Jada Pinkett Smith Speaks On How Stripping Is A Gateway To Becoming Part Of Sex Trafficking For New CNN Doc

May 1, 2014  |  

Jada Pinkett Smith has for years been an activist in the fight to stop sex trafficking in the US and internationally. She has testified at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on her efforts, seeking an extension for the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, and she’s currently working on a documentary for CNN on sex trafficking. On her Facebook page, the actress recently spoke about her encounter with a young woman who decided to start stripping to make a living, enjoyed it, and very soon found herself being sold for sex and losing the control she thought she had. A very thought-provoking anecdote, Pinkett-Smith spoke on what she learned about why some women choose to strip, and the hopes she has for her doc. This is what she had to say:

“First day of shooting in Atlanta the documentary. I went to a wonderful facility called Well Spring today and got to meet three really dynamic women who had been trafficked. I learned so much from them today and I really learned a lot about perception. How things are perceived and I think the thing that really caught me today was the idea that one of the young ladies, really bright young girl, the gateway to trafficking for her was stripping. As we know here in Atlanta, the strip culture is pretty prevalent. She said she just wanted to be an independent chick. She just wanted to make that money. She wanted to be that girl she saw in videos. She wanted to be that girl she heard in songs. She said it makes it okay. She was like, even in manipulating men into giving you money for your body, it’s okay because of what the music tells us, it’s almost expected. I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s the messaging that can get a young girl caught up in a situation that she can’t get out of. That’s what happened to this girl. Went to the strip club and was making money. Even decided, hey, a couple John’s here and there, it’s my thing, I’m in control, I got this. Only to fall into the trap of no longer being in control and ended up being trafficked.

I’m always so focused on the messaging that men are receiving about women versus–it helped me see messaging that women are receiving for some little reason my little dunce self missed. I missed that. I missed that young women were perceiving stripping as a way of being independent and balling. I missed that. And I think that has something to do with my age because I was just talking to my girlfriend and I was like, “Aye, when we were coming up, stripping was the bottom.” The stripping culture was not glorified when I was growing up. It’s like, if you were stripping there was a problem. You were on drugs or something was wrong. Something was wrong. Whereas today, that’s not it. Girls look at strippers and go, “Yo, I want that!” I totally didn’t see it until I talked to this girl today and I was like, ‘Oh man, okay.’ So I guess my eyes just got opened and you would’ve thought that I’d caught that. I guess that just went right over my head, but it helped me understand how to tackle, how to see some of those myths that need to be broken; that messaging that needs to be broken. That it’s the gateway. And then still struggle with the idea that a women still has to have her choice. That’s tough…Yeah, and that was my day. I’m learning. I’m learning as I go.”

Check out her vlog on this young woman’s words and how they impacted her and her project below and share your thoughts.

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