The right of men to access women’s bodies

Julie Bindel wrote about Sophie Wilson and Spearmint Rhino a week ago, starting from the humiliation of Labour under Corbyn:

Sophie Wilson, a 23-year-old Sheffield councillor who was last week selected as Jeremy Corbyn’s candidate for Rother Valley, has campaigned against feminists trying to close a notorious club, and for the “right” of women to “choose” to work there.

Last year, Wilson was carpeted by Sheffield City Council after a complaint about her online conduct was partially upheld. She had tweeted that the women protesting the existence of lap dancing clubs in the city — many of whom are survivors of sexual exploitation — were “trashy SWERFS”. Another tweet read: “SWERFS and TERFS are usually one in (sic) the same, aren’t they?”

So this is a (very young and thus inexperienced) woman calling feminist women “trashy” because they oppose treating women as receptacles for men, selected as a Labour candidate. They couldn’t find someone who doesn’t call feminist women trashy? Really?

Wilson joined a protest earlier this year to save the Spearmint Rhino club when its licence was under threat. Feminists campaigning for its closure had released film footage, obtained covertly, which allegedly showed dancers “sexually touching customers”. The club, according to the campaigners, breached more than 200 regulations.

I have seen similar things at lap dancing clubs with my own eyes. In 2004 I visited a number of them, posing as the PA of a businessman who was persuaded to join him for a few drinks. I found that many of the clubs were fronts for prostitution, and that the women were routinely sexually harassed.

Being sexually harassed is empowering! If you’re paid for it. I guess.

Unfortunately for Sophie Wilson, she has a formidable opponent in Sammy Woodhouse, who, if Wilson is elected, would be her constituent. Woodhouse has in the past courageously spoken about the abuse she suffered at the hands of grooming gangs in her home town, and has published a book about her experiences, called Just a Child.

Woodhouse was failed by the authorities, but nevertheless put heart and soul into helping police and prosecutors nail the perpetrators of the biggest sex scandal of modern times: the Jay Report uncovered the abuse of 1,400 children in Rotherham.

Woodhouse doesn’t see sexual abuse as empowering.

“Fun feminists” have long supported the pro-prostitution lobby, buying the lies that prostitution can be “sexually liberating” for women, and this group somehow lends its voice to other campaigns against patriarchal control of our bodies. But prostitution, of which stripping is a part, is about the right of men to access women’s bodies, and to view and treat us as commodities.

Sammy Woodhouse in fact worked at Spearmint Rhino after she escaped the grooming gang, and she doesn’t see it the way Sophie Wilson does.

Lap dancing, she says, is anything but feminist: “Rotherham is known all over the world for its exploitation, and we have a woman standing who is in favour of exploitation,” she said. “That lot say it’s empowering. But let me tell you, there is nothing empowering in sitting on some sweaty man’s lap grinding into his dick.”

What Wilson is defending is unconscionable, for as Woodhouse put it: “If you put a bloke on a street corner selling girls, we call him a pimp. Put him in a suit and stick him in a licensed lap dance club and we call him a businessman. He’s just a pimp in a suit.”

I suppose Wilson would say that’s trashy talk.

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