Media Necrophilia on the Body of a 'One-Legged Hooker'

Chris's picture

I'm going to give a mixed response to Reneé at Womanist Musings today. On the one hand, props on her masterful, passionate analysis of the media coverage of the murder of Elizabeth Acevedo, a 38-year-old disabled woman who worked as a prostitute. Avecedo was fatally struck on the head in the hallway of her apartment building, possibly by a client. And like I say, I have to give props to Reneé for her post, but part of me is pissed at her for ruining my otherwise excellent mood. Acevedo's death is tragic enough in itself, but the coverage of her death is just damn ugly. In particular, the gossip site Bossip describes her death as "comedy gold." Acevedo lost a leg in a train accident several years ago; therein lies the humor of her too-early death, and it seems that newswriters can't use the phrase "one-legged hooker" quite enough, as though 38 years can be summed up in those three words.

Acevedo's treatment by the papers that Reneé links to makes me think of her as a modern-day version of Mrs. Hutchinson, the woman who is selected by chance and stoned to death by her family and friends as a sacrifice to insure prosperity for their village in Shirley Jackson's classic story "The Lottery." Only the analogy isn't quite accurate. In Jackson's story, the villagers saw the ritual murder of their neighbor as a grim duty. It was unpleasant, but had to be done for the common good. The delight that the newswriters  take in Acevedo's life and death exhibits a deeper, uglier sadism than I've ever seen in any porno or dungeon. I know that I'm going to be thinking of Acevedo when this year's International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers comes around, because the naked contempt for her death says so much about who our society considers disposable. In the end, she's not a tragedy. Just a one-liner. In "The Lottery," the village got flourishing crops from the annual murder of one of their own. What is it about Elizabeth Acevedo's death that's supposed to enrich and ennoble us?

On "Bonnie's Blog of Crime," there is a comment about Elizabeth from someone who signs themself only as "A Relative." In some ways it's also ambivalent about her life, but it's a more humane eulogy than anything the media seems willing to grant her:

Although Elizabeth choose to live that lifestyle she did not deserve to die the way she did. I pray that who ever is responsible for her murder would get the maximum penalty. Inspite of her difficult life there was a side of her that everyone loved. She was a caring & friendly, idividual. She may have been the way she was but she still touched the heart to those that were around her.I know that she is now in a better place May she rest in peace