Economy

‘It’s slut-shaming‘: outrage as media outlets detail conspiracy theorist Eve Black’s work as stripper

The Herald Sun published several censored images of Eve Black topless. Source: Herald Sun

Conspiracy theorist Eve Black drew widespread condemnation after breaching COVID-19 restrictions. But sex work advocates say the recent coverage of Black as a topless waitress is paramount to slut-shaming and stigmatises the industry as a whole.

Eve Black inspired nation-wide rage after sharing a video of herself laughing as she drove through a police checkpoint last month.

The conspiracy theorist was charged over defying COVID-19 restrictions and now faces fines of up to $10,000.

Victoria Police later issued a statement saying officers were “forced to break the woman’s car window as she refused to speak to them, wind down her window, or step out of the vehicle.”

Most thought the story would end there... but it didn’t.

Eve Black
The conspiracy theorist filmed herself driving through a police checkpoint.
Facebook/ Eve Black

Over the weekend, Daily Mail, followed by the Herald Sun, published exposés chronicling Black’s “exotic past” as a topless waitress and dancer.

The Herald Sun went a step further, including several censored images of Black topless, claiming: “a mask is not the only accessory Black feels comfortable taking off.”

The article also quoted reviews from several of Black’s supposed clients before claiming she was so distressed by her portrayal in the media that she’d lost three kilos.

Fiona Patten, member of the Victorian Legislative Council and leader of the Reason Party, told The Feed that the article was “absolutely unethical” and diluted the seriousness of Black’s offences.

“She acted like a complete idiot but to then do this great exposé on her private life and work in the sex industry, it distracted from that and it was all about shaming her,” Patten said.

“I thought we’d moved on and slut-shaming was something from the last decade. Clearly, I was wrong and we still have a long way to go,” she added.

Patten, who is the Chair of the Victorian Review of Sex Work Laws, said the article was damaging in that it perpetuated myths about the sex industry.

“It goes to this idea that if you do sex work it’s not real work, or you’re immoral or untrustworthy. That’s exactly what that paper was doing,” she told The Feed.

“People who work in the sex industry experience an enormous amount of stigma. That leads to vilification or worse, and it’s certainly led to discrimination.”

“Sex workers are not all the same. We are like every other workforce.”

Jules Kim is the CEO of Scarlet Alliance, the Australian union for sex workers. She told The Feed that the articles were “disappointing” and conflated work within this industry with a completely separate issue.

“Sex workers are not all the same. We are like every other workforce; we have diverse backgrounds and diverse opinions. It’s constantly made to feel like one person’s experience defines all of us,” Kim said.

The brandishing of Black’s images over the tabloid sites without her consent was unacceptable, according to Kim.

“It’s the idea that because she’s worked as a topless waitress that therefore means she doesn’t have a right to privacy or doesn’t get to consent to what gets used,” she said.

“It breaches somebody’s confidentiality and consent, it breaches their privacy and perpetuates misunderstandings about sex work.”

The articles come at a particularly difficult time for those working in the entertainment industry and sex workers, with many being self-employed and not eligible for government assistance. 

Kim said that throughout the pandemic, sex workers have been unfairly blamed and stigmatised. 

“For the most part, we know sex workers have been incredibly proactive in implementing COVID-safe measures into their workplace, like any other business,” she said.

Patten agreed, adding that she’s spoken to a number of sex workers privately about the article and “it’s really affected them.”

“We are working so hard to ensure that sex workers can work safely and without discrimination and articles like this just set us back,” she said.

“It further illustrates why we need to reform legislation and that will help us change the attitudes of the general public and journalists alike.”