Whores In The Media

Published 15, Mar, 2011

Michael Burtch says "The U.K.’s Attitude Magazine has long been my ’gay bible’, a progressive, sometimes satirical, politically relevant, health and wellness conscious read from the United Kingdom. However . . . .

. . . . December’s Sex Issue was one of the most whore-phobic, HIV-phobic, inaccurate, and infuriating reads of my life!"
To start with, the cover features twelve sex workers, but inside each is given only a few sentences to comment on the struggles, joys, benefits, and love of their work. Instead primarily celebrities and  porn consumers are asked to comment, debate, and theorize on work they have never performed!

Editor Mathew Todd sets the offensive tone early on in the December issue by writing that he agrees with a quote that reads ’Porn is immoral, degrading, exploitative. I warn young people away from it and I hate everything about what they do, but I love their product’ and then goes on to draw causation  between bareback porn and increasing HIV rates when in fact, none has been proven to exist. In an editorial debate about porn, writer Tim Teeman would further the misconception by writing “Bareback porn glorifies and encourages the kind of sexual behaviour that ultimately endangers not only the watcher’s health but also the men he’ll go on to have sex with.”
 Once again, HIV+ men are portrayed as predators, and responsibility is removed from consensual, sexual partners who’s status is unknown. He leaves disclosure, sero-sorting, and harm reduction out of the equation and  continues to perpetuate one of the main failures of HIV prevention work, that wearing a condom every time is your only option.         

The magazine goes on to name twelve reasons to do, or not do, porn, writing “you're more likely to catch a million STD’s” and that “you're more likely to catch HIV”, neither of which is true. In fact, sex workers practise safer sex at greater a rate then the general population! They go on  to write “that future boyfriends don’t tend to like it” and imply your parents will be ashamed of you. This kind of sex-negativity only re-enforces and propels negative attitudes towards sex work which is legitimate and fulfilling work that makes an important contribution to our society!
Now, compare that to the Inked Magazines Sex Issue which featured porn star Teagan Presley on the cover, many more inked female porn stars inside, and celebrates their accomplishments in sex work by listing their awards, career making performances, and featuring personable quotes. The magazine even interviews male porn star Evan Seinfeld and gives him four pages to express himself! “I love the fact that I run into people almost every day- even people in my own subculture, even a lot of my friends who are in hardcore bands, who are tattoo artists or bikers, people I know in renegade punk bands or who are gangsters- that are totally shook to their core by the fact that I do porn. I love the outlaw nature of porn…”  

How is it that a liberal queer publication like Attitude Magazine can be so wrapped up in assimilation over celebrating diversity, and be ignorant of an important social justice issue, while a mainstream hetero publication like Inked Magazine can celebrate sex workers and sex itself ? I think the quote from porn star Evan Seinfeld offers a clue. People have to stop being afraid of sex in general and allow sex workers to practise their professions free of legal and social discrimination, victimization, harassment and violence!
Sex work is awesome, skilled, independent, brave, hard work and it deserves to be written about, discussed, and portrayed as such! So, the next time you pick up a newspaper, book, magazine, or view a website that says differently, write to them, and tell them why your not OK with them vilifying your Mother, your transgender friend, your funny neighbour, or the love of your life, in print!

Have more questions about why sex work is important work? Visit POWER: Prostitutes of Ottawa/Gatineau Work, Educate, Resist at www.tinyurl.com/OTTAWApower