my dangerous love/clothes/body/face

I came across this interesting cross-platform project called ‘my dangerous loverboy’ by the director Virginia Heath at the last Feminism in London conference. It aims to raise awareness about the sex trafficking of young girls. I’ve posted the main flagship video below, which was shown at the conference and elicited a pretty strong emotional response from me. It upset me in a number of ways, but what struck me the most was the inherently problematic narrative behind the video.

Sex trafficking is obviously a very sensitive and complex subject to tackle in a four minute film but I think that makes it all the more important to be careful about the kinds of messages that you are sending out. I think the effort made here by Heath is admirable and is one of the few initiatives that is trying to go some way in helping raise awareness around sex-trafficking. This is however at the cost of putting some important issues at stake, which can sometimes inevitably be the case when being the first few to deal with such sensitive subject-matter.

First of all, the way that the young girl is shown to be sort of flaunting herself and wearing sexyish clothing and make-up, dancing and drinking at a party, and as a result is taken in by nasty sex trafficking guy. The danger here is that it enforces other sexist double-standards about women having to restrict their behaviour just in case they get raped / trafficked / attacked / looked down upon. It then runs the risk of seeing the girl’s ultimation as a sex slave as coming about because of her careless behaviour, rather than the result of the illegal and downright sick activities of the sex traffickers she becomes ensnared by.

I understand the way in which the film, in it’s music video format, tries to appeal to the everyday girl who wants to be a pop-star and ‘just be loved’ and thereby demonstrate that ‘it could even happen to you’. However it is appealing to this very stereotype that partly results in the problematic nature of this video.

A friend of mine recently sent me this fantastic nub that tries to do the same thing as Heath’s one below but looks at the issue from a much more positive, solution-focussed stance, ‘we can save the world’ sort of stance. Have a look and see what you think.

Some of the other stories on Heath’s cross-platform project provide a very real backdrop to this nub, look here if you are interested in watching one of those too.