Sheffield Blog SEVs - Women's Equality

SEV Motion Speech to Conference

SEV Motion Speech to Conference

Sexual Entertainment Venues, strip clubs or gentlemen’s clubs as they are sometimes referred to, unashamedly promote the
sexual objectification of women. It is the very essence of their business and at the core of their promotional publicity. The
imagery and publicity, particularly online, promotes misogyny and sexism, and ‘celebrates’ dysfunctional attitudes to women. They create an environment which states that it is permissible for men to buy women for sexual entertainment.

The Sheffield branch’s relationship with the Sexual Entertainment Industry began on International Women’s Day 2016 and I, along with other local members, have now attended 4 separate license hearings for clubs in Sheffield.

Much is said by the clubs and their very expensive legal representative about how the women working there find it empowering, how they make a good living from it, carefully skimming over the fact that they usually have no employment rights, how great their clubs are for the local economy, how they promote safer streets at night because their door staff are outside, and more often than not how this is a legitimate and legal business, and therefore they should be allowed to get on with it.

But the very existence of strip clubs will always be a signal to a significant amount of society that this is what women are for, that women’s existence is only in relation to their significance to men, that we are here for men’s sexual pleasure, that this is how we are valued.

SEVs create unequal power between men and women which perpetuates unequal power in every area of our society, including all of our seven objective areas.

The men who frequent strip clubs are not living in a vacuum, they are men we are in relationships with, men in our families,
men in our communities, they are our colleagues sitting next to us at work, they are running and working in our businesses, our
hospitals, our local services, our educational institutions, our judicial system, and they are making decisions in our local and
national government.

When we have problems within our society such as sexual harassment and abuse, when we do not have an equal number
of men and women at the top of our businesses, in local government or in Parliament, when 1 in 4 women in our society
will experience domestic abuse, where 2 women are killed every week by a partner or ex-partner, where almost half a
century after the Equal Pay Act we still have a gender pay gap, and in some industries an astronomical one, where our media
still reports on the aesthetics of the legs of our Prime Minister and First Minister as front page news, and where our children
are still presented with genderised job roles within our education system, why would we choose to add to propping up
the continuation of all of that, by licensing somewhere where women are presented for the sexual pleasure of men, for a
price.

We’re told - It’s just “banter with boobs”, a bit of fun - how many times have we heard the ways in which inequality manifests
itself be dismissed as “a bit of fun”? And how many more times will we have to listen to this excuse before something changes.

We’re told that if we don’t license them they’ll go underground. Firstly there is no evidence to suggest this, and I would ask you
to think of any other area where this argument is made. We better license this medicine even though we know it’s really
dangerous otherwise it’ll go underground. This car hasn’t passed its MOT but if we don’t give it a certificate it’ll be driven anyway so we might as well. Giving something a license indicates to everyone that -we think this is ok - it’s safe - it’s a good idea.

We’re also told that instead of not granting licenses we should put license conditions and restrictions in place. But we know the misogyny, sexism and struggles that women face, as a party we know that better than any other, and we also know that no amount of license conditions or restrictions will ever combat all of that.

Sexual Entertainment Venues are a part of the sex industry, it would seem inconsistent of us to support the Nordic Model as
the most effective way of ending prostitution whilst not having a policy to tackle the demand in this related part of the sector. I
would also question what message it sends to other political parties and to this friendlier faced part of the sex industry for us
not to have a policy.

If we pass this motion it will give branches across the country the courage and policy backing to not only challenge at the application point of the process and at hearings, but also challenge the way in which the licenses are granted when legislation and process have not been followed correctly.

Not having strip clubs will not suddenly transport us to the utopia of equality, but one thing is certain, we will never get
there whilst our local authorities continue to license them. 

Speech to Conference November 2018 by Charlotte Mead, Sheffield Branch Leader

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