Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Get Out Your Scissors

Back in October 2013 (here) I wrote an open letter to councillors about the usual misconceptions they have/had about SEVs and how they are portrayed. After a discussion on twitter with a dancer about the fact dancers and customers need to mobilise and write in when licenses are being renewed rather than the usual apathy that is shown I have decided to bring up to date the arguments and suggest how dancers could word things for themselves along with customers. Clubs and dancers may not always agree but the one thing that you do both agree on is that clubs should not be targets for a moral minority. As an example Wrexham turned down a new venue after a petition of over 100 names signed against the club. In favour 1 e-mail of support and the person who wrote it did not come from Wrexham. Local press piece here but you see from the arguments there is nothing new against the clubs. Fact there are already two is the given reason and that is the limit that was set but lack of support is a killer of clubs.

So this will be long winded but I don't intend to write a template that the brain dead can just cut and paste. I have no doubt some people will but the intention is to make people think so when they write in they can personalise their arguments. Some of the research has been done by myself so no peer review as such but all my claims are backed either by the police.uk database of crime or freedom of information requests. Anything I claim in terms of mathematics can be tested, and I am sure some feminists have looked at my figures because I know that Object at least will look at this blog. Guess everyone checks what the opposition is up to.

I want to discuss the claims that use to be made by many feminist groups that there is a link between SEVs and rape. The feminists have withdrawn the Lilith report on which this claim was made as when examined closely the figures are discovered to be cherry picked. This blog obtained the raw data for Camden and also for Wandsworth to use as a control, the Chelsea Reach was closed in Wandsworth in 1997 so a 12 year review was done based on this and in Camden the figures show a fall in rape whilst in the control where the SEV was closed rape increased. Add to this the claim made by Inspector Drummond about SEVs in Newquay where he claimed rape had increased because of the clubs. Instead under a freedom of information request by a local paper the figures show a 50% fall in rape and Inspector Drummond admitted he had just made an assumption without checking the facts. Finally Leeds recently closed 3 clubs, 2 were very close together. Since the closure sexual and violent crimes have increase 200%. Now none of these figures are claimed as causal effects but it does show that there is absolutely no link to rape or sexual crime because of clubs and it seems in fact the opposite could be true.

Of course there are claims of an increase in general crimes especially drunken and insulting behaviour. Whilst no one would ever claim this does not happen it is between 5 and 10 times less likely than outside an ordinary night club. The research done by Kent and Loughborough Universities show that people do not see clubs as causing a disturbance and they are much more likely to indicate a pub or restaurant as a nuisance than a SEV. It is noticeable how rarely the police raise issues with clubs when they apply for a license or a renewal, this should indicate to any right minded individual that SEVs do not cause issues in the way a nightclub might.

You often hear the ill informed make claims about SEVs and trafficking. This shows the person raising the issue has done no research and hasn't even thought it through. When you consider that both high profile investigations into Trafficking Pentameter I and II did not bring one charge against the clubs you realise just how stupid the claim of trafficking sounds. And into that the fact that the council can investigate dancers and clubs paperwork at any time and you realise that the claims sound more ridiculous than ever yet people will make this claim. And to add if I was a dancer writing a letter/e-mail I would add in here the years danced and the fact you have never seen a trafficked dancer.

And of course there is always the classic that dancers offer sex in the clubs. Now I will not claim that this has never taken place but the impression is that every dancer is offering services, part of the fault for this concept is the misuse of the words Lap Dancing? It implies grinding which under the current licensing regulations doesn't happen but because those people who make moral judgements want to close the clubs the use stigmatising language to create a web of deceit about what goes on in the clubs. Councils impose distances between customers and dancers and clubs have rules against dancers meeting customers outside of work which would be a pretty good reason why services don't occur. Of course dancers use suggestive language to encourage customers to have private dances which to the uninformed could sound like offers but this is a marketing ploy and not a reality.

