Last week, the Edinburgh University Feminist Society received the following email from York Feminist Collective:
‘Hello, I hope you don’t mind me sending you this quick message.
I’m a member of the York Feminist Network, and a number of our group are calling on City of York Council to reject the application for renewal of SEV (Sexual Entertainment Venue) licence from lap dancing club ‘Upstairs’ (part of The Mansion), on Micklegate in York. The current licence expires on 30 November 2013.
As Council policy states that we are not able to object on moral grounds, our campaign takes a more community-focused argument, concerned with the impact on local residents, creating ‘no-go’ areas for women and damaging both the character and reputation of York as a welcoming, family-friendly city. This is the link to our petition: [petition redacted]
If you are able and willing to share it amongst your group, that would be much appreciated
Thank you ever so much,
[name redacted] York Feminist Network.’
We would like to say that not only will we refuse to support your campaign- but that we call upon people to actively oppose it.
Sex workers nationwide are facing vicious attacks on their working conditions, and as an intersectional society we must think about the implications of working class women in this assault. This is especially evident in Edinburgh where the merging of Scottish Police forces is leading to a crack down on saunas. Here police asked saunas to ban condoms, and raids are becoming more common. Any safety that saunas offer sex workers is being eroded as police forces exercise their power in violent, dangerous and intrusive ways. Feminists should not encourage or participate in any behaviours that condone or perpetuate this.
We ask you to think about the livelihoods of women whose jobs you will take away. What about the children they have to feed? The roofs they must keep over their heads? The intentional endangering of women is not feminist.
As a feminist society we educate, agitate and organise around the emancipation of women and others directly oppressed by patriarchal standards. We will not have the liberation of women whilst we remain divided; whorephobic standards perpetuate slut-shaming, victim-blaming and rape culture. Sex workers are part of our fight, and we will not turn our backs on them.
We catagorically reject your claim that Adult venues are ‘damaging’ to communities, and in your appeal to families you place sex workers and families in opposition. We do not accept this.We say that sex workers are an integral part of our communities- not something in opposition to them.
We will not participate in your whorephobic, anti-sex work, sex-negative feminism. We hope you will reconsider your campaign and we look forward to future dialogue with you. We suggest that you organise collaboratively with sex workers and take a lead from organisations like Scot Pep and Sex Workers’ Open University.
We offer our solidarity to the dancers of ‘Upstairs’; know that we support your right to bodily autonomy, freedom of association and right to work in safe conditions.
Edinburgh University Feminist Society.
PS: after being asked to clarify, we want to remind people that the York Feminist Network are separate from and not affiliated to the University of York Feminist Society.