The Big ‘O’

This is a brilliant post about OBJECT, and some of the problems with ‘anti-objectification’ feminist campaigns, from Hippie Critical.

I am delighted other feminists have noticed some of the political problems inherent in organisations such as OBJECT, and that they are on the watch as well as me!

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Not In My Back Yard?

My latest post on feminists objecting to the sex industry in cities, at Liberal Conspiracy:

Hope you might join in the debate!

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Sex work and the ‘feminist frenzy’

This is an interesting discussion of the ‘pro-sex industry’ versus ‘anti-sex industry’ positions within contemporary feminism:

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Not Under My Nose

Two English feminist groups (The Fawcett Society and OBJECT) were celebrating this week, when their lobbying against lap-dancing clubs led to new legislation. Lap-dancing clubs in England must now apply to councils for a licence which has to be renewed annually. The venues are now classed as ‘sex establishments’ rather than as pubs or cafes, making it easier for people to say they are ‘inappropriate’. Licenses range in cost from £4,000 to £30,000 depending on the council. Councils will only be able to reject the application for a licence on the grounds of crime, nuisance or public safety – but not for ‘moral’ reasons. The new rules will be applied to Wales and the North of Ireland at a later date.

This ruling may satisfy the feminist groups in question, but I believe it further encourages the ‘not in my back yard’ attitude to the sex industry in general. I am sure it will do nothing for the working conditions and safety of the women who work in lap-dancing clubs.

Richard Kemp, deputy chairman of the Local Government Association, which worked with the Fawcett Society to draw up the regulations said: ‘We’re most concerned about places where they’ve grown up in suburban areas – where kids are going to school…..where they’re near churches and there are quite lurid displays.’ (

The most vocal and politically active local communities tend to be middle class and suburban. If community groups in these areas achieve the removal of the ‘lurid displays’ of lapdancers from near their churches and schools, where will they go? I suspect that clubs that either can’t afford licences or have their license applications refused, will head to inner city areas, including run-down industrial and residential districts. Women who work in the clubs, not just dancers but cleaners, bar staff and receptionists, will be forced to walk home at night through badly lit streets with no ‘community’ centres or ports of call if they need assistance. Rather than pay licence fees and be scrutinised by local authorities, club owners may choose to operate without a license, further denying their workers’ chances of regulated working conditions.

I used to work on the same street as a Spearmint Rhino, ‘gentleman’s club’,  in a busy cultural quarter near a major city centre. I remember being shocked by how young the girls looked, going into the club with their trolley cases ready for work. But I was glad they were visible, on a well-lit street with offices, bars and a cinema. If the people who campaigned against the Spearmint rhino gaining its license then had succeeded, the club would probably have opened in a less ‘desirable’ part of town, putting those young women at further risk from harassment and street crime.

The new ruling states that licenses can’t be opposed on ‘moral’ grounds, but all opposition to sex workers and their workplaces tends to be riddled with moralising and judgement. As a feminist who supports sex workers I oppose this legislation. I wish feminist groups such as The Fawcett Society and OBJECT would come out from behind their suburban curtains and actually find out what sex workers themselves are saying about their working conditions, their needs, and in some cases their version of feminist theory and action. They might learn something.

Originally published in GO Forth magazine, Ireland



The Fawcett Society

Third Wave Foundation

Melissa Gira Grant

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Action For Men

On Thurs June 17th OBJECT organised an ‘Action For Men’ in London. They didn’t advertise it on their own website. The action involved distributing leaflets to men in pub toilets, which were made to look like Court summons, telling them the consequences of paying for sex. I emailed them about this tactic:


My name is Elly.

I saw your ‘action for men’ advertised yesterday. I was very disappointed to see OBJECT taking this action.

I am a committed feminist. I disagree with your action for the following reasons:

1)The leaflets were inaccurate. It is NOT illegal to pay for sex. It is illegal to pay for sex with coerced/trafficked sex workers

2) It  assumed men would be likely to be clients of sex workers (in fact it is only a small minority of the population who are)

3) it assumed that men would always be clients when some men are sex workers themselves

4) It ignored the rights and voices of women sex workers

5) it highlighted the element of shame in paying for sex: e.g. your friends and family could find out

6) It made no reference to information/support/sexual health for people in the industry as clients or workers

7) It was sensationalist and scaremongering

I would be very interested to see a report on how the action went. I know I probably won’t now. But you really should publish details of how actions go, unless you see yourselves as a secret organisation (you arent you receive public funds).

If you would like any information from people supporting sex workers both men and women, and their clients, to give the other side of the story. Please get in touch.

Yours sincerely, etc

I did not receive a reply to my email. But the scanned image of the leaflet got taken down from the UK Feminista website within hours of my email being sent. I have not heard how the action went. If anybody knows, please do get in touch. And if you are a bloke who was going for a piss in the pub that night, did you get accosted by some people with these leaflets? We’d love to  hear from you!

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OBJECT Watch Is Afoot!

Hello and welcome to OBJECT Watch!

This is the blog dedicated to the work of OBJECT:

In their own words:

OBJECT challenges ‘sex object culture’ – the ever increasing sexual objectification of women in the media and popular culture through lads’ mags, advertising or lap dancing clubs.

Sex object culture has been driven by the mainstreaming of the porn and sex industries and is recognised by research, women’s organisations and human rights treaties as promoting the attitudes associated with discrimination and violence against women (1).

We raise awareness of the links between sex object culture and sexism because of the need to tackle the attitudes underpinning inequality and violence against women.

OBJECT Watch is here to hold OBJECT accountable and to try and open a dialogue between OBJECT and other anti-sex industry organisations, and those of us who have differing views.

OBJECT Watch has only come about because OBJECT are very difficult to communicate with. So far they haven’t replied to any emails, or even a lonely tweet!

Please feel free to join the watch, or to tell us we are barking up the wrong tree, or to just come and have a chat about your views experience of feminism, sex industry, porn, objectification.

Thank you.

Object Watch

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