I recently had the pleasure of sharing more about the writing process of “lend me your voice” with Voyage Dallas!
This is behind the poems, a curated miniseries unpacking the dominant themes that comprise the Lend Me Your Voice anthology.
Themes - Volition and agency | disparity of power | behavioral drivers | dissociation as trauma survival | the role of pornography in driving demand
“I think you will like this”
I think I won’t
VOLITION AND AGENCY
This line addresses the underlying, even subconscious, false premise that all (or even a majority) of illegal sex workers worldwide are participants of their own volition. While a small number legitimately choose to enter sex work, the overwhelming majority do not choose from a place of desire or free agency.
Many are lured, deceived with bait and switch promises, previously traumatized by sexual abuse, or forced because of economic factors that leave them vulnerable, without alternative options or employable skills to meet their basic needs for survival.
this automated love game
like a pinball machine
like the screen
you’ve been practicing
your fantasies on
THE ROLE OF PORNOGRAPHY IN DRIVING DEMAND
Let’s acknowledge that nothing about this interaction is natural or organic. This is a transactional exchange, at best a façade of intimacy. Sex that in name only shares semblance to what most would agree are the underpinnings of the anthropomorphic intent of the physical act.
This exchange resembles nothing genuine — sex as a mutual expression of love. Nor is it for the purpose of procreation, as this exchange does not create life (though it may result in a pregnancy, and often does). This sexual expression is raw lust engorged and satiated through the consumption of another’s sexuality — made viable through vulnerability.
As is often the case with johns who engage in the regular use of pornographic imagery, basic copulation is no longer stimulus enough. Sexual encounters must become more and more extreme, outrageous and degrading in order to satisfy the chemical addiction that has been created in the brain from sustained (and ever escalating) pornographic consumption.
for if I stay human
this horror will surely
untie my soul
from my body
DISSOCIATION AS TRAUMA SURVIVAL
Dissociation is a state the brain and body go into when confronted with significant trauma. It is a mental safeguard that allows the victim to “go someplace else“ in their mind while experiencing significant traumatic events. If trauma happens repeatedly over a sustained period of time it is likely dissociative personalities will emerge and disorders can develop.
This is true of women and men who have experienced extreme sustained or repeating trauma, they may develop an alter. An alter is a personality that engages when required to perform sex acts, or to perform the duties surrounding sexual servitude. This severe segmentation of the personality functions as a coping mechanism - acting as safety measure employed by the brain in order to keep the person alive and functional psychologically.
I need to eat today
you need to feed
DISPARITY OF POWER
This woman needs to eat in order to stay alive another day. She is at an extreme disadvantage on the power continuum. In this scenario her agency is to exchange herself sexually for money for food, to continue in existence. She has no employable job skills and comes from an impoverished family who can offer no safeguard — emotional or physical. She has little power and no support system.
The john must satiate the desire that drives him to purchase women (or men, or children) for sex. It can be argued whether this need stems from some desire for connection, a legitimate need for company resulting from pervading loneliness, or from a more base drive to meet the demands of an aggressive sex addiction. Regardless, the balance of power in this exchange is diabolically disproportionate. This man is not in danger of starving to death, in fact he has most likely flown halfway across the world in order to consume in anonymity. He will return home to his wife, family, community, and career until desire escalates and his hunger drives him to the next encounter, near or far.
here we are
both so hungry
HUMAN DRIVERS, EXPLORING HUNGER
The two forms of hunger are juxtaposed provocatively at the poem conclusion in order to highlight the contrasting definitions embodied in the narrative. While both parties may technically need and receive something out of the transaction, the power balance is ghastly disproportionate. It cannot in any conceivable way be construed as fair, or even remotely reciprocal exchange.
The poem concludes by highlighting hunger (of a very incongruous variety) as the paradoxical driver compelling each party into this agreement. The final line is meant to arrest the reader. Hunger, though universal to the human experience — here, coerces each participant into a form of compromise of their humanity and dignity in order to assuage it.
This wraps up our look behind the poem HUNGRY. Purchase the complete anthology here. A percentage of every book purchased is designated to organizations fighting human trafficking worldwide.
In honor of Amazon Prime day, I've decided to do a round up of my favorite Amazon purchases to date.
PRIME is honestly ahhhmazing. I find the convenience and the two day shipping to be invaluable. If you've been on the fence about taking the plunge, Amazon is giving away a free 30 day membership so you can test prime out to your heart's content. Signing up on prime day for the free trial membership means that you should also be able take advantage of the prime day deals, which is basically #winning.
Enough about my love for all things prime - here are my top ten!
