Monday, April 30, 2012

The New Misogyny

This is the sites hundredth posting and it was going to be about some exciting news that I understand is coming my way. That said, TonyN inspired me to write a new article, so I decided that it should take precedence and that exciting news could wait...

The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women was proclaimed on 20th December 1993. It is a sad fact that the idea that women have a right to a life that is free of violence and fear is a recent one. As we can see it even took the UN 48 years to get around to making a declaration. Nonetheless is was made and I like to think that we are all better off for it. That said the struggle remains in some areas.

There is an interesting background to the Declaration in that one its key aims was to counter the then prevailing view that violence against women was essentially a private matter that didn’t necessarily merit state intervention.Since its inception, things have not always run smoothly. Many people have taken the view that the progress made since 1993 is being threatened by the rising tide of conservatism across the globe. 

In 2003, an Iranian delegate suggested making some amendments, such as the one that called on governments to condemn violence against women where it crossed into territory that was seen to belong to the religious side of things. Representatives from Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan and amazingly the US also raised objections about certain aspects of the wording.

To my knowledge, Object have never raised any issues about the way that the Declaration was worded. 

They just go and ignore it whenever they see fit and justify their actions under the 'fight against objectification'.

What? I hear you say…

Well, lets have a look at the Declarations articles and see what we think…

Article 1

For the purposes of this Declaration, the term "violence against women" means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

Objects entire campaign is based upon attempting the wholesale closure of strip tease and lap dancing clubs, thereby depriving the dancers and other staff their livelihoods, therefore inflicting psychological harm and suffering on the women who fear their loss of income.

The Object website contains details of what clubs to attack, therefore threatening specific venues with closure and almost certainly causing anguish to those whose jobs may be lost.

Despite what Object and its apologists say, dancers choose to be dancers, therefore the campaign to close clubs amounts to an ‘arbitrary deprivation of liberty’.

Finally the possible loss of licensed venues could well give rise to appearance of illegal, unlicensed venues whose operation would lead to ‘physical, sexual’ harm.

On the above basis, Object stand guilty of numerous contraventions of Article 1.

Article 2

Violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following:

(a)   Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation;

(b)   Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;

(c)   Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.

Object and other groups, such as the Solent Feminist Network have conducted frequent demonstrations outside clubs that have caused ‘intimidation at work’ for the dancers as they attempt to enter and leave the venue.

The empowerment of local councils by Object, to apply SEV legislation to close clubs amounts to ‘psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State’, due to the fear and anguish that is causes those that work in the clubs.

On the above basis Object or indeed any group that have appeared outside a venue, stand guilty of contravening Article 2 (b) and 2 (c).

Article 3

Women are entitled to the equal enjoyment and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.  These rights include, inter alia:

(a)   The right to life;

(b)   The right to equality;

(c)   The right to liberty and security of person;

(d)   The right to equal protection under the law;

(e)   The right to be free from all forms of discrimination;

(f)   The right to the highest standard attainable of physical and mental health;

(g)   The right to just and favourable conditions of work;

(h)   The right not to be subjected to torture, or other cruel,
      inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Object make a point of saying that their campaign is not designed to curtail the choices that dancers make to pursue their chosen profession. But nonetheless, the closure of a club removes the choice to work there, therefore violating womens ‘fundamental freedoms in the economic field’

Objects organised campaign to close clubs also violates womens right to have the ‘liberty’ to choose to be a dancer and the absence of a job violates their ‘security of person’.

The things that Object have written about dancers and clubs on their website violates ‘the right to be free from all forms of discrimination’. A good example of this would be the comments made about dancers in Hackney being trafficked drug abusers that perform oral sex for clients.

Object whole campaign and its objectives violate the dancers right to ‘the highest standard attainable of physical and mental health’, something that would be difficult to achieve if they are unemployed.

Dancers are self employed and they find those conditions to be favourable to their lifestyle and ambitions.  The closure of clubs would remover this option, thereby violating the ‘right to just and favourable conditions or work’.

Being abused as you leave and enter your place of work violates the right not to be subject to ‘degrading treatment’.

On the above basis, Object and other feminist groups are accused of violating Article 3 (c), 3 (e), 3 (f), 3 (g) and 3(h).

The biggest joke of all, is that Object refer to themselves as being a human rights group. Whose rights are they campaigning for though? Its certainly not any of the 12,000 people that work in the strip tease and lap dancing industry.

I suppose this is what leads me to the saddest thing of all, which is how Object squandered the chance the do some real good. What Anna and the gang could have done is work with the clubs to look at working conditions, they could have expressed their views in a manner that was conducive to cooperation and mutual understanding.

Instead they went for the cheap option, declared war on everyone and rebuffed every attempt at mutually beneficial discourse and applied for grant after grant.

Speaking of grants, I thought it might be  nice idea to remind you about those bodies that funded Objects violation of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.

They are as follows…

Trust for London
The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd
The Maypole Fund
Charities Aid Foundation
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Allen Lane Foundation
Garden Court Chambers Social Fund
Awards for All (National Lottery)
City Parochial Foundation

Lets not forget the organisations that are happy to be affiliated to Object and its Declaration violating activities…

SERTUC (Southern and Easter Regional TUC)
Unison South East
Unison Kent
Unison South East Electricity 
Unison Yorkshire and Humberside
Unison Eastern Women's Committee
Unison NPS WM

Finally, lets also consider the awards that Object have won for violating the Declaration…

Government-backed Capacity Builders Award - 2009
Third Sector Charity Awards 2009 - 'Highly Commended'
Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize, 2009 - Winner


I find it hard to believe that this blog has reached its century. As I have said in the past, I want it to be more than a site for fighting prohibition and shortly I intend to post some requests for articles and information that could help broaden the scope of what I am doing.

Thanks to all of  you that have read and contributed, made suggestions and in general made StrippingTheIllusion what it is today.



Sunday, April 29, 2012

Speaking of Censorship.....

"I wrote a song about dental floss but did anyone's teeth get cleaner?"

