Statement: Lay off lap dancers

Lay off lap dancers

Categorising lap dancing clubs as “sex encounter establishments” must be seen in the context of government plans to further criminalise sex workers and clients.  It would stigmatise and segregate women working in these clubs, making it harder for women to insist on their rights and report exploitation.

No reference is being made to the women workers in these clubs.  Once again feminist organisations which should be supporting women are putting themselves above the rest of us and wanting to decide what’s best for us.  How sexist and arrogant!

Many lap dancers describe working collectively with other women with good safety systems and earning more than they could in other jobs.  (See below.)  Many are supporting families, often as single mothers.  At a time when everyone is finding it harder to make ends meet and we have all been warned that worse is to come, why are feminists engaged in a moralistic crusade against women choosing to work in this way?  Do they care that those of us who are immigrant can often get nothing but waiting or domestic work, and that we can earn more as lap dancers and send money home?  Or that unequal pay impoverishes most women, limiting our choices?

Why should police time and resources be wasted on lap dancing, when even the Metropolitan Police clubs and vice chief told MPs that “there is no evidence that clubs cause crime and disorder”?

Like in any other job, action should be taken to ensure workers’ employment rights and protections.  But to invite a clampdown on lap dancing clubs is to invite more raids and repression everywhere.  Women will be the first to suffer as more will end up working on the streets, which is 10 more dangerous.  With the conviction rate for reported rape at an appallingly low 6%, the priority should be to enable women to come forward and get justice, not to force us underground.

English Collective of Prostitutes

Tel 020 7482 2496 Fax 020 7209 4761 ecp@allwomencount.net www.prostitutescollective.net

STATEMENT FROM A WOMEN WORKING AS A LAP DANCER

“I’ve worked all around the country.  I do three minute dances which cost the guys £10.  I pay towards the cost of the venue, security and the DJ; after that, whatever I earn is my own.  We work as a collective and prioritise safety.  We have a good support network of door and bar staff.  Someone always knows where I am.  I take a lot of responsibility for the new girls as I’ve been around a long time.

“I can earn £250 for four hours. Worse case, I walk out with £50 and that’s still more than I would earn in a day job at £5 an hour.  Nine out of 10 women turn to prostitution or lap dancing because there’s not enough money to survive.  I work with students, mothers and all kinds of other women.  Recently my mum couldn’t afford a pair of school shoes for my brother and sister.  When I worked a day job I couldn’t help her, but now I can.  If the government is offended by the work we do, then give us the financial means to get out of the industry.

 “There is no pressure to have sex with men, only opportunities.  I could go to a nightclub and have 10 times more of an opportunity to sleep with a man than I do in my workplace.  In any case, if I want to have sex with a man, and if he wants to pay me, then so what?  If I had kids and sleeping with a man for money meant my children could have food in their mouths, I would do it.  And tell me one woman that wouldn’t.

“I haven’t met any women who were forced to work in clubs.  Some women from other countries come here for salvation and help because it is terrible for them back home.

“They say we are degrading ourselves.  Actually no.  The issue is what kind of protection we get from the police and courts.  My friend was raped in a supermarket car park.  Some one very close to me was abused as a child.  The cases got thrown out of court.

“If you bring in more regulations and criminalize the sex industry, you make it harder for women to work.  Girls can’t insist on good working conditions or their rights.  The industry will go underground and it will be much worse.”

ANOTHER WOMAN COMPLAINED:

“If the re-branding goes through, the stigma will increase and some women will be forced out of work or underground into the hands of pimps.

“Until two years ago, clubs were individually licensed with owners required to get health, safety and criminal record checks.  Relaxing the licensing laws was a New Labour ploy to raise revenue.  Why not demand a return to the previous system?

“Renaming clubs as sex encounter establishments is completely inaccurate and will set things back decades.  You might as well re-brand night clubs as drugs and alcohol encounter establishments.  What about sex scandals and immoral behaviour in parliament?

“If people want to get on their soapbox find a better target than other women’s livelihood.”