“Presstitutes” and the Repercussions for Prostitutes

In a time and age where cuss words seamlessly roll off everyone’s tongues, what is the consequence when our Minister of State for External Affairs too partakes in such a practice?

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Gen. Singh’s controversial tweet

The Indian forces zealously worked for the rescue operations in Yemen and ought to be lauded for the same. When a certain minister happened to comment upon carrying out such operations in a sarcastic tone, that too to reflect upon the severity of such operations, the media was quick to twist the comment and blow it out of proportion. But then again multiple news networks are known for sensationalizing news and satiating their hunger with the limelight they subsequently tend to receive.

“Friends what do you expect from #presstitutes” was the former Army chief’s retort to the attacks directed against him via a social networking portal. The term ‘presstitutes’ is an infusion of two words intended to denote the lack of neutral journalism prevailing currently. Paid journalism and biases are a stark reality evident from political linkages and ownership by corporate houses. Moreover, the media not only criticizes but also quite literally gives a public beating to persons through its medium. Thus, in turn the media should be game in accepting the same treatment coming their way.However, the issue at hand is not that the media is immaturely failing to take criticism in its stride. The issue herein is the manner in which such criticism is made and that too by whom.

It remains a struggle for sex workers to shed association with the term prostitutes. Hardly ever is heed paid to the fact that most sex workers are pushed into the line with or without free will only in order to scrap up putting money on the table. Simply put, most within this domain are succumbing to their basic instinct of survival. Yet we live in a society that absolutely disregards such truths, is quick to conclude that such persons are of poor character and merely dehumanizes them. The term prostitute has thus become synonymous with lowly character and shoddy persons reaffirming the society’s belief in segregating them.

Against the backdrop of such a struggle the few feeble attempts made to alter people’s mindsets towards sex workers also go down the drain when a general of great public standing also stoops to using the said term as an abuse. A verbal attack relying on such a term adds impetus to the precedent of how prostitutes are of ill character and are abhorrent beings.

Thus, the problem here isn’t of the media coming under criticism because as the pioneering criticizing body it needs to accept that criticism will be a two-way street. Instead, the issue at hand is that of the usage of the term prostitutes as a cuss word on account of the further deteriorating status of the e group. Like the entire human civilization they too provide a service and in turn seek remuneration for the same. Why demean them further? Certainly, the press’s lack of neutral journalism or their compromised working or their failure at honest reporting, can be stated in a plethora of ways other than the one actually adopted.

Moreover, the usage of the term in such a manner by an official holding a high post further validates such derogatory connotations to those associated. Do we expect a higher standard of behaviour from such ministers of state? Yes, because those entrusted with the responsibility of bringing about progressive changes are expected to lead not by empty words but by action. It is imperative that they maintain decorum. Even while under attack we do not expect them to resort to such conduct in an agitated state. Counter-attack too can be moulded and directed through dignified speech. A good leader leads by example and better conduct is desired on their part for better conduct to follow. The voices of public figures imprint largely upon the minds of many who are listening to them and a bit by bit alteration in mindsets and upliftment can see the light of the day only if they vice their opinion more soundly.

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3 Responses

  1. Ashok Chhibbar says:

    Niyati Saxena has raised some very valid points. However, I do not agree with her on a few counts. Firstly, and unfortunately, everyone seems to compare the new word “presstitute” with the “prostitute”. Apart from the fact that the word is a derivative, the new word gives no pleasure. This term is applicable ONLY to the media who have subjugated the need to disseminate correct news as truthfully as possible to lucre of money. He who pays well gets prominence or is able to denigrate some one. Secondly, is a cuss word emanating from the tweet of a Minister more diabolical than when it comes from someone else’s tweet? In today’s world, perhaps no. Especially when the facts are twisted almost to a vulgar extent.The minister, also an ex General, fired a shot and it hit where it was intended to. Smarting at the unexpected tweet, the likes of Arnab, Rajdeep and Shekhar were stunned, and reacted as only they know how to react. Poorly. The response of the General, nay the MoS, was a stoic silence, which was the most appropriate response to ‘gutter’-talk. Thirdly, The prostitute need not to be ashamed or hurt with the coinage of the new term. Paradoxically, it highlights their ‘profession’ for the government to take remedial action, and spread awareness, albeit in a positive mode, about the world’s oldest profession.

  2. Mahesh says:

    Niyati, well written…have seen you growing up and it gives me pleasure and pride to see you writing articles in a professional manner…everyone has a view; so have you and you are entitled to it…let me mention a point or two…first, you are right in saying that Gen should refrain from using terms which might belittle his stature, given the type of background he has…second, prostitutes is a word which convey many other meanings depending upon the usage…for eg, it also means a person who uses his or her talent in an unworthy or base way to earn money…there is nothing denigrating in the term; the problem lies is in how the society perceives something or deals with it…so if few members of the press use their work in a base manner to earn money or make headlines or sensationalize, they are akin to prostitutes…so, presstitutes….so what’s the big deal?…the hullabaloo in the instant case and fallout was primarily directed at making the General uncomfortable since the press has been at his crosshairs for reasons many know…the word he used was meant for a purpose and the soldier knew which ammo will hit the hardest…that’s the crux…linking it to collateral damage, like the stigma attached to the ‘oldest’ profession is another issue altogether, which must be addressed in ‘spirit’ and not merely in ‘letters’ by giving is a more respectable hue, like sex workers…if ground reality doesn’t change even if we abolish words or systems, then it is cosmetic as it happened in case of ‘devdasi’ system…
    I understand where you are coming from but I couldn’t resist penning a few thoughts. Like I said earlier, I am proud of you…keep it up, Niyati.

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