There's been so much hand-wringing awfulness spewed out about the whole Wayne Rooney affair that it's hard to know where to start. We've seen, for example, the women dehumanised as tarts and hookers - I'm all for calling a spade a spade, by the way, but I think it's fairly obvious that 'tart' and 'hooker' are somewhat derogatory terms; and let's please not pretend that they were only used to fit the headlines into the boxes.
And now come a slew of articles wondering why on earth people want to have sex with footballers, why people want to have sex with prostitutes, why on earth people want to have sex with people they're not in a relationship with - as if this kind of thing is somehow new and interesting, as if prostitution isn't called 'the oldest profession' for a reason, as if people haven't been straying from monogamy and society's norms about sex and relationships since the year dot.
There seems an added squeamishness about this whole story because one of the women who ended up as a prostitute went to public school. Horrors! Imagine that! Middle-class people ending up doing something that only poor people, immigrants and crack addicts should rightly be condemned to! There's that extra bit of pearl-clutching that strikes right into the heart of the middle-market demographic. Why on earth would someone from a private education end up earning £1,200 a night when they could be sitting in an office somewhere or being married to some nice young man and popping a few kids out? That sort of thing is seething under the surface, though it's usually pretty well masked.
And as ever, we have to have blame. As ever, the blame doesn't seem to rest with Wayne Rooney, for having put his dick somewhere that he promised not to, but with the other parties involved. In fact, the blame can be spread even further - to the parents of the people who ended up having sex with Rooney. I mean, if a man chooses to have sex with a woman for money, the people to blame are clearly the parents of the woman. I mean, that makes sense, right? Well, it does if you're Jan Moir. Ah yes, Jan Moir. It's been a while since I read Jan Moir - I would happily rather put my face into a meat mincer, if I'm perfectly honest. But have a look anyway, if you can. And if you can't bear clicking on the link and going over there, here's where the parents get both barrels:
How could these families have failed to notice what was going on right under their noses? Or not have uttered even a tiny cluck of disapproval as they went clubbing in not much more than a pair of pants and a big, expectant smile?
For most women, the soundtrack to their adolescence is a stern fatherly voice in the background saying: ‘You’re not going out dressed like that, young lady!’ It is Jennifer and Helen’s tragedy - though they don’t yet realise this themselves - that if they heard such a voice, it wasn’t strident enough.
Ah yes. If only the parents had been a bit stricter, then none of this would ever have happened. Adults don't make choices for themselves - it's all about what you're allowed to wear when you go out clubbing. The implication is that these women's career choices weren't choices, but were somehow a destiny, the end of a slippery slope that began with parents being too lenient. There's that nasty, clippy element to this kind of column. Who knows what led to people ending up the way they ended up? Who knows what led from one choice to another? Perhaps people made choices and did what they wanted to do? No, the parents must be to blame, for not being tough enough. That must be it. Pile on the guilt. Pile on the opprobrium. These middle-class parents have FAILED because of what happened to their children.
Moir is following in the tyre-tracks of Bel Mooney, who asked yesterday "What have we come to when middle-class girls like this see whoring as a career choice?" To which it's tempting to reply: what do you mean, 'we'? Is it really some kind of awful tragedy that people decide to have sex with other people for money? Is that really the most terrible thing in the world? Maybe I'm just some kind of overly idiotic dripping wet liberal, I don't know. But I don't really see where the problem is. It wouldn't be my choice for what to do for a living, but seriously, I can think of worse things, more immoral things, more unpleasant ways to earn a living. But then again, I am a man and my entire gender hasn't been tarnished by the activities of these women:
Frankly, I am dumbstruck at their stupidity, their vulgarity and their degradation of what it means to be a woman today, in a world where sexual equality was won through great courage and at great cost by the generations who came before them.
I think of all those who fought hard for women’s equality, and I can hear them turning in their graves at the sleazy stories of Jennifer Thompson and Helen Wood — the two young women who earned £1,200 each for threesomes with Wayne Rooney.
The sleazy stories which the Mail has been delighted to jump onto, by the way. Oh, for all the disapproval and for all the sneering from the likes of Moir and Mooney, they've been lapping this whole business up as well. It's the normal Mail dual approach - act all horrified while offering the titillation at the same time. Now of course I don't have a tremendous amount of sympathy for anyone in all of this - if you end up having sex with someone when you're in a relationship, then you're not really Captain Monogamy; if you end up flogging your story then you're not exactly Captain Classy. But still - if you end up turning your nose up at all this, while latching onto every sordid detail, and shower blame onto parents who don't really deserve it, then that's pretty cheap as well.
I know that the people involved aren't entirely blameless, and I know that it's a pretty sordid tale. But this kind of thing has been going on since year dot, and will keep going on forever. It doesn't make it right, but it doesn't make it extraordinary either. It won't stop, no matter how many middle-class parents tell their daughters off for what they're wearing, and no matter how much blame and shame we try to dump onto the peripheral figures in these stories. I get a bit weary of all the finger-pointing and moralising, the shock and the shame, the maiden-aunt attitude towards sex and relationships that assumes that no-one ever makes mistakes or does anything wrong. Sure, we'd all love to be perfect, but whooping and squawking when someone famous gets it wrong doesn't make us look any better than them.