My madcap adventures in Germany during my year as a Fulbright Scholar.

27 January 2007


Slate's printed a couple of articles in the past week about unspeak, words that "contain a whole unspoken political argument" and are "an attempt to say something without saying it," like pro-choice, pro-life, or terrorist surveillance program. The most glaring example I have found in recent days comes from CNN. Go read the article and see if you can guess what I'm talking about.

I think the author, Dan Rivers, shows how unspeak like the term "sex worker" can seep into a journalist's vocabulary. I don't deny there are women who work willingly and voluntarily in the sex industry and don't consider themselves exploited, and for them the term "sex worker" seems appropriate. All too often, though, it is a blanket term, used to sanitize ugly situations where women who are victims of poverty, drugs and abuse resort to desperate measures. Rivers uses the term indiscrimately, even applying it to children who are kidnapped, held captive and raped repeatedly. Calling that "sex work" is wildly inappropriate.



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