Frank Zappa, Senate Hearing on "Porn Rock", 1985, in response to Tipper Gore's allegations that music incites people towards deviant behavior, or influences their behavior in general.

I thought I would finish off this weekends postings with another article about censorship. This time its about MTV style music videos, because it seems perhaps unsurprisingly that Object have a view here, or at least one of their activists did a while back.....

I must admit that I do not go to the gym or watch anything even faintly resembling MTV (anyone remember The Tube?), but it seems to me that our activist has worked herself up into a real lather about what she sees on TV.

'........Young women writhing, thrusting, pushing their genitals into the camera, simulating sex with chairs (?), poles, mens legs.....'

Really, take something, see someone, but calm down.....

The answer of course from the Object point of view is to see if another campaign can be launched to target and censor the music industry, MTV or music videos. I do not know if Object have a view on song lyrics, but I guess that they do, especially if the lyrics objectify women. That said, censorship in music is a real dead dog of a campaign and no one with any sense would go near it.

Would they?


This is my 99th posting. Clearly (unless you were the author of the Lilith Report), the next will be the 100th and I am reserving this posting for some good news that I hope to receive shortly. So until then, remain open minded, watch MTV videos, look at nude sculptures near you and just be a better human being than the prohibitionists, which lets face it, isn't that hard.

Anna Van Heeswijk - Levenson Recommendation

I thought it would be good to read Anna V's submission to the Levenson Enquiry. Most of it was what you would expect, apart from one recommendation, that I think is absolutely brilliant. Read it for yourself.....

We like the idea that 'groups' could be included as the basis for a complaint, that way groups of people could complain somewhere if they feel they are being victimised or being subject to 'persistent stereotyping' on the basis of their group identity.

We would like to suggest an amendment though, we would like to broaden the scope to include internet websites that are UK hosted, not just print based media. If Anna V's recommendation was adopted the scope could include stuff that appears on websites that persistently stereotype identified groups of people. If this were the case then maybe the dancers and club owners in Hackney would not have to put up again with what appears below, which appeared on a UK hosted website....

....where someone published a feature that made persistently stereotypical comments about the striptease scene, or maybe this....

 ......where someone accused the clubs of facilitating sexual abuse, without contextualising the comment....or what about this........

 .....where someone accused innocent dancers of being trafficked, drug abusers that performed sex acts and someone else made an accusation of assault against club customers that to my knowledge was never reported to the police....

Actually if Anna V's recommendation was adopted, the comments like the one below are unlikely to appeared again....

 Furthermore, dancers would not be blamed for the stalled careers of losers in the City, like this.......

 Finally, dancers wouldn't be objectified as abuse victims.....

But whose website did this come from?

Objects website of course, when Anna V was Campaign Manager.

Its incredible, Anna Van Heeswijk accuses The Sun of content which objectifies women, yet she herself is responsible for content that was arguably far worse....

Object, Page 3 and Public Art...

You may know that Object are currently focussing their rage on News International because of The Sun newspapers Page 3. For those that don't know, since 1970, The Sun features a photograph of a topless or sometimes naked female model. The pose always obscures the genital area. Object believe that Page 3 is a terrible thing, in fact in a recent interview in The Guardian, Anna Van Heeswijk said

"Our argument and solutions are simple," she says. "This type of sexually objectifying material would be restricted on television because of the recognised harms associated with these stereotyped portrayals of women and it would be considered sexual harassment if it was in the workplace. Why is it, then, that they should be printed in mainstream newspapers which are not age-restricted and are sold and displayed at child's eye level?"

Kat Banyard, the writer of the article believes that 'the legal footing for this so-called "institution" has never looked so precarious'.

I have a view on this matter. When Van Heeswijk says that Objects arguments and solutions are simple, she is absolutely correct. They are simple to the point of naivety and Kat Banyards comment about the legal footing of Page 3 is utterly contemptible.

Object and its supporters are ushering in a new era of censorship and the fools that publish The Guardian are cheering them on. But lets imagine that they succeed and Page 3 is banned. So images such as the one below, will no longer be legal in newspapers...

Remember that Object want this kind of image banned from newspapers, because anyone could see them, children for example. Fine, then if there is any substance behind Objects campaign, then what about the image below....

As you can see this a sculpture in a public garden somewhere in London. I am not going to say where it is or what its called, in case some moron tries to take a hammer to it in the name of objectification. My point is as follows; If Page 3 is objectionable, then so must be the sculpture above. In fact if you apply Objects 'simple arguments', it is worse. Its located in a public space, where children might see it, its available all of time for anyone to see and worse than that, the figure is completely naked.

So where do Object go with this?

Do they one day plan to force the removal of statues of naked women from public spaces?

Somehow I doubt it, they wouldn't survive the uproar.

I have a feeling that the basis for Objects argument against Page 3 is not the image, because if it was, Object would be busy stickering up statues now and would be working to get them carted away and melted down. No. I think the issue that drives the Page 3 campaign is the models themselves. Object will never bother to try and censor public art, for the simple reason that the models are not accessible, in fact many cases, such as the sculpture above, the models are long dead. What Object and its activists want are real people that are still alive and that can be reached.

We see how Object have tried to close strip clubs, damaging the livelihoods of thousands of dancers. Now they want to end the careers of Page 3 girls and models that pose for lads mags as well.

I hate to say this, but Object and their activists just seem to hate the women that are involved in the business, but they are not brave enough to admit (maybe even to themselves) what lies at the heart of their agenda.

Over the next week I will be releasing more frame grabs from my Object archive that will support this view.

Objectification Culture Or Censoring Art?

I hadn't planned to blog again today, but an article I read in the Telegraph frightened me to such an extent that I want to bring it to your attention today. The Scream gallery in Mayfair had an exhibition of the work of Derrick Santini, which included a modern day reinterpretation of the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan The artwork had been exhibited for a month with no complaints from the public.

So as to ensure that everyone understands what has happened, lets look at the deep background starting with the myth itself.

