If you’ve ever noticed, when the news involves strippers, prostitutes or dancers, the reporters will refer to their job titles more often than their gendered titles (woman/wife/sister…). This first came to my attention when I was researching the deaths of 5 women killed in Atlantic City. All 5 were prostitutes and most of the time the reporters chose this title over ‘women.’ The result is that we place a value judgment on their profession, and we give them less sympathy. Reading “5 Prostitutes Killed in Atlantic City” is far more titillating — and less sympathetic — than reading, “5 Women Killed in Atlantic City.” Yet, they are women, no?
Here’s an article on the “Craigslist Killer” that refers to a woman as a stripper. We’ve already been told repeatedly that the killer attacks women who post ads under erotic services on Craigslist, so this is not providing a service to the readers:
Asaid Friday that Markoff’s fingerprint was found on a wall of the Holiday Inn Express in Warwick, R.I. where a stripper has said she was tied up and held at gunpoint by a man she met through the site.
Read the full article (“Craigslist founder isn’t closing ‘erotic’ section” by Eric Tucker) here.
This news story refers to the woman as a prostitute in the headline, then goes on to call her an “alleged prostitute” in the article. BUT, her convicted activities are listed as:
…burglary, possession of controlled substances, forging or signing as a fictitious person and other identity theft crimes.
We really don’t know if this woman is a prostitute or not. She claims the man that was killed had made “obscene requests” for sexual acts. But, if they are going to be fair enough to refer to her as an “alleged prostitute” in the article, shouldn’t they give her the same benefit of the doubt in the headline? Why do they refer to her as a prostitute and the man as a “brother”? They could have said, “brother and sister,” or “siblings” easily enough. I suppose that’s not as exciting? And, since her brother was the one that actually beat the guy and put a plastic bag over his head (she stood by), why are they considered equal in the crime, per the headline? Here’s the first paragraph:
An alleged prostitute, who along with her brother, is suspected in the stabbing death of a Canadian man who owned a vacation home in Indio, pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder and other felony charges.
This is what witnesses report:
Nearly one year later, witnesses said they saw two men beating Dobbs at the apartment as Jackie Dunson stood by and watched.
“They said they could hear Robert yelling at a subject telling him that the pin number had better be the right one,” Patterson wrote. “They saw Robert dragging a white male subject by his shoulders from the living room area into the kitchen. They said the subject was bleeding from the back area and they saw Robert place a black garbage type bag over the subject’s head and tape it around his neck.”
Now, since murder is the #1 cause of death of a prostitute, it’s quite easy to find news stories about homicides of women who work in prostitution:
A Paterson man is under arrest on charges he killed a prostitute.
This is common language used by a batterer for minimalizing the damage he does:
Aguiar told police that during their altercation, he tried to restrain Berry by holding her throat and that she fell unconscious and died, Giaquinto said. He said Aguiar carried Berry from his apartment, down the stairs and put her body on the street.
Woolbright died of blunt force injury.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Heath Velliquette said the killing is believed to involve drugs and said Woolbright worked as a prostitute.
In this headline, the woman doesn’t even work in the profession anymore, but still gets called a dancer. She’s 47 years old – How long ago did she dance? She’s accused of killing her husband. His profession? He was an art dealer. I guess “Wife kills Art Dealer” isn’t attention-grabbing enough.