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.