March 11, 2008

Why sex workers aren’t represented in the media

A sampling from my inbox and phone queries today:

From Fox News:
“I am trying to find someone to explain how credit card payments work with escort services. Specifically, how do you make sure the name of the escort service does not show up on a credit card bill. If anyone can explain that I would be very grateful.”

“Good Morning America is looking for anyone who has ever worked in high-end prostitution as a madam or sex worker for their coverage of the Gov. Spitzer scandal. Their preference is def someone along the lines of Heidi Fleiss (have interviewed tons of times and don’t want to call on again).”

From an Italian news channel:
“I need a prostitute to describe what it is like to meet with men, how she selects them, what they do in the meeting.”

And this:
“We need someone familiar with the political, social, legal and economic issues that affect sex workers to comment on this story. Someone who advocates for sex workers is preferred.”

Oh wait, I made that last one up. Because it doesn’t exist.

The closest I got to that was the conversation on The Brian Lehrer show this morning, embedded below. This one was actually really good, and despite the mention that I’m a former sex worker, there was no harassment of the “what kind of sex worker were you?” variety.

We exist. In growing numbers, there are sex workers and allies of sex workers who have a critical and political take on how our bodies and our labor are legislated. Not to mention, we are well aware of and constantly struggling with the ways our stories and our work are grossly exploited by the mainstream media in an attempt to get a juicy story. You want to talk about exploitation of women, media? Look at your own goddamn questions, the exposure you ask us to engage in, the personal questions you want us to answer. Look at the sexy container you put us in, all sultry bad girl secret story, no room for brains with the boobs. We don’t want to tell you our naughty secrets. What’s in it for us? You won’t give us the space and air time to talk about issues that matter to us, we won’t give you the dirt.

Sex workers aren’t represented in the media because the media does not create space for us to talk intelligently about the issues that face us. Like I said in my post last night, we are being cast into roles, roles that are nearly impossible to break. We’re afraid of being abused and manhandled by a media that has no interest in our well being, only in our cunts and the details of how we got to be so bad.

Mainstream media, if you’re so concerned about the exploitation of sex workers – stop perpetuating the exploitation with your own tools.

9 Comments on “Why sex workers aren’t represented in the media”

1

[…] by the Spitzer scandel, a “dialog” regarding whether or not prostitution should be illegal is being had in America. Of course, […]

2

[…] a gander at some of the requests Dacia received, for example. A sampling from my inbox and phone queries […]

3

[…] Waking Vixen » Blog Archive » Why sex workers aren’t represented in the media “Mainstream media, if you’re so concerned about the exploitation of sex workers – stop perpetuating the exploitation with your own tools.” Dacia nails it, as usual. (tags: sexwork media msm Spitzer) […]

4
The Scoot
3.16.08
11:16 pm

Audacia, I was intrigued by a tiny comment made by your fellow panelist on Brian Lehrer’s show. She said that people also choose to work in coal mines. I absolutely hate the fact that coal powers half of America. I have solar panels and batteries in my house, I use compact fluorescent light bulbs, and I vigorously enforce a turn-off regimen for my home’s appliances.

Every time I hear about a coal mine accident, I pray. I do my best to not rely on coal, but I want the toughest coal mine safety regulations on earth to protect miners I will never meet, and am actively trying to put out of a job.

I think that there is a fair comparison to my beliefs on sex work. I want it to be legal, but I want it to be the safest sex work in the world, and I would do my best to make sex work obsolete, or at least a job that is looked on with envy because there is such a competition for clients…

Am I making any sense here?

5

[…] here is my favorite piece of writing I did during that week of Spitzer insanity: Why sex workers aren’t represented in the media. It’s important to note that I wrote that piece before I appeared on CNN, and the booker had […]

6

[…] can be respected rather than tokenized and used for cheap shots. No need to wait for MSM to get their shit together with how they cover sex work, for example – because sex workers are speaking for themselves (and even reaching out to try to […]

7
Starlet Harlot
3.10.09
6:47 am

Hi there. :)

Really enjoyed reading this and thank you for writing it. As a sex worker here in Oz who has made myself available for interviews and the like, holy good goddamn does it ever get exhausting answering the same stupid questions over and over again. This post is brilliantly succinct in how it addresses this issue.

I’ve begun a blog project focused on media representation of sex workers and I’m hoping you might permit me to link to this article from it? Please let me know, and thank you.

8
Aspasia
3.16.09
11:23 pm

It would’ve been even better if he didn’t let the most vehemently negative caller get the last word. I thought guests on shows are supposed to get the final word on the subject?

9

[…] important to respond to the media in the media’s space. But all too often the media doesn’t offer space that’s meaingful, and so, I’m doing what I always do: using the space I’ve carved out for myself to […]

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