Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Bit More Bindel

Most people who read this blog know I get much more enthused in writing when defending venues and the right for each case to be judge on merit rather than blanket bans which are the current flavour of the month for councils who don't have venues. Or when defending the right to choose for individuals within the law. However as my last couple of pieces have been addressing the tools used by those who cry wolf and decide that every issue should be laid at the door of the strip industry. So I want to go further with the report by Bindel for Glasgow. I have to edit this due to the strange nature of twitter which hides tweets from conversations after 7 days. So JB still stands by her report which is brave considering the things we are pointing out.

So back to that document from Bindel and firstly I want to draw on her methodology. The covert interviews with both customers and dancers has some ethical questions as to why dancers could not be interviewed face to face? Certainly Saunder and Hardy did that in their work and reflected exactly what the dancers said. Was there a worry about the dancers saying things that would not reflect the direction the report wanted to point? So we have now look at how the dancers and customers were selected? Was there a demographic reflected in the work? A totally random sample of 20 customers and dancers should have thrown up a wider range of answers. It appears that the selection may have been on a criteria that was given to the interviewers and we have no idea why any were selected. The worry I have is that no customer was interviewed in Spearmint Rhino in London, the reason given was the customers were unapproachable. I would love to know what that means and how it was decided a customer was approachable. The structure of the methodology for the covert interviews raises questions on how and why people were targeted. This also applies to people interviewed outside the clubs as the use of the word random raises questions. If you are going to interview 20 people then 10 of each sex would seem appropriate but we are not even sure of that.

There was a diagram (figure 1) which is suppose to show the drivers that "cause" the possibility of prostitution. As no study was done in the research about the average earnings of dancers the diagram is a generalization that has no facts to back it up. In fact when you look at the research in 2009 by Leeds University and the earning power of the average dancer of £232 per shift after paying fees the indication is that dancers are quite capable of earning over £4k a month. This makes the claims in figure 1 seem rather invalid, one can only assume that dancers gave the interviewers the I am going to earn nothing story to try and get the interviewer to spend money, as no validation seems to have been done by the interviewers and we cannot assume no dancers were earning from working. So the drivers given by JB are assumptions and we all know what ASSumption are.

Now to look at table 2 again, there is an awful lot of not knowns, in fact I would estimate 50% of that table is not known. And even better is the no special conditions for Legs and Co where the table makes it appear that under 18s could get into the venue even though standard licensing laws would preclude that. And to be honest that truly is a misrepresentation of the club as the report acts as though no licensing laws apply to venues when as they sell alcohol they obviously are governed by licensing laws.

Interestingly the report make claims that the clubs are run by criminals. However licensing laws would preclude people with unpsent criminal convictions from obtaining a license. There could of course be people who are suspected of being criminals which are being referred to, but nice to see innocent till proven guilty being applied (not) if this is the case. Police have the ability to stop alcohol licenses and if a criminal applied they could easily stop the issue of licenses. Ignoring the police's abilities and yet making claims about crime you wonder just how the police is seen by the author? Certainly with freedom of information the public can easily find out about crime around the clubs if it exists.

Bindel does offer some support for dancers when she states “There is little doubt that improving working conditions and contractual arrangements for the dancers would, nevertheless, be of benefit, at least in the short term.”. Why the short term you ask? Well I would take a wild stab in the dark that someone expected venues to close in the longer term. It is a shame there wasn't more support of those women who choose to dance from the radical feminists along these lines rather than the close the clubs and don't worry about the impact it would have on female employment. Interestingly not every feminist has that view including a lot of dancers who see themselves as feminists but are being told that they can't be feminists because they don't fit in with the radical feminists belief in how the world should be.

The use of drugs is something that has me scratching my head, the report says some dancers use drugs and yet I can point out that some doctors use drugs, some investment bankers use drugs, some academic staff use drugs. I know a couple of dancers that will smoke pot but club owners are very aware of the damage drugs being found on the premise would have for their license so they are very against drugs. Certainly I haven't seen any epidemic among dancers in the 20 plus years I have been on the circuit. No doubt there will be the cry they use drugs to dull their sense or they couldn't dance, given that an estimated one in three adults have used drugs at some point in their lives then sorry if you tried to close every industry that used drugs they would be no industries. And how many feminists use drugs? Should we ban feminism because some feminists use drugs? Lets be honest woman found with joint doesn't look like getting a headline but if it was lap dancer found with joint suddenly the whole thing changes. It does show the very two faced nature of these sort of claims.

