Friday, 5 October 2007

It ain't all 'Belle de Jour'...

My bike’s in the workshop at the moment, which means that I am reduced to public transport for my daily commute.

Walking from my house to the tube takes me through a semi-derelict industrial area that by night is a mini red light district. As I’m going to work this morning at 7.30am, I walk past a couple of girls obviously going off-shift. They have the painfully thin look of the teenage junkie – the emaciated body of a Kate Moss stuck onto the head of someone twenty years older. They are wearing filthy micro dresses and high heels, covered with enormous parkas, many sizes too big, presumably borrowed from a pimp, and clutching tins of Tennant's Extra.

Walking to work at the other end of my journey takes me through Soho. Most of the adult bookshops have gone these days but the anonymous doorways that are still there. The ones that are always open to show just a staircase and usually a handwritten notice. They used to say things like ‘beautiful young oriental girl’ now these days they are more likely to say ‘new eastern European model’. Ironically just down the road in Trafalgar Square this week there has been an art installation following the life of a trafficked sex worker from Lithuania.

And even more ironically there was a story in the news yesterday highlighting operation “Pentameter” to target human trafficking. The police were asking for help and information, whilst the Immigration and Border Agency said at the same time that it could not be guaranteed that victims of trafficking would not be returned to their home countries. Go figure that one.

Just little glimpses into a horrific world that operates right under my nose but which most of the time I am blissfully unaware of. Which makes all the fuss about the televised blog of ‘high-class escort Belle de Jour’ seem even sillier.

I’m not morally outraged that prostitution is being used as the background for what seems to be a comic farce – I imagine that back in the day puritans were equally pissed off about Moll Flanders. Possibly the current outrage is because the series features the nation’s favourite girl-next-door, Billie Piper. I’m not bothered that its shows prostitution as valid and rational career choice. Maybe for a tiny minority such as “Belle’ it is.

And as for the argument that it shows empowerment in a post-feminist world – I take it about as seriously as I take Carry On Up the Khyber’s analysis of British imperialism and the strategic role of the North West Frontier. But not as funny.

My real problem with 'Diary Of A Call Girl' is that the subject deserves better.

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