Review: Tricked Reminds Us of the Evils of Prostitution and Human Sex Trafficking in the United States
Tricked: The Documentary, is a 2013 film about the horrors of prostitution and human sex trafficking. It includes interviews of former prostitutes, pimps, johns, and law enforcement who work in vice departments all over the country. It isn’t about the legalization or decriminalization of prostitution, (though the filmmaker’s opinion is not hidden), but about the horrors of human sex trafficking occurring throughout the United States.Tricked is really hard to watch, and it should be; it is painful listening to women tell stories of their liberty and freedom taken away.
An aspect of Tricked which separates it from other documentaries about prostitution are the incredibly honest interviews with pimps. The film opens with a man claiming all women are whores or prostitutes:
“All women are either a prostitute or a whore. The definition of a prostitute is a woman that sells her pussy for money. A whore fucks for free. If you ask any woman ‘Do you sell your pussy or do you give your pussy away’. One of the answers are going to be ‘I sell my pussy’ or ‘I give it away for free.’”
It is later revealed this man is an incredibly successful pimp named Robert Money. He discusses how he never has to worry about money and shows all of the incredibly expensive watches, rings, and bracelets he owns. This man and the other pimps who appear in Tricked talk about women like they are commodities. Women are a supply that johns demand. When a vice police officer tells a story about a woman who was forced to douche with bleach to end an unwanted pregnancy, the documentary cuts back to the same man who began the film as he talks about making sure “his” pussy is in the right condition to be sold:
“‘Cause your girl got pregnant that fucks you up. That was your money. You want to buy a pussy and the belly is sticking out like this [gestures a fake pregnant belly]. Remember as I stated before, pussy is a commodity. It has to be in selling condition– in selling order. When you see an outfit on a rack when you go shopping, if you see holes in the outfit or the thread coming out and buttons hanging off, you are going to bypass it. Same with the pussy. You see a gunshot wound in the bitch arm, knife stabs in her, you are going to bypass that. That ain’t what you want. So you have to make sure the commodity is sellable.”
Robert Money is very honest about how he sees prostitutes as less than human. He continually refers to them as “the pussy,” reducing these women to what he believes is their only important aspect. His words are reminiscent of the language used to describe a slave, when slaveowners would describe men as strong as horses — not because their strength was admirable, but because a slave owner would literally use the man as a replacement for a horse.
Tricked doesn’t focus on women forced into prostitution because they ran away from home or had drug problems, even though those women do exist. It focuses on ‘girl-next-door’ types who were forced into human trafficking either by being coerced or kidnapped. It uses stories of women who thought they were dating suave men who turned out to be pimps or offered modeling contracts in cities like Las Vegas or New York, pulling them away from home. Women tell stories of being locked inside mansions, forced to work 20 hour days, or set up like an assembly line for parties. The women who were able to escape these horrific situations allude to post-traumatic stress and the fear of being forced back into the lifestyle they escaped.
I have many opinions about prostitution. As the saying goes, it is the oldest profession. Women have been using their bodies to make money since humans stopped hunting and gathering and started establishing civilizations. I believe a woman should be able to use her body however she chooses, even if that choice is prostitution. But Tricked isn’t about women who choose to become prostitutes, it is about women who are trafficked, sold, and have their freedom taken away from them. These aren’t the progressive streets of Amsterdam’s red light district or high class escort services. Tricked is about the men who take advantage of women, retreating them like a commodity the pimp owns.
The International Labour Organization estimates 20.9 million people are trafficked for commercial sex or forced labor around the world. Of that number, 4.5 million are trapped in forced sexual exploitation, with the majority being women and girls. According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 19,991 human trafficking cases have been reported in the United States since 2007, along with 96,513 signals (incoming phone calls, online tip reports, and emails), 5,990 occurring just this year.
The film ends with an excerpt of a speech by President Obama, who said:
“Today I want to discuss an issue that ought to concern every person: I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name– modern slavery.”
Regardless of your opinion on whether prostitution should be legalized, decriminalized, or continue to be outlawed, one thing’s for certain: we must protect the women from the pimps, the madams, the people who want to take advantage of them. The abuse and the wrongs are at the hands of the slaveowners, not the slaves themselves. As President Obama says in the same speech, “Human trafficking is a debasement of our modern humanity that should concern every community.”