Leda and the Swan is a story and subject in art from Greek mythology in which the god Zeus seduced, or raped, Leda in the form of a swan. According to later Greek mythology, Leda bore Helen and Polydeuces, children of Zeus, while at the same time bearing Castor and Clytemnestra, children of her husband Tyndareus, the King of Sparta.

So we are clear that is a Greek myth, with the emphasis being placed upon the word 'myth'.

Throughout the ages, this topic has been the subject of artworks, some of which are below for you to see.

This painting is in the National Gallery, its a 16th century copy 
of a lost work by Michelangelo...

As you can this a sculpture of the same subject.....

This one is by James Legros.....

So we can see that this is a well portrayed subject and as such must be known to the public. Now, lets move on. Artist Derrick Santini, decided that it would be a nice idea to do his own version, and we can see it below....
This was the artwork that the Met Police censored...
Unsure if they saw this one or not....

It was exhibited in the Scream Gallery for over a month and as I said before it drew no complaints from anyone. Then one day a member of the Metropolitan Police was going past the gallery on a bus and saw the image and was so upset by what he saw that he swung into action. He contacted his colleagues and soon after two uniformed officers were visiting the gallery. They said the image condoned bestiality, which was an arrestable offence and stayed on site until the artwork was taken down and removed from public view.

I warned everyone that would listen that Object and their objectification based campaign would empower a whole range of morons to impose their morality on society and now we have the Metropolitan Police censoring artwork.

If I was in the Art Crimes Division of the Met (there must be one) I would get down to the National gallery as soon as possible, because the Michelangelo copy is still there. I would demand its removal and arrest the curator before anything immoral takes place. Lets face it, the Met are our moral guardians and as such should be told about this kind of stuff.

Hang on though, there is a load of this kind of sick stuff in London....

Eros in Picadilly....The little bastards got a bow and arrow and that must condone assault with a deadly weapon. Met Police, you know what to do....

Arthur Sullivan Memorial in Victoria Embankment Gardens...She's semi naked and thats illegal. Melt it down Met, melt it down now!

Phoebus Driving the Horses of the Sun at Australia House in The Strand. Oh my God you can see his willy!!!

The Boy David in Ropers Garden...more public nudity and its pedo stuff as well!!!

So for all my readers, this is what is happening in London. In the city that in weeks is hosting the Olympics, the police are running around censoring artworks.

Ok, lets face it, an understanding the Greek myth was never going to be part of the Metropolitan Polices training programme. But I always thought that thinking things through and showing common sense was a key attribute to being in the service of the police. I remember how brilliant the police were on the day of the London Tube bombings, every officer I met was a credit to the force, so what happened between then and now?

If like me, you wish to voice your concern about what has happened, don't bother with the police because the clown that reported this probably deals with the e-mails. A far better approach would be to tell Boris Johnson what you think, so go here to do that  .

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lets Close Every Club In York

Below we have a frame grab from a public petition to close every lap dancing club in York. Do you notice how many people fail to give their home location? Yes, 'N/G' stands for Not Given. Also notice any familiar names in the listing?

So 85 signatures, looks like two from this page are from York and the rest are just people with an unhealthy fascination about what goes in 'within the four walls of a lap dancing club', even if the club happens to be about three hundred miles away....

Voice of Reason In Portsmouth - Part Three

As I have stated before, people sometimes make comments on postings that are worth posting in themselves. So once more we have Maddie, taking Charlie Dacke to task over her 'What goes on in the four walls of a lapdancing club' comment.

"Gasp! I am shocked and appalled by Charlie Dacke's latest comments. It's fairly safe to surmise that the shortsighted champion of women's rights (ahem) has never seen what happens inside the four walls of a dancing club. If she had, she may not be out every day posting her organisation's dubious diatribe through the innocent doors of this city. 

(My offer still stands Charlie, if you've got the balls.)

(She hasn't Maddie...)

'All women have the right to feel safe and participate in the city's nightlife without fear'?

Has Charlie been to Guildhall Walk in the city lately on a weekend night? Go there as a woman dressed in anything other than what the flock are wearing and I can assure you, you will feel threatened by other women and will never want to participate in the city's nightlife again. 

If Charlie wants to fight inequality perhaps she should stop chasing her tail round and round outside danging clubs and instead try to educate the female masses on acceptance of others, even if they aren't dressed in Versace. 

Silly feminists; they're targeting the wrong women!"

The Objectification Conspiracy – Part 2

For Object, the world that they view must seem a terrifying and confusing place. They believe that lapdancing and striptease clubs create’no-go zones for women’ where the possibility of being sexually assaulted by club customers is inordinately high. Object have stated that what goes on inside clubs amounts to ‘sexual abuse’. So the key questions for Object must be…

If these places are so bad, why do women choose to work in them?

How can the dancers justify making a living by putting other women in danger?

The answers lies in the intellectually seductive arena of the conspiracy theory. Lets reconsider something that I wrote in first part of this essay.

‘First conspiracy theories claim to explain what academic or state sponsored research cannot. They appear to make sense out of a world that is appears confusing and contradictory’.

Here Object have the answer, their own research and maybe things such as The Lilith Report provide the answer. The women are actually forced, maybe by being trafficked or by economic circumstances.

There is an issue here though. To my knowledge, there has never been a single instance of a trafficked girl working in a lap dancing or strip tease club. In fact I would venture to say that such a thing is impossible, given that passport details must be provided to the club owner before anyone can work there and that local authority licensing departments check these details on a regular basis. But nonetheless, Object have built a campaign out of the Lilith Report and seven dancer testimonials.

Second, they (conspiracy theories)  do so in an appealingly simple way, by dividing the world sharply between good and evil. They trace all evil back to a single source, the conspirators and their agents’.

The evil conspirators are of course the patriarchy and their agents in this instance are of course lap dancing club owners, those that facilitate the ‘sexual abuse’ and ‘objectification’ of women. It really is binary for Object, all clubs are places of evil, all club owners are perpetrators of evil and the dancers are forced or maybe even too mentally ill to understand what is going on and need help, but most importantly, can safely be ignored if they protest at club closures and job losses. Its for their own good you see....