These blue light blocking readers are one of my favorite purchases from Amazon. I use them for both my computer and my iphone. I'm trying to be better about not having screen time right before sleep because blue light interferes with your sleep-wake patterns and suppresses your production of melatonin. These have been a super helpful and practical solution! BUY THE READERS HERE
This travel backpack is a must if you are a frequent traveler. It folds into a pouch in itself right down to the size of your palm for compact transport! I used mine during my trip to Thailand last year and it was beyond helpful. It washes easily and holds up nicely. It also comes in 10 or so colors, so if you are traveling as a family or group everyone can have their own color. It's the perfect size for essentials - a water bottle, snacks, a light jacket. Not too big or bulky and under $15. BUY THE BACKPACK HERE
If you travel internationally then you know the importance of a good money belt to conceal your cards, money, and ID. With pickpockets upgrading their tech to scan for your info, I opted for an RIFD-blocking money belt. This one is waaaay better than my previous money belt. Bonus: the first pocket is large enough to hold my iPhone 8, so I can be totally hands free if needed! BUY THE MONEY BELT HERE
If you are in the market for a stylus, this one has style + functionality! The cutest rose gold color (and plenty of other colors) I use my stylus for Instagram stories, electronic signatures, and on my tablet for drawing! BUY THE STYLUS HERE
When I bought a microphone last year for my upcoming vocal projects, I was blissfully unaware that I would need a pop filter. My first run at recording set me straight. This little guy is amazing, under $10, and made for the job. BUY THE POP FILTER HERE
If you are in the market for a light ring for use in photography or vlogging, this is one of the best and most popular light rings available. You can purchase pieces together in a package, or opt for individual items. I chose to purchase the light ring separately because I wanted to create a custom pairing for what would be optimal for my purposes. BUY THE LIGHT RING HERE
I did a bit of research about tripods before pulling the trigger on buying this one because I honestly didn't know much about them prior to this purchase! I needed something that could multi-flex, aka hold my iPhone for video recording/photography, hold a traditional DSLR, and attach to my light ring. This one is a winner!!! BUY THE TRIPOD HERE
8. THE CHEMEX
This next favorite was technically a gift, although it totally counts in my book simply by virtue of the length of time it sat on my amazon wish list. I AM A COFFEE FIEND. Maybe it's my Pacific Northwest roots, but I can't get enough of good coffee. Heck, any coffee. I've been so desperate that I may have strained coffee from a (clean) sock in the jungles of South America... long story. A huge upgrade from the sock moment, I give you THE CHEMEX. Many a coffee maker's HG. If you love quality coffee, this is livin' the dream. BUY THE CHEMEX HERE
9. THE FILTERS
No filters, no coffee. A tragedy most easily remedied. BUY THE FILTERS HERE
If you haven't heard about the many benefits of adding collagen to your daily supplement regimen, head over to my post here. I've tested out 4-5 different brands and types (1,2,3) of collagen, this one continues to lead the pack in my opinion. It definitely helps my joints when I use it regularly - also fantastic for growing hair and nails fast! I mix it in with my morning cup of coffee. Dissolves quickly with hardly any adjustment to overall taste. BUY THE COLLAGEN HERE
I often joke that reading is my superpower. It is incredibly difficult for me to save a book for more than one sitting. Most of the time I inhale and then go back and re-read, taking cliff notes on my favorite parts. As a kid I really struggled with reading until about the third grade. I would come home in tears telling my mom it just didn't make sense. In third grade something finally clicked (thank you phonetics) and I became unstoppable! We had a summer reading program and for every ten or so books you read you received a TCBY ice cream cone. Ya'll I got crazy for that white chocolate mousse. Within the year I went from barely getting by in class, to reading at a fifth grade level. By the end of elementary school I was reading at a twelfth grade mastery.
All that to say, if you have kids, definitely bribe them to read! It's a skill set that is incredibly helpful in so many arenas of life. I've found reading challenges your mind, worldview, expands your perspective, and kinda makes you an all around better human being. Although I tend to be drawn most to poetry, personal growth, neuroscience, personality/HSP studies, I can find something I thoroughly appreciate in just about every genre.
I work in a field with quite a lot of trauma (anti-trafficking / human rights) and wanted to spend some time in 2017 to grow in my understanding of how the mind, body, and spirit are impacted by trauma, as well as what modalities are available for healing. I read quite a bit less this year than in previous years. Which is ok, sometimes you need to take it a little slower for absorption and the rhythm of the season of life you are in.
I hope you had some great reads in 2017 and that you are challenging yourself with new goals and new perspectives in 2018!
1. Braving the Wilderness- Brene Brown
2. Hallelujah Anyway- Anne Lammot
3. The Sun and Her Flowers- Rupi Kuar
4. Milk & Honey - Rupi Kuar
5. Unseen - Sara Hagerty
6. Little Book of Hygge – Meik Wiking
7. Brave Enough- Cheryl Strayed
8. You Are A Badass – Jen Sincero
9. Essentialism – Greg Mckeown
10. Keep your Love On - Danny Silk
11. The Best Yes - Lisa TerKeurst
12. Carry On Warrior - Glennon Doyle Melton
13. Immortal Diamond- Richard Rohr
14. The Blessed Life - Robert Morris
15. The Power of TED – David Emerald
16. Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg
17. Go Small – Craig Gross
18. Asking For It - Kate Harding
19. The Body Keeps the Score – Bessel van der Kolk
20. Authentic Human Sexuality – Balswick & Balswick
21. Upstream - Mary Oliver
22. Invisible Influence – Jonah Berger