Still more gems are buried in Bindel's report and all I can say is that in my opinion it has no value now. It may have had a little value in 2004 and that would be generous but in 2013 the report bears no reflection on the current state of the industry in the UK and some of the bibliography quoted in 2004 has even less value. Certainly with Lilith being withdrawn there is now a spate of documents that were previously supporting the radical feminists have lost their importance. Anyone using the Bindel report in 2013 as a resource for the trying to close clubs needs to have a serious rethink!!!!!! I look forward to the chance to debate the validity of the report with anyone who believes it is worth defending.

TonyN (

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bindel's 2004 Report to Glasgow Council

This is a review of Julie Bindel's (JB from here on in) 2004 report for Glasgow and it's relative value in 2013. Couple of things first before I get into this, firstly this is just my personal take on it shaped by 20 years plus exposure to the industry, 4 years in local government and 4 years in pre sales/marketing. Secondly this was a 64 page report and I have 62 observations and comments running into over 6 pages in abbreviated form, if I wrote this up as a report it would run into 12 to 15 pages without a bibliography. I would also point out that JB did answer me via twitter that she stands by this report  as valid for the UK in 2013.

Okay this is just a general observation in the use of language, grammar and punctuation. Throughout the report JB uses the term evidence with the meaning signs or indication, however the use of the word evidence in Local Government is for indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid. Obviously this could shape the belief that rather that being a sign it is a fact. This is interpretational but experience in Local Government would lead the reader to believe fact rather than supposition. Also within the report there is usage of speech marks to indicate a possible second meaning. This is to create another supposition based on belief rather than knowledge, for example I believe that JB intention was to "encourage" a belief in line with her personal views. See what I did there? This happens throughout the document especially with reference to dancers in the "interviews".

Now this will be amusing to any London club fans as Spearmint Rhino and Flying Scotsman are compared as a like for like through most of the report and it is only in a small quick paragraph that the Scottie is acknowledge as a strip pub and even then the "observer" in the venue failed to notice that the dancers collected before going on stage but stated that they collected after -1 for observation. There is table 2 which seems to indicate that private dancing takes place in the Scottie and only later does it concede that no private dancing takes place. For some reason the report forgets to inform readers that the dancing takes place on a stage. I was amused that the "Observer" was pointed to a pimp in the club as someone once pointed me out to staff as a drug dealer simply because I was monopolising the attention of his favourite dancer. I have even left the Scottie at the same time as a dancer I knew as a friend as she lived on my way home so I would drop her off. This does not mean prostitution just that I had a good friendship with that dancer. I would point out that also in 2004 that several pubs in the area (for those that don't know the Scottie is in Kings cross) would be visited by prostitutes close to closing time looking for customers. This wasn't anything about the Scottie apart from the fact there were men there which applied to several other pubs. Useful though using the locality to help paint the picture.

Now lets move to the covert interviews most especially with dancers as obviously there was little structure which is acknowledged in a table that part of the interview was done covertly. Now the issue is the dancers believe that the interviewer is a customer and approaches her as such using different marketing ploys to encourage her to spend money. From I love my job to woe is me I am going to make no money tonight, these are tools of the trade. I also wonder what guidelines were given to the interviewers as people can shape discussions and lead them in certain directions. I have had training in Pre Sales to do this and know how simple it is to get people to not only discuss what you want them to but also to use language to shape answers. Not saying this was the case but pointing out as woe is me answer could be dancer marketing, interviewer shaping the discussion or just woe is me. TBH though I know how well dancers do so guessing it is marketing. There is a classic line in the report that had me wondering just how na├»ve the author is? “There are indications that the dancers would attempt to maximise their earnings by extracting as much as possible from each customer they had contact with.” I am sorry but dancers earn their living from the payment by customers for their performance why wouldn't anyone want to maximise their earnings?

The report references a story from the Scottish Daily Record in 1997 where it is claimed 3 women were deported that were part of a trafficking ring. Unfortunately having looked under various versions of the description in Google there seems to be no reference to the case although even if there was one case both Pentameter and Pentameter II had no raids on any clubs throughout the UK. Certainly with the more stringent checks in England and Wales of dancers by councils it would be almost impossible for a dancer to be a victim of trafficking. If the one case is valid then that in over 20 years of my exposure to the industry is the only case that I have ever heard of.