This binary approach is critical, as far as the activists are concerned there can never be any such thing as a well run club or a happy dancer. On this basis Object can justify to themselves their aim of closing every club in Britain.

‘Third, conspiracy theories are often presented as special, unique insight unknown or unappreciated by others’.

It was Object that stated that lap dancing was the cause of widespread social evil and they have being doing this since 2003. The thing is that venues with female nudity have existed in Soho since the 1950s and across the country since the late 1960’s. If clubs are vectors of criminality and objectification, how come no one else noticed this before? Very capable minds have spent much time looking at crime and the causes of crime, but no one before Object ever linked for example incidences of sexual assault to strip clubs.

So forgive me if I cast doubt on the idea that Jeremy Coutinho, Sasha Rakoff and Sandrine Leveque were sitting round a kitchen table over a bottle of Chardonnay, when Jeremy jumped up and said…

“….Its these damn lap dancing clubs, it has to be! Why has no one else noticed this before? Lets start a campaign group…..”

So Object must feel they are very special, because they did see a link that could form the basis of a campaign. It was only then a matter of time before they produced collateral in the form of dancer testimonies and of course the Lilith Report with its famous assertion that since clubs had opened in Camden, incidences of rape had increased by 50%.

So for Object things were very straightforward. They had identified the need in society, that is the incidence of rape and clubs being vectors of objectification that must be stopped. They sell themselves as the feature or the answer to the problem with their hidden knowledge and insight on prohibition and the benefit is course that when the last club is closed, sexual assault and domestic violence will almost cease.

The problem for Object was that despite getting the law changed, things have not been quite as straightforward as they would have liked, because four important developments took place... 

The First Important Development - Lilith Was Found To Be Flawed…

The first stumbling block was the demolition of the Lilith Report by Dr Brooke Magnati, someone that can use a calculator to present accurate percentages and with a good understanding of statistical analysis and able to rationally explore the relationship between cause and effect.

There is a problem however, or at least a 'get out' for third wave feminists. You see Dr Magnati is also Belle du Jour and therefore her analysis was not taken seriously by activists. In fact, many felt that Magnatis analysis was rubbish and an inevitable reponse from someone they viewed as being an integral part of the 'sexual abuse; industry. Have a look at the two frame grabs below, taken from the 'F Word' in response a review of Dr Magnatis recent book, 'Sexonomics'.

Is 'invisiblising' a word?
How dumb are these people? Or more appropriately, how dumb do they think we are?

'Lucie' can ignore the evidence, because the person doing the calculations is a 'rape apologist' and basically would say that kind of thing.

'Jane Osmond' boasts that she 'actually went and read' the report, almost implying that she has chosen to ignore other bodies of work that go against the grain of her beliefs and then states that it is 'academic-lite'. 

Well in my world it doesn't take a hundred pages to disprove shoddy thinking and bad maths.

Magnatis analysis focussed on the reports mathematical errors, mistakes that undermined its fundamental premise. Furthermore, Magnati went on to illustrate that incidences of rape actually fell in Camden to below the national average. The source of the statistics was the Metropolitan Police, who tend to be good at recording crimes. But even in this there is a contrary view that allows prohibitionists to ignore Dr Magnatis work...

In the view of 'theadorajean', the incidences of rape didn't reduce, they simply were not reported because the clubs in Camden created a zone of objectification where rape is just something that happens.

Brooke Magnati didn't 'think' that rape rates fall when lap dancing clubs are introduced. That was never her view point, bit its interesting to note the prohibitionists skewed viewpoint. Magnati merely pointed out that incidences of rape had reduced after the publication of Lilith. But phrasing things in this way, undermines the Magnati report and makes other, more opened minded people less likely to take it seriously and read it and most importantly, decide for themselves.

I suppose what I am trying to say that sums add up the same way, irrespective of who is doing the calculations. This is statistics, not quantum mechanics and the presence and nature of the observer does not affect the outcome.

It was this unwillingness of people such as 'Lucie' and 'Jane Osmond' to believe in contrary viewpoints that lead me to the issue of‘ 'confirmation bias'. 

Confirmation bias is a tendency of people to favour information that confirms their beliefs and discount that which challenges them. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs and third wave feminists do seem to be deeply committed to their belief that clubs cause untold harm. We have seen that criticism of Lilith has brought a generally negative response from Object and its activists.

Confirmation bias, Object and Lilith go hand in hand with other factors as well...

We have Belief Perseverance, where beliefs persist after the evidence for them is shown to be false and lets face it, Lilith is still quoted today.

There is also The Irrational Primacy Effect, where a greater reliance is placed on information encountered early in a campaign and lets face it, Lilith is quoted today.

We can also look at Illusory Correlation, which is where people falsely perceive an association between two events or situations, such as sexual assault and clubs, as sold to us by the Lilith report, which by the way is still quoted today.

The Second Important Development - Academics Started Getting Involved….

Dr Teela Sanders of Leeds University published some research that showed lap dancing and lap dancers in a more objective manner. You can find it here. The press got hold of it and numerous newspapers published articles that commented on the percentage of lap dancers that were graduates. Dr Sanders was not very popular with Object for her work. In fact, an Object activist apparently sent Dr Sanders a letter an excerpt of which is below….

Dear Dr Sanders,

I was really saddened and angry to read the newspaper articles which had picked up on your 'research' into lapdancing and, to some extent, manipulated it to suit their own purposes. I do feel that it is irresponsible of you to allow your research to be presented in this misleading way - I note that you only interviewed 300 women in two cities in Britain - hardly a conclusive piece of research in terms of numbers or location.

I would also argue that what appears to be qualitative research can hardly be applied on a national, (let alone global) scale and that your statistical findings mean the articles fail to explore any causal relationship between women with degrees becoming lapdancers and society at large or indeed, the assertation that, 'the majority of lapdancers' (which should read 'the majority of the 300 lapdancers interviewed in two British cities') saying they 'enjoy' their work. WHY these women now SAY they enjoy a job which effectively reduces them to a sexual object, is far more important than a set of statistics.

