Feminists Or Fascists?

No Sex!

“We don’t approve of it, so don’t do it!”

For decades, every major battle in the area of sexuality has been won by progressives. The pill and the condom have long allowed women to enjoy their sexuality, and increasing numbers of women are unashamed of fulfilling their sexual desires. Alternative sexualities have become increasingly accepted, with gay marriage now accepted in many countries, and the Internet has allowed people to find those of similar sexual tastes and needs far more easily than ever before.

By the year 2000, it seemed that sexual conservatives were in irreversible retreat – at least on this side of the Atlantic. But society’s conservative/progressive pendulum has been swinging rightward for a while now, and it’s therefore not so surprising that sexual freedom is under attack, yet again. The usual suspects are there, of course: Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and other religious groups who are always keen to trumpet the evils of free sexuality, in whatever form it may rear its head. The religious believers can’t be swayed by fact or logic: if their book says something is bad, then so it must be.

But attacks on sexual freedom here in the UK often come from more unexpected sources. Religious moralists are in a small minority, but secular moralists have become increasingly loud. In particular, some small, active hate groups using the Feminist label have appeared on the scene.

If you’re expecting an attack on Feminism here, you’ll be disappointed. In fact, the feminist movement came under heavy attack from within in the 1980s. The original feminist movement (of the 1960s and early-70s) was a libertarian one that focused on the individual rights of women: most of all, it fought for the right of women to do with their own bodies as they saw fit. In modern-day feminist parlance, the early feminists were “sex-positive”. In the 1980s, an anti-sex faction appeared, led by Catharine MacKinnon, a lawyer. These new “feminists” directly opposed the sexual libertarianism of earlier feminists. They effectively became the secular wing of religious pro-morality campaigners, and the two, apparently quite different, groups have fought for the same causes ever since.

Sex-positive feminism is still going strong, as demonstrated by the Slutwalk movement of last summer, which aimed to make Slut a word of pride instead of shame. Notably, the “feminist” anti-sexuality groups failed to support Slutwalk. But the mass media, and many conservative-leaning feminists, have embraced the puritanical feminist movement and rewritten history. Rather than a conservative offshoot of sex-positive feminism, the puritans are now presented as the only valid form of feminism: an anti-sexuality coup has twisted and subverted a once libertarian movement.

Chief among these neo-puritan groups in the UK is one called Object. It paints itself as a feminist organisation, and has received plenty of mainstream media coverage, but it campaigns exclusively against sexuality and sexual imagery. Bizarrely for a group that adopts the label “feminist”, much of its vitriol is used against women who dare show naked flesh in public. In Object‘s campaigning – against nudity in the media, strip clubs and prostitution – it supports and shares platforms with right-wing and religious fundamentalist groups. Yet newspapers like the Guardian and TV outlets like Channel 4 take Object seriously, and give them a platform that they wouldn’t give to religious hate groups.

Object‘s propaganda is laughable – I suggest you look at their site for yourself to see that. In particular, the page entitled “The Facts” is a masterpiece in obfuscation. [Update: since I wrote this post, Object removed all the "facts" from their "The Facts" page]. For sure, the page lists some facts. But it provides no information about how these facts are in any way linked to Object‘s claims that sexual freedom creates dangers for women. For example:

Over half (54%) of all women around the world say they first became aware of the need to be physically attractive between 6 and 17 years of age

Yes… and? I’d have expected the number to be higher, if anything. Given that evolution drives us to make the best possible choice of sexual partner, both women and men (not to mention many species other than humans) have a built-in need to make ourselves physically attractive. What point is being made here?

Eating disorders are as common amongst women as autism

OK… and is that a lot? And if so, what does it say about the causes of eating disorders? Or of autism, for that matter?

66% of teenage girls would consider plastic surgery and 20% would do it right now

Again, what are the causes of this? Is this proven to be a bad thing? Object don’t say. Can it be linked to scantily clad women (and men) in lads mags and music videos, as Object seem to imply? Or perhaps newsreaders should wear brown paper bags over their heads as well? Maybe we should ban any video or photo featuring a potentially attractive woman, just in case? Maybe Wahhabi Muslims have the right idea. If everyone is veiled, nobody can aspire to look like anyone else.

Polls suggest that 63% of young women aspire to be glamour models or lap dancers

And plenty of young men want to be footballers. What does this mean? Object doesn’t provide any interpretation. These “facts” alone are supposed to show that society is “too sexualised”, women are “objectified”, and somehow these meaningless words conjure up a world in which women are less safe. So let’s hide naked flesh! That will solve everything! [Note added: @DrPetra informs me that this number seems to have been made up. See her blog for details.]

And the nonsense continues. Yet some journalists and politicians take these people seriously.

As I began planning interviews for my recently launched podcast, I decided to talk to women who have come under attack, both from neo-puritanical groups like Object (and others, such as UK Feminista), and old-style religious puritans. I’ve met and interviewed strippers, prostitutes, female pornographers,  female sex writers and female academics who research sexuality, and discovered some shocking things: that Object have never approached and talked to the women who they claim to be “saving from exploitation”; that Object have ignored the weight of research and evidence that exists showing that abuse is powered by secrecy and censorship, not by sexual freedom.

In east London, Object are working alongside religious fundamentalists to have strip clubs closed down. They link the existence of strip clubs with increases in rape, although evidence doesn’t back that claim. They lie about links to “trafficking”, ignoring that licensed venues are forced by EU regulation to check workers’ passports. They picket the venues and harass the workers, and their campaign will ensure gay clubs close as well as straight ones (a fact they’re remarkably quiet about).

