It’s really easy to despair right now. The Zimmerman acquittal has sparked so much pain across America, raised again the reality of race, inequality, and power in our country. Watching the protests unfold has gotten me choked up and angry. I don’t know what I believe, necessarily, about George Zimmerman. I didn’t follow the trial particularly closely. But while I’m touched by all the support Americans are showing for Trayvon Martin, I also can’t help wondering where these massive protests were for the many civilians that we have gunned down via drones in the Middle East. I wonder where the outrage was for so many other things that are tied to race and power… It’s tough to keep your head up on days like today.
I’ve heard similar sentiments from some of my colleagues in the sex-positive and porn worlds. A sort of “what’s the point?” mentality about the work we do promoting sexual health and happiness, advocating for the rights of humans to have fulfilling sexual lives, and so on. It seems kind of silly when you’re looking at thousands of angry protestors and thinking about the other problems of the world.
But don’t give up, everybody. Moments like this, though they might seem to throw our work into sharp relief as trivial, are actually reminders of why it’s so important. Think of it this way: just a few decades ago, there wouldn’t have been nearly as many protestors carrying “We Are All Trayvon” signs in the streets. The reason there are so many now, in 2013, is because we are trying, collectively, to learn the meaning of love and respect for our fellow humans. We’ve been trying for our whole history, and we keep trying. We might not be able to protest for everything bad that happens as a result of greed or hate in this world–we’re all trapped just as much as everyone else by what the media shows us and what we can handle, personally–but we can react with pain and sadness when something we do know about goes against our understandings of love and respect. We wish that Trayvon Martin hadn’t been killed for no good reason. We wish that George Zimmerman hadn’t been driven to violence, for whatever reason. We wish that those two people had been able to respect one another. And so we react with hurt feelings that they weren’t able to do that.
I don’t call for punishment. I won’t pretend I know what the right thing would have been for George Zimmerman. But I look at these photos of the protests, and I see a whole lot of people who, no matter what their personal stories, want our country to get better at loving its people, no matter what they look like.
And I’d say that’s a sign of hope. That’s a good thing. And it’s exactly why the sex activists and pornographers and scholars I know are so important. We all want to look ahead to a day when sex in our world will be more universally recognized as an expression of love and respect. We want to make and consume porn that shows respect for everyone involved, and for the viewer. We want to spread the word that sex shouldn’t be undertaken unless it is consensual, respectful, and borne of a love for our fellow humans. We’re helping in something much larger: we’re talking about and demonstrating respect and love for others to see, every day. One person or one movie or one blog post at a time. We’re getting there. Don’t give up.