Getting out of situations that exploit or disrespect women can be difficult to navigate, and even tougher to explain to your friends. No one wants to ruin the party, but it's still extremely important and doesn't have to be confrontational or awkward. Here are a few simple ways to ease into the conversation without preaching to your friends.

Situation I

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So, your boys want to go out to a strip club or bring strippers over for a party. How can you get out of it? What if they won't let it go?

  • Keep it simple

    • "It's just not for me."
    • "That's okay, I think I'll sit this one out."
    • "I've got other plans..."
    • "They're too expensive, let's just chill here."
    • "I've already been to one — trust me, it's awkward and depressing."
  • Go further

    • "Why don't we go to a bar and hang with girls who actually choose to be there?"
    • "It just feels creepy, like peeping at someone. Would you watch someone undress through a peep hole?"
    • "Would you want to see your sister up there?"
    • "I don't need to pay a girl to like me."
    • "Do you really think they're stripping their way through med school?"
  • Confront the issue

    • "It's disrespectful to women, and not fun."
    • "It does nothing for me, I prefer to respect women."
    • "It makes me feel like less of a man to objectify women."
  • The real deal

    You don't need to force your friends not to go — but they don't have to pressure you into going either. Chances are there is someone else in the group who also doesn't feel great about it; you being the first one to opt out would make it easier on them to get on board also. Choosing not to go will probably lead to some questions, and a larger conversation about how what you see on stage may not actually reflect what's happening behind the scenes.

Situation II

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Your friend is talking about going to a brothel or a massage parlor that you're pretty sure provides "extra services." How do you react?

  • Keep it Simple

    • "I thought you and I had other plans tonight! Come on, I'll be your wingman."
    • "You're not serious, right?"
    • "Are you that desperate?"
  • Go Further

    • "You realize there's no way of knowing for sure if they actually chose to do this, right?"
    • "Where do you think your money's gonna go? Not to her...that's for sure."
    • "Why would you want to pay a girl to pretend to have a good time with you?"
  • Confronting the Issue

    • "A lot of the girls doing this are under the control of an abusive pimp and can't leave."
    • "You realize there's a good chance she was forced into this when she was like 12, right?"
    • "Most of these women have no choice at all. We shouldn't contribute to the problem"
  • The Real Deal

    Let's face it — we rarely see what happens behind the scenes at most establishments, let alone ones with something to hide. Massage parlors can be covers for brothels, and these environments can be hell for women who are trapped there. Women are often coerced into these horrible situations by being promised legitimate work for a better life. By the time they realize that the work is anything but legitimate, it's too late for them to leave. Probably not what you thought you were getting yourself into, right?

Situation III

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It's your study abroad, your friends are thinking about checking out the country's Red Light District. It's different (here), right?

  • Keep it Simple

    • "Do you know how many people come here? I came to Amsterdam to have fun, not get an STD."
    • "Why don't we go practice our [insert local language] on some local girls at the bar instead?"
  • Go Further

    • "Look at all those creepy guys going in — do you really want to be like them?"
    • "No, a lot of the girls are super young."
  • Confronting the Issue

    • "It's actually not different here. A lot of girls are forced into it, and don't get to keep the money."
    • "I don't want to contribute my money to something that puts women in these horrible situations."
  • The Real Deal

    Providing some facts can help make the situation a little less glamorous. Trying new things and exploring different cultures is definitely part of the abroad experience, but get to know the country you're in. The issues it faces (like sex trafficking) are just as important as hunting down cheap bars.

Situation IV

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Your friends want to throw a "Pimps and Hos" party.

  • Keep it Simple

    • "Ugh, everyone does that. Why don't we throw a ____ themed party instead"
    • "I have too much stuff to do this weekend."
  • Go Further

    • "I think girls would probably appreciate not having to dress like prostitutes for a weekend."
    • "Does that mean I get to see your girlfriend dressed like a prostitute?"
  • Confront the Issue

    • "Dressing up like guys who beat and exploit women is not that cool."
  • The Real Deal

    We love a good theme party as much as anyone else, but pimp and ho parties glamorize men who victimize women. There's nothing sexy about the day-to-day reality of a pimp. Did you know that pimps exploit women as young as 12? Probably not what you thought you were dressing up as.

Situation V

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You're at the club and a song about pimpin' comes on.

  • Keep it Simple

    • Go get a drink or head to the bathroom. No need to make a big scene, but understanding the context of the song might not exactly make you want to dance.
  • Go Further

    • Try getting your friends to go with you to the bar — tell your friends this song is totally played out. When you get a chance, clean out your music library.
  • Confronting the Issue

    • Enjoy the rest of your night, but bring up the issue with everybody later. Try and discourage your friends from throwing around terms like "pimp" and "ho."
  • The Real Deal

    Are they just words? Sure. They can still be harmful by creating negative social norms. The thing is that words, songs, and music videos don't exactly depict the harsh realities of sex trafficking (yes, that includes women in prostitution as well as strippers) and often give people a false understanding of the issue.

Want to keep the conversation going?

Check out our Get the Facts page for some more info and ideas on how to address the issue with your friends. Trying to keep the peace? Posting one of our PSAs in your Facebook status is a great way to get the word out without being too confrontational. It can be hard to call your friends out, but trust us, it will definitely help curb a growing problem in the world — not to mention earn you some points with the ladies.

Special thanks to A Call to Men, Man Up, and Men Can Stop Rape.