I intend to make this letter the subject of a future posting, but for now lets look at in the context of confirmation bias.

Do you notice how the word research has been punctuated? In this way the writer implies that she does not consider the work to be research at all. It is also interesting to see how the writer tries to disparage Dr Sanders, but actually ends up doing the very same thing to Object. Dr Sanders interviewed 300 people and apparently it is ‘hardly conlusive’. Yet Objects campaign was in part based upon interviews with seven dancers. If 300 is 'hardly conclusive', 7 is utterly meaningless. Finally the capitalisation of the word ‘say’ in the final paragraph implies that the people being interviewed were in fact telling lies when they stated that enjoyed their jobs.

Brooke Magnatis work was easy for the prohibitionist to discount, they had as the basis for their view that Dr Magnati was Belle Du Jour. Dr Sanders is a well respected academic and undoubtably Object viewed her paper as a trespass upon their territory.

Sorry, who are the 'ignorant privileged again? Pot - Kettle scenario I think....
Its great to see that the first comment from the compilation above is in denial about dancer job satisfaction and academic credentials. Later we see that Dr Sanders is wrtten off a 'misogynist' rent a quote and finally we see the favoured justification for being intellectually blinkered, that Dr Sanders has a 'vested interest'.

Remember that conspiracy theorists present their ideas ‘as special, unique insight unknown or unappreciated by others’. The last thing any of the prohibitionists wanted was an academic weighing in with their views. It might spoil the party....

Some work conducted in the 1960s suggested that people, perhaps unsurprisingly are innately biased towards confirming their existing beliefs. Some later reassessment concluded that people have a tendency to test ideas in a one-sided way, focusing on one possibility and ignoring alternatives. But why is this the case?

Some explanations for the observed biases include wishful thinking, which is truly terrifying because it raises the possibility that Object decided at an early point in their campaign that sexual assault and rape as well being awful crimes, were handy tools to use in their campaign against clubs.

Another explanation is that people show confirmation bias because they are weighing up the costs of being wrong, rather than investigating in a neutral, objective manner way. I think this is the more likely of the two causes. I think that at a board level, Object realised some time ago that their campaign was doomed to fail and that furthermore it had no basis in fact. The problem of course is that a number of groups, such as the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation have given Object considerable funding to fight their campaign. Anna Van Heeswijk and the gang can hardly turn around now and say that they were wrong.

No, the show must go on because if it doesn’t, funding may prove hard to come by in the future.

The Third and Most Important Development - Dancers Started to Protest…

We have seen in recent years, increasing levels of dancer lead and supported activism.

From the demonstration in Hackney to Dancers Speak Out in Tower Hamlets and in a small way, even this blog. It is not easy when the people start to protest against you, but here prohibitionists have the answer, as is illustrated in the frame grab below.

So you see dancers are guilty of 'thought crime'.....
In the above terrifying posting from The Guardian, we see the writer justify ignoring the protests of dancers on the basis that they are so traumatised that they don't know how traumatised they are. In other words, people that disagree with us are crazy. In a previous posting I wrote that the ideas expressed by Imbo were frightening and almost Catch 22 like. This brings me to the fourth and final development..

Fourth - The Public Started to Resist as Well

Maddie made a comment about Imbos idea about ignoring dancers because of their state of mind. I have reproduced the full comment below...

The Catch-22 reference says it all. It is quite terrifying that some feminists are now resorting to this tactic in order to discredit the valid views of the dancers. I am not a feminist. The important work done in the past to get laws changed and ensure equal gender rights means I don't have to be, and credit to the women who fought for generations to ensure I can live and work in a world where I won't be penalised for my gender.

Unfortunately the post-feminist society seems to offer no focus for those who still want to fight some sort of personal moral crusade against men, and they are now turning inwards and attacking other women who choose to work in a profession that feminists deem to be morally corrupt. (I may begin suggesting that the opinions of feminists fighting against strip clubs are highly suspect because so many are clearly in denial of the effect they are having on other women's livelihoods and therefore they can't really call themselves feminists.)

I'm also not a dancer, but I have friends who are, and friends who aren't dancers but also have friends who are, and other friends who are feminists but still have no problem with dance clubs. There are layers upon layers of women who don't feel threatened by dance clubs, don't go to them but know someone who does, or someone who works in one, and generally see them as a place of entertainment, expression and enjoyment that we are all free to work in if we CHOOSE to. I have a really good friend who has a pole in her dining room for exercise purposes. If she chooses to dance in a provocative manner in her own home for a man, if that subjugating her? I'd like to see a member of Object or the Solent Feminist Network suggest that to her, because she also used to be a champion kick-boxer and worked as nightclub security for years (the joys of equality).

It's the voices of women like her, as well as those of the dancers, that are starting to be heard now, and starting to threaten the current feminist campaign against other women's jobs. The work Object do to protect women from domestic violence and other obvious violations is clearly worthwhile, but this campaign against dance clubs is deplorable and disgusting to all level headed clear thinking women the world over, and Object need to be held accountable for the women they are putting out of work.

I have little doubt that prohibitionists would say that the above comment was probably made by a dancer (it was not) and therefore can be ignored. In fact I have been accused as being a club owner (which I am not) and that is used a white wash to justify ignoring the ideas expressed in this blog. 

Throughout the land, members of the public are starting to resist Object and its activists and surely this is a good thing, after all it is only local democracy in action, something that Object are very keen on.

In this essay we have looked at how Object and other prohibitionists have essentially sold us a conspiracy, a nice easy to understand model that justifies the campaign. We have also seen how opposing opinions are ignored with groundless assertions about motivation so as to ensure the activists do not have to consider troubling matters, such as the consequences of their actions.

Object must find the resistance expressed to their campaign to be shocking and surprising. After all, remember they 'explain what academic or state sponsored research cannot', in fact its obvious that they are right because the issue is simply a battle 'between good and evil', and do not forget that Object have a 'special, unique insight unknown or unappreciated by others’.

