New feature: Stripping the illusion
Jess McCabe // 4 May 2008
Lap-dancing clubs are licensed in the same way as coffee shops. Anji Capes reports on the launch of a campaign to change all that
Last month I had the pleasure of participating in the launch of Stripping The Illusion, the campaign against lap dancing by Object – a group set up to challenge the ‘sex object culture’ in the UK.
We attended a discussion at the House of Commons on the harms of lap dancing and the inadequacy of the 2003 Licensing Act, then staged a protest in Parliament Square, complete with a mock-up pole-dancing pole, banners and much singing.
The discussion was kicked off by Sandrine Levêque of Object, who illustrated the three main illusions that people have about lap dancing and strip clubs:
“Lap-dancing clubs are not part of the sex industry”
A sex establishment is a place where people pay money for other people to sexually stimulate them. For example, sex shops and cinemas must be licensed as sex establishments – lap-dancing clubs do not. As Philip Kolvin, legal advisor to the Fawcett Society, said later in the discussion, it does not make sense that sex on the page or on celluloid is controlled, but sex in the flesh is not. We are calling for a category of ‘sexual encounter establishment’ to be extended countrywide, to include lap-dancing and strip clubs, giving local councils, representing the public, more power over the establishments which already exist or are planned in their constituencies.