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I’m curious — why didn’t you ask me in our pre-interview about being a former sex worker? Did you know it was because I would likely have canceled the interview?
I was under the impression you booked me as one of the few journalists who covers this issue. Not to challenge a “happy hooker” quip.
(In fact, I have already done so. In an essay. Unrelated to the labor conditions of my cunt.)
This is what I do for a living, and why you are writing to me in the first place: because you read something, that I wrote, and was paid for.
I do not need to be reminded, while doing my job, that I used to do another one.
It is my job to research, report, and write. I speak for no one. I speak from my work, now – the thousands of hours of tape and years of building relationships with human rights advocates, attorneys, and researchers; the days I have spent talking to women who have been through our prisons and courts; the stories of family members grieving for their daughters, who tell me other reporters called them “prostitutes” or “junkies” and moved on.
Are there other guests you ambush with the demand to speak from their own experience? Are there other guests you don’t discuss this with first in a pre-interview? Are there other guests with whom you assume this is acceptable?
Must a reporter who comes on to talk about migration be asked first if they are undocumented, if they mentioned it once before? How often do you ask reporters covering Title IX to answer questions about rape based on their own experience, if they have also written about their own sexual assault? Are all guests on shows about police violence asked about their arrests? When Prop 8 passed in California, did you ask any out queer reporters what they would say to anti-queer bigots who said no happy queers existed?
Who is asked to report from the conditions of their own body? A body that is, in these cases, already disbelieved? A body that is, in these cases, already suspect?
Who is asked to be a body that is already disbelieved, and who just gets to report what they see and learned from the world around them?
When I interview people, I know that no one is just one thing; no one is defined by their work; no one can speak for anyone.
Do not misread me: I don’t refuse your questions because I don’t want to speak from my own experience in sex work. I refuse them because I don’t want to speak from my own experience in sex work as mediated by you.
I am not grateful for the invitation. I am sick that this surprises you, that you now want to “apologize if [I] felt mislead or felt that the questions were inappropriate.” I am tired of having to do my job while defending my ability to do my job.
Please, do your job.