Quite simply, Object is a hate group. Its methods are those of lies and intimidation. It deliberately avoids facts that may undermine its fundamentalist belief that free sexuality is bad for women. Yet it receives donations and media time from sources that other hate groups (far-right racists, for example) could not.

If Object and UK Feminista won’t talk to women involved in the sex industries, I can. In my upcoming podcast episode, I interview strippers who have become political activists and trade unionists in order to defend their chosen way of making a living, and their right (once fought for and won by feminists) to do as they choose with their own bodies. Object, without ever meeting these women (they refuse to), or setting foot in a strip club (their minds are made up), have labelled the women simultaneously victims, and a root cause of rape and domestic violence, without a shred of evidence to back any of these claims.

You can listen to my podcast here on my blog, or subscribe on iTunes. The first full episode, Strippers Are People Too, will be published in a few days.

78 thoughts on “Feminists Or Fascists?

  1. While I don’t agree with Object’s thinking, I wouldn’t go so far as to call them a hate group. Woefully misguided and shortsighted maybe, but not hateful. The debate about sex and sexuality has become too black-and-white and needs to be taken down a notch.

    Object’s website lists a lot of statistics, but as is often the case where numbers are laid out, they fail to establish clear cause and effect. That doesn’t help their case any. They also have a clearly alarmist reaction to graphic depictions of sex. Instead of realizing that women are an integral part of sexual imagery, they’re running scared.

    Ironically, Object themselves end up falling into the trap of sexism as they’re trying to force their own ideals of non-graphic, female-centric sex on men. Men want to see images, it’s how they’re hardwired, and that cannot be changed. There has to be a balance in this. Pornography, like sex, is supposed to be something that men and women do together, not this ridiculous and selfish, gender-divided tug-of-war we’re seeing now.

    • Thanks for the comment. I agree about Object’s idealised “female-centric” view of sex. There is no such thing in reality – they’re pushing a puritanical view of sex that THEY define as female-centric. Most women I know would disagree that their view is a generic female one. Reality is, both men AND women enjoy (and make a living from) many of the things that Object campaign against. Lesbians (and gay men) will also lose their right to see strippers if Object win.

      Regarding the “hate group” thing: during my interviews I’ve spoken to a number of women who have been labelled, lied about, verbally abused and even threatened by Object. I was surprised at how hateful they actually are. Listen to the coming podcast episode and you’ll hear direct from women themselves how they’ve been abused by Object.

    • “Men want to see images, it’s how they’re hardwired, and that cannot be changed. ”

      Wow. Yet another ‘fact’ that has no basis in actual facts. It’s essentialist thinking like this that fuels reactionary groups like Object. Could we please try to stop thinking in generalizations and stereotypes about sexuality and gender? It’s the only way out of this trap.

  2. As a male who has enjoyed watching striptease and spent a little time talking to dancers I have to say that I believe Object is a hate group. Having watched their tactics fail in Hackney when the public voted against the closing of strip venues they rolled out the same arguments they used there in the tower hamlets campaign. They have a book written by a dancer as they point out. They neglect to inform people the co author is a member of Object who works with their media campaign, hardly expecting it to be positive under those circumstances. They continually bring out the lilith report which has been so disproven as to be laughable. Finally they were involved with a “debate” which they and tower hamlet flooded with speakers including religious speakers who have backed a “light beating” for wives. Are they protecting women are trying to take rights away from women?

    • Hello Tony

      We know each other….

      In terms of Tower Hamlets, do not forget Michael Collins and CAPE, who have been lobbying against clubs since 2008. Cllr Rania Khan is a member of CAPE…..

      I need to be careful about what I write, but CAPE seem to have another agenda….

  3. Bravo, a well researched and presented piece.

    Mel, it gets extremely difficult to talk about complex subjects without generalisations and essentialist thinking.

    But I can tell you men’s sexuality is very much visual, in the same way that I can generalise that they have penises.

    I think it’s safe to also generalise that also women’s sexuality is often somewhat more complex and often requires a stronger emotional component, a picture of a penis is unlikely to cause an arousal response.

    Hence the massively disproportionate ratio for female to male strippers for heterosexuals.

    Mel perhaps you are coming from the polysexual angle, if so then yes there’s going to be major exceptions for the general thrust (sorry) of the debate…

    • See? Men don’t always have a penis. There are tans* men out there. So, yeah, you’re quite wrong about generalisation – they just serve to exclude a smaller group.

      You also don’t consider that female sexuality – HER pleasure, not “pretending to be enjoying it so HE can be pleased”- isn’t encouraged. It is, actually, put down by our society.

      • Wtf bringing up ‘trans’ men? The idea that they are men is controversial. I would argue that they are not men, insofar as they do not have a Y chromosome in every somatic cell, or naturally produced male genitalia, or naturally produced male hormone levels. They are female by sex, and thus not men. Don’t even try to bring up ‘gender’, because that word’s meaning was distorted by feminists and trannies to allow them to affiliate with whatever sex they wanted to with no respect to biological facts. The dude’s generalization still stands: men have penises, and they like sexual imagery.

  4. Have to say, chucking words like ‘fascist’ and ‘hate group’ around in this context is way out of line, mainly because it seriously diminishes their value when applied to genuine fascists and hate groups.

