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Why it is time for our male judges to protect women like escort Helen Wood

Helen Wood

Boy oh boy, but this is a man's world. You can complain about cheeky jokes on Loose Women and lascivious TV ads purring over male six-packs as much as you want, but the recent experience of former escort girl Helen Wood - she of Wayne Rooney threesome 'fame' - tells the real story.

In terms of those two great pillars, the law and the media, the UK is institutionally sexist. And what's worse, women are queueing up to collude in its bigotry.

Wood did a series of TV and radio interviews this week, so, for the first time since she was identified as having formed 60 degrees of that infamous Rooney love triangle, we got to hear her speak. Much of the Press had already decided on her character - women's mags, naturally sympathetic to readers' pet Colleen Rooney, have continually painted Wood as a 'desperate slapper'.

The evidence for this seems to be that Wood turned up at a function which Colleen also attended. Not exactly proof that she's a vengeful stalker, hell-bent on humiliating Rooney's wife, but good enough for those who begin from a position of believing that all prostitutes are carved from pure evil.

In fact, Wood sounded neither stupid nor spiteful in her interviews. She is simply self-preserving, and concerned about her seven-year-old son's fate now that her previous profession has been exposed.

She is actually pretty incisive when pointing out how crudely the law has favoured men over women in super-injunction cases. She claims to know of numerous gagging orders, every one taken out by a rich man against a young woman. The general principle applied, mainly by male judges, seems to be that, while male celebrities' privacy should be preserved, the reputation of a female non-celebrity is worth nothing at all.

As Wood herself puts it, wealthy men's identities are protected while "women get named and shamed like criminals".

Unlike Wood, I don't call for these men's names to be revealed - enough damage has been done to enough people already - and while the gender double standard is unarguably wrong, creating another world of pain for another innocent family wouldn't fix that. But the current situation can't go on - it is time for a whole new privacy law which treats these girls with the same respect it has shown the unfaithful married men who choose to sleep with them.

It's no surprise that the right-wing Press have discounted such women as gold-diggers and marriage-breakers. But how grim it is to see how dutifully the public, and especially other women, have fallen into line, calling radio shows to deride Wood on air, and filling up online chatrooms and newspaper comments' pages with words like slapper, whore and slut (words I hate so much I almost shake when I type them).

I find it baffling that people who believe themselves morally superior to the likes of Helen Wood think nothing of using this vile, misogynist language.

For my money, you've surrendered your plot on the moral high ground right there folks. These words mark you as a deeply unpleasant human being, corroded by prejudice, ignorance and malice.

How you ever got the idea that you're a better person than any woman who enters into a sexual situation with another consulting adult and receives payment for it, I don't know. The self-delusion involved, just like cobwebbed old judges' ideas about their own impartiality, is staggering.