Over the past two days The Sun and its Scottish Sister paper have featured women on their front page. Yesterday In Scotland they outed a sex worker, a story that is as big as non story as exists but the tabloids are obsessed with. A young woman legally working was slut shamed, and now has to face the stigma, probable loss of business, hate from the public and abuse this usually entails. We have covered this before and Scot Pep has released a statement on this latest press intrusion into the private life of an individual.
Unsurprisingly it caused very little upset outside sex work circles, despite the fact a recent survey in Ireland showed that 75% of sex workers did not report crimes because of a fear of media outings. We are not linking to the story itself as it will further open her up to public disapproval and possible danger.
Today the English version of the pestilent rag that calls itself a newspaper had another woman on its front cover, a Muslim woman who has asked to appear in court wearing her niqab. That is the full face veil which leaves only the eyes visible. The judge refused on the grounds that the court had to be sure who they were dealing with. We are not linking to the sun story either, because I don’t want links to foul, racism in something I am writing. You can read more here. They also made a series of demands:
1) BAN veils in school, courts and hospitals
2) BAN them in airports, banks and secure areas
3) LET employer decide if ok in the workplace
4) BUT freedom to wear them in the street
There may seem no comparison between a sex worker and a devout woman of faith (although of course many sex workers are also people of religious faith) however both front pages are in fact exactly the same.
Patriarchy, in this case the Sun, deciding how it is acceptable for women to act, what they ought to wear, how they can be part of mainstream society. There is an excellent piece here by Bina Shah, a Pakistani writer, of the assumptions we often make about those who wear the niqab. This blog, indeed the entire everyday whorephobia project is about the assumptions people make about sex workers. The fact is these stories boil down to the same set of prejudiced beliefs;
- Women who act outside the norm of western patriarchy are being forced into it by men.
- Women are not capable of making informed choices
- Women’s clothing and behaviour should be controlled by those who know “better” what is the best for them. (i.e white men)
- Women are a threat if they make choices that are not mainstream.
We have always stood against the Lose the lad mags campaign to put sex workers and glamour models out of work led by people like Object and UK Feminista, and No more page three. We wish that they turned their attentions to those who would police all women, rather than joining in the attempts to decide which women are acceptable in twenty-first century Britain.
We support whole heartedly the right of women to choose for themselves what they wear and when, be it full face veil in court or nothing whilst performing on stage.