A close friend of mine linked me to a character study that appeared on the NYTimes.com , profiling a 52 year old sex worker in Hunts Point New York. The short profile story and video (after the jump) ,in my opinion, was a rare change of narrative that most are used to when it comes to sex work in America.
A good example of this was Diane Sawyer’s 2008 Prostitution in America which features 90% Blond white women as subjects offering soundbites. The series was mostly narrated by Sawyer and if the viewer were to believe this report almost all prostitutes in this country are Blonds , pill poppers or really good at staring off into the distance while melodramatic music plays. I’m not a fan of moral plays paraded as journalism even less so when the journalist doesn’t trust her subjects not to tell the story she wants to hear.
In the NYTimes piece its refreshing to see a woman, of age , of color completely own her choice to engage in sex work. She comes off sincere and human because she is, she’s not being propped up as what she represents or a parable. She’s a woman talking about her life and how she chooses to live it.
Its hard for journalist to cover the varying levels of sex work, especially when it comes to prostitution. For the most part its illegal, its pushed as a moral issue and unearths a lot of ugly truths in our society concerning social class, race and gender. But its a journalist prime obligation to report the truth and a big part of that is striving to shed light on those speaking in their own voice about the issues that effect them, especially when they don’t reflect the image others have made for them.