Now jump to chapter A Front for Prostitution? This is a big chapter and to be honest it is hard to know where to start. The question of physical contact and dancers touching themselves during performances were raised however in 2004 there were no standard practises or guidelines for clubs so Lap Dancing obviously in clubs involved physical contact. With the changes in council regulations dancers are not allowed to touch customers nor customers touch dancers. In fact even a kiss on the cheek or walking the customer hand in hand to the private dance area has been stopped by some venues to ensure that council rules cannot be misinterpreted. The section on prostitution contains a lot of suggestions of selling sex yet no actual proof is offered on any of the 6 venues. With the much more stringent regulations councils are putting in place and the concern venues have for keeping their licenses I would suggest that the chances of prostitution are slim. Not saying that it would never happen but from my knowledge of the London scene of 20 years I can only think of one dancer who would arrange to meet customers at hotels etc and she was fired from 4 venues that I know of. However dancers do make friends with customers and sometimes you meet for coffee or a birthday drink that does not mean that sex is being sold just that normal social interaction is taking place.

Now lets jump to clubs in context: The claim of widespread opposition to clubs is strange as the research recently by Professor Phil Hubbard indicated whilst there were issues agreeing locations only 3% of the 941 people surveyed said there was no place for these clubs and then it just turned into NIMBY from some of those surveyed. As the numbers surveyed far exceed the numbers in the 2004 paper that were interviewed the results are more likely to reflect true public opinion. I note that an interviewee in London claimed issues with Spearmint Rhino and noise levels. Has this person never heard of environmental health? If the noise level was truly unbearable then the person could easily have had the venue even closed for repeat offences. Having worked in Local Government the club could have been shut if the noise was that bad. There is also the quote of one person who is local who is embarrassed by the club being near. That reflect a persons moral objection, I could easily say I would be over the moon to be near a club. My opinion would be described as irrelevant by those who oppose clubs and yet the statement that one individual is embarrassed is given weight as it reflects the author's opinion.

I could go on and on and on. I will point out that since the report was written we have had multiple academic researches done using much larger and more diverse samples. Leeds interviewed 200 dancers, Kent had over 900 individuals involved! Also JB has Lilith in the report which has been removed from the Eaves website and the freedom of information requests from Newquay, Camden and Wandsworth which suggests that the idea that clubs encourage sexual violence is in fact a fallacy. I have seen how wording can shape belief and how belief can shape wording especially in Local Government. The choice by Glasgow council of who to write the report suggests they had an intended end game and employed the person most likely to reflect their beliefs. This is nothing new in Local Government, I have done it myself on a couple of occasions and deliberately employed the consultant whose report would reflect the result I wanted. Certainly people would know of JB's beliefs before employing her and this would then bring into question how objective the report was ever going to be.

I am starting to realise that this is going to be longer than intended and I do apologise, there was so much to pick and choose from and trying to get those bits I wanted from my subjective opinion. Still anyone who refers to this report as valid for 2013 would also need to acknowledge that the Leeds and Kent researches are larger and more recent and have researchers who are much more objective. I would say that I have enough issues from the report to Glasgow that I would question in usefulness in the strongest terms.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Quick Round Up

Well currently buried in a pile of past research and applying 2013 standards to it to see how valid it is. Hopefully will get it out either  this weekend or soon after.  Because of this I wish to ask a question to Julie Bindel, do you hold that your 2004 Paper for Glasgow is a valid document for 2013 for the whole of the UK? Object quote it as such which is why I am reviewing it as such but would be happy to include the authors opinion on the paper if she so wishes. I will tweet this and hopefully there will be a reply either here or or even by twitter.

Now to move on to Tower Hamlets and the result of the framework policy. This is due at cabinet on the 11th September 2013. I think most people will be interested to see how the people of TH voted this time after ignoring the previous Consultation. Guess the venues will want to have representatives at that cabinet.

A quick run over to Oxford and the case there will be going back to court. Court of Appeal has granted the right to review the decision. Council say they will contest it as if the club wins they may have to revise some of the plans they have that I have a sneaking suspicion were in place before they moved the Lodge.

Finally Swansea has adopted a nil policy in what seems to have been the smallest consultation ever. There were 10 responses including the one from Prof Phil Hubbard at SEV Licensing. At least his findings were read into the minutes but 10 responses and you wonder how they got the message out to the public.

