Hull, whorephobia and those pesky Christian rescuers.

Posted on August 14, 2013

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The local press is a deep and rich vein of whorephobia. Headlines are written to titillate the small-minded and send them tutting over the tea-table, so it was no surprise to see The Hull and East Riding Mail living up, or should that be down to these barrel scraping standards.

Mums ‘selling sex to feed their children as benefit cuts hit Hull’s poorest

As headlines go, not that bad. The coalition is leading a determined was on the poorest in the UK, the bedroom tax, the attempt to label all people with disabilities scroungers, the freezing of benefits, which means a cut, when we have some of the highest food prices in Europe. People are going hungry, and survival sex work has kept more than one child clothed and fed.  Sex work is after all legal, and you are not likely to be treated as a feather in their cap by the police as with this lovely tweet.

Just dealt with a Shoplifter at Tesco. The lady tried to leave without paying for some jars of baby food, two young children with her.

So, as people reach breaking point, with the added pressure that the summer holidays place on family budgets, women have bills to pay.  This could be an article about the clusterfuck that are coalition policies, about the gaping holes that now exist in what is meant to be a safety net. However, it’s the local press, that might actually be political, so instead we get whorephobia, stigma and shaming.

“Staff at the Lighthouse Project, a charity supporting street workers in Hull, have seen a increase in women turning to prostitution as unemployment rates soar and benefit cuts take hold.”

Turning to? Are women turning to Asda? Turning to call centers? Turning to cleaning jobs and bar work? Or are they trying to find a way to keep their head above water, to look after their families, to survive the war on the poor launched by the ConDems?

The piece mentions a charity that works with sex workers, one that we might hope challenged stigma, provided support that empowered, perhaps one that was sex worker led, and focussed on what sex workers wanted? We would be hoping untill hell froze over. Lighthouse is a Christian Charity dedicated it seems to stopping women being sex workers. As they proudly say on their website;

The drop-in is used by over 90% of the women who work on the streets and over 40 women have been helped out of a life of prostitution.

Oh well that’s fine then, a charity that sees sex workers as nothing more than their job (That “life of prostitution “is one of my huge bug bears, do shop assistants have a life of selling bananas, or do people respect them enough to see them as more than one aspect of their life)  is the perfect group to be working with the police and talking to the newspapers about street sex workers.

“Anne Dannerolle, chair of trustees at the charity, revealed they are now giving out food parcels to the women selling their bodies for sex.”

Just, you know, those moments when you think the rescue industry cannot get anymore patronising, revictiminisng and whorephobic, and then you read something so bad, you realise oh yes it can.

Firstly, selling our bodies is never OK.  It is a straight line to the idea we cannot consent, do not have agency, do not have bodily autonomy. The antis say we sell our bodies because they deny us the right to consent. Which of course feeds into the idea sex workers are unrapeable, after all if you have sold your body you no longer have the rights to it. We sell a sexual service, our body remains our own. More on this here.

Secondly, food fucking parcels! Is Anne Dannerolle picturing herself as lady Bountiful here, handing our sweetmeats to the masses? These women must be stopped from working so they can be reliant on the charity of the church? In which world except a world where sex work is seen as the ultimate sin for any women is this OK?

Dannerolle makes her view of sex work very clear later on in the piece

“I suppose it is seen as a crime that hurts nobody – it just hurts themselves

 

Remember this is the chair of a charity that claims to want to support sex workers, that sees all sex work as intrinsically damaging! I would be very interested to know how it damages me and thousands like me? What magical thing happens when I accept money for a sexual service that turns me from damaged to undamaged? I hope she is also referring to soliciting as the crime here, that she is aware that sex work is legal in the UK. Not that the antis love muddying the water about that so they can push end demand models.

There is then a Policewoman repeating the same ideas as Dannerolle, that sex workers sell their bodies, are “really sad” for not wanting to remain in poverty. However she also makes clear the real push behind the police interest.

“The rise has led to an increase in complaints from residents, who say they regularly see people having sex in public places and come across litter, including used condoms.

Complaints have been made about Hessle Road, the Boulevard, English Street, Witty Street and Constable Street.

Street workers have also been seen in Porter Street, Midland Street and Pease Street. PC Summerfield said: “We have had more complaints from residents, which is why we are launching another project.”

So what actually this is about the residents objection to street workers, not “rescuing” them.  There are issues when street sex workers and residents have different needs, but dont pretend this is about sex workers.

Summerfield does pay lip service to the idea that this is about the needs of the workers.

“It is a residential area and we want to make it clear we are not going to accept it. It is also about helping the girls, finding out what their issues are and seeing what we can do.

Their issue is they are skint, what are you going to do lead a revolution, overthrow the state and install a marxist utopia?

“They will be offered support and advice to tackle the reasons they are working as prostitutes.”

See above…they are working because they have no money and there are no jobs!

There is a story here, about the deep crisis in so many communities today, a crisis deliberately designed by the Tories, ideologically driven and targeted at the most vulnerable. Treating sex workers as victims of their own choices, assuming they have not examined their options, and that retraining (laundries anyone?) will solve all their problems, is not the story, but it is whorephobia.

Posted in: stigma, The media