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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.

swallowedAfly Sun 28-Apr-13 11:38:23

lazarus you are just being attacking and nasty. basil debated the points you raised and looked in detail at them to challenge them. that is debate. if you wish to debate with her you then look at what she said and disprove or explain why you disagree - that's normal debating form. instead you call her an imbecile and just attack.

for people reading it appears you are unable to counter her arguments so stoop to being insulting. tbh it also looks like you're giving us a prime example of men who feel contempt to women who don't conform to their desires.

LazarussLozenge Sun 28-Apr-13 11:58:45

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

swallowedAfly Sun 28-Apr-13 12:27:12

clearly it is relevant as you said that the behaviour was natural - it is entirely standard to look wider animal world to ascertain if something is natural or socially conditioned. she was answering your point which i agree was irrelevant but once it was out there it needed to be rebutted. the need to rebut the idea, which you proposed, of this being 'natural' (albeit you later denied saying it and didn't have the curtesy to apologise when your words quoted back proved you did say it TWICE) is entirely relevant.

if behaviour is socially constructed - re a result of conditioning then it is contingent upon social structures and would change if social conditions changed. often people try to defend things such as social inequality or brutality by saying, 'it's natural' - the obvious thing the person debating them has to do is show that it isn't natural actually.

so it is relevant in as far as you used it as an argument and it has been countered. you'd then need, in an intelligent discussion, to say ok i concede it isn't natural but (insert new argument). i get the impression that admitting when you're wrong isn't an option though so instead you go on the attack. the impression comes from how you've been on here btw - your wife doesn't come into it.

LazarussLozenge Sun 28-Apr-13 12:46:28

swallowed I said it was natural to return to something that made you feel good.

Specifically, the patron views the dancer, they feel good about, they will thus return to that establishment.

I used the smoking analogy.

If we must use similar acts in the natural world, animals (other than human) masterbate. Probably because it feels good, so they do it again... and again.

Now, what we don't know is what they are thinking about or what causes them to masterbate. It could be a physical thing, ie they enjoy the actual physical act, or is Mr Walrus thnking of Mrs Walrus stripping off a penguin fur bikini for him?

Does this have any bearing on the status of strip joints? Probably not.

swallowedAfly Sun 28-Apr-13 12:56:25

yes it's natural to masterbate based on the natural positive reward it gives the animal - re: we have the capacity to orgasm and that releases all sorts of feel good endorphines etc.

what's the natural reward for paying a woman who is likely disgusted by you a tenner to gyrate in front of you? what natural reward system is in place for that?

not a very good analogy is it. if it 'feels good' it is because of social conditioning and social conditions such as power rather than any natural reward we are driven to seek. which returns to my point it has fuck all to do with sex - sex is a red herring.

LazarussLozenge Sun 28-Apr-13 13:35:29

Again you are bringing up the 'disgusted' angle.

The payer is not likely to be thinking of that, be taht a bloke paying a woman or a woman paying a bloke... do you think the Chippendales think their female viewers are all goddesses?

It is possible to feel good without the actual ejaculation part (or female equiv).

If the person is sat there with an erection their body is already flowing with the feel good chemicals and what not.

The 'hard on' is the result of becoming aroused, not the other way around.

There is your reward.

Also, the memories of the dance can be used later, should the watcher decide to play 'solitaire'.

swallowedAfly Sun 28-Apr-13 13:41:39

unless he is somehow seriously sub average cognition he will know that she is doing it for money and would rather be at home watching eastenders. or are you suggesting men really are that stupid that can't distinguish their fantasies from reality?

LazarussLozenge Sun 28-Apr-13 13:52:22

I doubt there is any difference in the ability of a man to distinguish fantasy from reality, and a woman's ability.

And I'd imagine the more intelligent the person the more able they are to immerse themselves in their fantasy.

grimbletart Sun 28-Apr-13 14:21:52

I used the smoking analogy.

Lazaruss: are you sure that is the analogy you want? People return to smoking because they are, for the main part, physically addicted. Are people who go to lap dancing clubs addicts?

LazarussLozenge Sun 28-Apr-13 15:05:27

Possibly grimbletart.

But not in the way that you perhaps thinking.

I am addicted to running and phys. I exercise, those endorphins get pumping, I feel good so I go again the next day.

Look through your life, there is something you do (drink a morning coffee for example) that you do because you are 'addicted' to it. I don't mean you would kill a granny for the change in her purse to buy a cup of joe though.

swallowedAfly Sun 28-Apr-13 15:44:52

well then if there is no difference between a woman's and a man's ability to distinguish reality from fantasy then clearly yes those men do know she is only do it for the money and she is probably disgusted by them. because i'd know it, most women know it so if as you say (and i agree) men are as capable as women of seeing reality then they must know it too.

so it's about power, not sex.

look at the fact that men go to these places in groups - to celebrate their maleness and bond - and what are they bonding over? their shared male status which in this society equates to being able to buy women. or do you think they all go together so they can have wank material later? they go to enjoy their maleness which is defined by their position vis a vis the female class.

swallowedAfly Sun 28-Apr-13 15:46:41

and before you start on the chippendales again that works because it is a power reversal. much like carnival worked by letting the slaves dress up as kings and queens and everything be inverted on carnival day. it released the pressure of the oppression state with a novelty release.

no interest in seeing male strippers myself.

Mugofteaforme Sun 28-Apr-13 15:57:58

"As for sexual assaults increasing in areas where there are lap dancing clubs, have a look at the Lilith report. "

Whatever you view this is a very poor analysis. Simply to imply that the raise in sexual violence is down to the introduction of lap dancing without accounting for other variables e.g. demography is a faux pas in any analysis. Correlation does not equation causation.

