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Suffolk murder victims: women or prostitutes?


Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 14 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 14 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and write about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 14 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

Suffolk murder victimsCurrently, there appears to be much debate ongoing (not least in The Guardian and on the BBC) about the rights and wrongs of referring to the victims of the Suffolk murders as ‘prostitutes’. Some argue that headlines should read ‘Five women killed’ rather than ‘Five prostitutes killed’, reasoning that the victims are first and foremost women.

I completely and utterly disagree.

Let us consider for a moment that the victims are not prostitutes, but bank managers. Five bank managers killed in the same area apparently in the same manner by what appears to be the same person. Almost certainly a targeted campaign against bank managers. What headline would you expect?

Why, then, should it be any different for prostitutes? Of course, it shouldn’t. The only argument against using the term is that, to some, it appears judgemental and pejorative. Bollocks. It is merely an accurate description of their job, which (to me at least) confers no judgement.

The alternative being bandied about is ‘sex worker’. This is so non-specific and outrageously euphemistic as to be insulting, suggesting that society is ashamed of these people and what they did for a living. Note, also, that the majority of prostitutes appear to prefer the term ‘prostitute’, and it appears in the name of ‘The English Collective of Prostitutes’, their organisation.

And why on Earth would we refer to them as ‘women’ in headlines? This merely picks out one characteristic, not particularly specific, that unites all of the victims, suggesting that the fact that ‘young women’ were murdered is far worse than murders of ‘young men’. That is insulting.

Now, just to be clear, in the everyday context, these women are not defined by their jobs any more than anyone else. That is not my point. But when the most specific link of all the victims is their occupation, and it seems likely that it is intimately linked with their death, why bumble about avoiding the issue? They may have been beautiful young women with promising young lives, but they are undoubtedly united by the fact that they were prostitutes.

People need to get over their prejudices, and accept that ‘prostitute’ is a non-judgemental statement of specific fact. If they feel that it confers judgement, then perhaps, just perhaps, it is them doing the judging.

This 1,013th post was filed under: News and Comment.

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Comment from madonna

    08.11, 08/02/2008

a person is a person no matter what they may do for a living we all do what we have to do to survive its a dog eat dog world you just have to be the bigger the dog that does the eating

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