"No one chooses to be born into poverty or to stay in prostitution in order to stay poor. No one chooses the racial group or caste one is born into. No country freely chooses to be colonized or the post-colonial social pathologies that so often organize this industry. These circumstances, from the uncontested evidence of who the prostituted disproportionately are, most powerfully determine who is used in this industry. These circumstances are not chosen by any of them." - Catherine Mackinnon, Elizabeth A. Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School
This website was created to aid in the prevention and eradication of sex trafficking. Throughout this site, you will find articles and interviews with those who are at the forefront of sex trafficking education, action, and activism.
More often than not, survivors of sexualized violence are not adequately aided or protected by law enforcement and our criminal justice system–the very institutions which purport to protect them. Instead, sex trafficking survivors are pathologized and stripped of their humanity through, among other things, victim blaming. Victims of sex trafficking are most often the most vulnerable members of society – the poor, persons of color, and LGBTQIA persons. Pathologizing the victim undermines the victim’s credibility and humanity, allowing society, the media, and the courts to shift blame and accountability away from the perpetrator. This renders the perpetrator invisible and creates the illusion that the perpetrator is actually innocent, giving perpetrators the opportunity to deny responsibility for the exploitation and abuse of victims. This pathology obfuscates and hides the power held by perpetrators, thereby furthering narratives about male entitlement over vulnerable persons, namely those who have far fewer resources and safety nets than those who exploit them.
The judgment cast on victims is the instantaneous result of implicit bias regarding the victim’s gender, race, and class. These split-second assumptions about sex trafficking victims are informed by the dominant social narratives and stereotypes about victims. In turn, implicit bias affects the real ways in which police officers, prosecutors, judges, juries, and even the general public view victims, as opposed to perpetrators. As a result, law enforcement agents and courts routinely find the white, male perpetrator innocent while stereotyping, hyper-sexualizing, and stripping victims of their innocence and credibility. Implicit biases are continuously reinforced and validated through repetition, giving rise to the normalization of negative beliefs about sex trafficking victims, but that stops here. On this website, we aim to break down the implicit biases that so often result in the negative treatment of victims by the criminal justice system.
What is the W.H.P.?
The WHP is white heteropatriarchy or power as it is raced, classed, and gendered. As law professor Angela Harris states, “[H]ierarchies of race, class, sexual orientation, and gender” all coalesce to delineate groups of women, as well as men, “as vulnerable to the violence of other men.” The WHP delineates the functions of racial violence, as well as the codes of gender, class, and sexuality. When highlighting the dynamics of power as it is raced, classed, and gendered, white heteropatriarchy refers to a racialized system of power and control based on compulsory heterosexuality, patriarchy, and an imposed gender-binary system.
- Angela P. Harris, Gender, Violence, Race, and Criminal Justice, 52 STAN. L. REV. 777,779 (2000).