When I was in my teens, I had the luxury of seeing the world in black and white and that made my life easy. Group A were always right and Group B were always wrong. I didn't have to think too hard as there no troubling shades of gray in the landscape. Then one something happened. I realised that in fact for every issue there are a thousand shades of grey between black and white, between right and wrong and as a result life was no longer quite so straightforward.

What happened to make me see things so differently?

I grew up.

Maybe Object and its activists can try and do the same, but somehow I doubt it.

About Part Three

John Berlet and Mathew Lyons have published studies of conspiracy groups and stated that , "Conspiracism is a particular narrative form of scapegoating that frames demonized enemies as part of a vast insidious plot against the common good, while it valorizes the scapegoater as a hero for sounding the alarm".

Many of us have noted that over the past few years, there has been an increasing level of hatred directed at dancers in the media and other channels. In the third and final instalment of this essay, lets have a look at what is being done and examine what drives it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Updates On Various Issues...

I am still rather busy with a load of other stuff that doesn't relate to Object and strippers and other related stuff. So as an interim I thought it would be a good idea to provide some bite sized updates on the issues of the day....

Tower Hamlets Nil Policy - Well this amazing story drags on and the latest news that I have for you is that nothing is apparently going to happen until June. Possibly. This must be very distressing for all of the prohibitionists, because even if they decide to go ahead, the clubs will still be open during the Olympics. Furthermore, poor old Michael Collins of CAPE, will have to put up with months more of clubs pursuing their 'evil trade', as he likes to put it.

Also an interesting article in the Telegraph about directly elected mayors can be found here. It has some nice things to say about Lutfur Rahman. Also go here, to find out about iffy voting irregularities....

Silly People Doing Stickering - I visited The Horns recently after warning them and other venues that Object seemed to be somewhat resurgent and to maybe expect some stickers to magically appear overnight on their premises. I was shocked to discover that only two days after my warning, stickers were indeed placed on the aforesaid venue. The offending items proclaimed something along the lines that the girls inside 'had no choice' about dancing and that was why it was a good thing to try and force them out of their jobs.

It kind of strikes me that one day someone will ask the activists what their contribution to the strides forward in female empowerment were. Some will say that established education and training programmes, some will say that they campaigned for funding for Rape Crisis Centres and some others will have to say that they skulked around clubs after hours and covered them in hard to remove sticky labels.

The GMB Are Great. If after reading the Dancers Speak Out report, you have decided to join the GMB, follow this link to see the membership application form.

Portsmouth. Charlie Dacke has been maintaining her reputation for sense free ravings when she said...

“What happens inside the four walls of a lap dancing club would be considered sexual harassment and sex discrimination in any other workplace – so while it continues to take place on our high streets with licences supplied by our local authorities, how can we address the deeply ingrained inequalities that still exist in society? All women have the right to feel safe and participate in the City’s nightlife without fear.”

Well Charlie, what happens inside the four walls of anywhere would probably be considered inappropriate in another setting. What goes on inside a slaughterhouse wouldn't be acceptable in shopping precinct, what goes on at the British Grand Prix, would bring lifetime driving bans if it was transplanted to housing estate near you. So that comment doesn't stack up at all. Furthermore, strip tease doesn't take place on the High Street, it takes place in a club away from public view. Finally the 'deeply ingrained inequalities; that exist within society will not be addressed by making women redundant.

Contributors To This Blog. I love having guest contributors, TonyN is a sterling supporter and has contributed a brilliant piece about violent incidents that occur near clubs. Edie also sends me stuff to write as well and her pieces are always great to read. Blog member Maddie, writes comments that are so good that they deserve to be seen by more people and I will shortly post one of her comments. If anyone else has some interesting ideas, please let me know.

Who is the Eighth? Can someone help me with a technical issue? As you can see from my blog, I have seven members, yet my internal control panel says that I have eight. Is there someone that wants to be a member, yet not reveal themselves? How can I found out who this is? Your views would be welcome...

Ok, so for today thats it. I plan to start posting again over the weekend and have a number of articles planned or already written. Thank you for your time and I hope to see you soon.


Violent Crime Report

Blog supporter TonyN has just completed a comprehensive analysis of incidents of violent crime in locations around strip clubs. The findings are summarised below and Tony makes a great offer to any club owner who finds themselves under siege by prohibitionists....

I always wondered why Object has never produced a report on violent crimes associated with Strip Bars and Lap Dancing Clubs. After the Lilith report failed so miserably you would think if there was even a grain of truth about the violence they would be broadcasting it all over their site. However the only attempt to use crime figures, that I know of, was the attempt to use Bristol's figures by Coventry Women's Voices. And that was a clever use of figures by putting all 4 venues in one group and using a catchment area that was in the middle of what the Police called a Crime Impact Zone. Obviously I was interested and it turns out that 3 of the venues are in the middle of the area riddled with Bars and Night Clubs. The Police and Councillors were very careful when discussing the venues to assign no blame to any venue.

Anyway this sparked an interest in why I had never seen any figures on the web from the anti striptease supporters. So I did some research based on the same distance parameters as Coventry's presentation and a publicly available tool so anyone could check the figures themselves.

Number of Crimes
Number of Venues
Percentage total of number of venues
1 to 12
13 to 24
25 to 36
37 to 48
49 to 60
61 to 120
121 and above

These figures include all violent crimes over 2011 near SEVs (as the councils call them) in England and Wales.

I don't need to say too much the figures pretty much speak for themselves. I have contacted the Police about the larger crime figures and so far not much in the way of usable answers but the 2 that were usable both showed NO violent crime associated with the venues in question.

I have written a short report that I am happy to send to venues or their solicitors. If any venues know that there has been a number of violent crimes near them and would like to put their view forward. In both cases my e-mail address is

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Extension - a competitor for Object?

I know I said I needed a break, but this afternoon I was inspired by the idea of a parody of Object and their campaign. So I created this web page for 'Extension' - a fake radical pressure group......

Yes its a parody of Object.....

