Saturday, March 17, 2012

We Need To Talk About Lilith

‘Of course it would be wonderful if strip clubs could be eradicated tomorrow’.  
Isabel Eden, author of The Lilith Report


The Lilith Report has been the cornerstone of prohibitionist campaigns since its was published in 2003. Many quote from it, particularly its claim that incidents of rape in Camden doubled after a number of lap dancing clubs opened in the borough. The report was wrong of course…

Dr Brook Magnati wrote a comprehensive refutation of Lilith which can be downloaded here and it is well worth reading. This posting will make reference to Dr Magnatis article and will also look at some other aspects of Lilith.

I suppose the first thing to consider is the title. Its not really an report, although it dresses itself as one. In reality its an opinion piece written from a unashamedly prohibitionist perspective. The author, Isabel Eden makes it clear from almost the very beginning that she is a prohibitionist, when she states that the activities of dancers are ‘demeaning and insulting to women’,

The report focuses on three London boroughs, Westminster, Camden and Islington, all of which have a number of clubs in operation. Lilith then examines the impact of the clubs operation in terms of environmental health, crime and rape and other sexual offences. The main drive if the article seems to be to shame Camden Council into changing its licensing stance to its clubs in the hope that other boroughs in London will follow suit.

However, I am not really sure what Isabel Eden was really trying to achieve with her report. If her intention was to unequivocally demonstrate that the lapdancing and strip clubs have a negative impact on their neighbourhoods, then she was sadly misguided, because the report itself demonstrates the opposite, as we shall see later.

The scene is set by telling the reader the number of clubs in each borough…

Camden with 7 clubs

Westminster with 17 clubs

Islington with 2 clubs

The argument is flawed from this point onwards. If I wanted to prove that factor X was influencing location Y, I would present a comparison between two locations, one with factor X and one without and let the reader make their own judgement.

Lilith fails to present any comparative analysis from a borough with no clubs at all. Instead it gives a side by side comparison of three boroughs all of which have clubs and proceeds to assign responsibility for everything that is bad at the feet of Secrets, Spearmint Rhino etc etc .

Lets look at things in more detail…

The report indulges in the usual feminists trigger phrases in the section that covers licensing conditions that gleefully informs the reader that a ‘sex establishment’ has ‘performances in which the breasts, genitalia and excretory organs are exposed’. Quite why this explicit language is necessary is beyond me, but it certainly creates some unpleasant images and fires the imagination of ardent anti-sex feminists. 

You see? I told you it mentioned 'excretory organs'. I know....its hilarious....later....later....
Another theme that runs through the report is that the proliferation of clubs thoughout London offering ‘full nudity’ and ‘lap-dancing’ is essentially the fault of Camden Councils Licensing Team. In fact the report claims that.....

‘Camdens relaxed stance on full nudity has made life difficult in other boroughs’

........as it details various court actions and failed attempts by certain councillors to impose no nudity conditions on club owners.

Environmental impact is discussed and Eden states that ‘we believe that the advent of the ‘strip club’ and its encouragement toward late licensing is also having a detrimental effect on the welfare of local (Camden) residents’. Apparently Camden Council.....

‘recorded 2730 noise complaints between April 2000 and March 2001’

......and the report goes onto to state that.....

‘a quarter of these complaints related to commercial noise coming from pubs, clubs and bars at night’.

Now well into their stride, they hit us with the killer proposition…

‘……It can be no coincidence that Bloomsbury and Holborn, the areas that had the most complaints, also have the greatest number of striptease and lapdancing clubs in the borough…’

The above assertions deserve closer analysis…..

The Lilith Report states that Camden has 1200 licensed premises, with 130 licensed for entertainment and 7 lapdancing clubs. Bloomsbury and Holborn are laced with bars and pubs and have 2 and 3 lapdancing clubs respectively.

Lets say that there are 365 days between April 2000 and March 2001. That means that on average, Camden Council received about eight complaints a day. Lilith also states that only 25% related to commercial noise from pubs, clubs and bars. So in other words 2 complaints a day. Lets factor in that the borough as a whole has 1200 licensed premises, yet Lilith wants us to believe that the greater bulk of these complaints are caused by just 7 strip tease venues, or .5% of their total licensed premises portfolio.

