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"Another Tacky Headline: The Media Outing of Alisha Smith, Lawyer and Purported Fetish Worker"

on Friday, 30 September 2011. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

SWOP-NYC

In a culture in which celebrities regularly don latex or leather and talk about kinky sex, our media outlets still have a way of trying to keep the average individual’s sexuality in check when it comes to private sexual behaviors. Tabloids such as the New York Post has a long history of taking pieces of schoolyard-like gossip and treating them like news articles, especially when it comes to women’s sexuality. In the last year alone, the Post has thrown the title of “hooker” at no less than three women in its headlines, one of which was a murder victim, and even managed to get the frontpage headline of “Crazy Stox Like a Hooker’s Drawers…UP, DOWN, UP,” complete with a photo of a lady in red, to fit what might otherwise have been a piece about the fledgling economy. The Post, it would seem, has got sex (and sex workers) on the brain.

The latest victim of the the Post‘s sharpened tongue is a lawyer for the state Attorney General’s office, Alisha Smith, who was suspended without pay from her position, following the Post’s inquiry regarding her participation in BDSM activities in her off hours. An anonymous source for the Post cited a standing executive order in the Attorney General’s Office, stating that employees must “obtain prior approval from the Employment Conduct Committee before engaging in any outside pursuit…from which more than $1,000 will be received or is anticipated to be received.”

Whether Smith is in breach of her contract remains to be seen. However, the ability of the Post to create the piece out of Smith’s story, which they then published, is now well documented. Using little more evidence than some tweets by Smith about personal lubricant and the unsubstantiated claim that “it is common in the S&M community for dominatrixes to receive payment for appearances at fetish parties,” the paper has singlehandedly managed to call a professional’s conduct into enough question to launch an internal investigation.

Responding to the suspension, the spokeswoman for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, Susan Wright, had this to say: “NCSF supports the rights of consenting adults to have a private life apart from their employment. Alisha Smith is another victim of the persecution that often occurs against people who engage in BDSM. Our research has found that one out of three kinky people have lost their job, lost child custody or has been the victim of violence because of their BDSM interests. The media should never out individuals simply to create a sensationalized story.” ...

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