    Having said that, I agree with much of what you say, and it’s otherwise a good article IMO. My main beef with object is not with their methodology (hadn’t heard any of the allegations you make here before) but the case they make for their campaign and evidence they quote are woeful.

    I had a bit of a spat with them a couple of years ago here http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/apr/28/lads-mags-pornography-debate

    • Hello Ally

      I have to say that the allegations against Object are true. Away from the camera, Object activists can be quite awful to people that they see as opposing their views. I know two people that have been insulted by them and the fact they have made threats against someone and their family comes as no surprise.

  5. Woman aren’t turned on by pictures and videos of naked men? (Well – attractive ones, anyway!)

    That’s news to me!

    I’m sure I’m not alone in that either.

    Quite a few women like male strippers as well, come to think of it.

    Who’s trotting out the old-fashioned and stereotypical mantras now?

  6. Porn and most sex is anti-women FYI – it’s about men controlling and using women for their pleasure. In fact women were only given rights to a) make them work and b) make them easy. Before then it was about marriage and chastity. Now it’s about how many can you bang before you turn 13. Exploiting women or women exploiting themselves for ‘profit n pleasure’ rather than what sex is designed for, reproduction. Porn is a billion dollar industry that consists of women that have been abused. Humans have forgotten their true nature and have exploited/distorted the meaning of sex just like everything else. Shocking? No. Profits and selfishness before people, every day. The human way. Now millions of oprhans, abused unwanted children, water polluted with BC distorting other species and killing them while we consume it as well. Nature defense is STDs which get more dangerous by the decade. The rich get giddy knowing they can push more useless vaccines for profit. Slowly but surely she will catch up and put an end to the endless stupidity of this awful species.

    • Thank you for demonstrating precisely the point that this article is making about radical / gender ‘feminists’, by virtue of of your bigotted, unstructured rant! ;-)

      • dont call someone a bigot if you cant spell it, and how was the post bigoted? you appear to mocking the woman who wrote, accurately- that most porn is anti-woman (e.g. the choke-out idea. uck). men dont hv any clue abt how to write about this, and shouldnt attempt to define what true feminism is or isnt, imo. men havent been objectified, and maybe dont even understand what it really is. so- if men prefer images–the women in the images then–who cares how they feel? have you EVER talked to a prostitute or stripper who found her work rewarding, a source of pride? come on. and women self-objectify, as they have been taught, b/c they don’t yet understand tht when a man says ‘nice tits’ it isnt a sweet compliment. the article title alone was inflammatory. i think you’re just looking for another way to dismiss and condescend to women. patooey.

        • “have you EVER talked to a prostitute or stripper who found her work rewarding, a source of pride?” – yes, several in fact. If you check out my last podcast, you’ll hear interviews I did with two articulate, well-paid, confident female strippers who are fighting against so-called feminist groups who claim to represent women, yet who never listen to the voices of the women themselves. The reason I made the podcast was to demonstrate to bigots that many women strip out of choice. Listen and tell me if you think those women are dumb, frail creatures that need “feminists” to put them out of work, for their “own good”. If Object succeed in their puritanical mission, these women (who are trade unionised) will lose a good income doing jobs they enjoy.

        • @bend_time like MW I have spoken to dancers who love their work. So are you willing to accept that some women are happy to make up their own minds or are you of the Cath Elliott school of feminism that does not believe that other women have the right to free choice and their lives should be directed by others. Does the line all pigs are equal but some are more equal than others ring a bell?

        • @ bend_time: Before I even begin to address your other comments, I’d just like to say that being lectured on my misspelling of ‘bigoted’ (NOT ‘bigot’) correctly from someone who appears to not understand how to use capital letters or correct punctuation is a bit rich, to say the least. And “men dont hv any clue abt how to write about this” [sic]? Trust me, you’re in no position to patronise me on my use of the English language…

          You go on to make claims that “most porn is anti-woman”, without producing any supporting evidence; if you expect grown adults to take that kind of claim seriously, you need to cite relevant sources and argue your case from first principles.

          “men…shouldnt attempt to define what true feminism is or isnt [sic]” – what makes you imagine that we are any less capable of commenting on what properly constitutes feminism, or any less entitled to do so, than are women?

          As for strippers who’ve found their work rewarding: yes, I’ve talked to a couple who find their work really satisfying, a few who found an outlet for a related talent (e.g. dancing, gymnastics, etc.) via stripping, and several others who’ve told me that they found stripping preferable to, say, working in an office. Perhaps you ought to try talking to a few strippers yourself, just to test out your theories.

    • @Human said: “…most sex is anti-women…” – wow! That’s very sad… I can’t tell whether you’re coming at this from a “feminist” or religious pov, but as I’ve noted, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the two any more.

    • “Porn and most sex is anti-women FYI – it’s about men controlling and using women for their pleasure.”

      I’m guessing … you don’t like it when a man comes near your lady parts.

      Also, the second half of your post would have looked even better if it was written with caps lock on. Millions of orphans? Polluted water? The rich pushing vaccines for profit? Wait, you left out global warming!

  7. @Human your response is the same response that Object use when debating the striptease issue. Have you ever spoken to a striptease artist? Have you ever been to a strip pub? Two of the 4 main ones in Hackney are run by women and IMHO they are usually th best ones. Not sure where you are going at the end but organisations like Object end up weakening the feminist view point as they ally with religious and moral crusades that are in favour if taking all rights away from women.

