This article originally appeared in the Times of Israel here.
The term “yellow journalism,” refers to sensationalized news stories, usually consisting of factually inaccurate articles, which employ exaggeration and shock value to embellish the truth:anything and everything to increase newspaper sales. The truth is that most of us like reading yellow journalism (otherwise we would not read newspapers) and yet simultaneously we vocalize our disgust for the medium (out of self-righteousness of course). Contrary to yellow journalism, another form of journalism exists: let’s call it “black journalism.” This unique form of communication fabricates completely bogus stories, solely to serve the agenda of organized crime and the underworld.
In my opinion, there is nothing more indicative of black journalism than the articles that have recently appeared in major Israeli newspapers describing prostitutes as women who supposedly chose the profession voluntarily. For lack of a better term, let’s call them “happy hookers.” In one such article, a woman is described as having graduated with a degree in nuclear engineering from the Weizmann Institute and upon receiving her academic title, decided to begin working as a prostitute. Why, you ask? Simply because she enjoys the occupation and feels that it gives her self-worth. After all, freedom of occupation is a fundamental right in the State of Israel-so, why not?
Another common story portrays a Hebrew University law student (on the Dean’s List of course) who is struggling financially and therefore decides to work as a prostitute to cover her tuition and living expenses. According to the article, she does not intendto make a career out of prostitution and insists that the moment she finishes studying, she will quit her job as a prostitute and begin working as an attorney.
The percentage of those reading these articles is relatively high. Why? Simple. They are about sex, and after all, sex always sells. Yet the stories in these articles are far from the daily experience of prostitutes and flagrantly distort the truth, lacking factual accuracy and breaching thebasic ethics of journalism. I therefore, doubt that newspaper ratings and sales are the sole drive behind their publication. This is undoubtedly the product of a well-oiled public relations scheme. As readers, we should strive to uncover the true objective behind any article; and in my opinion, there are several apparent motives behind the publication of this type of blatant misinformation.
First, there are those who want us to believe that prostitutes actually enjoy providing sexual services in exchange for money. This agenda hides the fact that most prostitutes suffer from physical and psychological trauma and feel disgusted with themselves and their clients (so disgusted that they scrub themselves raw after every workday). Men, believe it or not, she is not providing you with sexual services because you are good-looking in her eyes, or because she is sexually attracted to you. You are just another one of her many clients – another means to obtain a bit of money to continue supporting unhealthy habits, which help her escape from her sad reality.
Second, there are those that want men to think prostitutes are ordinary citizens who are strong, healthy, and content. They do not want men to know or think about the empirical truth: most prostitutes are addicted to drugs, under the influence of narcotics while providing sexual services, and many times carriers of dangerous sexually transmitted diseases.
Third, someone wants men to believe that most prostitutes purposefully chose the profession and even gave up other lucrative occupations to pursue prostitution. However, statistically 90% of prostitutes have suffered from childhood sexual abuse, a trauma that causes a lowered sense of self-worth and has brought them to the point of self-loathing and masochism. Even worse, one third of prostitutes are under the age of 18. Without swift and decisive intervention by law enforcement, these girls are destined to live a life of suffering and self-destruction.
Some say that prostitution is a legitimate profession because it contributes to the economy. However, the profits stemming from prostitution go directly back to organized crime rings, helping to fund drug trafficking and human trafficking. Others have argued that prostitution is a valid solution for men who would otherwise satisfy their sexual appetite through rape and sexual harassment. I hope that most people recognize this as a delusion since prostitutes are the very victims of such violence on a regular basis. In fact, there are 40 times more homicides among prostitutes than in the general population.
In light of the aforesaid, I think that we have indeed understood the objectives behind the fallacious stories of black journalism. If so, then who are the people behind these publications? Who funds this sort of PR? I recently read a ridiculous newspaper column regarding a non-profit organization founded by so-called “happy hookers” to fight against legislation aimed at outlawing prostitution. Indeed, it is certainly not surprising that some prostitutes would object; they are afraid of losing their livelihood.
With the absence of an appropriate rehabilitation program, prostitutes may find themselves unemployed. But the truth is that the prostitution industry in Israel brings in about three and a half billion shekels a year. And who enjoys these huge sums? The Prostitutes? Not exactly. The main beneficiaries of the sex industry are the pimps, handlers and traffickers of human beings. The same people who are employing PR firms to bring us stories about “happy hookers.”
We are faced today with an historic opportunity. The criminalization of the client law, initiated by MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima), passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset four months ago. According to the bill, anyone who is caught soliciting sex in exchange for money will be required to attend sex addiction rehabilitation while repeat offenders could face a maximum of 6 months in prison. A similar law was ratified in Sweden several years ago resulting in a 50% reduction in their prostitution industry. If only our current government, who justifies its existence by promising to advance social issues, would pass the bill on its second and third Knesset readings; this would be a major step towards restoring respect and dignity for women in Israel.
This process, however, would be much easier if it were not for the stories being published today that distort the grim realities of prostitution into being delightful tales of a wonderful life. If you think that yellow journalism has high ratings, it is extremely difficult to compete with black journalism.