In Respect of Julissa Brisman.
I have been boiling over with contempt for the mainstream media once again. A few days ago I was informed that a woman who had supplied her services on craigslist was murdered in a hotel in Boston. Great news. Then I find out that she was A) from NYC, B) a masseuse, C) an actor, D) a recovering alcoholic, E) a year older than me.
Now, none of those details change the fact that she was a woman who was murdered. That should be the end of the story for anyone to stop and think, “wow, that is horrible, my heart goes out to her”. Right? Apparently not so much, because apparently anyone who is even suggested to be a sex worker is denoted to “less than” status. Someone who “deserved” it. Someone who’s life can be openly speculated and judged by anonymous strangers. There will always be assholes out there persecuting for the sake of their own fucked up justification… but what pisses me off is how the media blatantly perpetuates this mode of thinking.
This isn’t terrible, but it certainly isn’t straightforward journalism. This is outright opinions. I’m sorry, when did The Boston Globe become the Tyra Banks Show? A short article thinly veiled as remembrance of a victim but rather addresses quite a few stereotypes and popular opinions about not only sex workers, but actors and alcoholics. Not outright, no of course not. They cared about Julissa Brisman. So much, they cried for fifteen minutes when they heard about her murder. Now I’m not saying the people who knew her didn’t care for her, but I am saying whoever edited that article needs to be bitchslapped. Why the fuck do they need to address possible reasons of why or why not she was there? Completely inappropriate. What happened to “just the facts” in journalism? The New York Daily News wrote a slightly better article on the topic, and there are several links posted for your convenience at the excellent blog: Bound Not Gagged.
Okay, because I am just at a loss for words to describe my disdain for journalism at the moment…. I will address the topic of sex work itself. First of all, a sex worker is a person who does erotic labor in exchange for an agreed upon exchange of money, goods or services. (def. provided by http://www.sexwork101.com) Sex Work is NOT a euphemism for prostitution. It is an umbrella term which covers erotic services that may or may not involve physical contact. A sex worker is a Provider to a Client. This could be a prostitute or escort, it could also be a dominatrix, a sensual masseuse, a phone sex operator, a porn performer, an exotic dancer, and so on. The phrase was coined by Scarlot Harlot, also known as Carol Leigh, more than 30 years ago when she got fed up with the fact that the only words available to describe this kind of work were slang.
I think it is unfortunate that the vast majority of people in our culture are so misinformed yet so highly judgemental of sex workers. I see it as the same point of view as abortion rights. Pro-Choice. Any person should have the right to choose what it is they are doing with their own body. Period. It should not be regulated by the government (i.e. legalized) as it should not be illegal either (i.e. it should be de-criminalized). The more open people are about their bodies and their rights I think the safer and more pro-active the work will become as well.
If someone wants to have sex in exchange for money, who are YOU to judge or condemn him or her? Just as who are you to judge or condemn a woman who chooses to have an abortion, a person who gets tattoos and piercings, someone who chooses to smoke and drink and eat trans fats or high-fructose syrup… it’s a huge spectrum but they are all related.
Now, back to Julissa. She was, as far as we know, offering her services as a masseuse. Most likely a sensual masseuse, but that is not the same as an escort. Even if she was an escort though, that certainly does not give anyone the right to murder her. Or the right to say she deserved it. The point is she, and all other people out there offering these services, should be SAFE doing their chosen occupation.
Do you not agree?
EDIT: Oh how could I forget this gem of a news story? Really Boston Herald? “Hookers Fear Who’s Next?” Fuck you. Now, I do give them props for actually interviewing a sex worker and letting her tell her point of view… but “hookers”? Really??? How the fuck is derogatory slang acceptable for journalism? I had this issue back during “Spitzergate”, and then when Debauchette was recognized by her mother when she was interviewed on Diane Sawyer. PEOPLE. HOOKER IS SO NOT AN APPROPRIATE TERM. If the media doesn’t show respect, the public will never choose to change its ways. GRRRRRRRRR. The end.