OAKLAND, Calif. — “How dare you.”
That’s what adult film performer Lorelei Lee communicated to the New York Times today in an essay after the media company posted an article on yesterday’s Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board hearing over the now-failed condom proposal for porn productions.
Lee, who let her feelings be known in an essay available on publishing platform Medium.com, was critical over the portrayal of adult stars that has apparently become commonplace in the mainstream media — implying that porn performers “are not real, whole people.”
“We were not, as your article described us, ‘a parade,’” Lee said in the essay on Medium.com. “We were not there to put on a show, and our clothes, which your article focused on — pointing out that we were ‘fully dressed,’ as though our wearing clothes was a joke — were not costumes.
“How dare you gloss over the real and cogent content of our public testimony to focus on our ‘form-fitting’ dresses and ‘stiletto heels,’” she said. “We are not cartoons, and your description of us as ‘colorful’ demonstrates both a bias in reporting and an utter failure to hear my coworkers’ articulate and nuanced criticism of the proposed regulation.
Lee explained in her essay that the adult entertainment community came to Oakland to speak from their hearts, and that it was all in support of keeping the industry alive and in existence.
“Nearly 100 of my fellow performers and I took an unpaid day off from work to testify at yesterday’s meeting … ,” she wrote. “Some woke at 4 a.m. to fly to Northern California. Some drove seven hours from Los Angeles, and some flew across the country from their homes in other states.
Lee said: “I’m not writing to you simply because I am angered by the mistakes of one reporter. I’m writing to you because the way journalists describe us matters.”
She rightfully noted that “the way you talk about us has a direct impact on our ability to advocate for ourselves and on the tremendous stigma that we face every minute of our lives.”
“When we are fighting for our bodily safety, this dismissal of our humanity by a journalist amplifies our daily risk of harm,” she said. “It invites violence against our bodies by implying that we are not real, whole people. You know this. You report about frequent violent crimes against sex workers in your own paper.
“I promise you that my coworkers and I already know what most of the world thinks of us. We know that you are surprised to see us out and dressed in daylight. We know that you think we are fictional characters whose voices are always scripted, who only speak in explicit imperatives and double-entendres.
"We know that most of the world would prefer we not interrupt that fictional image with our actual voices. We know that most of the world will not believe us when we speak anyway.”
Lee's essay can be read here.