So we now have summer so hope everyone is enjoying themselves and making the most of it before we are told to cover up.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Ding Dong Lilith is Dead

Firstly this was not going to happen till next week but sitting here as much as I wanted to rest and ease some pain I couldn't without getting this out. I will say I have rounded the figures to the nearest whole for the blog.

The Lilith report is dead, I mean well and truly dead. I suddenly am thinking of the wizard of Oz here and how wrong is that. So much of my time has been devoted to fighting that Woozle or Zombie Statistic (whichever you prefer) that it going out without even a whimper is a bit sad really.

I have been looking at the Object website and have found some interesting issues with the page (I have screenshotted it as a momento). Eden report (which was based on Lilith) has been removed. Bindel's report well nothing would change that woman's mind and we know how objective she is. Mindy Bradley Link is dead still. Maddy Coy's report is not found either. Holsopple is a PDF from a right wing christian group on american prostitution so damn sure I can't see any link to the UKs SEVs. Sheila Jefferys book I haven't read but considering she makes a living from teaching gender politics would suggest it is biased. Sherry Lee Short is interesting as she was in the area at the same time as the Holsopple report was being written so we can guess where all her information came from.

Then the Lilith report is listed... except the link is dead, it takes you to a 404 page on EAVES. So I did a search for Lilith on EAVES and there is no trace of it. There are other reports that come up first but of Lilith neither hide nor hair. I will come back to Lilith in a bit but to the last 4 "resources" Rapheal and Shapiro are about Prostitiution. Scottish Report is Bindel's work re-written to push Bindel's agenda but is not wholly bad. Rebecca Stark is about American Strip Clubs which is a whole different ball game compared to the UK. And the last report is from Florida. Said it before these have no relevance to the UK in 2013 and it shows the desperation of Object to keep these as their resources about SEVs.

So earlier this year I asked the Met Police to provide rape and sexual assault figures for Camden and also for Wandsworth. I only used the figures for women as including men would have made Wandsworth look worse. The reason that I selected Wandsworth is that it had striptease up till 1996 when the last venue ceased having entertainment. So I have taken the figures from 1996 up to 2008 for both boroughs as this would reflect the period where striptease ended in Wandsworth so we can call it a clear borough and we also have an impact from losing striptease. If we looked at the change in Wandsworth from from 1996 to 1997 we see an increase without adjusting for population of 39% in sexaul crimes. As the Lilith report was produced without adjustment for population I can also use the same concept to show that there was a 12% drop from 1996 to 2008 in Camden but in Wandsworth there was an 83% increase. Obviously 12% drop doesn't really show that much of a change but 83% even considering it is not adjusted for population is a freaking big number.

Now I will not claim causal effect but when you consider the positive impact of Newquay in the reduction of rape at the same time as a club opened you do really now question just where these beliefs that clubs are associated with and on what are they based. I am sure that if researchers dig deep enough through enough clubs they will find one that proves their point in they wanted but all in all sorry Lilith is Failed with a truly capital F.

But more importantly the figures change each year for both boroughs sometimes up and sometimes down, certainly as per Lilith there were bad years and I am guessing the Lilith report was fixed in the years that would make the biggest headline. However taking 1996 as our start point for both councils we have Camden with 1.19 sex crimes towards women per 1,000 and in Wandsworth it was 0.69 per 1,000. Jumping to 2008 Camden was 0.85 per 1,000 and Wandsworth 1.17 per 1,000. It is also worth noting that Camden has seen a population growth of 22% compared to Wandsworth's 9%. Also the population per sq km is greater in Camden which would have an effect in pushing people to share space.

Yes, in there was bad years for both boroughs and if I had of really wanted to make things look better for the Camden clubs I would have included the sex crimes against men as well. As much as I could manipulate the figures to show what I wanted it is easier to make this as open as possible with a start and end point. The start selected itself due to what happened in Wandsworth and the end was because that was the last year I got figures from the police. Looking at the bad years they also seem to coincide with big population upsurges in Camden so not sure if that would affect the increase in crime. I will not pretend every year is a downturn because that would be either lying or manipulating the figures and I have always wanted to keep the stuff I do here as honest as possible so no one can point a finger and cry liar.

So as much as anyone might want to raise Lilith as an argument it is dead. It is an ex statistic it has ceased to be. And no amount of pretending it is laying asleep in the bottom of the cage will bring it back to life.

TonyN (