The Daily Mail, a British tabloid renowned for taking cheap shots, made a silly story out of two young white men claiming to save ‘vulnerable women’ – code for victims of sex trafficking among other things – in the small Midlands city of Leicester. They don’t mention trafficking too loudly, but that is now the keyword to access much funding for ‘women’s issues’. It wouldn’t matter that these two guys are unlikely to have met any trafficked victims or know what to do if they did.
The opportunity they used was the hullaballoo over a new iphone for which legions supposedly queued around the world.
George Horne and Richard Wheatcroft hope to use their place at the head of the queue to raise awareness for their charity The Hope Boutique Bakery that helps vulnerable women find employment and training. The two friends from Leicester pitched their camping seats outside Apple’s flagship store in London’s Regent’s Street, arriving at 6pm yesterday to make sure they are the first in the country to lay their hands on the phone. . . ‘I’m absolutely buzzing, it is so exciting being here.’ The pair, who only met last month, said queuing together day and night will be a test of their friendship.
Hm, they met just last month and already they thought up a project that will help women? You’d think it was easy! Their Hope Boutique Bakery is out of Crowd Fuelled Causes, which is something to do with social enterprises – if you figure it out, give me a call. Probably this is so far an empty name looking for funding. But can you believe it, a bakery, of all sexist domestic patronising ideas about women? No bakery is likely to actually employ many people anyway, but hey, call it boutique bakery – where I suppose ludicrous cupcakes sell – and it’s a winner. Stuff White People Like with a vengeance.
Thoroughly sexist and neocolonialist all the way, and as with Nicholas Kristof, it’s all about them – they are front and centre, feeling excitement about being first in the queue to be photographed.
This phenomenon of ignoramuses going for trafficking funding is now old hat. Recently we had Getting money to prevent sex trafficking even if there isn’t any (also in the UK) and Wannabe Special Agents act out fantasies about sex slaves, both about do-gooding, ngo-directing, not very old, white men. We also had one of these guys implicated in a swindle with Rescue as Scam: Australian charity lies about saving girls from sex slavery.
But I believe the phenomenon goes much deeper into the patriarchal psyche, where Knights in Shining Armour: Men who Rescue Sex Workers and Slaves and women are forever falling: Fallen women, including the one Charles Dickens didn’t save. This is about the Construction of Benevolent Identities in the endeavour of Helping Women Who Sell Sex.
The Rescue Industry is heavily dependent on The Soft Side of Imperialism. The egregious Kristof was the excuse for that piece, but he is far, far from being alone. Barefaced racist imperialism seems anyway more acceptable again – hope everyone saw this of Prince William the other day.
—Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist