Reading Anna Pulley’s, “The Zola Show and Why It Was Hard to Look Away” I am not only baffled by her conclusion but also angered. Pulley explores many angles of Zola’s twitter stripper-hoe narrative: social media responses, narrative style, sex-worker script, race, cultural desensitivity, story ownership and story veracity. She also acknowledges that, “we see depictions of sex workers of color (often tragic, often exploited — or living it up in a music video), but we rarely hear from them.” However, she concludes that though Zola’s narrative is compelling, it does not deserve praise and attention because it is missing empathy. Ending on such a sour note gives us more insight into Pulley than Zola.
In her synopsis of Zola’s 154 tweet story, Pulley misses the most salient point: Jess betrayed Zola. At every step of the story Zola notes the many ways in which Jess lied to her beginning in the car. Zola thought she was on a stripper trip not a trap (prostitution) trip. After they left the strip club, Jess-at her pimp’s suggestion says she needs to trap because she didn’t make any money stripping. When Zola confronts Jess in the hotel room Jess says, “I didn’t wanna take this trip alone. Please don’t leave me. I would be so scared alone.” Jess trapped Zola in a web that could have led to her rape, entrance into a criminal life or death. Jess knowingly betrays Zola. Did she really ensnare Zola for companionship or for her pimp? In either case, is Jess the only victim in this narrative? (more…)