SNP MSP: 'Lap dancing clubs should be banned'
Sandra White says the women are being objectified and sexually exploited
Glasgow City Council have launched a consultation to gather views on whether Sexual Entertainment Venues should be licensed.
Speaking to Scotland Tonight, SNP MSP Sandra White said, "it's high time the objectification of women [at these venues] was stopped and people must be made aware of what goes on in some of these lap dancing clubs."
She added, "The fact of the matter is women are objectified here. It's sexual exploitation."
Mandy Rose Jones, founder of The Empowered Women Project and former lap dancer, argued, "A women should have autonomy over her own body, agency over her own body."
Under the consultation, the council are seeking views on what the appropriate number of lap-dancing clubs could be.
If the venues are licensed, they also want to know what should be included in their policy statement.
The statement must consider objectives like crime and disorder, public safety and violence against women.
Here is an edited transcript of their interview.
Rona Dougall: What do you make of Glasgow council's consultation on lap dancing cuts?
Sandra White: On a personal level I'm delighted that this legislation is being looked at and I really hope that it will come back as a zero. Basically, to ban these lap-dancing clubs. It's high time that the objectification of women was stopped. People should be made aware of what happens in these clubs.
Rona: Mandy, do you think licensing might be a good idea in some cases?
Mandy Rose Jones: I think extra licensing is never a bad thing, depending on what it is. But I don't think a ban is the right way forward at all. But Sandra, what do you think goes on in these clubs? And how many clubs have you been into in Scotland?
Sandra: Thank you for asking that, I think I have been in every one in Glasgow. I was quite shocked by what I saw. When you talk about empowering women, I saw young girls being leered at by groups of young men. They were putting money down their pants, they were saying various things. They certainly wouldn't like to see their mothers and girlfriends to see them doing that. You can imagine the language they're using towards them. I was quite horrified by it. It's sexual expectation.
Rona: Were the girls upset at this?
Sandra: I don't think they had much choice. They didn't seem to be. Let's put to rest this myth that they make lots of money. The girls need to pay money before they can actually earn anything. What other jobs do you have to pay £80 to stand in front of a table half naked, in front of a group of men who are leering at you? If they decide they don't want to give you any money, you come away empty handed.
Rona: Mandy, you have worked in these clubs, what you think of what Sandra has just said that?
Mandy: That is not my experience at all. I know Sandra, you have been trying to get the clubs closed for a good 15 or so years. The dancers told me that you had a petition years ago, and none of the dancers felt they were able to engage with you. I would prefer that the people working in these environments were able to speak themselves. And that's why I'm pleased to be able to speak on behalf of dancers, the large majority of dancer now in Glasgow are unionised under GMB. I've not experienced men leering at me. I would go as far to say that I have felt safer in adult entertainment venues in Scotland, than I do in your average nightclub.
Sandra: I have to disagree with you on that one. When you talk about the petition, I was giving evidence in regards to that, the only people that turned up to hand their positions to me, were two men who ran the lap dancing club. I offered to meet with the girls, and never got anywhere at all. But you've got to look at the point, and I would like to have your answer to this one, where else in the world, in any other job, do you pay to actually get in? It is a win-win situation for the club owners, but not the girls.
Rona: Are these girls being exploited?
Mandy: Absolutely not. There's good money to be made, there's no pressure to pay the money if you don't make it...
Sandra: You pay the money, you buy a table. So there is a pressure.
Mandy: You don't buy a table that is not how it works. There is a group of dancers in Glasgow who would be more than happy to speak you on these issues. When you take these clubs away, where do these women end up? You don't want women in abject poverty, but that is the alternative.
Rona: How does it work then Mandy?
Mandy: You pay a fee to work in the club, you only take money for a private dance, which is entertainment away from the main club and there are bounces and cameras everywhere.
Rona: So is it not their choice? Are you not attacking a woman's right to make their own choices?
Sandra: I don't think I am attacking women's rights. I think women are being objectified here. I'm not saying it create violence against women but there are men leering, and they assume... I've seen it with my own eyes, they assume that these women are fair game. And that is wrong in that respect. I don't think the women would like to think that they are fair game, but they are working in that line of business. And I've heard the words that these young men are saying, and I found it quite appalling.
Rona: But Sandra, what would happen to these women if the clubs close?
Sandra: I'm sure there are the places where they can work.
Mandy: Some dancers have worked in Scotland for seventeen years; where else do you recommend these dancers apply for jobs?
Sandra: I'm sure there are jobs they could do equally well. I don't want women living on the poverty line. The fact of the matter is women are objectified here. It's sexual exploitation.
Rona: Mandy, have you never seen any of this behaviour?
Mandy: Absolutely not and if a man was saying the words you were mentioning, they would be immediately taken out of the club. This feels oppressive. For me, a women should have autonomy over her own body, agency over her own body. If that's the line of work she chooses to do, then she's not harming anybody.