In my opinion (and as a bar worker for many years ) I've seen more anger and pent up sexual frustration (often presenting as random violence) emulating from the local night club come chucking out time then from any lap dancing club.

LazarussLozenge Sun 28-Apr-13 16:39:11


You are seriously suggesting that a female strip show is bad due to 'maleness' but a male strip show is 'ok' because it celebrates a reversal of roles?

Where do couples visiting strip joints fit in to your view? That would be a male and female visiting either show, together?

I think the simple fact that you are clearly disgusted by the practice means that you will never be able to discuss it rationally or objectively.

Sausageeggbacon Sun 28-Apr-13 17:20:22

Actually I want to come back to crime to after the fact I have read

Lilith isn't worth the paper it is printed on the errors are so bad.

Bristol, the clubs are in the middle of the crime impact zone which is shared with night clubs. The council has never assigned blame to the clubs.

Inspector Drummond of Cornwall made claims which the police force had no data to support for the BBC and local online news actually show a decrease of sexual crimes since the first club was introduced.

And the Nottingham ADC who made claims based on Lilith without checking if the data was accurate.

Okay now looking for where the crimes are. I have been swapping mails with that blog at the suggestion of my neighbour as they seem to have information on crime.

FloraFox Sun 28-Apr-13 18:12:33

Sausage in what way did Object partner with a Muslim cleric? If interested, not because it might change my views on stripping (I'm not sure if you were arguing that it should).

Nomnew Sun 28-Apr-13 19:43:01

I once visited a lap dancing club in central Europe with my partner. I suppose I was interested and scared at seeing what went on in them. I did a bit of writing at the time and thought I might write an article about the experience( I did but I don't think I ever tried to get it published). We went in at about 8 o'clock (it was completely empty) with an open mind. We weren't going in to pay for dances(or so we thought), we would order a couple of drinks, see what it was like and come out.

We were asked if we wanted to buy a drink. We ordered a couple of drinks and immediately two girls came to sit with us. I chatted to them for a little while ( how long had they been working there, how old they were, where they were from etc). I remember one had been a nurse and I think the other was a student. I asked them about the people who came in and their nationalities. They said a lot of women came in too which surprised me.

They then got up and danced in front of us inches away. I didn't know where to look. They asked us if we wanted to touch them. We didn't. The music stopped and they sat down again. We chatted a little more. They then asked if we wanted another drink and before we knew it we were ordering a drink for all of us.

What we didn't know is that each time you bought a drink, you in effect bought a private dance. They danced again. It was awkward but we knew not to buy any more drinks.

We then said we had to go, at which point they brought out a drinks menu. To all intents and purposes this was a drinks menu but in reality it was a list of other services they could provide.

They pointed to the sexe drink- that was a night back at our hotel two girls, massage and whatever else we wanted. I was shocked. I thought lap dancing clubs were little more than cabaret/burlesque, the reality was something a lot darker. We asked for the bill but when we got it, it was huge. I can't remember how much it was but it was over £100. My ex had to go to the cashpoint escorted by two men to get the money whilst I stayed in the club with the women.

We paid and left immediately. I did feel guilty that I had gone to a place where women were obviously being exploited by men for sex but it did give me an insight into an industry that I had previously regarded as something altogether more innocuous.

I realise that many clubs (esp in UK) don't allow touching and probably don't offer sex behind the scenes but it's the thin end of the wedge isn't it?

Sausageeggbacon Sun 28-Apr-13 19:46:04

There was a talk organised by a female councillor who is Muslim. She invited several muslim clerics to speak and Object. They shared a platform, now it was easy to know the opinions of one of the clerics about how wives should be treated but Object decided to either put their head in the sand or share that platform knowing what the cleric was like. Neither option impresses me.

Sausageeggbacon Sun 28-Apr-13 19:54:39

Nomnew as you said nothing like the UK as there are no unions and there are no council regulations which protect the dancers. The dancers in the UK dance by choice as my neighbour has pointed out several times when I was all up in arms. I have met her and one or two of her friends who perform and I have no doubt that they dance because they want to either because of the flexibility of hours or they just could not stomach a 9 to 5. Nice to know the UK is nothing like Central Europe.

swallowedAfly Sun 28-Apr-13 19:55:09

sorry how was it easy to know? because all muslims are the same and you know exactly what they are? or because you have evidence that these muslims sanctioned wife beating?

if you're going purely on the qu'ran you'll have to assume all christian men are wife beaters too given you'll find more license for the maltreatment of women in the bible than the qu'ran.

LazarussLozenge Sun 28-Apr-13 19:55:18

I think you were rather silly to try such a thing in such a country.

Did you not have google or local contacts back then?

swallowedAfly Sun 28-Apr-13 19:56:21

silly, prudish, imbecilic. you have such a cute way of trying to dismiss the women who disagree with you lazarus.

FloraFox Sun 28-Apr-13 20:05:39

I think "partnering" is a bit strong in that context. It's not at all clear from that what who the cleric was, what his views on women are or to what extent there was any discussion, let alone agreement, between Object and the cleric. This sounds a bit of a stretch to try to discredit Object.

Sausageeggbacon Sun 28-Apr-13 20:12:22

Object knew who was due to speak, they could have googled his name and found out his stance. It would seem common sense you know about the other speakers. So either Lazy or just didn't care. As I said not something that would impress me either way. But I can see people will look for excuses for them.

FloraFox Sun 28-Apr-13 20:12:31

sausage the friends of mine who have been dancers said such things when they were doing it. Now they (for the most part) can't bear to talk about it.

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