  8. Bit off topic but wtf is with the statistic as many women with Eating disorders as autism. Did they make that up because autism is trendy at the moment? Stats for women with autism are essentially unknown. Anything from 1:100 (as for men) to 1:1000 (specifically for women) further comparing a mental illness with a developmental neurological condition is ignorance. The two are totally different conditions, one an illness, the other a way of being. Oddly many (but not all) autistic women find feminism doesn’t speak for them as the issues aren’t ones they readily identify with. People on the spectrum face far more discrimination in Other ways. Gender is low on the list of priorities.

    I haven’t come across object before but have come across many women who support these kinds of aims. I find them regressive and lacking understanding of what all but a small subset of women actually want. There is a huge difference between the right not to be sexually assaulted/harassed/abused and the right to participate safely in any sexual practice you wish. Sex and abuse are not mutually exclusive and it’s damaging to secure relationships and the female psyche to continually suggest so. The experiences of some are not necessarily the experiences of all.

    I’ve seen a huge shift recently in feminist attitudes towards sex as an industry and friends in the industry have a totally different and more positive approach to the suggestions made by the feminazis. The problem arises when women who do not want to be involved in such industries are, and rather than demonise them all, empower those not wanting to be involved. It seems these days to be a woman you are patronised in all sides. By the patriarchy but also the nouveau feminists.

    I am, by the way, a strong, independent autistic woman, who isn’t keen on porn, pigeonholes or bullies.

  9. It has been a long time coming, but at last we see a media article that is critical of Object. They are a hate group, they do make threats, they insult and bully anyone who dares to disagree with them. As many of you know, their Tower Hamlets campaign has seen them ally themselves with islamic fundamentalists and others, whose motives are shall we say more financial than political.

    It is a matter of public record that Cllr Rania Khan is member of Object (and Cape Tower Hamlets as well) and it horrifies me that their fascist views are being adopted as policy.

    I hope that this article marks the start of the media fightback, for too long the lies and hysterics of Object, UK Feminista, The London Feminist Network and writers such as Kat Banyard have remained unchallenged.

    • What’s also been notable has been the Guardian’s apparent willingness (under the editorship of Polly Toynbee) to give a platform to hate speakers (e.g. Julie Bindel), provided that they are writing from a radical feminist perspective. Let’s hope indeed that this is the start of the backlash!

      • Once again we meet on the net….

        We need to do more than hope. We need to make it happen and set up a site or a blog that can act as a collection point for personal testimony and articles such as this. I have heard so many stories about Object abuse of dancers and sex workers and yet all I read in the media is glowing reviews and encouragement for what amounts to a vile group of bullies…

        Watch this space…

  10. Object
    Full marks to MoronWatch exposing this organisation for the hate group that they really are. I first came across them two years ago when a friend of mine was subjected to a hate campaign by them. At the time It was not immediately obvious that Object were behind it and I spent some time looking at a few of the radical feminist organisations.
    When I originally looked at Object I think they were a registered charity(although I could not swear to this) They currently state on their web site that they do not have charitable status.
    If you follow the links back from their sponsors page and then search for grants given to Object then a number of interesting facts emerge.
    Under Sponsors they list organisations that have provided finance to Object.
    However Object do not appear to have received funding from any of the listed organisations during 2011 most of the funding relates to 2010 and some of it relates to 2009. Some grants seem to be somewhat nebulous in their description eg the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation £25K in 2010 for a “strategic review”
    As Object is not a registered charity it is not possible to examine their accounts with the charities commission. However the question arises, just what sort of legal status do they have? In the 2009 / 2010 report on their website they state that they are a limited company. A search of companies house shows
    OBJECT NOW
    GROUND FLOOR EAST WRC/33-41
    DALLINGTON STREET
    LONDON
    EC1V 0BB
    Company No. 07330415
    The company was registered in July 2010 and the first accounts are due to be filed no latter than 29th April 2012. So what was the status of the organisation before July 2010, why did they feel it was necessary to form a limited company and how was the accounting of the organisation (for tax purposes) handled before incorporation as a limited company?
    In their “Media Centre” web page they give testimonials from four former lap dancers one from 2007 and three from 2008. Hardly a hugely representative cross section of the industry. However in 2010 they were awarded £50,000 by the Trust for London to set up a support service for “victims of the lap dancing industry”. Had they been using this money to help the “many victims” then surely they would have many many more such testimonials. Unless there was significantly less “victims” than they originally estimated or the money was used for something else.
    This is the only evidence I could find of any work being done on this project was a single page which is well hidden on the object site http://www.object.org.uk/files/TheLivingProject%20FINAL.jpg The domain name thelivingproject.org.uk was registered to Object in May 2011 however it contains a blank wordpress site. So how exactly do the thousands of women who are abused by the lap dancing industry find the support group who “will provide a safe space to share and process common experiences in an environment that is non-judgmental supportive and empowering.”
    Incidentally The Living Project is also the name of a long standing and well respected project helping people with mental health issues live normal lives.

    And another thing!
    The fund raising pages of the site use charity style techniques to raise funds however they are not a charity. The use of the BMY charity site to raise funds is particularly cynical as the site was originally set up to collect for the help for hero’s campaign. However it does give a little insight into the level of support for Object. BMY charity recorded a total of 11 donations to Object in 2011 totalling £153 Wow!

