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Fight the Objectification of Women with a Protest Thursday Evening

By Georgie

This Thursday April 14th, following on from the third National Day of Protest against Benefit Cuts, please join us for an evening of protest against gender inequalities which keep women out of positions of power, allow employers to pay them far less than men, and treat them like sexual objects rather than full human beings.

What’s the problem?

Only 12 of the 500 largest companies in the world are run by women. There is a 55% pay gap between men and women in the finance industry. Women will be disproportionately effected by the spending cuts here and in other countries.

And yet in the City of London, where many of the richest and most powerful people in the country do business, sexism remains rife. A macho-bullshit culture has emerged where women are often side-lined in the office and passed over for promotion. And for entertainment, scores of city workers head to strip clubs which degrade and objectify women. This practice is part of a structure of oppression that glamorises exploitation and hinders progress towards gender equality.

Why protest now?

A wave of public protest has arisen recently, here in the UK and around the world. The student protests, the TUC march, individual actions by groups such as UK Uncut and the Armchair Army have shown that people are engaged and passionate about bettering the society that they live in.

Notably, women have been prominent in many recent protest actions. The strength and determination of women around the world inspires us and strengths our convictions. We want to continue the fight against misogyny and oppression by raising awareness of the inequalities which still exist within our society.

What can we do?

This Thursday evening, we can band together to protest against this symbol of the blatant sexism of city-boy culture. We can bring enthusiastic dissenting voices to people who think that women exist only for their sexual pleasure.

In London, we are planning a peaceful, thought-provoking protest at a series of strip clubs with banners, singing and a clear message: women are people too, and should be treated with respect.

We’ll be meeting at 7pm on April 14th outside Holborn tube to stage a mobile protest around Soho’s strip clubs. We’d like to keep this as a female-lead action, but men are of course welcome too.

We hope to see you there. Solidarity forever!

Edit:
Concerns have been raised that this will negatively impact on the women who work in the clubs, and be seen as anti-sex worker. This is not our intention at all, and we will be changing the focus of our protest accordingly.

We will be meeting at the same time and place, but we will be marching down to the City to confront those who perpetuate unequal pay directly. Let’s tell the companies what we think of their sexism!

Apologies for any offence caused to our sisters. We should have been more considerate, and we’ll remember that in the future.

(Guest post by Georgie: activist, feminist, academic and geek.)

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11 thoughts on “Fight the Objectification of Women with a Protest Thursday Evening

  1. Ian plested says:

    I find it quite shocking thats this issue is completely ignored by the media. This to me is a way more pressing issue than say burkhas etc. Say what you like aboit the burkha but EVERY woman ive ever asked has said she finds the burkha/headscarf de-objectifying.

    This is a far more pressing issue. Many studies show the drug-led exploitation in pornography of women from broken homes and its high time this issue is raised.

  2. Hi Georgie (& Tim) –

    Wondering if I could cross-post this to The Topsoil? Very much something we’re interested in.

    Cheers,
    Nishma

  3. that s a brilliant idea! In order to rectify the difference of wages between men and women, you are going to protest in front of strip clubs employing working class women 🙂 Awesome! Hopefully that will scare some of the clients away, and those women will make less money they usually do! You go! Solidarity forever!

    • Georgie says:

      Lucia, I hear you. In order to address concerns like yours we’re going to be marching through the city to the offices of corporations who perpetuate unequal pay, instead of going to strip clubs. We have no desire to marginalised women who work in these clubs and I should have been more considerate of that.

  4. Thank you very much for changing your mind and not protesting in front of strip clubs! i m a sex worker and also involved in anti-cuts and other social activism. Feminists need sex workers, and sex workers need feminists! Let s fight together . not against each other !

    • Absolutely, injury to one is injury to all. I see now that going to a club would have harmed the workers there far more than anyone else!
      We took our protest to the City men who we were objecting too. They are the problem here, they are the people doing the damage to society. Our beef is with them, not with sex workers.

      I’m glad that I had people to make me think through these issues. Thankyou for that!

  5. victohenry says:

    Glad to hear the protest went well, and happy to see the differentiation was made between the two issues. Controversially perhaps, I’d still be interested in attending/organising some protests outside strip clubs. Hear me out here?

