Truth Worth Fighting For
Final Thoughts on My Internship with NCSE
Coming to the end of one chapter in life really makes you think back on what it is that you have learned and experienced during that time. My time as an intern at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE) has been quite eventful. I feel that I have been able to contribute to furthering the cause of fighting sexual exploitation at a crucial time in the movement.
With the release of Fifty Shades of Grey, practices that were once considered deviant and were only found on pornography sites became mainstream and normalized. Fifty Shades-themed sex toys were available in Target next to the kids’ toothbrushes. Vermont Teddy Bear even released a Christian Grey branded teddy bear. Suddenly, sexual violence and manipulation were normalized.
Paint something as glamorous, compile an awesome soundtrack, and it seems Hollywood will be able to make just about anything pass as sexy. Even abuse. Revealing the truth about Fifty Shades of Grey was a highlight of my time here at NCSE. I am thankful to NCSE for teaching me the critical thinking skills needed in order to look past the glitz and the glamour of Hollywood and into the core of what this movie really advocates. Inspired by NCSE’s #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign, I started a #50CentsNot50Shades campaign at the Catholic University of America, spreading the word about the reality of Fifty Shades of Grey and raising money for a local shelter that serves victims of domestic violence.
I have come to realize more and more in my time at NCSE that I am a child of a pornographic culture. By that I mean that my generation has been so inculcated to think that a pornified world is normal because it is all we have ever known. This is one reason why organizations like NCSE are so critical in our world today – to teach people, especially those of my generation, that this is not how things have to be. Sexual exploitation, including pornography, is not acceptable and should not be normal. Interning with NCSE has opened my eyes to numerous issues of sexual exploitation that I had overlooked in the past because I grew up in a culture, which flooded me with the message that this was natural. For example, NCSE’s Cosmo Harms Minors campaign opened my eyes to how much young girls are sexualized from a young age and that even Cosmo, a magazine designed for young women and which supposedly empowers them, instead reduces them to their sexuality.
My identity as a young woman is so much more than how attractive I am to men and I have much bigger dreams than learning fifty new ways to have a great time in bed. Through NCSE, I have come to better recognize and reject such poisonous messages that infiltrate so many aspects of our culture.
As I move forward from my internship, I will continue to find against these overt and subliminal sexualizing messages, and I hope to bring others to the realization that protecting the human dignity of those around us and accepting sexual exploitation in our culture are mutually exclusive ways of life. And the first is certainly the one worth fighting for.