Its meant to be amusing, but since making this posting I am moving toward to idea that actually its too close to real life to be funny. 'Extension' are essentially a group that looked for something in the feminist arena that they could campaign on.....

They found their key campaign theme - Hair...
They refined the issue - Long Hair is the real challenge for women...
They identified a target to campaign against - Hair Extension Salons...
They devised some unfounded negative associations - Trafficked Hair, Crime and Cancer...
They developed a language and terminology - Extensification and Extensified....
The campaign was broadened - Pubic Encounter Salons....
They convinced some MPs to change the law - 'Cutting The Trestles' and 'Pube Life' campaigns
They did some astro-turfing - 'I have to cycle past a hair extension clinic on the way to work'...

Also, before I forget, they want your money as well....

The only problem was, as I was coming up with ideas for the campaigns, I realised to my horror that one of the things that 'Extension' are campaigning about, has at least been touched upon by Object and their rad-fem colleagues. You see the photograph? Its not Photoshopped, its real. Its The Muffia doing their
'Hands Off Our Muffs' protest....

Friday, April 20, 2012

Moving Forward

Its been a busy week and much has happened. As I posted before, I think that things are looking better and quite possibly Brute was correct in his view that the tide turned some six months ago, but at least we recorded the highlights. In terms of readership, we are well on the way toward 7,000 page views, a number that I would never imagined this blog reaching in 2012, let alone by April. The average number of  page views is now about 150 a day, with some days reaching over 300. Global coverage has increased as well, as you can see from the map below....

For myself, I have to say that this blog is just one of a number of concerns that I have and for a while, the other concerns must take precedence. Therefore I will not be posting until the middle of next week at the very earliest. So until that time, please feel free to wander around the blog as I am sure there will be something to interest you there. If something incredible, amazing or appalling happens, I will of course post about it, but until I blog again, best to assume that no news is good news.

See you all soon


Dancers Speak Out - Full Report

Dancers Speak Out was a public meeting held in Tower Hamlets on 18th April and marked what in my view may a tipping point in the battle that clubs and dancers have been fighting against prohibitionists and their supporters within local councils throughout the United Kingdom.

The event drew a respectable crowd of around 50 people, comprising local residents, local trade union representatives, club owners and of course the dancers whose jobs are threatened. Sadly I have to report that I was the closest thing to a media representative that attended the event, which is a pity because many important things came out of the meeting.

The first speaker was John McDonnel, MP for Hayes and Harlington since 1997. He was one of the members of the group that helped develop the legislation that lead to the current SEV Licensing structure and consequently his views on the matter have great weight. It is Johns view that the current prohibitionist campaign was not an intended outcome of the legislation and that was happening was, in his words ‘mad’. He expressed the view that the entire situation was clearly about one group imposing their morality on another and that people needed to accept that a city offers a range of things for a range of people.

John also touched upon the consultation, making the observation that after 6 months there had still been no result. He expressed concern that the submissions had been sent to handwriting experts but half the responses were done online. Speculating that the entire affair had probably been motivated by the Olympics, John asked how Dow Chemicals, BP and Rio Tinto Zinc were fine and striptease was not. Recalling meetings with survivors or Bhopal and people from South Africa who'd suffered under RTZ mining projects, he was struck by the hypocrisy of the council welcoming these companies to the borough but then trying to ban striptease.

Perhaps most importantly, John stated clearly that if Tower Hamlets council attempted to push through the ‘Nil Policy’, he will raise the matter in Parliament, possibly in the format of an early day motion. Sadly he had to leave early on Parlimentary business, but he made a great impression on everyone.

Next up was ex dancer and Equity member, Edie, who spoke with expected eloquence and commitment about the prohibitionists and their campaign against the club scene.

Speaking about a job which she found stressful and abusive that gave her terrible anxiety – a PA in a City media firm, she revealed that working as a stripper in the evening was a marked contrast and was one of the few things that kept her sane in this time.

Edie also recalled the rise in anti-stripper articles in the media, particularly those written by Caitlin Moran that in many respects were the first straws in the wind of the situation that we find ourselves in today. Perhaps most importantly, Edie commented about how important it was for women ‘have a space where they are allowed to be sexually expressive’ after centuries of being denied ‘any sexual expression at all’. Throughout the darker periods of history, female sexuality has been repressed, and its exhibition could lead to ‘incarceration or worse’ and Edie quite rightly questioned the motivations of those that would seek to turn the clock back.

Vera Rodriguez (GMB) has been a dancer in Tower Hamlets for 12 years and stated that although her job was seen to be controversial it was nonetheless a ‘real job’ and that she had been ‘grateful to be able to earn a living entertaining people’. Vera then spoke about Tower Hamlets council who in her view are ‘not so good’ on the basis that they do not have the right to tell anyone how to make a living and that ultimately the jobs of 500 to 600 people are at stake on the basis of the Councils views.

Vera argued eloquently the need for dancers and their colleagues to be able to keep a job in todays depressed economy and perhaps most importantly of that everyone is part of a community, a family that must become organised and stand together in order to save the jobs and also to start to look at working conditions as well.

“Those that call themselves feminists – Are you really defending our right to do what we want with our lives? Let is keep the right to work and fight to get better conditions and unionise”.

The above was Veras closing comment and for me it represented the subtstrate of the whole argument. How can anyone that calls themselves a feminist actually try and campaign against an industry that employs upwards of 12,000 women in the UK.

The meeting Chair supported this view and asked….

“…….Are present day feminists defending womens rights? I think not. They haven’t bothered to ask the women themselves. Maybe they should listen to people like Edie and Vera. If you are a worker you have the right to be heard".

……..a question that any Object activist would surely have difficulty answering with any degree of honesty.

The next speaker was arts school graduate and dancer Stacey, who explained that after moving to London she had worked in many different clubs and this experience had helped her define her key criteria for working. Essentially she needed to feel comfortable, protected and unexploited. She also made the perfectly valid point that in some venues the house fees amounted to ‘extortion’. Happily for Stacey, she found in The White Horse in Shoreditch, a venue where she could settle and works there to this day.

