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Guest blog: Lapdancing - time to disparage the Farage?

(115 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 26-Apr-13 12:34:57

This week, UKIP leader Nigel Farage admitted visiting a lap-dancing club; according to the Guardian, he told journalists "I thought bloody hell, this is really good". Mumsnet blogger and author Rosie Fiore, who blogs over at Wordmonkey, is under-impressed.

"So this image popped up on Facebook yesterday, complete with a plethora of LOLs and likes. It seems loads of women think stripping would be a fun lifestyle choice, if only their boobies were perky enough.

And then a few hours later, I read that Nigel Farage, UKIP leader, ex-City metals trader and the UK's 'least unpopular political leader' (!?) has come under fire for admitting that he has visited lap-dancing clubs in the past and enjoyed it. He says it"s because he's honest and, unlike other political leaders, is not living in a 'PC world'. He insists that this admission is not evidence that he is anti-women.

When the accusation was put to him, he apparently laughed it off. 'That's really rather silly,' he said. 'I have to tell you, if I'd been anti-women, then the whole of my adult life would have been just that much simpler.' Don't know how to tell you, Nige, but gay and anti-women - not the same.

So both things got me thinking about strip clubs and lap-dancing clubs, possibly one of the oddest cultural phenomena I can think of. After all, the notion that a group of people of one gender goes to sit in a room, while members of the other gender take off their clothes to display their secondary sex characteristics - well, it's a bit damned odd, is it not? Here's what Camille Paglia, the redoubtable post-feminist theorist had to say about it.

'That's what the strip clubs are about; not woman as victim, not woman as slave, but woman as goddess.'

While I've always been fascinated by Ms Paglia and think a lot of what she has to say is ground-breaking, this one has never rung true for me. This is why. In 1991, when I was fresh out of university, I worked in a strip club in my home town of Johannesburg, South Africa.

I had graduated with a drama degree and every expectation of a glittering career on the stage and screen, but six months later I was working in a restaurant, and the stage and screen seemed to be getting along just fine without me. I rang my agent and expressed my frustration, and, probably just to get me off the line, he made a suggestion which changed my life forever. 'Write a play about out-of-work actresses working as strippers,' he said. The idea caught flame, and I decided to do just that. But in order to write, I needed to experience, so aged 21, I took a job as a food and beverage manager in one of Johannesburg's most notorious strip clubs.

In the few weeks that I worked here, these are some of the examples of 'goddess worship' I experienced in that fine emporium.

- Girls as young as 17 stripping completely naked (then illegal in South Africa, still allegedly illegal in the UK)
- Women stepping offstage and being paid their fee in cash, then instantly spending the same money in the club on food, alcohol and drugs
- Women working the lunchtime shift and then leaving to work as prostitutes in nearby hotels
- The manager threatening both strippers and patrons with a gun on more than one occasion
- A girl who worked in the club fell pregnant by the owner's son. He procured her an (illegal) abortion, and then insisted she go straight back to work. I saw her pack her vagina with tampons and cotton wool, swallow painkillers, then go on and dance. In between dances, she would curl up on the sofa and read comic books and giggle. She was eighteen years old.

So, not so much with the Goddess worship. While clubs vehemently deny that they encourage prostitution, a report commissioned by London Metropolitan University found that alcohol, drug addiction and pressure from punters mean that women often need to offer sexual favours to make the work pay.

It's not as lucrative as you might think, either - and there is zero job security. Generally, the girls pay a fee to the clubs in order to work, and only get paid if they are hired to dance. If there are too many girls (as there frequently are), they may earn nothing - but must still pay to be there. A study by the University of Leeds found that 70% of women had left a shift without any money because of the fees and fines they had had to pay the club.

So call me judgmental, but it seems to me that the very notion of the strip club or lap-dance club as it currently exists is anti-women, and that men that visit them and perpetuate the set-up are condoning it.

