Home News Stripper calls Bristol Women’s Commission chair a ‘misogynist’

Stripper calls Bristol Women’s Commission chair a ‘misogynist’

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A stripper has called the chair of the Bristol Women’s Commission a “misogynist”, accusing her of only protecting women they deem morally acceptable.

The Bristol Women’s Commission (BWC) has said to claim it is misogynist contradicts everything they stand for as their aim is to identify and address gender inequality and the forces that fuel it.

Margot, from the Bristol Sex Workers Collective, had been working at Urban Tiger for about a year before the pandemic started.

READ MORE: Dreamboys speak out in solidarity with Bristol strippers against lap-dancing club ban

The club is one of two sexual entertainment venues (SEVs) that would face closure if Bristol City Council’s licensing committee goes ahead with a proposal to withdraw licences for the city centre SEVs.

So far, no decision has been made on the new draft policy on SEV’s, which is due to go to public consultation this summer.

Margot, from the Bristol Sex Worker’s Collective, wrote on Twitter: “No, Penny, my main concern isn’t losing money.

“My main concern is potentially getting assaulted at the private parties I will have to work at because you contributed to shut down the regulated SEV I used to work at.

“How dare you [Penny] and the Bristol Women’s Commission call yourselves feminists? Closing down safe workplaces for women is an act of violence in itself.

“You only want to protect and defend the women you deem morally acceptable.

“Blaming sex workers for men’s violence is the one of the most patriarchal ideas you could promote. You are not a radical neither a progressive.

“You are a misogynist.”

The sex worker’s comments come after the chair of the Bristol Women’s Commission (BWC) submitted a statement to full council earlier this week.

In this statement, chair Penny Gane urged councillors to support the ban and said SEVs profit from and contribute to gender inequality, adding the ban would be a tangible step towards tackling this inequality.

She also said their position focuses on a bigger conversation around changing the behaviours of men and boys in order to make Bristol a safer, more equal place to live for all women and girls.

In a statement, the BWC said they do not believe sex workers are responsible for male violence, but that in licensing SEVs the council is contributing to the normalisation of sexual objectification of women, which does lead to male violence.

It also said they are not anti sex worker, but anti sex industry as they believe it is a system founded on the idea of women as commodities.

Speaking to BristolLive, Margot said she called the commission misogynist because she thinks they refuse to hold men accountable for their actions and behaviour and, instead, blame sex workers for men’s behaviour and violence.

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The stripper said that, in speaking out about this, sex workers were taking a massive risk, adding they had recently been getting more attention but that they have no power.

She said that they want to highlight the power imbalance between them and organisations such as the Bristol Women’s Commission.

The stripper added their main concern is that, if the closure goes ahead, the industry will be pushed underground and women could be pushed towards more dangerous forms of sex work.

With clubs having been closed for more than a year, that has already been happening, Margot said, and she has been asked to go private parties while some of her friends are turning to other forms of sex work which are more dangerous.

Margot said sex workers want the right to be a safe at work, adding closing SEVs does not reduce levels of crime or violence against women.

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“They claim to be a feminist organisation and speak for all the women, but they do not speak for us at all,” she continued. “There is a lot of women they don’t speak for.

“How can someone still pretend they’re speaking on behalf of all women and at the same time, urge councillors to ignore the voices of women that have always been ignored?”

Fellow stripper Chloe added: “Using a workforce made up of predominantly working class women as collateral for your own personal moral crusade will never be akin to equality.

“Naked women making you uncomfortable isn’t a reason to make them unemployed.”

What the Bristol Women’s Commission says

In a statement, the Bristol Women’s Commission said: “To claim that Bristol Women’s Commission, which exists to achieve gender equality, is misogynist contradicts all that we stand for.

“BWC is made up of representatives from key agencies with the aim of identifying and addressing gender inequality and the forces that fuel it – including misogyny.

“We do not believe that sex workers are responsible for male violence. We do believe that in licensing SEVs Bristol City Council is contributing to the normalisation of sexual objectification of women, which does lead to male violence.

“We are not anti sex worker, we are anti sex industry – a system founded on the idea of women as commodities.

“It is not a moral argument, our position is grounded in evidence, in the interests of women and girls who do not choose to be objectified for money – including survivors of trafficking – and our mission to deliver the aims of the Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life.

“SEVs profit from and promote gender inequality and Bristol City Council should not be sanctioning this.

“We are aware of the untruths being spread by the sex industry and our members and volunteers have been subjected to very underhand personal attacks in recent months.

“Despite this, we agreed to meet with Bristol Sex Workers Collective – the only direct contact we’ve had from anyone from the pro-SEV lobby – for a 1-2-1 to listen to their views and share more of the reasoning behind our position.

“This meeting was hijacked by a group, which included the same two women attacking us on Twitter, our words were twisted and used to try and discredit us further in the press.

“There is a lot of one-sided coverage of this on social media and in the press, prior to Bristol Live reaching out today, we’ve only been contacted by one other journalist for our response to these questions and unfounded claims. We address some of these below.

“The owner of the existing 2 SEVs, which are currently licensed by Bristol City Council but which have been closed for most of 2020 and 2019, makes money from a range of income streams – all of which provide work opportunities, some of which include sending women to private parties.

“Former SEVs have been turned into bars which offer employment opportunities. SEVs do not employ dancers in the traditional sense, they are self-employed and like many self-employed people often have a variety of income streams – not just working in SEVs.

“In stating they would ‘potentially get assaulted’ at private parties they must recognise the threat of male violence which is presumably only kept at bay at SEVs due to heavy security.

“Once those men leave the clubs, it becomes a potential issue for all women. An article in the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies Journal reports that ‘women describe feeling frightened, disempowered, violated, embarrassed, unsafe (particularly if men are around), and avoid certain streets at night where they know there is a lap dancing club.’

“We have heard from many women in Bristol who share this experience.

“Penny’s statement was shared in the Public Statement section of the Full Council meeting. Any member of the public is welcome to submit something. As many others did.

“It’s not an example of a huge power imbalance. It’s not dependent on a working relationship with the council or the mayor.”

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