Back in 2011, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore launched the Real Men Don’t Buy Girls campaign to educate the public about child slavery and sex trafficking in the U.S. If you do not recall, here is a video to reacquaint yourself with the campaign ads.
At the time these star-studded ads gained national attention, they received some critique because of the way it mixed comedy with the serious nature of the issue at hand. Some felt that the comical content demeaned the actual severity of the problem. Kutcher, however, argued that the videos were supposed to show how “real men, do ‘silly, even foolish things,’ but they don’t buy children for sex. ‘That’s not funny, and Real Men don’t do it,’ he added.” (MTV)
Though these videos came off to some as troublesome, the hash tag has reemerged. Now, amid the Boko Haram kidnapping crisis in Nigeria, the hash tag is being tweeted alongside #BringBackOurGirls and has been tweeted over 1.6 million times across the globe!
According to BBC News, the first person to reuse this hash tag was a woman located in New Jersey on May 2nd. Since this first tweet, the old hash tag has gone viral as more high profile tweeters and celebrities have begun using it. Though it was originally intended for the issue of sex slavery and trafficking in the U.S., the recycling of #RealMenDontBuyGirls blowing up the world wide web has further bolstered awareness of the kidnappings in Nigeria.
Some may say that this celebrity attention is beneficial for spreading awareness world wide, but some also say that these old images of “westernized” male-focused celebrity hype may draw attention away from the severity of the present happenings in Nigeria.
It then seems crucial to ask the question, “who the HECK are these ‘REAL’ men anyway?” Are they the mostly white, heterosexual, macho men represented in the videos? Hm. See, this question is being asked all over twitter (see tweets below), and I fear that it is replacing the important dialogue about the kidnappings in Nigeria with a conversation about general misogyny and the poor representations of those against sex slavery and trafficking in these ads.
What do you think? Comment below!