Harrogate Feminists

Our chance to object to the renewal of SEV licences for Harrogate’s lap-dancing clubs: reminder!
January 18, 2012, 10:04 pm
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Members of the public have until 26 January to register any objections to the proposed SEV licence renewals (you don’t have to be a local resident to object, there are no restrictions on where you live) – so, if you feel even half as strongly about this as we do, please think about contacting the council to let them know your views!

The link below gives the details:



More on lap-dancing

Some people at the last meeting asked for some more information about lap-dancing, so here’s some facts about it.

And here’s the page for OBJECT’s campaign.

A well-attended meeting!

We had another meeting at Community House tonight. It is such a great venue.

We had loads of great discussion. I can’t remember everything we talked about. But some things that stuck in my mind long enough to dig out the relevant links:

1. An anecdote of a talented teenager who could have what it takes to be a stand-up comedian but wouldn’t on the grounds that “women aren’t funny”. Why is it still acceptable to say “women aren’t funny” / “women aren’t witty” / “women can’t be stand-up comics”? It’s wrong, anyway – we could all think of women comics we like.

But there is something in it, in a way: women laugh more at men’s jokes than vice versa. There is a “laughter reinforcing social hierarchies” theory discussed further in this Google Book.

2. Apparently one in ten men pays for sex. Why? We also talked about Eaves, and coincidentally it turns out Eaves has produced a report on this very question. Happy reading…

And the next meeting: Monday 12th September 7.30pm Community House – is this OK for most people?

Because in August it’s the UK Feminista Summer School: should be lots of fun!

Flyer for the UK Feminista Summer School 2011

The group gets bigger

We met again (with a record number of people in attendance!) to talk about the event A Celebration of Women, and to think about what we want to do next.

Good things about the event were:

  • it had a lovely “buzzy” atmosphere;
  • it was (as far as we know) the only event in Harrogate celebrating International Women’s Day;
  • many of us found it inspirational from a creative point of view;
  • there was lots of networking, with the emphasis being on the people and their skills rather than solely on the products for sale;
  • it was particularly great to have Lesley Dalton and her sugarcraft demo / interactive activity;
  • it was also great to have some relevant charities represented, including Amnesty, the Gambia Schools Trust and Acorn.

Ceramics by Karen Fall

We are keen to run a similar event again next year. Things to think about next time, now that we have more people who can help organise it, include:

  • more extensive publicity in advance, using the networks of people we have built up this time round;
  • more live demonstrations
  • more interactive activities, including those for children (face painting, etc)
  • coffee and cakes if possible

As for what we want to do next – we discussed two complementary types of activity:

  • “activism” (perhaps building on our previous work on licensing of lap-dancing clubs; there were also ideas relating to promoting female role models, especially in traditionally male-dominated activities and occupations) – this would probably be on weeknights, once a month
  • “social” type activities such as book swap, film night, picnic etc. – this would probably be on weekends, again once a month

We also felt that we are starting to outgrow our current meeting venue. So we’re thinking about whether we can find somewhere else to meet that might be more suitable. We’re looking into this one and will post an update as soon as we get it sorted out.

Last meeting

We really liked our new venue! It was quiet enough to talk easily (but not deserted), it had comfy chairs, and best of all they do hot food – very important for those of us coming straight from work!

Mostly we discussed how best to put our views to the council Licensing Committee for their SEV consultation. We carefully reviewed the council’s proposed (draft) SEV licensing policy; while their draft policy would clearly be a vast improvement on the current arrangements, we identified several ways in which it could be improved still further. Ideally, from our point of view, the maximum number of SEVs should be zero. But failing that, the licencing conditions should be much stricter.

Just when we were becoming dispirited about the extent to which the sex industry has pervaded everyday life, and wondering what just a few people could do to change things, Laura reminded us that sometimes, even just asking the right question at the right time might make a real difference. She gave the example of the time when she was talking on the phone to the helpful man from the Licensing Committee. She asked him whether an Equality Impact Assessment had been done as is required by law, and there was a significant pause…

Hopefully they’ve done one now!

Our next meeting will be on a Monday – date tbc.

Should we follow Oxford’s example on licensing of lap-dancing clubs?

As well as deciding whether to adopt the new legislation at all, Harrogate Borough Council is also seeking consultation on its draft licencing policy – this is one of the things we plan to discuss at our meeting next week.

The new SEV legislation has been already adopted by many other councils around the UK and we’ve been looking around for examples of SEV licensing policies they’ve come up with.

We were interested by Oxford City Council’s statement on their website:

Applications made for a Sexual Entertainment Venue Licence will not generally be deemed to be appropriate if the premises is near or in locations or areas containing any of the following:

(i)      Historic buildings or tourist attractions
(ii)     Schools, play areas, nurseries, children’s centres or similar premises
(iii)   Shopping complexes
(iv)   Residential areas
(v)    Places of Worship

You can see the full conditions set by Oxford City Council for their SEV licences here.

What we’re about

We are a local human rights group taking action to promote equality between women and men.

We believe that equality between women and men benefits us all. In an equal society women and men are free to make choices without the pressure of gender stereotypes.

Through lap dancing, pornography and prostitution, women become objects for sale.

We are taking action to reassert the human rights of women.

For our blog: scroll down this page. For more information on how we’re set up, our SEV (sexual entertainments venue) campaign, results of our survey on feeling safe in public places, or on our meetings, click the links on the left-hand side of this page.