Thursday, January 30, 2014

An Open Letter From an Angry Stripper

Edit this letter first appeared in Sex and Censorship. I was asked to edit the letter for grammar and spelling but felt it should be as the writer put it.

There was a rather annoying piece in the Guardian from Anna of Object where she made claims and attacked dancers indirectly. This is a response to Anna's piece, there is already support for the letter amongst dancers and we would like to see the message spread. Alternatively contact me at or if people want their name or organisation added to the signatures again let me know.

Feminist organisations need to listen to the voices of the dancers. Here’s why.

A response to Ms. van Heeswick letter, from the perspective of a dancer with 14 years’ experience working in clubs. 

Dear Ms. van Heeswick, after reading your article published yesterday, I would like to respond to each of your points from a different perspective…

1. Let me first challenge your assertion that dancing clubs market women as sexual objects for male gratification.
I firmly disagree. If so, how can an object dance with high heels and do pole dancing tricks? Behind every action of every worker is a human being taking decisions for themselves. If anybody objectifies us, it is your organisation.
We dancers are entertainers, entertaining an audience that pays our bills.
I also have to disagree with your statement that the presence of strip clubs increases the demand for “prostitution”, as strip clubs offer a very different service. I assume that you take prostitution – that I call ‘sex work’ - as a ‘lower’ practice than stripping, but as a stripper, I will not judge other sex workers in a way that creates hierarchy. 

2. Are women who work in lap dancing routinely subjected to harassment, exploitation and the expectation of sexual services?
I question your honesty in the characterization of ‘Object’ as a human rights organisation. To me, it is pure hypocrisy, as it is only making female workers more vulnerable. If more strip clubs disappear in these hard times of recession and unemployment, do you think that is supporting the rights of women? As you thought to assert what is best for us, let me also advise you to put your energy and your dubious concern towards creating more jobs for women, rather than undermining the work that we decide to do. We are thousands of mothers, migrants, students, fighters, activists and more, and every one of us has a story to tell. With over a decade’s experience in the industry, I can’t help but laugh sourly at your research.
Real feminism should defend our choices and show solidarity with all women, and that includes working class women.
Yes, it is true that we have to pay nightly house fees to work in clubs. Paradoxically, those fees rose dramatically after ‘feminists’ like you pushed for harder legislation that increased clubs’ licensing fees. Yet, this does not even appear to be enough for you. 
Lastly, you try to prove your perspective with the case of ‘one woman’ who felt it was the hardest job that she ever did. I could name hundreds of women who are still in the industry by choice, but as you only mention one, to mention myself is more than enough. Still, you will notice that several workers’ collectives support my position.

3. Next, do lap dancing clubs indeed create a threatening environment for women and girls who live around the clubs? You support your answer again by referring to ‘one woman’ who spoke to Object. Can I meet her? Where is she? Where does she live? Because throughout my career I have generally worked in places that are much more discreet than your average pub. Again, Ms. van Heeswijk, why don’t you provide more evidence? 

4. I agree with your statement that councils can still operate under legislation that equates lap dancing clubs with restaurants and karaoke bars. But I question why you’re so offended. Is not a karaoke bar a place where people perform, as I do during my shifts? I don’t see why any of us need to ask permission to work in a particular neighbourhood. Do you know the location of many strip clubs, Ms. van Heeswijk? Because I have worked in places where even the locals did not notice that there was a stripping venue. 

5. In your last ‘reason’, you assert that bars and pubs can get around the licensing regime by holding entertainment events on an occasional basis. Let me ask you again, why does it bother you so much that people work even only on an occasional basis? Why would you make it more difficult for us to work? Why not focus on protecting our rights as workers and fighting stigma with us, instead of making us your target?

I urge you and Object not to patronise working class women. Start including sex workers and trans women in your outdated discourses. If you don’t agree with my decisions, I simply do not care. But if you try to make my job even harder than it already is, this letter will only be the beginning.


An Angry Stripper
Sex Workers Open University
Stripping the Illusion Blog

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Wander Through the Strange World of........

Well not much is rushing forward at the start of the year but couple of things I want to pick up on in the world of crazy.

First I want to pick up on Camden, you know that borough that Lilith was based on that has given us so many laughs over the years for its inaccuracy (follow up point a bit later). Spearmint Rhino wanted to relax it's conditions and applied to the council this was turned down by the committee and when appealed at court the judge backed the council. Now the rights and wrongs of the judge are one thing but I am concerned by the SEV Licensing committee which was a 4 person committee and if the it is split the chair had final say.

So what was wrong with the committee? Well allow me to introduce Cllr Gardiner and Cllr Eslamdoust who are a couple and both sit on the SEV licensing committee with Thomas G as chair. Now the judge views that one household having complete control of SEV licensing does NOT infringe any rules which may be right but the spirit of fairness does seem to be a little off centre. Now this has been rolling on since 2012 but it is interesting that the council has change the committee to a 5 person version. Think they may have been worried about being taken to court or a regular basis.

