I approached Sex: My British Job with the same feeling that I approach all channel 4 documentaries with: trepidation. They commission documentaries on incredibly important issues but never quite manage to pull them off. Sex: My British Job was no exception.
I was going to write a proper review but these four tweets from last night pretty much cover all of my problems with it:
Sex: My British Job felt voyeuristic and exploitative. Nick Broomfield, the main journalist, seemed to have very little understanding of how dangerous the situation was for the women working in the brothel as well as Hsiao-HungPai who went undercover. There was no discussion of the possible ethical violations involved in leaving these women in an abusive situation in order to film them, particularly considering they were locked in some of the brothels. There were brief mentions of the women’s status as illegal immigrants but no real analysis of the industry of human trafficking and just how vulnerable these women were as illegal immigrants. There was no mention of any support services offered to these women after filming was finished.
There was also very little about men in the documentary. This omission is highly telling since there was absolutely no analysis of the capitalist-patriarchy or rape culture. There was no discussion as to why these women had to leave home to travel to the UK as prostituted women. Some had left behind husbands and children yet the economics of the situation was barely mentioned.
This documentary seemed more about Bloomfield’s role as a right-on dude, than it did about the (sexual) exploitation of vulnerable women.
These comments are why an exploitative documentary does not help the women involved:
Congratulations Nick. You’ve just exposed these women to further misogynistic and racist abuse because you are more concerned about your career than the safety of vulnerable women.