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Last Tuesday morning my Facebook news feed was getting very excitable. The Sun’s front page told of a secretary at my former (Catholic) secondary school who had been moonlighting as a bi-sexual prostitute, offering her services at £800 a night over the internet. According to The Sun, Kerri Mallier’s secret was discovered by ‘a parent of pupils’ at the school. Yes, it’s surprising, and yes, it’s sensational, but I had to wonder whether The Sun newspaper is really in a position to take the moral high ground.
My first question is this: how can The Sun condemn a woman for selling sex when their third page is devoted to photographs of semi-naked teenagers?
Journalist Andrew Parker further criticizes Mallier for having naked photos on the escort website, but in the very same copy of The Sun, you’ll find 22 year old Warwick resident ‘Lucy’ posing in nothing but a pair of pink knickers. It seems absurd, then, that The Sun can point the finger of blame at someone for selling their body when they are actively employing young (and likely more vulnerable) girls for the very same reason.
Amanda Rendell posed for the sun aged just 18 in 2003, and is quoted as saying “I can’t believe what has happened – I hope my success spurs other girls on to go and do the same.” The Sun replied saying “So do we, Amanda. So do we!”. How can The Sun condemn one woman for deciding to sell her body for money, and actively encourage it from another? Yes, these women are selling themselves to a different degree, but pornography and prostitution are two sides of the same coin, so how can readers flick from the naked young girl page to the “oh my god that woman’s a prostitute” page without feeling even a glimmer of irony?
Doubtless their model ‘Lucy’ lives a life of her own. If The Sun were to discover their semi-naked model also worked in a school, would their response be so sensational? “Secretary poses nude for the Sun”? That would be impossible; its readers would be unable to tell whether it was a headline or an advert.
Which brings me to my second point; The Sun is sold in newsagents all over the country, often on shelves within easy reach of children. With its graphic third page content, surely The Sun should be banished to the higher reaches of the newsagent’s shelves. So while Mallier’s explicit content was on an adult-only site, The Sun recklessly publishes images unsuitable for children and then distributes them with no control over whose hands they end up in.
And we must ask about the ‘parent’ who discovered Mallier’s page. What a good, responsible Catholic parent would be doing accidentally stumbling across an escort agency’s website is beyond me. Prostitution and seeking a prostitute are mutually dependant, one cannot exist without the other. And yet shockingly this parent is afforded one throwaway sentence in the article.
I suppose the problem is that The Sun isn’t published with the intention of balanced and fair argument, or even investigation, it is there to shock, to amuse and to sensationalise. Obviously it has its supporters as it is one of the highest selling papers in the country; however people such as Kerri Mallier who are unfortunate enough to end up under the morally skewed microscope of its journalists are likely to lose a lot for the fleeting amusement of strangers. It is not my place to condemn or condone Ms Mallier’s choices, but I do feel strongly that those without involvement in the sex industry should cast the first stone, and The Sun is definitely not that newspaper.