And even if you leave the whole sex industry thing aside, where does Mrs Farage come into the whole equation? There is a Mrs Farage by the way - a second wife, Kirsten, mother of Farage's two young daughters. Her views on the issue are not recorded, but I know I'd be less than thrilled if my husband's night out included a little light crotch-grinding with a woman he'd paid for. On the continuum of infidelity, that's pretty damned close to the danger zone.

So let's go back to Farage's assertion that he is not 'anti-women'. The accusation that he was sexist was levelled by ex-UKIP MEP Marta Andreasen, who left the party two months ago, citing Farage's gender discrimination and bullying. She has since joined the Conservatives. Her stance is particularly notable because she was the only female MEP UKIP had, since Nikki Sinclaire was expelled from the party in 2010. Even David 'Calm Down Dear' Cameron can boast a few women in his cabinet. UKIP now has precisely zero.

It seems to me, Mr Farage, that you're okay with the exploitation of women, you're happy to visit a 'sex encounter establishment' even when you're married, and your party can't field a single candidate who represents 52% of the population. And in my view, if a man's idea of a fun night out is paying £20 to stare at the vulva of a young woman who has no job security, no employment rights and the constant threat of sexual harassment, he's certainly not pro-women. Just saying."

Rosie Fiore's new novel Wonder Women is available in eBook for the special price of £1.39, till May 1st. The paperback version will be out on 20th June.

BasilBabyEater Sat 27-Apr-13 11:17:36

Well you can dare to suggest it, but it's a pretty stupid argument.

The idea that men are poor, helpless idiots led by their dicks, suits men who are into the idea of exploiting women, but intelligent people don't buy it.

If it were true, men wouldn't have managed to rule the world for the last six millenia or so. Women could have simply led them by their dicks and built societies based on the idea either that women are the default human beings and men exist to serve them (as men did to women) or that men and women are equal and ensured that men never attacked that equilibrium by giving them a wank for good behaviour.

That hasn't happened because men are not in fact, led by their dicks.

GeekLove Sat 27-Apr-13 11:51:45

If Nigel Farrage thinks lapdancing is so great for women why doesn't he strip off, shake that ass and wiggle them titties?
I'd stick a fiver in his g-string.

I'd have less ideological objection to lapdancing clubs if the condition for entry for men is if they have to strip off get up and dance.

LazarussLozenge Sat 27-Apr-13 12:01:17

Basil, men haven't ruled the world for six millenia or so...

It may suit the 'sisterhood', but there is no 'brotherhood' holding women in thrall.

Or if there is, they haven't asked me to join.

Plenty of woman leaders appear throughout those 6,000 years.

Now strip clubs.

Men look at women, a sexual woman excites a man, releases all kinds of good chemicals in their brain and they enjoy the experience.

That isn't a oppressing campaign. Just natural. I imagine women at a male strip show feel exactly the same.

If they enjoy it, they will go to where they can enjoy it.

It is all normal, and good fun (I imagine, I've never actually been to strip club).

The strip club, lap dancing club or what ever appears to be the actual problem. Some seem to be quite seedy, some may be quite respectable (regardless of your opinons on the commodity which they trade (that would be the patrons enjoyment by the way)).

And again, no-one male or female is forced in to being either a customer or a service provider.

The dancers/strippers make a choice to work there, rather in a fast food outlet or similar.

If the establishment is seedy and exploiting people (on or off the stage) maybe a guild, union or similar sign of endorsement should be brought in.

BasilBabyEater Sat 27-Apr-13 12:11:55

a) There you go trying to move the subject on to the motives of the women again, instead of the motives of the men/ Nigel Farrage

b) If you're going to claim that societies haven't been organised by men for men with a deliberate exclusion of women from social, economic and political power, you're going to look fairly stupid.

swallowedAfly Sat 27-Apr-13 12:49:46

if you're being ripped off in a club it's not by women it's by men who run and market them.

unsurprisingly some girls can be tempted by making a lot of money quickly and are prepared to pay the price to do so. and? the issue is that this way of making money exists. that we have a society that sees women as titilating objects for men that can be bought.

what is sad is to be in a world where the power conditions exist that make getting paid for the indignity of wiggling around near naked for paying customers an actual job. a world with more dignity and respect for women wouldn't have such a thing.

swallowedAfly Sat 27-Apr-13 12:51:05

you know the fact that some women are prepared to do it doesn't make it ok! it makes it even sadder that we're raising people with so little respect for themselves that they're ok with wiggling their naked butt in someone's face for a tenner.

