Today was a big day for us in several ways. We had a new volunteer, and so we were glad to have her with us. We also began giving the parlors our prayer/encouragement text number. As simple as the concept is, this really is important.
Dallas’ erotic massage parlors are different from other adult businesses. They seem very isolated from the rest of society. There are nonprofits and volunteers that visit the strip clubs, but the erotic massage parlors have been largely overlooked. One reason is that they seem to be staffed by native Koreans, or at least this seems to be true of the ones we visit. There is a significant language barrier that stops nonprofits from visiting them, and we have worked hard to overcome it.
Overcoming this isolation has not been easy. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to get any easier. Women move from parlor to parlor, and we often encounter new faces. We do get rejected, as we did today. That can be very disappointing. However, we also are recognized by people we have never met. This happened today, too. When I started to introduce us in Korean, the woman cut me off and said, “I know, I know.” A simple moment like this is actually a good sign because it indicates that we are being talked about when we leave.
If they are talking about us when we are gone, that means we are changing the conversation inside the parlor. Something is different because we were there. When good comes into a bad situation, something has to change.
And now the prayer/encouragement text number has been introduced into the parlors. This is a huge deal, in my opinion. These places have been isolated for years. There has only been one narrative inside them: you are only good for sex.
Now there is a different voice speaking to them: you are loved. You are amazing. You have worth and intelligence. You are more than perhaps you ever realized.
It will take time for this to take off, most likely. I am under no illusions about this. Sometimes you just have to be persistent and keep trying. Things don’t have to stay the same. When things don’t take off overnight, you don’t give up. You keep trying. You keep going, you keep smiling, you keep introducing yourself, and you keep telling every woman you meet that she is special.
How could we do anything but this? No one else is telling these women the truth about themselves. We must be the other voice in the parlors, or these women will never know how incredibly important they really are.
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