Friday, July 22, 2011

A Prostitute Is A Prostitute Is A Prostitute

Recently, a court judge was arrested for rape here. Nigel and I were watching the news and saw the first story in regard to this arrest on July 19. I said to Nigel at the time that it was interesting in a bad way that KOB's anchorman, Tom Joles, in describing the alleged victim of the rape, used "prostitute" four times in two minutes. How many times did he say "alleged victim," "woman," or any other word to describe her? ZERO.

I wrote an e-mail to the news station complaining about this. Haven't heard back.

Today, I searched their website for stories and found several. I watched the videos and read the reports and found that there is some slight improvement in later reports. The reports use the word "woman" four times, and in a video, the judge assigned to the case actually used "victim." So, five in total. However, the alleged victim was called "the prostitute" (one time, they used "escort") twelve times in the same videos/reports!

Let's say that a woman in any other profession besides sex work reported a rape. Would the stories use "the McDonald's employee," "the tax attorney," "the super-model," or similar descriptions to describe the alleged victim? I think not. If those terms were used, they would probably not have been used exclusively.

This feeds into the widely held perception that sex workers cannot be raped, because their choice (or not) of profession implies permanent consent to sex acts. It muddies the waters for the prosecution, whose job will be made more difficult by the use of this inflammatory language to describe the alleged victim.

Some choice quotes from the videos:
"She is fine. There's no other injuries..."(speaking of the alleged victim)

How many injuries other than the rape itself do there need to be for her NOT to be "fine?"
"She's accused of taping one of those incidents."
According to the stories, she had already been forced once to perform oral sex on the defendant, after having said no. Would it be prudent for her to tape future encounters in order to have evidence of rape if it happened again? Would it be prudent for a member of an already suspect profession to make sure her allegations would be believed if it happened again? Probably yes.
"We believe our client is a victim in this case."
Wait, what? I suppose it is an attorney's job to say things like that. And I'm sure it will be much easier to portray the defendant as a victim since the news has ensured that the alleged victim is seen as nothing more than a "prostitute" and therefore is not allowed to say no.

I hope KOB News got a nice check from the defendant's attorneys for services rendered.

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