The Word “Presstitute” Is Insulting (To Sex Workers): Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Caitlin Johnstone
5 min readApr 9, 2023


Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

Responding to a war caused by NATO expansion by expanding NATO.

Fighting Russian authoritarianism by increasing censorship.

Fighting Russian propaganda by increasing propaganda.

Pursuing peace by rejecting diplomacy.

Defending Europe from Russia by bombing European pipelines.

Twitter has dropped its entirely appropriate designation of NPR as “state-affiliated media”, instead creating an entirely new designation, “Government Funded”, which it has also now given to the accounts of outlets like the BBC and Voice of America. You still see establishment guard dogs decrying this new label for western propaganda outlets on nonsensical pedantic grounds, but really the problem is that they’re not receiving the same “state-affiliated media” label as outlets like RT and Press TV despite being equally propagandistic. The label is designed to provide the false impression that western propaganda outlets are not propaganda outlets.

It’s actually very revealing how huffy and indignant empire apologists are getting over the “Government Funded” label, because it shows that they see it as Twitter’s responsibility to facilitate western propaganda. Imperial spinmeisters have a vested interest in maintaining the illusion that propaganda is something that only happens to other people, and any move that might disrupt that illusion even slightly is met with hostility.

It’s one of the most shameful jobs in the entire world to spend your time doing critical reporting on the enemies of your government while ignoring your own government’s far more egregious crimes.

People talk about sex work as shameful, and in America they’ll even shame you for working a low-paying job like McDonald’s, when on all our screens every day we see people selling their own government’s ugly foreign policy in a line of work that is entire universes more shameful.

That’s why I dislike the use of the word “presstitute” to refer to these people. Not because it’s insulting to the press, but because it’s insulting to sex workers.

Over and over and over again we see US officials talking very differently about a hot war with China over Taiwan than they talked about hot war with Russia over Ukraine. This is absolute screaming insanity, and it should enrage everyone.

The US has no place flirting with the possibility of an Atomic Age world war over a longstanding inter-Chinese conflict that’s none of the west’s business. It should enrage us all that they’re talking about throwing our sons and daughters into the gears of that horrific war.

China must be stopped before it imposes totalitarian diplomacy on Ukraine and authoritarian peace in the middle east.

We’ve got to stop China from achieving peace over there so we don’t have to stop it from achieving peace over here.

It’s a completely false narrative that the US is “polarized” politically. On the most consequential matters both factions are always in enthusiastic agreement; the “divisions” are limited to superficial culture war issues whose outcomes will never affect anyone with real power.

If anything the US could stand to be far more politically “polarized”, because it would mean actual political opposition happening in the world’s most powerful country instead of nonstop kayfabe combat while the empire marches on uninterrupted regardless of who’s in office.

What would it mean if humans are the lone intelligence in the universe? If there are no aliens, no gods, no conscious AI waiting to emerge in the future? Well, it would mean we’ve got a lot more responsibility, for one. Nobody’s coming to the rescue. It’s on us to fix this mess.

And I think that’s probably a big part of what drives the belief that we’re not alone — not because the evidence is particularly strong, but because of how intimidating the prospect is.

That’s what I find when I look within myself, anyway. When I ask myself “What if we’re alone in this?” the very first response that comes up within me is, “Ah shit.”

Because think about what that would mean. Think about it and feel about it. Not only would it mean we’re permanently on our own when it comes to fixing all our massive problems, but we’ve also got a massive responsibility not to fuck this all up. If we’re the only intelligent life in the universe, then we’ve actually got a serious responsibility to try and preserve that life.

I mean, if we wipe ourselves out with nuclear war or environmental collapse, or with some other wonderful technology-based emergence we haven’t invented yet, then that’s bad enough by itself. But if on top that we also wiped out the only intelligent life in the universe, it’s almost infinitely worse, no? It means we didn’t just inflict that horror upon ourselves, we inflicted it upon the future of the entire universe.

And I just think that’s probably what drives a lot of the belief that there’s something else out there. The fact that we’re all kind of intimidated by the responsibility which would come with our being alone.


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