    And another thing!
    The about us page of their site gives a list of directors and points to a pdf file outlining how the organisation is organised. This and another pdf (constitution) describe Object as a charitable organisation and refer to the charities commission. The “Who” section of the about us page lists eleven individuals however their current pin up girl Anna Van Heeswijk is not mentioned in the organisation hierarchy.
    http://www.object.org.uk/about-us/about-us

    • Thanks for the information. Sorry this comment took a while to appear on the blog – the spam filter decided you were an evil spammer.

    • Great research….

      I do not think that Object were ever a registered charity. I remembered that they received funding from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, so I looked at their website and discovered that Object received the following awards…

      2007 – £18,000 – Awareness raising re lap dance licensing.
      2008 – £30,000 – Lap dancing licensing campaign.
      2008 – £4,850 – As above.
      2010 – £5,000 – For ‘Women & Media’ Campaign.

      Hilariously, all of the grants were made under the ‘Liberty’ category. I wonder if JRRT fully understand what they funded? I imagine we could ask, by e-mailing Trust Secretary Tina Walker at info@jrrt.org.uk so as to obtain their views…

      I am encouraged by the number of people that are spending time looking at Object and I wonder what we will discover next?

      I think that their website is essentially illegal, as its ‘Contact Page’ fails to conform to the E-Commerce Regulations. I believe it is mandatory to have the correct address and a contact phone number….

  11. I think this is an interesting debate, but one that is not entirely binary. Yes, sex-positive feminism is awesome, and puritanical-ism is bad, however you might be missing the nuance to some group’s views.

    For instance, painting pole-dancing in an Anne Summers maid outfit as “empowering” is not necessarily true, because female sexual empowerment has in a sense been hijacked by capitalists like Hugh Heffner, who essentially demand that girls become appealing, available, and conformant.

    If you will, people are being duped into thinking they are empowered whereas in reality they are being cast as submissive on a pedestal, for the profit of others. It’s a sinister denigration of women and that’s why feminists fight against it, whether they are sex-positive or not.

    There are also issues like pornography – sure there are some anti-porn feminists, but a lot of “pro-porn” feminists believe that the industry is disgusting and abhorrent in its current form. There’s nothing wrong with fucking on camera for money, however there is a colossal amount of exploitation and coercion within the industry that needs to be solved.

    So yes, in an ideal world we’d all be able to jump on poles and trade sex for money in a nice, safe way. However, due to the context, the reality of strip clubs as exploitative, consent-breaking places, and because the “happy hookers” in brothels are merely the token college students who are kept clear of the worst clients, strip clubs and pornography and prostitution become massive issues.

    So tl;dr there’s nothing innately wrong with women doing what they want sexuality, but back in reality, women (and men) are still exploited massively by the sex industry, because the public are influenced by unhealthy relationships to sex portrayed by magazines and other media like, but limited Playboy and Nuts.

    • James, have you ever been into a club? Have you ever spoken with a dancer? Because if you have not, I strongly suggest that you do before you state that strip clubs are ‘exploitive, consent-breaking places’. Tell us more about the ‘token college students who are kept clear of the worst clients’. Virtually all of the comments and content on this article have been written by people with direct experience. What is your experience?

      • Actually it’s based in part off of the knowledge of a friend who was a stripper in a club in the UK. It was arranged on a tender basis, so strippers would pay to be there and then would take home their tips minus a cut.

        Anyway, she had many stories of her or her friends being harassed when they were ill, pressured to turn up (bouncers driving round their houses, etc.), which didn’t to me seem like a good working environment, and this was a fairly reputable establishment in a UK student town.

        Here’s an article that has interviews, etc

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/19/gender.uk

        Do try to remember that I’m sex-positive, but I don’t think this issue is as black and white (stripping good or stripping bad) as people like to think.

        • Hello James

          I take your points, but at the same time I must make some of my own.

          The clubs that Object are trying to close have nothing to do with Hugh Heffner culture and I have never met a conformant stripper in my life. So I take issue with the view that any dancer is being ‘duped’ into anything or is ‘submissive on a pedestal’.

          Furthermore your ‘jump on poles and trade sex for money’ comment is completely inaccurate. Are you really saying that dancers are basically prostitutes? Do you really believe that dancers have sex with customers in clubs?

          James, I ask that one day you pop into London, go to Browns or The White Horse in Shoreditch and after that visit, see if your view of conformant, duped, submissive strippers still holds true.If you wish I will happily join you.

          All that anyone asks is that people comment on the basis of direct experience, then and only then, judge.

        • James, some relevant points about the Guardian article you’ve linked to:-

          * It quotes the Lilith Report, which has been criticised as “flawed” by Dr Brooke Magnanti for it’s misleading use of Metropolitan Police data:

          http://www.camdennewjournal.com/news/2011/feb/lilith-project-rape-lap-dance-link-%E2%80%98-flawed%E2%80%99-says-belle-du-jour-brooke-magnanti

          To quote the above article in the Camden New Journal, ‘According to her wider analysis of figures, in the past 10 years Camden has seen fewer recorded rapes than other London boroughs with just a handful or no lap dancing clubs such as Islington and Lambeth. And the incidence has decreased in line with the national average.’.

          * The main interviewee in the Guardian article is ‘Elena’, the ex-dancer Object uses as part of its national campaign against striptease.

          * Polly Toynbee, editor of the Guardian, is Object’s patron; unsurprisingly, the Guardian has been anything but neutral on the subject of striptease over the last few years, often publishing articles (such as the one you’ve linked to) which appear to have used an Object press release as their main source of information.

