Shame on Diane Sawyer

As sex workers, allies, and activists, we are deeply concerned about the “Prostitution in America” report that aired on “20/20″ hosted by Diane Sawyer.

Although prostitutes are the people most strongly affected and harmed by existing prohibitionist policies against prostitution, the report did not feature prostitutes’ perspectives on the legal status of prostitution. The only person interviewed whose perspective was featured on this issue was a reporter for the New York Times who promoted the Swedish model, even though Swedish prostitutes have denounced this legislation. Yet, their perspectives were not represented either.

Furthermore, we also found it highly offensive when Sawyer denied the perspectives of an independent, indoor sex worker just because her perspectives differed from Sawyer’s. Sawyer invalidated this woman’s perspective based on her own bias against sex workers. This is a violation to the women that she interviewed and to sex workers of all different backgrounds. Similarly, there was no legitimate reason for Sawyer to ask if the sex worker had any mental or emotional problems. Sex workers have the right to define our experiences for ourselves.

Just like any labor force, sex workers are a diversity of people with a variety of experiences and perspectives on our work. When reporting on sex work, it is important to respect this diversity as well as the sex workers. It is also essential to allow sex worker voices on public policies such as the legal status of prostitution, which affect not only our livelihood but our safety, dignity and human rights.
“Diane wrapped-up the program with another mention of the Christian holiday and a quote from the bible; the one about being the first to cast a stone.

I guess the irony of a sinning journalist stoning another profession was lost on ABC.

But not us.

The stigma of sex, especially as it is in this country, clouds the thinking of most people; we just didn’t expect the clouds to render Diane Sawyer free of her journalistic integrity; indeed, of any rational thought.” Gracie Passette via Sex In The Public Square

10 Responses

  1. I think this is great, Stacey, and thank you so much for fixing the grammatical faux pas in my draft. The direct quote from Gracie is also excellent. Great work!

  2. […] reporters like Diane Sawyer doing such a disservice to sex workers, projects like Red Light District Chicago are definitely […]

  3. Excellent! Thank you!

  4. Thanks so much for writing and posting this Stacey. I will be linking to it from my personal blog as well as my sex info blog.

  5. I feel it’s so important not to let this issue die, so I posted an update, which includes posted comments from one of the workers in the 20/20 piece.

  6. Gracie, I would love to get you on XBN, SWOP East’s live show on blog talk radio on monday, tuesday, or later next week, if you are interested please contact me at swopeastnc@gmail.com

    Jill Brenneman

  7. I just watched some of the video of the show and it’s positively hideous. She starts out telling you what her premise is…fear and dependency of women who work as prostitutes….bla bla bla.

    Diana Sawyer pimped the corporate media’s #1 agenda, fear and dependency.

    Lesson #1 never participate in an interview where the premise is against your economic best interest.

  8. Started watching the clips on the abc.com site. Confirms every stereotype of network “journalists.”
    Sawyer learned quite a bit working in the Nixon White House. How does she look herself in the mirror?

  9. I notice that on Twitter it says that Diane Sawyer has interviewed Ashley Dupre.

    I’m rather loathe to watch this for what possible stereotypes and slut-shaming Sawyer is going to throw at Dupre, so I hope Dupre has handled it with grace and poise.

  10. […] media representation of sex workers is a huge problem and nowhere near nuanced enough. Just look at the Diane Sawyer 20/20 special if you want one example of […]

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