Haplesshacker Sat 27-Apr-13 13:14:31

Question though.

Why do you think men go to such places? Perhaps if, as a couple, your own 'lives' were more interesting shall we say, then your man wouldn't be tempted to go to these places. After all, a business survives on demand for it's services. And there's obviously a demand.

swallowedAfly Sat 27-Apr-13 13:21:14

ah so now it's the fault of women who should be gyrating on their laps of their husbands for free at home to save them from going out and paying for it hmm

Haplesshacker Sat 27-Apr-13 13:36:57

This isn't about 'fault' or blame. Far too much of that happens.

The only 'hidden' point in my last post was that perhaps some couples just have very different ideas on what is acceptable at home. It works both ways. It's not always the men that have the highest 'drive' in a relationship.

It's interesting reading through these posts, and how 'blame' is apportioned. Why are people so quick to blame others. My post above has nothing to do with blame.

I remember just how popular male strippers were. I've forgotten some of the troupes names now. But they were big (no pun intended!). So don't give me the holier than thou' malarky. Unless of course you are. And if you are, then please. Just live and let live.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 27-Apr-13 13:41:17

I usually say ces't le vie, whatever you are into and of course if nobody is getting hurt.
However, your post has really opened my eyes, the exploitation of these girls is terrible and anybody who does attend them is condoning the behaviour we heard above.
I used to think at least the girls would be earning a lot of money and although not for me, could see why so many were attracted to the lifestyle. Without the huge amount of money I thought existed, it is hardly worth them doing it. Which means it is probably to fund alcohol and drugs which they wouldn't need if they didn't have that lifestyle. I have been conformed grin thanks

BasilBabyEater Sat 27-Apr-13 14:01:14

Whenever the subject turns to men's motivation in going to these sordid places, the usual explanation is that they're not getting it at home.

So again, it's turned round to men not being responsible for their behaviour, but women being responsible for men's behaviour. It's got nothing to do with men's attitudes, nothing to do with their beliefs, it's all about whether the women at home are doing what they want. hmm

It's such a useful narrative for supporting misogyny.

Haplesshacker Sat 27-Apr-13 14:39:49

I accept full responsibility for going on the few times I've been in the last 10 years. It wasn't because of lack of anything at home, it was 2 stag nights, a works party, and a friends night out.

I can understand that some men might because of the lack of 'attention' at home. But I'd rather not be in a relationship that had no love. Been there done that. And fully accept that it takes two people to have an unhappy relationship.

Basil. You obviously have a low opinion of men. Which is your prerogative. But don't think that all men are irresponsible, sex crazed manics. Perhaps you have just been with or met the wrong men for you. But once again, the 'blame' card is being played and you reading incorrectly what I have said.

Sorry. I can't debate with someone that reads what they want from my posts and twists it to their own agenda. Are you my ex wife by any chance? smile

We all need to take responsibility for what happens in our own relationships.


I totally agree that some of these places are not good, and are run badly, use illegal immigrants, a front for drug pushing etc.

I don't doubt that some of the dancers use the money from this to obtain drugs. But then again, I knew some city banking types that also took drugs. Drugs effect more people than just those in 'sorbid' industries.

LazarussLozenge Sat 27-Apr-13 14:40:37

At a guess they go in to these places because they enjoy what goes on in there...

If the business is as sordid as people say, maybe it should e regulated better.

But I doubt there is a compelling reason to outlaw it altogether.