Interestingly Stacey wrote a dissertation about UK Licensing Law and stated that she agreed with the change but that was disappointed to see the new legislation abused by councils.

Stacey also made an important point that objectification of a group or a race is the first step toward violence and that reducing people to sub-humanity was in itself a violent act. In my view this is something that Object have been guilty of, they claim to be fighting objectification, but in doing so have objectified dancers as either helpless victims or the root cause of societies ills.

‘Montana’, another dancer from Tower Hamlets explained that she herself used to be part of the radical feminist movement, but along the she realise that it didn’t really represent liberation for women, or even its members…

“…….It created other norms, more limitations and no space to listen to anyone else, for example those joining the group with high heels and long hair…..”

Like Edie and Vera, Montana stressed the point that dancers are ‘not abused, exploited or dehumanised’ and work to support themselves and their dependants, in an environment that is ‘safe, secure and protected’. It was at this point that Montana really got into her stride, with a powerful statement in support of her career choice….

“There is no space for oppression against women. It is the time that I choose to be objectified and it is my choice to work in the club, on my terms and conditions, reclaiming the power of my body and myself”.

Perhaps Montanas’ most thought provoking comment was when she made the observation that if lap dancing clubs cause violence toward women, then on that basis religion should be banned and for good measure violent films as well.

She also touched upon the issue of womens safety, because the inevitable consequence of prohibition would be illegal, unsafe venues, something that Object vehemently deny as being even remotely possible.

Montanas summary encapsulated the whole campaign….

“….Within contemporary dance and art, the body is sexualised. If this is my body it is my right to decide what to do with it….”

The meeting was very fortunate to have Keith Henderson of the GMB. Keith is a Regional Organiser of the Entertainment Section who stated that the GMB will seek advice to mount a legal challenge to Tower Hamlets Council if they decode to proceed with their Nil Policy. This one statement was perhaps the most important of the meeting, as it means that the council will be facing challenges from not only clubs, but one of the most powerful and influential unions in the country.

The role of local religious institutions was briefly discussed as well and Edie recalled the Lapdancing – Choice or Exploitation debate held last October, where many speakers admitted that they had no idea that strip clubs even existed in Tower Hamlets but nonetheless resolved that they must be banned.

Thierry Schaffauser, the GMB London Entertainment Branch President made the point that to win the battle that people have to fight and to do that within the context of a union. Recalling Hackney and the protest activities that fought Object and Hackney Council to a standstill, Thierry stated that the same model needed to be employed in Tower Hamlets.

“…We can win, we will win by organising together and joining the GMB and Equity….”.

Links to the membership pages for GMB can be found here and for Equity, here.

A member of the public made an interesting observation about Tower Hamlets Councils increasing need to control its environment and the businesses that reside in the borough, recalling how the difficulties faced by the owners of The Troxy were being reflected today by the situation facing strip club owners.

Finally, there was much discussion about the issue of self employed workers rights and whether maybe all dancers should be directly employed by the clubs that they work for. This point was made by some representatives of the NUT, who maybe failed to appreciate the advantages that self employment brings and also maybe weren’t fully up to speed about the strip tease industry. Maybe the best observation on this matter was from Catherine Stevens, GMB Branch Secretary who said that ‘If I am self employed, I expect to be treated as such’ and that the key focus should be on transparency of dancers terms and conditions.

In summary it was an outstanding meeting and virtually every contributor made valid points. As for the future, there was talk of meeting to formulate strategies and I for one hope this takes place as a matter of urgency. It is my view that the strategy should focus initially on ensuring jobs keep open, then and only then can we start to work on conditions.

After listening to the trade union speakers, I must say that I strongly urge dancers to join the GMB and Equity. Without large scale support, we may win the odd battle such as Hackney, but the war itself is a different prospect. Dancers and club owners have to be lucky everytime, Object only have to lucky once and it is vital that a blanket Nil Policy that empowers a council to close every club in their borough never happens.

On behalf of the speakers, I want to thank everyone that contributed to the ‘jug round’ for meeting the cost of the hall, particularly Whites Gentlemans Club, the Nags Head and Metropolis who themselves put in £100.

The full text of the speeches will be published on this blog in the coming week.

As I wrote in a previous posting about Object, I never imagined that we would ever have to fight for right of clubs to exist. It was always my fear that the legislation would be abused and with gay venues being targeted along with strip tease and lap dancing clubs, we can see that sadly I was right. That said, it could be that out this conflict comes something good, maybe that is for everyone to never take things for granted again.

Anna Van Heeswiijk was interviewed recently in The Guardian and as always there were many comments about the article. A surprising number were from people critical of Object, that said there was one comment, that I found quite chilling…..

“…..studies that take into account the opinions of women who are still stuck in the industry are highly suspect because so many will be in denial about how traumatised they are and how that trauma manifests itself……”

In other words, the public shouldn’t listen to dancers who defend their jobs because basically they are crazy and need help. It reminds me of Joseph Hellers Catch 22. The only sane dancers are those that denounce the profession and therefore they must be listened to. Those that defend the profession must be insane and therefore must be ignored. They may act normal and present reasoned arguments but all really that demonstrates is that they must be incredibly insane to be so normal.

These attitudes and justifications seem to be becoming more commonplace among the prohibitionist community as they struggle to justify their behaviour. Furthermore, what kind of people denounce their opponents as insane and try to legislate against them? I think we know the answer from history.

I hope this marks a new stage in the recognition of strip tease and lap dancing as legitimate employment activities. Stacey stated her support for the SEV legislation, if she meant that it would result in a new and better understanding between club owners and dancers, an understanding that is supported and defended by union expertise and muscle, then only good can come from it.

We know we have union support and also a prominent member of Parliament essentially condemning a prohibitionist council. We must not allow momentum to slip or allow ourselves to be caught up with other  issues or side agendas. This is about working, we can worry about how to work when the jobs have been saved.

It is my view that the choices and ways forward are clear…