          • Very interesting, I think I’m definitely going to have to re-think and do more of my own research.

            I’d definitely agree though, that standing up for the agency of the workers is far preferable to lauding over them with misconceptions.

            While there’s still the issue of monetised sexuality as a broader societal one, I think it’s important to realise that some people cannot fathom why you would want to take your clothes off for money and see it as inherently degrading. This is a view we should condemn as patronising and demeaning to the idea of free choice, so I have to side with the OP (MoronWatch article) after considering you and Chasmal’s comments.

            I doubt that all strip clubs are as safe and respectful as the ones referred to here, but I do take it on board that this can and often is not only harmless, but also a bastion for female agency, and a vital financial option for people in this dismal employment climate.

          • James, I am sure some clubs are badly run but certainly the ones I have experienced in London have had good management. In fact the best management has come from the female pub owners. Also it is interesting that Object’s stock answer to a dancer being pro striptease is stockholm syndrome. And the book publish by an ex dancer recently was co authored by a member of Object, well down to the dancer for making money out of a different set of people. of course writing how much fun it was would make no money so if you are going to write a book you write about those bits that will generate the biggest response from buyers. So would definately think careful about what you believe until you research the issues more closely

          • “I’d definitely agree though, that standing up for the agency of the workers is far preferable to lauding over them with misconceptions.”

            Both Equity and the GMB represent the interests of strippers, and their reps have been some of the fiercest critics of Object.

          • Indeed, I agree. I think it’s evident that object have ideological issues with the very nature of stripping, and thus will try and orchestrate an argument and “fudge” the data into supporting them.

            I don’t have issues with stripping, though I wish it wasn’t such a gendered issue (but in a more guys stripping than a less women stripping way), or pornography (but again, and I think the vast majority of pornography is utterly crap and dull), but I do think that any issues regarding *exploitation*, or coercion, or anything like that need to be taken seriously (and of course, keeping it legal and open means that it can be regulated more effectively).

            It disgusts me when “feminist” groups jump into bed with religious puritans. Religious puritans are the cause of so much pain and prejudice in society, and yet these groups are happy to appease them and support them to push their own agenda. Ugh.

            It’s sad, because I used to like groups like UK Feminista, until Kat Banyard tried to tear me apart at a meeting we’d invited to because I dared to try and open debate about pornography, and they jumped in with the Anti-Porn Men project (!?) and the London Feminist Network (Massive amounts of Transphobia and sexism regarding reclaim the night), and nutjobs like Julie Bindel (which the Guardian for some reason still gives a platform).

          • Hi James

            Thank you for your comments and consideration. I am sure that there are bad clubs, but like bad restaurants they go out of business, largely because word gets around and no one works there.

            I look forward to reading the results of your research and if you wish, please feel free to submit an article to my new blog…..strippingtheillusion.blogspot.com

            Also I am very interested how you came to cross swords with Kat Banyard..Please tell me more.

    • It’s a boring shift here at the Horns, during recession, in January. Most of us are pretty bored and logging to the pub wireless, checking our Facebook, or mailing or commenting like me now. (I may as well do something!)

      We have a few guys here, just having a beer after work, one of the Brazilians is reading the Evening Standard, to improve her English. There have been a few private dances, these are not lap-dances by the way, we dance around the pole on a podium and there is no contact allowed. Technically lap-dancing is illegal as it is not a ‘contact sport’ and under the SEV license no touching is allowed.

      Sorry to disappoint the hysterical, victim fetishists that called themselves ‘feminist’ but there’s no drama or abuse happening.

      But on a more serious note:

      - Object etc are offended by sexuality and nudity in that old fashioned, moralistic way, and what we do is blatantly represent the very thing that disturbs them. When I first went to Browns to audition, Jennifer was dancing on stage and I thought; ‘wow how sexy’. But that’s me. To the anti-sex ‘feminists’ the nudity is offensive but if they admit that they won’t be taken seriously. They will only be taken seriously if they dress it up with claims that it causes social ills such as trafficking and rape. Hence all the wildly offensive claims.

      - Secondly there is an element of jealousy and anger. This can be as simple as ‘she’s prettier than me, I feel bad about myself, to make myself feel better I’ll call her a slut etc’ Or it can also be a general resentment along the lines of ‘pretty girls have it easy’ which can be directed at strippers, models, actresses etc. Because they are seen to make money from their looks, something they are born with, rather than something they have worked for i.e. a degree. As we all know this insecurity is not necessarily based in reality. We’ve all met attractive people who for some reason feel terrible about themselves and that is a shame.

      • Really think you have hit the nail on the head with your second point. I have been undertaking extensive research about hate and hare groups. I stumbled upon a compelling analysis that includes the following…

        ‘Both rational and irrational hate mask personal insecurities. Everyone experiences personal insecurities in varying degrees throughout their lives. The more insecure a person feels, the larger the hate mask.’

        I think this defines Object very well.

    • And another thing…….

      I’ve joined Equity and become a reluctant activist since all the shit with the anti-sex ‘feminists’ kicked off and it is SO frustrating!!!! They will not listen.

      The stripping industry has been in decline over the past few years for a number of reasons. One of the most frustrating things is that when we attend TUC meetings, as Equity members, or go to any debates on the subject, we cannot get to the point! There is exploitation in the stripping industry as there is in any other and it is FINANCIAL. However we spend the 3 hours of these meetings trying to talk to maniacs, working themselves up into a right old frenzy about ‘objectification’.