Cllr Gardiner and Cllr Eslamdoust may have links to religious circles, Cllr Eslamdoust is on the religious education committee SACRE and noticed that Cllr Gardiner happily tweeted to the church where his and Cllr Eslamdoust BANNS were read. If anyone has any additional info on this Camden power couple I would be happy to find out (e-mail at the bottom).

So Object has not been doing much as they have got all involved in the lets say music objectifies campaign. But I was browsing their facebook page and noticed they had links to e-petitions for Worcester and York. Seems they want people who do not live in the area to get involved in these local campaigns. Surely if the locals did not want the clubs there would be no need for the petitions but typical of Object that they want people who will not be affected by the clubs to have a say in them.

Finally back to Lilith, as we know Eaves has removed it completely from their site and we know (because we have the figures) that in fact the true story behind Lilith is that there is no link to rape. Now I thought I would help Object by tweeting this at them but strangely I have had no reply or acknowledgement. Not a surprise really but the fact they know that there is no Lilith report and still have a dead link even after doing new pages for the music campaign just shows how far they will go to manufacture issues that do not exist to try and prove their point.

TonyN (

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Random Thoughts and Ideas

So all is currently quiet in the world of SEVs (odds on that will change in the near future) but I have used the time to refresh my batteries a bit and also to look at things to sharpen my mind. Objectification of the disabled, prejudice and hate crimes and thought through why SEVs are good for the community. So I have these brain waves and decided that I want to discuss why SEVs might be linked to the reduction of rape. No I am not claiming it is a definite idea but given the figures I have seen over the years and the fact that my most recent research had a SEV close and rape go up. Before I get into the nitty gritty I want to first look at a quick issue of perspectives. The following two statements come from the same website and I find the similarities interesting and it will relate later in my thoughts.

"I travel to work regularly by bus and this morning this lovely man who is on the bus most days complimented me on how good I looked. Should I ask him out? He smiles at me every day and I have fancied him rotten since the first time he smiled at me."

"There is this creepy guy who gets on the same train as me everyday. He smiles at me most days and I feel my skin creeping. He tried to talk to me today should I report him to the police as I am worried he may be a rapist."

Two very similar situations and it is just the perspective of the person who is under scrutiny that decides how the thing is viewed. So how does this apply to SEVs and why would it imply that it may benefit society by relaxing men? Those of us who have been regulars at clubs and pubs over the years know that we are viewed by some dancers as walking ATMs which is not a problem. The dancers sell the customers a fantasy of they are the most attractive/intelligent/witty guy and they are grateful for our company. Yes it is a fantasy and yes it reflects the desires the average man has. Also we will probably find that the dancers would be considered out of our league outside of the club but for a short period we are the most satisfying company for the dancer. This is calming, it sends a positive and supportive message to us as men and it allows us to escape the world for a little bit.

So why would this potentially reduce rape? Well for me there was a point not so long ago where I went through a massive period of ill health and found myself confined to a wheelchair. I had awful issues with self image particularly body image. I found though that when I went to a strip pub I was treated like every other man. There was no pity, no loathing and no disgust at my looks or personality. I felt like a normal average man for the first time in a couple of years. Obviously now I have become much more relaxed and accepting of my issues but the very negative message that the antis send out about the fantasy dancers portray actually helped me.

Now when you think about it the fantasy that is portrayed in SEVs and how it may affect people you come to realise that the message it sends out is a positive re-enforcement of the individual customers. It would seem that the positive messages and the acceptance of individuals will create a view of the world that is less likely to want to control and rape. In fact the atmosphere of the SEVs, in my humble 20+ years experience, would be almost diametrically opposed to the attitudes that have been described in rapists. We have seen that sexual and violent crimes around SEVs is low and when compared to nightclubs is incredibly low. Assigning issues to clubs is just a lazy attempt to create a fear of something that should be embraced the claims that men will constantly see women as sex object falls apart when we can separate fact from fantasy, maybe we might for 3 minutes see one person as an object of our desires but before and after we engage and talk. In a society where zombies are a cornerstone of a lot of violent fantasies the short term positive message from dancers seems a hell of a lot better.

Of course these are just my thoughts but as I continue to look at crime and in particular sexual crime it seems to me that SEVs actually do good for men and women. I am sure some of the radical feminists will say I am talking out of my backside and I have no empirical proof but then claims about rape being linked to clubs has no proof but doesn't stop people making those claims. Be interested in the views of dancers (or naked social workers as I like to think of them) about this as well customers. Does the positive re-enforcement of the male psyche actually produce a benefit not just to the individual but to society as well, as he feels better about himself? Obviously there will be examples of bad customers just as there will be examples of good customers and a whole raft of in between but the more I look at data and facts about sexual crime the more it appears to be totally disconnected. Okay ramblings over for the time being.

TonyN (