Why We Don’t Vet Stories, Sources, and Contributors The Way Traditional Reporters Do

by Josephine on May 26, 2017 · 2 comments

in Site News

Image via Sebastian Wiertz (flickr user wiertz)

Because the barriers preventing sex workers from being heard are already high enough.

Writers have professional training in one arena, sex workers have professional training in another arena. Sex workers aren’t always equipped with the skillset to pitch to traditional editors. TAS functions as the middle ground, bridging that gap.

Traditional publications interested in publishing sex workers have frequently leaned towards the salacious (and only quite recently has that started to shift). TAS is a space for covering the everyday minutiae of our work.

Because sex workers are also often members of other marginalized communities that are also systematically denied agency and disbelieved as common practice.

Victims of rape, victims of police violence, positive workers,  the working poor, intravenous and street drug users, trans identities, street workers, black bodies, and “no human involved”s are all members of the greater sex worker community.

Because, until recently, the smell test hasn’t failed us.

We regularly reject pitches from contributors that sound fishy. The outing of “faux ho” Alexa DiCarlo is an example of what a sex worker that doesn’t pass the test looks like. Lily Fury was able to embed herself because 99% of her life added up. She was indeed a street worker, an escort, and a heroin user, just as she wrote, with a sex worker community pedigree going back to the Suicide Girls. She has bylines in a variety of publications and, until then, she had verifiably positive rapport with many sex working activists and writers.  She worked hard on her digital blackface. By the time we first interacted with her invented personas, they too had many sex workers who vouched for them. We, until recently, had a positive working relationship with her and no reason not to trust her.

Because we don’t want to be the gatekeeper of who is or isn’t allowed into sex worker spaces.

That’s why we don’t ask for “reciepts,” a video chat, or verification from a second party. That kind of monitoring could create a slippery slope in which those with the most social capital oversee who can access our spaces.

Because we don’t want to know your legal or professional identity.

As it states in our General Submission Guidelines, we actively encourage our writers to use a pseudonym. Sex workers mask their identities for a variety of reasons—mainly that the social penalties for being outed are high.

We, of course, will protect the privacy of our writer’s identities as best we can, but the less we know about your legal or professional personas, the less information we will have to submit should we be subpoenaed or audited.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Misha May 26, 2017 at 4:13 pm

I am not a SW. However, I read T&S because it’s important to hear, to acknowledge, to know. As a bleeding heart whose pockets are shallow, but often open, I would rather deal with the occasional breach of trust than to have people silenced. Just my $0.02.

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Juniper Fitzgerald June 1, 2017 at 11:43 am

Thank you for this post. The L situation seems to be a larger problem of both white supremacy (even in her multiple, marginalized identities, L was still able to exercise supremacy) and the need for anonymity in the SW community, which is directly engendered by bad laws and social stigma.

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