Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Not fashion

Joan Smith, who covered the Yorkshire Ripper murders in the early 80s, has an outstanding and lengthy analysis in the Guardian today on the sex trade and the Ipswich murders:

To begin with, it seemed as though nothing had changed since the 70s when Sutcliffe's murders unleashed a torrent of insensitive headlines about the women he preyed on in the red light districts of Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield and Manchester. The Sun's "Fears for vice girls" on November 16 2006 was followed the next day by the same paper's "Fears for hookers", while the Times joined in on December 5 with "Ripper murder strikes fear into vice girls".

But public attitudes to women in the sex industry have changed, as the press quickly discovered. In Ipswich and elsewhere, people were outraged by TV and radio bulletins that baldly announced five "prostitutes" had been murdered in Suffolk. Many people are uncomfortable when the word is used in headlines as though it's no different from "teacher" or "dentist"; the dead women were daughters, mothers and girlfriends but their whole lives were being defined by something they had embarked on out of absolute desperation. "As soon as it became a national story, it became apparent that the language used to describe the women was inappropriate," says a journalist who went to Ipswich when the third body was found. "Everybody knew one of the victims or had been to school with one of them."

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