I am angry.
And you should be too.
Halfway through Netflix’s new series called Cuties, my heart sank. Everything I’d read – all the comments posted – all the podcasts I’d listened to were more than true. What I thought couldn’t possibly be as bad as portrayed by social media was not only as bad, it was worse. And I knew, my next step would be a phone call – not just to cancel my subscription – but to revolt against the media giant. The reality is – Cuties – is only the beginning. It is only scratching the surface of what is to come – unless we stop them.
Years ago, I worked internationally in humanitarian aid and adoption. People used to complain to me about the cost of adoption, the endless amounts of paperwork, the seemingly ridiculous hoops parents had to jump through just to adopt. I agreed with them until the day I stood surrounded by lifeless walls in an orphanage in Kashira, Russia. Military and governmental officials swarmed the building, pushing us aside and ushering in 8 young girls aged 9 to 12. I kept silent, fearful for what was happening. The orphanage director stood stoically, nodding her head, occasionally saying a few words. The caregivers of the orphanage smiled warmly, hugging each girl lovingly. There was a sense of relief although I didn’t understand why. As quickly as they had arrived – they left. I learned that a very wealthy Saudi Arabian man had attempted to adopt the girls through various channels. He had been stopped and those little girls had been spared a life of sexual slavery.
The Netflix series brought more emotion than I had anticipated, for after that day, years ago in Russia, I had made a vow to God – to defend and protect His children – those who do not have a mother or father – those that do not have a voice. The description of Cuties presents itself as a coming of age mentality – an 11-year-old Muslim immigrant girl, growing up in a religious, conservative home – STOP there. It should read a suppressive, oppressive, abusive home. (Her father takes a second wife, forcing her mom to prepare a special room for the new wife in the first fifteen minutes of the episode). Little girls, who should be dreaming of becoming astronauts, lawyers, or president of a country are portrayed as sexual individuals who are created for nothing more than the entertainment of men. The images and language encourage the very actions the writer of the show professes to be attempting to prevent. My fingers grabbed the remote to end it. And yet again, I felt that conviction to protect children who cannot defend themselves, who cannot run or hide, who cannot say this is wrong because someone else makes the decisions for them.
The tears which stung my face were for you – not for me. The outrage filled my throat and the words have found themselves here on this page calling you to action. Yes, I said YOU.
The narratives which producers in Hollywood and elsewhere want you to buy into, tell you that you are chattel. You can be owned and possessed and it’s ok. It’s ok to allow children to be sexually desired. It is ok to watch pornography. It is ok to sell yourself because that is what you are. You do not measure up to anything more than an individual who wears skimpy clothing and seeks to be nothing more than an object of desire.
There is a story in the Bible. Jesus is in Jerusalem where He finds in the Temple Courts “people selling cattle, sheep, doves, and sitting at tables exchanging money” (John 2:14) Interestingly, He sits down and braids a whip. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever braided a whip but it is no easy task. I tried it once because I wanted to know how long it took Jesus. Well, I can’t speak for Jesus, but it took me a little over three hours. That’s a lot of time to think – to calm down – to strategize – and to watch the misuse of what is Holy and good – the destruction of His Father’s Temple. When He had finished braiding His whip, He took action. He used it to force them out and to reclaim what belonged to God.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?…Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Never – Nowhere – in the Bible does God say you are created to be on display sexually – not as a woman, a teenager, and especially not as a child.
Are you braiding your whip? If not, you should be. It is time to become an activist – an activist for Jesus Christ. It is time to stand against those who want you to look the other way so they can have their way.
When I was 21 years old, the space shuttle Challenger blew-up in front of our eyes – 73 seconds into flight – killing all seven crew members aboard – one of whom was a teacher. I remember where I was standing and how I fell to the ground in shock and disbelief. As the weeks passed, we saw the explosion replayed over and over on the nightly news – the morning news. We watched demonstrations of what could’ve happened; why it happened; whose fault it was; and before long, my family was sitting around the television, eating dinner, chatting, while what was once horrific in my eyes, didn’t phase me anymore. I was desensitized to it. I could now watch the explosion over and over without reacting.
Do not let yourself be desensitized to the horrific actions of the media in the exploitation of females. This narrative that is being forced down our throats has a sole purpose and a soul purpose. It is meant to demoralize you – desensitize you – to adopt the idea that this is natural, normal, and if you are not experiencing it, something is wrong with you. And it is a LIE.
I challenge you today to no longer watch Netflix. Let them know why you are canceling your subscription. Talk about what is being done with your friends and make a decision to no longer support companies who exploit children, teenagers, and women. Call it what it is. See it for what it is trying to accomplish. Educate yourself on sex trafficking – understand it – know what it looks like – and fight against it.
Your voice. Your action. Your Temple.
I am braiding my whip – Will you join me?
Editor’s Note: This opinion piece first appeared in the online Christian magazine Be Vivacious and was submitted to Now Habersham by the author, former NH Faith Editor Nora Almazan, for publication.