Often, when a celebrity joins up for a humanitarian cause, it can seem dishonest or cloying to the public, especially in this day and age, when it seems as if all celebrities have taken up one cause or another. There is no denying, however, that getting a celebrity on board can drastically effect how many people you reach with your message.
Recently, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, ¬†founded the Demi and Ashton Foundation (DNA) and launched the “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” campaign, in which they enlisted many of their friends including Justin Timberlake, Eva Longoria, Bradley Cooper and many others to raise awareness about young girls being sold into slavery and prostitution. They filmed a set of PSAs in which men do things that make them “real men” like using an iron or getting a close shave, and they then connect these actions to the slogan “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls.”

While anything should be done to call attention to the problem of girls’ slavery — over a million young girls worldwide are prostituted and the industry generates over $39 billion — it’s amazing how little these ads have to do with the issue of girls’ slavery and prostitution. I want to be clear that there’s nothing offensive about the ads. Kutcher claims in an interview with Huffington Post that “the average man who buys a girl is 30-years-old, has no prior criminal record, and has a well-paying job,” and these ads clearly target this type of man. However, what about the men who buy girls simply for profit? What about the men who have psychological issues towards young children (even if they have no prior criminal record)? What does the construction of masculinity have to do with prostituting young girls?
In today’s world if it was known that a man had paid for sex with a child, he would be shunned, not applauded. I would venture to guess that even his male friends would find something deviant about his behavior, not clap him on the back for being able to afford to prostitute a young girl. The self-reflexive nature of the ad is nice; what would you do if you found out someone was paying for sex with children? But how do we connect this incredibly grave subject of child prostitution with ideas like “Real men are distrustful of robots,” another platitude in one of the PSAs?
There’s even one video that states, “Real men do their own laundry,” and then Kutcher, the star of the PSA, proceeds to do the exact opposite! Couldn’t that be misconstrued as telling someone to buy young girls?
Maybe they’re geniuses, though. The Internet has been ablaze with talk about these videos over the past week, and in turn, girls’ slavery has become a hot topic. I hadn’t really thought about the vast numbers of girls being sold into slavery before looking at this topic, and for that, I take my hat off to you, Demi and Ashton.