      As a stripper I’ve always joked about strippers being drama queens but then you see the prohibitionists go and it’s like wow! This lot are going for the Oscar! It’s really amazing. We strippers sit there is jaw-dropped amazement at the spectacle.

      We never get to address the real issues that are effecting the workers in the industry, which are in fact best explain by a little anecdote about the Playboy club.

      Once upon a time a club called Playboy opened up in London. Amidst the hype of the opening night stood a small group of ‘feminists’ brandishing placards shrieking ‘F off Heff!!’ Meanwhile another group of women, some would call them real feminists, the ones who work, earn, support families, party, enjoy their sexuality, pay their way etc, were wondering if it would be good to work there. Surely the tips would be good?

      So some of these dancers on the other side of town went to get jobs at the Playboy club. However within a few weeks most of them were back in East End, in the changing rooms of the strip pubs going, ‘what a load of shit!’

      The main complaint was this: they ran around in heels until 4am and they had to put all tips they earned into a communal pot, no one begrudges a little tip out to the other staff, but none of the staff saw the tips. They couldn’t hide the tips any where in the skimpy costume and when they received their wages it was for a measly £50 for each nights work. Despite al the tips they had earnt.

      This frequently happens in the UK hospitality industry though. Often wait staff are not paid the service charge or are paid less than minimum wage. So the exploitation, if there is any, is financial rather than ‘men gazing upon women’ Shock horror!

      So the entire conversation focuses around ‘objectification’ when the actual argument is money. It may seem dull but it’s simply a case of workers rights rather than some great ‘feminist’ cause.

      • Indeed, every time I read / hear that old chestnut, “Ob-jec-ti-fi-cat-ion of wo-myn [sic]” – or some variation thereupon – I can’t help wondering whether they’ve hypnotised themselves with their slogans! ;-)

  12. I am wondering if the Objectification is the issue or it is the self-objectification that Edie highlighted. Body image especially how we view ourselves is something everyone (male and female) have to deal with. I am an overweight bilateral amputee and have had to come to terms with my own issues about self worth and body image. There is an award winning photo in the national portrait gallery of Viktoria Modesta that object would no doubt say is Objectifying women and yet I would say it is a positive image for amputees. So here we have the ongoing battle of small groups deciding what is right for everyone. Sorry if you don’t like yourself but that is no reason to berate and belittle others. I overcame my body issues in part thanks to dancers just goes to show that we can all change and grow but only if we let ourselves.

    • Well impressed with the reasoned argument showing us why the article is a joke. And as a wild stab in the dark are you someone who represents Object? I was offended by the Tower Hamlets meeting where I asked if I would be allowed to questions the panel and was told it wasn’t a public meeting and it was for women. At least no one here has used debunked data like the lilith report to justify their stance

    • I think you will find that the Object crowd don’t mind a debate so long as they are the only side in it. For example that master stroke in Tower Hamlets of denying the Union a chance to speak and acting as if the token (sorry Edie but really do think it was a case of tokenism on their part) Pro Striptease speaker didn’t exist. When people challenged Cllr Rania from Tower Hamlets on facebook the story changed every 5 minutes from changing venues to single sex debate. They hide, bend the truth and use “facts” that have no basis in the real world. After all according to Object I must be a sex mad rapist, as a fan of striptease for 23 years I have to be as the industry has totally corrupted me into that state obviously.

        • Hello Anna

          Many of us were offended by the following statement on Objects website regarding clubs in Hackney…

          “Hackney venues were the worst for trafficked young women….and easily the most prolific venues offering intercourse and oral sex acts”.

          So please explain exactly how and why you were offended>

          • Actually I have a serious question, why with all these claims do they never actually state which venue? Is it because they are worried they would be sued for libel? If object doesn’t bring forth the proof then they have only themselves to blame when no one believes them any more!

      • Hi Tony – it’s ok. I/we fully understood it was a token concession at the eleventh hour. We also knew the ‘debate’ would be anything but a debate but more like a witch trail. When the email went around asking ‘who wants to speak at the debate?’ It was like, ‘er no one in their right mind WANTS to do this but it’s more a case of we HAVE to do it.’ The whole thing demonstrated how much contempt they have for the women they want to ‘rescue’ and how myopic they are.

    • Anna

      We all really hope that you explain exactly why you are personally offended. We were personally offended when you stated that ‘We are not calling for lap dancing clubs to be banned’ and then went onto to try and do exactly that….

      The thing is that Tony N is correct. Object never engage unless they are in total control of the landscape of the debate…

      If anything is a ‘joke’, its Objects inability to construct and engage in lucid, objective debate.