Now everyone's favourite issue is the effect clubs will have on children, because people naturally want to protect children they assume the worst without performing any critical thinking. Children have no idea what goes on in the clubs up to a certain age and the fears that parents have that the clubs will corrupt the children are just superimposed issues from the parents own impression of the clubs. The statement how do I explain the SEV to my child makes an assumption the child will look at blacked out windows with x ray eyes because kids couldn't see in and wonder what is going on. Club operating hours are not exactly open during school hours. Kids can't get in either so the whole issue is down to the parent and their imaginary fears. Parents will imprint their moral views and judgements and use a statement that is in no way related to reality so councillors should realise the truth about these claims.

The press often create fears due to using the sexualisation of the clubs to sell papers or increase page clicks. Photos of scantily clad women will draw men to view the page and feminists to police the page. There are often no issues with license renewals from the police but a little scaremongering by the press can create issues that shouldn't exist. Millions of visits happen to clubs every year without any issues but that wouldn't sell anything so the press will often manipulate stories to create an image that can generate traffic to the web articles.  This is a deliberate scaremongering ploy but people will be suckered into it. hopefully sensible councillors will realise this.

And now I want to tackle objectification, this is messy at best because I am male and I can't answer for how dancers feel, certainly I have known dancers who have revelled in the attention, but I don't speak for the dancers, in any letter a dancer writes she will have to decide what she wants to include or not. Yesterday I wasted several hours of my life reading scholarly papers about Sexual Objectification and in my humble opinion a lot of it is dressing up natural reactions with big words to make it sound bad when in reality it is someone applying their moral standards to other people. I am personally use to being objectified, not in the same way but judged by others for my looks and also being judged for the size of my wallet, I accept it because human beings do these things subconsciously. As to the claim about objectification about policing women's bodies I would suggest those making those claims remember that dancers can work 4-6 hours a shift and with several shifts a week doing a very physically demanding job you will get a lot of exercise especially when working on the pole. I doubt that many other jobs are as physically demanding. Yet if you look at other jobs when body image is policed no one complains about that! Ballet dancers have to monitor their weight, sportswomen have to watch what their eat, drink and social activities. No one suggests that this is bad it only happens when people see the word sex and the dirty image it creates.

Finally there is the claims of exploitation and here is where the clubs may not be too pleased with what I am saying but yes we accept there are some exploitative practices in the industry but rather than just closing clubs and making lives difficult for those who people are talking about being exploited the councils should be working with clubs and dancers to create a better working experience, certainly this would make for a better experience all round and the customers would benefit from dancers that are even more happy. Leeds University research in 2009 showed that dancers enjoyed their worked and 87% had some form of higher education so we are talking about intelligent women making free choices and enjoying their work being policed by a moral minority. The research by Kent and Loughborough Universities showed only 3% of people felt there was no place for clubs so any claims of exploitation come from a small minority of people using terms to create a negative image. No job is perfect and many jobs are exploitative but the 2009 study showed that most dancers are satisfied or better with their work. Once again what we have is the use of language to conceal the moral outrage. If these people were truly concerned with exploitation they would be working with the dancers to improve conditions not shut down clubs.

I did say this would be a lot of verbal, but most of the answers to the objections that I could think of are here. If people want ideas of things that could be brought up when councils meet then this isn't a bad starting place. But we need dancers and customers writing in about every license renewal and if we hear of a new club then we should be supporting it. If clubs close it is not because the moral minority are write but the majority of us are lazy.

TonyN (tonyprince@acdcfan.com

12 comments:

  1. One small correction re Wrexham: the signatures were collected on FOUR petitions, not one. And the religious lobby appears to have been out in force to oppose the club.

    What's notable about the comments of many of the objectors quoted in the local press is that (yet again) some of them made the false link between SEVs and sexual violence, and criminality in general, when such claims have been debunked thoroughly. One or two even made comments which read suspiciously like moral objections, which are discounted under Police and Crime Act 2009, and which was remarked upon in the Licensing Committee meeting.