I do agree that the 'they are not getting at home' explanation is hackneyed, but then so is the 'sad old men supporting misogyny' explanation...

Are you paid a £1 every time you say that by the way Basil? You seem to slide it in to every post.

swallowedAfly Sat 27-Apr-13 14:40:52

lapdancing clubs aren't about sex anyway - they have a no touch policy so realistically it's about power and being able to buy women/pay them to do something demeaning rather than any kind of sexual gratification. it certainly has nothing to do with satisfying 'needs' as all it would do is arouse men not get them off.

total lack of logic in those posts.

LineRunner Sat 27-Apr-13 16:53:47

Just going back to Farage, he did come across as quite dim on Questiontime last Thursday and many of the current crop of UKIP candidates for May's local elections are appearing especially bonkers, racist and sexist.

BasilBabyEater Sat 27-Apr-13 18:52:25

Actually Haplesshacker, I don't have a low opinion of men, I have a low opinion of men who go to lapdancing clubs and in particular I have a low opinion of Nigel Farrage. To be fair I had a low opinion of him before I knew he'd been to a lapdancing club, but this revelation has done nothing to make me re-think my low opinion of him.

I don't know why you're asking me if I get paid £1 every time I say post a " 'sad old men supporting misogyny' explanation..." LL - I haven't posted that, that's a bit too pat and simplistic for me, but I accept that you might have a slight difficulty following my arguments. I have posted that I would like men's motivations and behaviour to be examined on this sort of issue instead of all the focus always being on women, when it's the men who use these clubs, who create the demand.

I disagree with your simple-minded idea that it's "natural" for men to have women displayed and paraded so that they can get hard-ons - I don't know of any species in nature where this happens, on the contrary, throughout nature males display to females, not the other way round. I suspect it is not natural, it is in fact the result of a society where females have been designated the sex-caste and many men feel entitled to be sexually aroused by women who aren't arousing them because they want to (which would be natural), but because they're being paid to, which is not "natural" at all, it's socialised behaviour and I'd like people to think about why women have been socialised to do that and why some men have been socialised to think it's reasonable and normal.

Sausageeggbacon Sat 27-Apr-13 20:28:55

Okay here is a real easy question that has had me scratching my head...

Striptease is being attacked by two main groups. These are part of the feminist moment and religion. I just wonder why feminist are siding with religious groups that want to control woman's bodies? A dancer has pointed out to me that in Tower Hamlets feminists shared a platform with Sharia Clerics who believe domestic violence is okay so long as it is done with a cane less than a thumb wide.

These feminists are also partnering with Christian groups that believe a woman has no right to decide what to do with her body especially in terms of reproductive rights along with some other wacky ideas including creationists.

So we have fought these religions for the rights we have now and then turn around and start working with them. Seems mighty fucked up a bit strange.

LazarussLozenge Sat 27-Apr-13 20:39:37

Basil, You disagree with a completely different point, infact you have invented the point yourself.

I didn't say anything about it being natural for med to have women displayed and paraded so that they can get hard ons.

Some species display both ways, and some go female to male. It just suits your purpose to not know of any females who compete for male attention. FYI those species who display both ways are usually the ones who develop longer partnerships.

Live and learn, eh.

To recap.

I said, men (or women) probably feel quite good when they see a person they find attractive cavorting sexilly in front of them. If they feel good they will go to where they can get that feeling. That is natural.

A smoker feels good after having a fag, hence they will go bck to a fag in order to feel good. It is natural.

If a strip joint is NOT exploiting its workers or clients, and the workers are there by choice... is it really a problem? Regardless of you liking the idea or not.

FloraFox Sat 27-Apr-13 20:50:35

Sausage which group of feminists was that? In what way are they "partnering" with these groups?

BasilBabyEater Sun 28-Apr-13 01:35:04

Yes you did say it was natural LL, here: "Men look at women, a sexual woman excites a man, releases all kinds of good chemicals in their brain and they enjoy the experience.