  13. Pingback: Object Respond « MoronWatch

  14. The arguments regarding pole / lap dancing clubs are absurd, and ignore that objectivisation of women is at the heart of male / female engagement largely initiated and sustained by women.
    The evidence of this can be readily seen in TV and other media advertising. Women are endlessly eulogised and validated in their actions, despite much of that behaviour being ultimately self-destructive. The woman in the ING advert who responds to her fiance “Oh no it looks cheap. I want that one!” (referring to an engagement ring) is actually telling the man “to continue this relationship and enjoy intimacy with me, you have to provide this expensive item to satisfy my greed and need for status symbols”. The man (whose chest explodes with a car air-bag) despondently accepts this demand, he though he must borrow beyond his means to deliver it. The woman has reduced their relationship to a commercial exchange, high value goods for sex. The advert also validates this type of behaviour in women. The woman presents herself as a commodity and regards the man as simply a consumer. Unlike other other commercial exchanges, this relationship is not subject to the control of Trading Standards.
    Large numbers of young women see themselves as possessing a highly desirable commodity (their bodies) that can be traded to access financial security, against men’s insatiable need / desire for sexual intercourse. If we look at traditional girl’s stories like Cinderella etc we can readily see that the objects of desire are men with wealth. Ordinary males are merely sources of sympathy or the means to attaining an end. The actors in the stories with real 3D personalities are overwhelmingly female. Girls who play with Barbie, and act out adult roles, have a plethora of accessories to augment this doll – one of which is Ken, the boyfriend. Ken is not an equal and such agency he has is subservient to Barbie’s. Boys have no equivalent to these examples.
    Feminist introspection denies them the capacity to analyse these relationships either objectively, or from men’s perspectives. But to break free of this obsessive introspection requires the validation of the potential for an alternative and equally valid opinion. This is something that feminists are broadly unwilling to do. Perhaps early feminists were able & prepared to recognise the validity of men’s experience, but that it certainly not the case for the latter Gender Feminists and their acolytes.
    It was interesting that a few years ago it was reported that 30 something career women were finding it extremely difficult to secure male partners with whom to have families. There were the immediate complaints that men were commitment-phobic, and then a complaint led by Bea Campbell that 30-something men were failing in their duty to women. But there was no overall shortage of single men. However what became very apparent was that the women were targeting a very small group of asset positive single men who in classic mode earned more than they did. But the simple fact is that for career women who have benefited from equalities action, there are very few available men who meet this criteria. Further those men who do meet the criteria have the span of women from 18 – 35+ to chose from, and so the competition is fierce. It also appeared that whereas the 20+ male who at marriage has no established life style and was handed from his mother to his wife, the 30+ male does have an established lifestyle and is fully capable of looking after himself. It was apparent that 30+ men had so much more to lose in a marriage and women had great difficulty in persuading them otherwise.

    • RSD, those are very interesting and poignant observations, but I can’t help noticing that you’ve veered off-topic with your post. The beginning of another important, yet separate, discussion / debate…

  15. Pingback: Puritans: The Guardian vs Iran’s Morality Police at MoronWatch

  16. “A search of companies house shows
    OBJECT NOW
    GROUND FLOOR EAST WRC/33-41
    DALLINGTON STREET
    LONDON
    EC1V 0BB
    Company No. 07330415
    The company was registered in July 2010 and the first accounts are due to be filed no latter than 29th April 2012.”

    Interesting to note that they share premises with the Women’s Resource Centre…

    http://www.wrc.org.uk/

  17. @bent_time/puppydogloveblog (seriously?): Your spelling and grammar is atrocious, so I wouldn’t take someone to task for misspelling the word ‘bigot’. Good lord.

    Some fine comments on here. Especially interesting are the comments toward Object and what appear to be a rather perverse squandering of finance by said company…and the fact they’re a company, heh. The video post is also very interesting.

  18. Pingback: Lap Dancing: The Guardian Fails Again at MoronWatch

  19. As ever, people seem to be misunderstanding. Being anti-stripping/pornography/sex industry in its current form is not about puritanism or being squeamish about female sexuality in general. It is about an uneasiness when female sexuality is co-opted, controlled and sold. Pornography (not inherently, but in its current form), prostitution and lap dancing are about male sexual pleasure – women are acting, playing a role which has been defined my men, based on a narrow, adolescent and frankly insulting idea of male sexuality. In these industries women are paid to ignore their own sexual desires and behaviour. You can say its not harmful for economic reasons but you can’t pretend any of this stuff is making women powerful in any other way. Sex loses its meaning of mutual desire and pleasure and women become sex-aids for male masturbation. Plenty of both men and women find this an uncomfortable situation.

    It should make people at least think about it when today’s female sexual empowerment looks so much like yesterday’s sexual objectification. Rather than forcing women to do something they are unhappy with, it makes much more commercial sense to sell the behaviour as ‘empowering’ so they choose to do it themselves.

    I don’t like it when feminists get into bed with religious organisations. I guess its just a means to an end.

    You may not agree but at least take the time to learn what people are actually saying before arguing with it.

    And yes I’ve known a lot of strippers and worked directly with prostitutes.

  20. Well this article is about my “favourite” people Object who bang on objectification only being bad yet some of the people who actually defined objectification like Nussbaum say it can be positive. Certainly sexual desires are natural, it is what has kept the species alive for so long. I would listen to the podcast if you haven’t or speak to those dancers who want to carry on.

    Now lets look at the economic reasons, to close all striptease in the UK will cost the government an estimated £200m in lost revenue and benefits. That is split between local and national but it is still a large chunk of change. Plus with jobs so hard to come by 10,000 dancers plus all the associated staff will become unemployed.

    When an organisation the size of object (Banyard called them two people without an office) have the political clout to preach to Leveson about page 3 when the disabled advocacies where unable to complain about the image of disability in the press you question the sanity and priorities in the world.

    Finally you have known a lot of strippers, I noticed you didn’t say were friends with and judging by the tone and terms you are in some sort of social service type field. Now object has done nothing in the last two years about prostitution but has concentrated on striptease. How many dancers do you know well enough to know exactly what they want?

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  24. It appears that Object have moved offices again and are now located in a somewhat run down block of flats in south London. I really think they are strapped for cash….

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