Sunday, September 22, 2013

White Slavery a Taboo Term?

In yesterday’s blog I wrote: “Personally, the only thing that will get me to stop buying an author’s book, or paying for a movie featuring a misbehaving actor, would be if that person was doing something truly horrendous, like torturing puppies or profiting from white slavery.”

After reading my blog post, one of my author friends wrote “So white slavery is bad, but if they aren't white, well, profit away?  I'm sure that's not what she meant, but that's what she wrote.”

No, that isn’t what I wrote. If you look up the definition for white slavery you’ll find it means: “enforced prostitution” -  no mention of race. 

Another writer friend disagreed with me, and pointed out that the term is on the no-no list --- not politically correct. She suggested I use “human trafficking.”

I disagree. If I am talking about human trafficking specifically for the sex trade, the term white slavery is more specific. Human trafficking can apply not just to trafficking for the sex trade, but for forced labor.

This writer friend insisted the term  is offensive because it seems to discount the suffering of black slaves. Again I disagree.

If you do an online search for the origin of the term, you’ll find varying opinions. I’ve read that the term originally referred to the exploitation of English women in factories.

I have also read that the “white” in white slavery does not refer to race, but to purity and virginity – which was stolen from women when forced into prostitution.  White slavery is a crime committed against a woman of any color. According to Merriam-Webster’s current definition of white slavery, it is about enforced prostitution.

Sometime the desire to be politically correct gives me a headache. I'm told not to use white slavery because someone will get offended because they will assume that because I say white slavery is bad, I must therefore think slavery against a person of color is okay or not as severe. I really don’t get that logic, especially when white slavery is a crime against women of all colors.

 (So what’s with the flapper? The first time I heard the term was when I was a young girl and read the book Thoroughly Modern Millie.)

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