Netflix is normalizing sexual exploitation of minors
I’m writing to ask Netflix to stop the production of Baby, an Italian drama centered on the commercial sexual exploitation of teenagers, and to commit to new standards against sexual exploitation. Baby is based on the real-life sexual exploitation of 14-15-year-old girls, but it is already being billed as a “coming of age” story about teenagers “defying social norms” that will attempt to eroticize and normalize the system of prostitution. There is little doubt that the sex trade will be used as a convenient backdrop for intermixing scripted drama with soft-core pornographic scenes of portrayed teenage girls. In the age of #MeToo, and the current dialogue surrounding sexual harassment, assault and consent, it’s extremely damaging for Netflix to normalize the sexual use and abuse of girls and women in prostitution. Teenage girls under the age of 18 selling sex are not “prostitutes,” they are sex trafficking victims as defined by U.S. federal law. Further, by its very nature, prostitution is sexually violent and dangerous. A study in San Francisco interviewed 130 prostituting persons (women, men, and transgender men, aged 14-61) regarding violence in their lives and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Types and amounts of violence experienced while in prostitution included: - 82% physically assaulted; 55% of physical assaults were perpetrated by sex buyers; - 68% were raped; 48% were raped 5 or more times; - 88% wanted to leave prostitution. I respectfully request that Netflix cancel its plans to produce the series Baby. Instead, please become a leader in the entertainment production industry by committing to these below standards to be good corporate actors in the realm of portraying sexual exploitation. Proposed New Industry Standard: Whereas cultural values of equity and sexual consent are often shaped by the creative storytelling community, film studios must hold themselves to a high standard in order to depict issues regarding sexual exploitation and gender inequality in a socially responsible manner. Accordingly, we commit to the following: 1. Refraining from gratuitous portrayals of sexual harassment, coercion, or violence against women, men, or children by not displaying prolonged or eroticized scenes with such content; 2. Combating the normalization of behaviors associated with sexual entitlement, harassment, and violence by minimizing nudity, particularly female nudity which is currently 500+% more common than male nudity in some studios; 3. Thoughtfully eschewing the glamorization or normalization of the sexual commodification of another person, such as through the irresponsible portrayals of the sexually exploitive institutions of prostitution, strip clubs, and pornography; 4. Never producing any promotional materials or developing content that sexualizes children (persons aged-17 or below). If Netflix agrees to halt the production of Baby, and to consider the above new industry standards, it will be a significant step in the right direction and Netflix can be a leader for women’s equality in TV/movie production.
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