Proposed Strip Club in Toowoomba! Time is Short to Protect Your Families and Community!
We the undersigned object to a strip club in Toowoomba on the grounds that the following will occur with this presence of the strip club in regards to both the annual adult entertainment permit and the liquor license and approved extended trading hours:
-Undue influence, annoyance, disturbance or inconvenience to persons who reside, work or do business in the locality concerned or to persons in or travelling to or from an existing or proposed place of public worship, hospital or school.
-Harm from alcohol abuse and misuse and associated violence.
-The adverse effect on the health and safety of members of the public: and
-An adverse effect on the amenity of the community.
That an adult Entertainment Venue may be permitted without regard for the likely health and social impact that granting the application would have on the population and locality. And the probability of the health and social impacts on our town
That an Adult Entertainment Venue may be permitted in the proximity of a charity organisation that provides counseling, an education facility and a place of worship.
That Alcohol shall be sold and consumed by customers from 10am with this directly impact the surrounding shops, including ‘Lifeline’, Kath Dickson education, a church and all residents who require these places of business during trading hours.
That a Liquor license is being sought for an ‘Adult Entertainment Venue’, where a brothel is prohibited for obvious reasons.
By close of business on Thursday, September 13, the Toowoomba Council will no longer receive objections from the public to the proposed strip club coming. (Did you even know about this yet?) It is very likely that many of you weren’t aware of this as they have very carefully kept this under the radar for a very long time, to keep you from having a chance to determine what you want and don’t want for your community. Recently, word has finally gotten out, and some have begun to bring this into the light. And now this action is addressing the entirety of our city, reaching every area with a call to stand against the club being established on the basis of the detriment each area of our community will suffer, as well as the civic duty each one of us has to the well-being of our women, children, families and own lives.
First of all, it must be understood that strip clubs don’t come without baggage and integration with the rest of the sex industry. The correlation between pornography, prostitution and strip clubs is very clear. Just as pornography is a form of prostitution, where women are paid to have sex every which way and often for hours while being filmed for others to view later, stripping is ‘live pornography’ with forms of physical contact between male ‘buyers’ and naked women there to sexually arouse and satisfy them. Men view, touch and invade their bodies, even paying extra for lap dances with naked women on their aroused laps, and for other sexual acts. The distinction between the regular practices involved in lap dancing, for instance, and other forms of prostitution is hard to make.
In 2009, a study by the Bureau of Business Research and the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at the University of Texas asked the question whether victimisation and perpetration of sexual violence against women is connected with strip clubs and concluded that it is. It determined that stripping is, in fact, “a violent and traumatising line of work that includes sexual, verbal, and physical violence, and exploits female workers.”
These impacts are far reaching to the women and girls in the broader community as well. Prostitution buyers in one London study spoke of how the strip clubs made them frustrated and made the buying of women in prostitution necessary. This leads to the issue of the rise in rape with the prevalence of strip clubs in a town or city.
One Canadian study of teen boys revealed those who regularly accessed porn tended to think it was okay to hold a girl down and force her to have sex. A 2008 White Ribbon Foundation report found 1 in 7 teen boys thought it was okay to force a girl to have sex if she had been ‘flirting’ with him.
‘Object – women not sex objects’ makes it clear that objecting to an industry which normalises sexual violence and discrimination against women is taking a political stand against sexism, as well as revealing the harms in purporting women as sexual objects who are always sexually available in a society in which sexual violence is endemic and inequality between women and men is rife.
(Kerry Shine and other MP’s who support and march to End Violence Towards Women need to recognise that allowing this strip club undermines any and all of their stance to wipe out violence against women.)
Anna van Heeswijk of ‘Object’, asserts, “Treating women like sexual objects dehumanises women. The more acceptable it becomes to view women as a sum of body parts, the easier it becomes to disrespect, mistreat and act out violence towards women as a group. It is therefore crucial to challenge the industries that promote the attitudes and beliefs which underpin sex discrimination and male violence.
“Strip clubs promote the idea of women as sexual objects who are always sexually available and who exist to fulfil the sexual fantasies of men. They represent sites of commercial sexual exploitation, with performers paying to work and structural conditions for competition leading to women often ending shifts in debt to the club. They make sexual harassment seem normal, and they create no-go zones for women who feel unsafe walking past them at night.”
Former stripper ‘Stella’ reiterates this. “I started using heroin to soothe the pain, all of the pain: the physical pain of my deteriorating knees and back; the emotional pain of being nothing, negative space, dirt, slut, whore, stripper, junkie. The fear and desperation rose. I just couldn’t afford to lose my job. I couldn’t afford my heroin habit without it, and I couldn’t face dancing without the heroin to buffer the ugliness and the pain. My life became one tiny circle that revolved around dancing and scoring. But I never caught up with those debts. In fact, they grew as my life shrank. I was depressed, and desperately miserable.”
This proposed strip club in Toowoomba should be held under local council as a ‘Sexual Entertainment Venue’, not as an ordinary leisure or entertainment venue. This allows councils to consider the gender impact of strip clubs and set a limit to the number of licences they grant, which can be set at zero. In this regard, Toowoomba council can refuse the licensing of a strip club in our town. So why aren’t they?
Because governments derive taxes from this industry, as do local councils. Tourism, entertainment and fashion industries cross-promote their products and make profits, all while the industry creates harms not just for the women in the strip clubs, but for the status and safety of all women.
