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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 October 2007

ITV2 making a good deal out of women's bodies

Lois Austin comments on the heavily promoted ITV2 programme, 'Secret Diary of a Call Girl'.

LIKE MANY other socialists and campaigners for women's rights I feel incredibly angry at the portrayal of prostitution in the new TV programme 'Secret Diary of a Call Girl', with Billy Piper playing the lead role.

Prostitution is glorified and shown to be a glamorous career option in which Piper's character has the pleasure of entertaining attractive and wealthy suitors.

The reality of course, for the majority of women forced into prostitution, couldn't be further from this. Madeleine Bunting writing in the Guardian gives statistics which reveal the facts about a profession which brutally exploits women.

In the UK more than half of prostitutes have been raped or sexually assaulted, three quarters have been physically assaulted, 95% are drug users, 90% want to get out and nearly 70% meet the criteria of posttraumatic stress disorder in the same range as victims of torture and combat veterans.

Through its portrayal of a prostitute enjoying the job, with no attempt at all to show the reasons that force women into prostitution, this programme covers up, denies and ultimately supports this terrible treatment of women.

What makes me most angry is the advertising campaign that has accompanied the programme, where there is no choice as to whether you view it or not.

A scantily clad Billy Piper is currently posted all over the nation's bus stops. Don't forget that to most children and teenagers, my own included, Billy Piper played a female hero in Doctor Who, who was feisty and regularly saved the planet from alien attack. It is a rare occurrence for there to be any strong female characters on the TV.-

Try explaining to a seven year old girl why her hero is now dressed in her underwear on the bus shelter outside our local swimming baths. Daubed across Billy Piper, the advertising slogan is 'my body is a big deal'.

There are an estimated 4,000 women trafficked into the UK and forced to work in the sex industry. Madeleine Bunting goes as far as to say these women are coerced into sex and that makes it rape and I agree with her.

This is the ugly reality of life as a prostitute. We should be doing all we can to create a society which lifts women out of poverty and ensures they have real choices that guard against turning to prostitution in the first place.

So Billy, no, this programme can't be passed off as empowering women or putting them in control of their bodies.

If we don't like the programme it is not because we are boring or prudish. This programme is saying it is OK to treat a woman's body as a commodity but it's not.

For the programme makers who aim to make a profit, this is a 'good deal'. But for socialists and women, treating such a serious subject in this trivial way, is a 'big deal'.

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In The Socialist 22 October 2007:

National Health Service Cutbacks and privatisation kill

National NHS demo

The vultures are circling ever closer

10,000 march in Sussex

Swansea fights the cuts

Rally for Socialism


Postal dispute

Exposing Royal Mail's lies

Postal workers waiting to assess Royal Mail deal

Fighting Royal Mail management's attacks

Solid unofficial action in East London

National Shop Stewards' Network meetings

Daylight robbery in Scotland!

Save Bolsover Post Offices


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

Brown's blues


International Appeal

Students on trumped-up charges


Socialist Students

Scrap fees for all students


National Shop Stewards Network

Young workers and students need to get involved

"You've got to stick together"

Stop the placement rip-off now!


Campaign for a New Workers Party

Tony Benn evades the issue


Trade Union Freedom Bill

Trade Union Freedom Bill: Banishing Thatcher's anti-union legacy?

Working longer hours for less pay


Socialist Party women

ITV2 - making a good deal out of women's bodies


International socialist news and analysis

Workers' struggle and political instability sends Polish government into meltdown

Australia: Liberals v Labour - no choice for working people in election


Socialist Party news and analysis

Children's homes at risk of buy-outs


 

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Related links:

Women:

triangleMass union mobilisation needed to counter anti-choice group

triangleBook review: She Said - Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement

triangleWaltham Forest: mobilisation needed to defend abortion rights

triangleCynical Tories' domestic violence bill not enough

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: How Liverpool fought the cuts and defeated Thatcher

Prostitution:

triangleUniversal Credit forces women into prostitution

triangleLessons of Russia 1917 for women's struggle today

triangleBradford murders and prostitution

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