That isn't a oppressing campaign. Just natural."

I'm interested - tell me more about the species who display both ways. Also tell me about the species who display not in order to attract a mate, but to attract food - because that would be the nearest equivalent to lap dancing and again, I'm not sure how common it is in nature.

"I said, men (or women) probably feel quite good when they see a person they find attractive cavorting sexilly in front of them. If they feel good they will go to where they can get that feeling. That is natural."

Really, you think it's natural that a man should feel good about a woman who finds him disgusting, cavorting sexily in front of him? When he knows she's there to get money and she despises him and thinks he's a total tosser? It's natural for men to feel good about that is it? I don't think so. I think that's socialised behaviour, not natural at all. We're not inherently programmed to want contempt from the other sex and feel good about it, we learn that.

"If a strip joint is NOT exploiting its workers or clients, and the workers are there by choice... is it really a problem? Regardless of you liking the idea or not."

Yes, it's still a problem a) you won't find a strip joint in the land that isn't exploiting its workers and clients and b) choice shmoice - you need to look at the context of the choices people make and find out what other choices are available to them, before you can decide whether the choice is free or not. c) People's choices don't take place in a vacuum, their choices have an impact on other people. It's well established that in areas where there are lap-dancing clubs, women in those areas will be more likely to be harassed and/ or sexually assaulted on the streets - guess why.

LazarussLozenge Sun 28-Apr-13 08:50:47

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Kiriwawa Sun 28-Apr-13 09:17:09

You are coming across as entirely unhinged Lazarus. Basil was responding to points you made and you appear not to have noticed that she was disagreeing with you either - there's nothing natural about lap dancing clubs.

As for sexual assaults increasing in areas where there are lap dancing clubs, have a look at the Lilith report. This was the first reference I came across on line: www.kentonline.co.uk/kentish_gazette/news/2013/april/11/lap_dancing_club.aspx

LazarussLozenge Sun 28-Apr-13 10:08:33

Kiria, Basil focuses in on small parts of an arguement which usually have no bearing on the overall discussion.

It doesn't matter if strip clubs re not representative of the animal kingdom or are un-natural.

Thankyou for the link, I had a read and your article is merely the locals 'fearing' an increase based on the Lilith report.

Thus I read that report instead. I have to admit the name of the report raises eyebrows (google who Lilith actually was) and the organisation that published it have a vested interest in showing a particular trend.

The report stated that rape increased n Camden after the introduction of strip joints. Fair enough.

Shame a re-analysis of the report shows that the ncrease of rape instances in surrounding boroughs that have less strip clubs is actually higher, in fact a borough near by with NO strip joints show's the highest increase.

So we could probably assume from the two reports that over the last 10 years either rapes were reported more, or they really did occur more often and that the instances of rape was inversely proportionate to the number of strip joints in the area...

Not quite what you want to here assume.

The lilith report re-anylis is here

LazarussLozenge Sun 28-Apr-13 10:14:40

' The impact of adult entertainment on rape statistics in Camden:a re-analysis.
Brooke L Magnanti, PhD.


A 2003 report on the impact of lap-dancing clubs on sexual assault in Camden,London had significant influence on the perception of the contribution of adultentertainment to crime statistics. In spite of mathematical corrections to thestatistics in the report, its original conclusions are still widely reported in bothacademic and mass media. This paper presents a broader analysis of the impactof lap-dancing clubs by calculating accurate rates of incidence, analysingstatistics from a longer time period, and comparing the results with crime rates inneighbouring boroughs of London. The rate of rape in Camden is lower than thatin comparable boroughs, including ones with no such clubs. The overall trend for London boroughs, while higher than the national average, shows a decreasewhere national statistics are on the increase.'

From the above link.

Sausageeggbacon Sun 28-Apr-13 10:29:13

Flora Object partnered with the Muslim cleric in Tower Hamlets and the Solent Feminist network have connections with Christian Concern although the Portsmouth campaign was a flop. I am sure more will come out later.

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