This is our truth, tell us yours
One part of the Christmas story known to many and beloved by primary school teachers is the innkeeper and his “sorry your names not down, you’re not coming in” line. Sadly it’s based on a complete mistranslation, Joseph would have been staying with family, the inn was actually a temporary shelter built on the roof and the stable the area within the house where the animals were kept*, but its a good line.
Part of the reason it has such resonance is i think that people can relate to the fear and anxiety of the young couple without anywhere to stay. It is a universal fear, to lose the roof over ones head, to have to face the elements without protection to be weak, vulnerable and on the streets. People see and relate to their experience, even with the translation errors and chocolate box romanticization,
Which brings us to the Soho raids this week. I am deliberately not going to link to the exploitative news reports as even with pixilation the women can, in my opinion still be identified. It’s often easy to get caught up in feminist theory and discussions about words such as agency and autonomy, so some basic universals.
These are basics of life, going to work, meeting workmates, not being afraid that when you scream for help no one will hear, not submitting silently to rape because there is nothing else you can do, working somewhere clean, dry. warm. The raids this week said sex workers did not even deserve these basics.
Mary and Joseph got offered a safe alternative, the women thrown on the streets got offered arrest, deportation and an end to safe working conditions. There is no chocolate box version, because of the actions of the Metropolitan Police women face violence, danger and cold nights without support this Christmas. It’s not a Christmas story with a happy ending, there is no twist of redemption.
Forget theory,forget feminism which has largely ignored this, remember one thing, in 2013 we don’t say there is no room at the inn, we let women in, let them be safe, then film them as the police throw them onto the streets. Progress eh, aint it grand?
* it is entirely possible that this area was suggested for the birth as it would have been removed from the rest of the household and thus offered some privacy. It would have also of course been easier to clean