you are thinking that you are exempt from my comments, I got news for you. The problem wouldn’t be such an atrocity but for one thing. Pornography.”
Almost laughing to himself, John shook his head. Porn? How in the heck did his afternoon perusing actually connect to sex trafficking?? Rubbing his neck, he didn’t want to sit in that conference room any longer.
“Shocking to some, there’s the property of supply and demand that comes into play with trafficking. The supply is a given… it’s the victims who are sexually exploited. Likewise, the demand is pornography. Let me put it this way. Statistics allow us to connect theories to facts. Did you know that 100% of people who buy sex, which is illegal, all look at porn? So, there is this undeniable fact that porn preps people for purchasing a human being.”
Stopping there, Lindsay just stood there. John wanted to hide. He knew that porn wasn’t good for him. He would die if his mom ever found out that he was looking at it. But, other than that, how was he part of the problem??
After two solid minutes of letting the information soak into their minds, she continued, “Now, over 50% of men regularly look at porn. This is the problem. If you’ve seen all the videos there are to see, what’s next? New material has to be created. This means that new victims need to be supplied. On top of that, when enough porn is consumed, there’s this intense desire for more. So, before you know it, men are lined up to pay for sex.
“These victims are forced to service up to 5-30 men a day. Lured into trafficking through force, fraud, or coercion, their lifespan is usually 3-7 years. But, as more men continue clicking on sites, more material has to be brought in.”
Feeling sick, John didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know that victims were being preyed on because of his actions. But he had to know, “Excuse me, I’ve got a question.”
Lindsay nodded at him to speak up. Continuing, he asked, “What about free porn?”
“I’m so glad you asked. It doesn’t matter if it’s not purchased. The value of a free video, let’s say, increases every time it’s viewed. As the value raises, the profits increase for the porn industry. It’s the constant cycle of supply and demand that keeps their pockets lined with cash. Just like a free Facebook account, they are a $765.45 billion-dollar company. There are other ways than a paid subscription for money to be made. Does that make sense?”
Beginning to dawn, his mind was working overtime.
Lindsay walked around the table. “Trafficking is such a problem because people are creating demand. This goes both ways. One is the need for new material. The other being that when people have seen so much they want to experience it themselves, victims are sold for sex.
“So, our goal is to educate the workforce. We’ve talked with the higher-ups in this company. To ensure that you do your part, even though it is punishable by law to view explicit sites on your work computer, it is now prohibited and enforced by this company. This is to protect your bosses and yourselves. If you don’t want the problem of trafficking, don’t be the contributing factor.”
After a numbing minute of awkward silence, Lindsay excused herself and exited the room. The men in the office seemed to all be in thought. John was no exception. His mind was twisting with all this new information.
Not knowing that his afternoon browsing was actually harming people, he made a decision. No more porn. It wasn’t only harmful to people, but himself. Groaning, his mind went to his inward thinking yesterday when seeing that pretty girl on the street. He was wrong to objectify her rather than protect her virtue.
Another thought gave him pause. He never even questioned what her name could be. Only observing her as a sexy pinup, he never even wondered her name. She was a person, after all. Geez, his mind was completely upside down.
With his mind made up, John hoped that his small contribution to the fight against trafficking would help. By not wanting victims forced into slavery, he made the decision to quit increasing the demand. That he could do.