Some have argued that a strip club in Toowoomba will create more jobs. It will create a few jobs, but the cost of these few jobs will be far higher on our region with large amounts of pressure placed on our mental health system, domestic violence centres, court systems, police force of those directly involved, those in relationships with the strip club users, and the innocent victims of rape.
If you are a business owner, an organisation or festival promoter who is established or operates in the Toowoomba area, you should earnestly consider that the businesses in our town reflect who we are as a town. They reflect you. And the educators and parents of our town should consider the message our children will receive when they regularly pass this proposed strip club in the heart of town. We should surely want our boys to grow up to respect women and have equal, healthy relationships with them, as an fundamental part of their education and upbringing, and certainly not to witness this acceptance of the use and abuse of women as mere sexual objects.
For those of you in real estate or who own property in Toowoomba, statistics prove that crime and property depreciation are the inevitable consequences of the presence in a community of exotic dance adult entertainment. Does it concern you that the value of your property or the percentage you might make from sales and rentals with be negatively affected by this strip club if it goes forward? Or that crime will rise in Toowoomba as a direct result?
Academic and activist Gail Dines states, “Porn culture doesn’t only affect men. It also changes the way women and girls think about their bodies, their sexuality and their relationships.” In her research for What’s Happening to Our Girls?, she found many professionals expressed their concerns at the level at which girls are now objectifying themselves.
Some young women will take part in stripping for this reason. Yet, as Former stripper Jennifer Dann says in her book ‘Stripped: The Bare Reality of Lap Dancing’, “The often-rehearsed idea that lap-dancing can be empowering, or make women feel beautiful is nonsense when explicit insults are common. Nearly half of lap-dancers in a Leeds study reported frequent verbal harassment and unwanted touching.” Danns hopes her book will persuade others that this industry harms men and women alike. "There's something uncomfortable and unbalanced in a fully clothed man paying a woman to strip naked."
Most women enter the industry as a direct result of dire hardship, as former stripper ‘Stella’ writes. “I often wonder where life would have taken me if I hadn’t been pressed by circumstance to become a stripper, if I had lived in a world without strip clubs, brothels and other institutions built on the trade of flesh and so heavily reliant on people in compromised positions to feed them. I passionately hope that my daughters might inhabit such a world.”
The argument of male dance groups like ‘Manpower’ who have occasioned our clubs being on par to a permanent strip club is mute, and is in fact more comparable to the regular V8 super girl contents currently at the Cube Hotel, where both these men and women parade around in underwear and or swimwear in a sexual soft porn nature. Strip clubs and lap dancing is live fully nude pornography of a degrading nature where breasts and genitals are not just exposed but comparable to a gynaecological examination of sorts revolving around gyrating and rubbing against men’s genitalia for sexual gratification and release. There is no male equivalent of this and nor would the majority of society want there to be.
In response to the argument of stripping being a form of free speech, Melinda Tankard Reist states, “It must be asked: Will this particular speech, this particular activity, cause harm or offence to anyone else?” In absorbing all the academic research, medical and crime statistics, the answer to this a strip club in Toowoomba is a resounding Yes!
Melinda continues, “Any activity which subordinates women to men is such an obvious way will never result in equality and fairness. In free speech terms, pornography robs all women of their free speech rights. It is not simply a matter of personal choice; it is a highly political activity. The power dynamics involved and the harms done to women show pornography to be an activity privileging men’s desires over women’s rights. Pornography, including strip clubs, does harm to half the world’s population in the name of free speech. The question must be asked: Is free speech really free if it is not free and fair for all?”
A father of a daughter in the midst of puberty stated he had no objection to the strip club in town. Yet when he was asked, “What if your daughter chooses to or is coerced into stripping at the club?”, he passionately objected saying “no way, there must be a minimum age limit, so all the strippers are over 21.” Then when asked, “What if your daughter chooses to or is coerced into stripping at the club when she is 21?”, he passionately objected saying, “No way, not my daughter!”
Perhaps we should all feel that no one should be for sale. Not my daughter. Not your daughter. And all these women are somebody’s daughter. “Women need to be recognised as equal citizens rather than commodities for sale.” (Iceland’s female Prime Minister) "It is not acceptable that women or people in general are a product to be sold." (Iceland Politician, Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir, who passed bill to outlaw striptease)
Former stripper ‘Stella’ continues, “I didn’t realise that stripping would have the profound and long reaching effect on my life that is did. I didn’t realise that when I left it, it might not leave me, that each time I sold myself, each time I danced pornography, I altered myself, redefined myself, demeaned myself, erased myself on a fundamental level. The trauma from dancing pornography came in many guises and has taken a long time to recover from. I left with my self-esteem in shreds, my pockets empty, my body damaged and my heart filled with shame, both self-imposed and compounded by the social stigma of being a junkie stripper.
“I relapsed many times with heroin (after leaving), and it took more than half a decade to overcome the burning need for some chemical amnesia. My personal grief was immense and I struggled to heal. Writing this today, 12 years later, my eyes still prick with tears, and the fear that my own 3 daughters might suffer the same experiences and the fact that I may be incapable of stopping them, truly stills my heart.”
Resource ‘Big Porn Inc’ 2011, unless otherwise stated