People get drunk in bars and get loud when they leave them, yet Lilith paints a picture of a quiet Camden now rent asunder by the clients of just seven venues. I am sorry but that just doesn’t stack up

We are told that residents of Finchley Road were concerned that the presence of a lap dancing club would push noise levels to unacceptable levels especially as the area also had the O2 Centre…

I am sorry that doesn’t make sense either. The O2 Centre is an enormous shopping and cinema complex that closes at 1.00am. The extra noise generated by one club would go unnoticed and if its noise that is the concern, then every fast food venue in the area needs to close before midnight.

The problem is that its not noise that’s the issue. Its what goes in clubs that is the problem and Lilith are prohibitionists and therefore feel free and able to use every angle they they can to justify their position. 2730 noise complaints sounds good, it certainly sounds better than 2 complaints a night over 1200 bars, half a percent of which have lap dancing or entertainment where ‘excretory organs’ are visible.

Camden Council themselves published a comment about 18 guys leaving Spearmint Rhino ‘at 00.20am’ making a lot of noise and ‘singing and shouting’. Its unfortunate, but its reality for anyone that lives near a pub or a bar, but Lilith makes great capital of it and I wonder if late night noise is only an issue if it’s a lapdancing club that people are leaving. Furthermore, if you live in a flat that over looks Tottenham Court Road and is a stones throw from Euston Road and two tube stations, it is unrealistic to expect a quiet, peaceful time.

Lilith also places great stress on how residents are fearful of violence. To be frank, that is probably not a bad thing. I feel wary when I am walking around anywhere at night and it is the fact that I am wary means that I take no chances and have never been assaulted or mugged. The days when you could wander around Soho in a day dream are long over and have been since before WW2. Being fearful keeps you sharp and being sharp means you don’t get mugged.

It is however when rape and sexual crime are discussed that Lilith loses the plot entirely. I found it suspicious when the way the data was presented switched from numbers (as it was presented when dealing with noise complaints) to straight percentages, but that is only the beginning…

Initially we are told that overall crime rates have fallen for all three boroughs, so that really doesn’t support the argument that clubs are responsible for crime. Westminsters crime rate reduced by 12.6%, Islingtons by 13.2% and Camdens by 5.6% . Then Lilith goes onto to inform us that crime in Camden experienced the lowest reduction overall, implying that it is the presence of clubs in Camden that are causing the low reduction.

No sorry that doesn’t work…

So Westminster with 17 clubs enjoys a 12.6% reduction in crime…great.

Islington with only 2 crimes sees crime reduce by 13.2%....cool.

Camden with 7 clubs sees the rate reduce by only 5.6% and the reason for this is the presence of the clubs.

To be honest, I could if I was stupid try and pitch you the idea that lap dancing clubs prevent crime. Just look at it, the borough with the most clubs, enjoyed a real reduction in crime, but poor old Camden doesn’t clearly doesn’t have enough clubs at all, its only got 7 and that must be the reason for the low reduction in crime rates. Camden needs more clubs, lets get them open now...

But I wouldn’t try and pitch that idea because its stupid. But remember what Lilith did try and pitch was essentially an inverted version of the same idea.

Then Lilith digs itself in even further by stating that Islington has enjoyed a real reduction in rape (4%) and other sexual assault (24%) and anyway virtually all of the incidents were centred around Holloway and Pentonville Prisons.

But Islington has two venues. So once again Lilith pulls the rug from underneath its own argument and the only thing it really proves is that prisons are bad things to live near or be inside.

Then we have the killer quote….

‘Since 1999 rape of women in Camden has increased by 50%’

'Since 1999 indecent assault of women has increased by 57%’

The above statements are still being quoted and they are wrong….

Dr Brooke Magnati undertook a detailed analysis of the data that Lilith used to reach its conclusions and discovered that the author of Lilith cannot use a calculator and furthermore has no understanding of statistical analysis.

Firstly the basic calculation was wrong,

By accessing Metropolitan Police data which is freely available on the internet, we can see the raw data was as follows….

Camden Rape Statistics

1999 – 72
2000 – 88
2001 – 91
2002 – 96

So the increase between 1999 and 2000 is an extra 24 rapes. So in terms of raw numbers we can see that the change is actually a 31% increase. But to hold things at that point is dangerous, because there is another factor that must be considered.