    Whenever the idea of protesting outside clubs is floated, the same objection is raised: that by doing so, activists are potentially harming the women working inside by reducing their incomes, as these women are poorly paid/working on essentially commission. Incidentally, this argument presents a bit of a catch-22: that the industry treats the women so badly that we can’t do anything to protest in fear of the women being harmed even more.

    Yet ordinary working people are employed at all sorts of companies that are regularly targeted by activists. High street banks, tax-dodging clothing shops, etc. The pickets/sit-in-protests/boycotts that target these companies seem to be understood to not be targeting the employees. Is it different in this case because the woman herself is the product? And if so, how can we respect this and yet still make our voices heard? Sex work affects more than the women who work in it – it affects all of us who live in a culture where women are objectified. And certainly we have a right to our opinions, and the right to peaceful protest. I personally think there is great value in questioning mainstream commercial sex industries. I wonder if, despite not always seeing eye to eye, each side can find a way to give space to the others’ arguments.

    • I think the issue is then need to consult with sex workers themselves when planning any action which may effect them. I know there are workers doing excellent work themselves about pay, conditions, workplace safety etc, which feminist groups may be able to support.

      But talking about protesting people’s participation in or consumption of sex work is difficult. For me, the difference between sex workers and, say, a shop worker, is the degree of marginalisation that they experience because of their work. I would like to find a way to raise my concerns about a culture of objectification, but I think that any protest which references sex work will be automatically perceived as anti-sex worker.

      I would like to learn more about sex work activism before making a call I think. I’m still very conflicted on this!

  6. Emma says:

    I’d like to congratulate you on your decision to not protest outside strip clubs, and offer a rebuttal to the comment left by victohenry above. After working in minimum wage jobs for a long time, I worked as a stripper for three years. I worked in a variety of different clubs, and found, on the whole, the job an extremely positive experience. Like anything, some clubs were better than others. If I did not like a club, I would leave and move to one that I did like. The pay was good and I had a lot of freedom and mobility. It is erroneous to assume strippers are “exploited” by club owners or customers.

    Stripping offers excellent chances to young women: for single mothers, it means you can make a living wage whilst leaving your child with a babysitter only two nights a week, rather than the majority of the day every day. For recent immigrants, the language skills you need to enter are low, giving you a chance to settle in the UK. For myself – and many others – stripping offered a chance to return to education that would not have been there otherwise.

    I know many, many girls who have been given greatly improved chances in life because of the sex industry. I have been treated well by strip club owners, and by their customers. There is a good sense of social support and camaraderie among strippers. I remember the Hackney “strip pub” circuit with particular fondness. Indeed, MY OWN MOTHER still upholds that starting stripping is the best decision I ever made, and I now have a good degree and excellent job – as many of my former coworkers do.

    In fact, the biggest issue with stripping is the social stigma attached to it, and the fact that this makes it difficult to leave when you are ready, trapping you in the sex industry beyond the point you feel it is of benefit to you. Actions like the one originally proposed, and attitudes like that presented by victohenry, only perpetuate what is the biggest problem with the sex industry – societal disapproval of “sex workers” making getting another job difficult. I agree 100% with Georgie’s comment about the biggest problem being the marginalisation of sex workers. Please do not increase that. You think you are helping – you are not.

    The working conditions I met as a stripper were without doubt superior to those I had previously experienced in low status, underpaid jobs. Please do not criticise what you do not understand. It seems to me that the real problem victohenry has is with the commodification of the human in general – with sexuality seen as being a significant and sacred aspect of this which should not be breached by a paying relationship.

    However, the vast majority of us sell our time and ourselves, and are paid to fulfill a given role for a certain number of hours a day. For as long as anyone can compel anyone else to do something with money – be that act as a human part in a factory machine, or present a human image of a product to seduce someone into buying it – there will be sex work. People have a massive desire to feel attractive, wanted, sexual and – yes – sometimes powerful. As such, sex will always play a major part in any economy, however that may be. If you have problems with human commodification, inequality and capitalism, you should attack that directly, rather than going at one aspect of it that you are unfamiliar with and thus scares you. Do not seek to remove a job that is a life-line for many women. Remember, we CHOSE to enter the sex industry. Do not talk about us as if we are passive, broken victims. Stripping was one of the best jobs I’ve ever done, and, should I need to, I’d return to it in a heartbeat.

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