There is physical freedom and there is emotional, spiritual and mental freedom. Many of the girls and women who leave the sex industry (by rescue or slow building of trust) are finally physically free, but experience the weight of their past and are not emotionally free.
It’s hard to imagine what it will take for our partners to become emotionally free. It’s hard to imagine us – privileged white women who haven’t endured consistent horrific trauma – becoming emotionally free. Freedom is defined as: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. It’s hard to compare our suffering to the suffering of our Artisan Partners but we are learning that it’s important to look at where we are not free.
There are the more overt conditions that impact our freedom; oppressive relationships, power differentials, … to name a few. And there are the more obscure. We are all born into a patriarchal society that teaches us to act a certain way to be deemed worthy. Little boys are taught to dominate by being tough, not showing emotion, and by taking control. Little girls are taught to be submissive and to do so by being quiet, acting small, and asking permission.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “No one is free until we are all free.” In our pursuit for freedom for all, we have a responsibility to look both inside and outside. We look inside to question what constraints we have in our lives that are stopping us from living our truest, most authentic lives. We look outside to see where freedom is threatened and we commit ourselves to being in action to use our privilege to effect change.
We have found ourselves feeling guilty in comparing our lives to the lives of our Artisan Partners. How can we talk about our freedoms when our partners are healing from suffering the lack of the most basic freedoms? The work we are currently doing is based on the theory that the more freedom we create in our own lives, the more we can advocate for people suffering basic freedoms around the world. Feeling guilt or shame around our circumstances does not create anything positive in our lives or the lives of our partners.