    Perhaps the pivotal fact of this matter is the imposition of a limit of two SEVs in Wrexham in 2009, meaning that the club's owners would have had to present a compelling argument for a third venue to be allowed to open in the town.

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    1. I have no doubt those places with limits already in place will not go over the limit unless another club is closing. And even then probably not. I have always preferred the market to set the number. If a club knows it faces no competition then the working practices will be awful.

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    2. I agree with you that the market will usually set the appropriate number for a given locality on its own. Personally though, I'm surprised that Wrexham, with a population of about 60,000, can support as many as two clubs! Perhaps its the presence of students which makes a difference...

      Do you remember all the fuss when Bedford Borough Council received an application for a new strip club in the town back in 2012? And the subsequent imposition of a 'nil' limit on SEVs? Now, Bedford has a population of about 100,000; but previous strip clubs in the town have proven unviable, not least because of the difficulty in recruiting dancers locally. And when Shayler's in nearby Ampthill was granted its SEV licence by Central Bedfordshire Council in late 2012, it was only a matter of months before it reverted to being run as a standard nightclub, for similar business reasons.

      Conversely, when three striptease venues in Leeds were forced to shut down by the City Council in 2013 (amongst much controversy, as documented at the time on this blog and elsewhere), the retail / leisure units that housed them lay empty, with only one of them having recently been put back into use.

      Perhaps the Licensing Departments of local authorities would be more gainfully employed in looking at the working conditions in strip clubs, rather than interfering with market forces for ideological reasons.

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    3. I suspect that Wrexham has peaks and troughs with the football, rugby and racing. Plus it pulls a lot from the smaller communities on the borders. The town is probably right that 3 would see one club at least suffer.

      Leeds though is a prime example of a massive population but the decision making is in the hands of a few. Still we never know how things will turn out and if people spot license renewals I will at least make it public so any local reading the blog is referred to this page.

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  2. Re 'objectification': you need to go back to Immanuel Kant, if you're looking for anything substantial on that subject! Most of the rest of what's been written is ideological waffle, with academics quoting one another without citing any real evidence or producing any new arguments; Women's / Gender Studies departments are notorious for their lack of intellectual rigour. Curiously, the radfems almost never cite Kant in public as a source, nor that other dead, white male responsible who was the source of Patriarchy Theory, Friedrich Engels - funny, that!

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    1. The fact that MacKinnon was so strongly for the ethics and standards of a philosopher from the 1700s suggests that they really haven't thought it through. The fact that the catholic church has been against Kant is interesting but I would have thought they would have agreed given Kant's stance on sex and masturbation. I wonder where he would have stood if he could see modern society? I am disappointed though that this is the best they can do. I have read Martha Nussbaum and the standford definition of objectification but it is soul destroying as the view is sex is a bad thing.

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    2. Well, 'radical feminism' is an overwhelmingly sex-negative, and ultimately conservative, ideology - we've seen that demonstrated again and again, ever since the US 'porn wars' of the 1980s.

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    3. I was familiar with the work of Nussbaum and Rae over objectification but reading more on Kant has put it into perspective.

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  3. Talking of copy-and-paste letters / emails, you might want to check out the three objections to renewal of the SEV licence for the Flying Scotsman in Kings Cross (PDF format):

    http://democracy.islington.gov.uk/documents/s4723/Scan%20Report%2023%20June%2015%20-%20Flying%20Scotsman.pdf

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    1. This is typical of the no brainer attitude that people sending in letters have I almost wonder if people look at other letters to different councils and just think that saves me thinking. I see the people who back the clubs and the letters and e-mails are far more intelligent.

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  4. I believe Bristol will be consulting on a new policy in January.
    Customer/dancers should get prepared to oppose a nil policy.

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    1. Thank you for that Alan, worth thinking about an appropriate response as the claims previously have been based on the fact 2 clubs are in an area the Police and Council has designated a crime hotspot. The Bristol Feminist group previously tried to lay all the blame on crime on the clubs so this will be a fight I watch closely. If you get any more information please let us know.

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