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Nerve Letters Page


So once again I open a magazine (Nerve 18) to find an article on the sex trade. This time it’s lap dancing. You know I have to say I was less than impressed, by the overly simplistic approach to the issue, and the lack of a realistic solution.

Look I can’t say I agree with aspects of the sex trade, but I am absolutely sure, that to pull the licenses on these now well established venues, is gonna lead to some SERIOUS problems.

Let’s say the licenses are withdrawn, then what of the girls who work there? What are their options? Return to a job at TESCO or maybe enter the murky world of escorts and hard-core prostitution? I also wanna add that before I started researching the links between sex trafficking and pornography at a world level, I had a similar narrow minded view too. But once I really looked hard and long at the issues, I became a little more realistic, and instead of espousing the evils of the trade I became involved in looking at regulation and the safeguarding of women. I believe that all people regardless of gender have a right to live and act with a certain amount of integrity and without fear. I believe withdrawing licenses would undoubtedly lead women into realms of the sex trade where fear generates a world of degradation and unregulated pimping.

I know two women who are lap dancers, and I am afraid that contrary to popular belief they are both happy in their work, and see it as a temporary line of employment. The first we can call Tara. Tara is a postgraduate of art. She is a highly trained choreographer, and works to finance her art. She has regular commissions and supplements her dance by working two nights per week in a lap-dancing club. Tara explicitly told me that she has never been touched and has no contact with the men in any way. Without the supplementary income she gains dancing topless she could not pursue her career, and would become one of the ever-increasing unemployed. Jamie is also a postgrad; she has financed her degree by dancing. There was absolutely no other way she could finance her degree, as she is not from the UK and is not entitled to any bursaries or maintenance grants. On average she can earn between £400 and £600 per night. And actually when I asked her about the incidents of violence from men who frequent such bars, she gave me a different version of events. She told me that guys who ‘touch’ the girls generally end up worse for wear, as she said many of the girls can handle themselves pretty damn well and security at the clubs/bars are interested in generating income, therefore their ‘commodities’ are protected. Here I am using but two examples, which on the whole don’t reflect the majority of young women, who work within the ever-growing sex industry. Let’s face it for some women, generally not academics, there are no other job options that can generate such income. Let me say that I would be far more interested to see articles and movements entering into the environments where the girls work to strike up a real relationship, one based on understanding rather than to point fingers, condemn and not even think about solutions.

There is undoubtedly a causal link between pornography and violence in society. The laws surrounding pornography and pornographic materials have historically been more concerned with retailers and consumers than its participants and producers. As a society I believe it is vital to have frank and open discussions around the sex industry and acknowledge that laws need to be changed, but let’s keep it real, and also understand if these venues disappear overnight, women will inevitably be pushed into far more dangerous unregulated environments. Personally I don’t see that as any kinda solution.

In solidarity to all people who have a right to live without fear, and with a certain amount of integrity.
Ruth Dillon

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