Lets play a game…

I want you to imagine that you have a choice of living in one of two cities. The only criteria that informs your decision is that in City A there 100 murders last year and in City B there were 50 murders. 

Which City is safest?

Well on the face of it is it is City B, with only 50 murders.

But there is a problem though, the population of the cities is different….

City A with a 100 murders has a population of 100,000 people.

City B with 50 murders has a population of 10,000 people.

When things are considered from this angle, the picture starts to look very different. City A has a murder rate of 1 in a 1000, City B has a murder rate of 1 in 200. So you have 5 times the chance of being murdered in City B.

So we can see that if the analysis of the incidences of rate is to have any value, background population must be taken into account and Camden population increased between 1999 and 2002. When this population increase is taken into account, the actual increase is actually 26.9%.

Now any increase in the incidence of rape is unacceptable. But the author of Lilith chose to omit or didn’t have access to the statistics that showed that from 2002 onwards the incidences of rape started to reduce significantly.

But before we go onto to examining credible data that was analysed by someone without a prohibitionist agenda, lets look at Lilith again.

The report makes no sense. It focuses on Camden and seems to try and promote the idea that lapdancing in Camden is a bad idea. It overlooks the inconsistencies in its own arguments, especially when Westminster is brought into the argument as we saw earlier. Lilith sets out to prove a link between clubs and crime and almost ends up proving the opposite.

I would get a better argument and more robust analysis from someone that was at school. Maybe this is the issue, Lilith is immature in outlook, lacks coherency and is ultimately unfit for purpose. 

Dr Brooke Magnati undertook a more rigorous analysis and compared Islington and Camden with  Lambeth which has no clubs at all. To save writing, I have taken a graph produced by Dr Magnati and enhanced it with some extra data and nice colours...

So we can see that during the Litlith analysis period, incidences of rape in Camden actually started to fall. In Islington they were increasing and later reduced. Lambeth with no clubs at all, had a higher level of rape than Camden throughout the 1999 to 2002 period. We can also see that in 2008, Camden with 7 clubs had a lower rate than the England & Wales national average.

What does all of this prove?

It proves that there is no causal link between the presence and number of clubs in area and the occurrence of rape and other crime. But what makes me angry is that Object and Lilith and anyone with even the remotest connection to the prohibitionist campaign must already know this. There is enough information in the Lilith Report itself to make anyone with a sound mind question the basic premise of the paper. There is also another question that was never asked and it was the most important question of all. 

What made the rape occurrence figure fall so dramatically across the three boroughs?

Surely its important to know the answer? 

Surely anyone with even the slightest degree of concern about rape would want to know what changed? 

If we could identify what factor reduced occurrence of rape in Camden to below the national average, we can reproduce it across the country and then everyone benefits. That would be a great piece of research and surely Object are superbly placed to find the answer. But they won't do it because (and this is just so sad), rape occurrence is the most potent argument in their prohibition campaign. Object are just so certain that lapdancing clubs lead to rape and that is all they want to know. This in itself is horrible betrayal of every victim of sexual assault, sacrificed on the altar of Objects self righteousness.

The best bit is of course that designer feminists reject Dr Magnatis paper. There is of course a problem, because Dr Magnati is also Belle du Jour and as such is an 'apologist for rape culture'. This attitude also shows how extreme designer feminists can be. Numbers add up irrespective of who is doing the calculation. So to discount the Magnati paper on the basis of who wrote it is absurd. The fact is that the papers conclusions would have to create doubt in the mind of anyone who genuinely thought there was a causal link between crime, rape and lapdancing clubs.  

The above sentence alone makes me ask what the true, hidden agenda really is. We know Object and their allies hate clubs and dancers, but why? What is it that lies at the core of their argument that they desperately do not want us to see?

Ok. Lets finish on a lighter note...

'Excretory Organs'.

Hmmh. Yes.

Well in my twenty years of visiting strip and lapdancing clubs, I have to say that I have never seen a dancers lungs, kidneys or liver. Looks like Isabel Eden missed maths and biology when she was at school.

And people still take this report seriously?

1 comment:

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