Monday, July 16, 2007

Caged Asylum

I'm going to be keeping an eye on UK activism, legislation and media coverage against pornography, porn workers, raunch culture, etc.

On that note, if you can cast your minds back to this revolutionary move by Charliegrrl, I did a bit of an investigation. I was appalled that the leafleter apparently punched, kicked and threatened her when I read her post, but given her little twisting of truths (my truths, on one occasion) in the past, I wondered if there was more to this than her account gave out. I know a little bit about the club, as plenty of my friends attend on a regular basis. I'm pretty sure, by their accounts, that the women who cage dance and lapdance are there by their own volition. They are not forced, they are not coerced.

So I wrote to the club owner, intending to blog:

Hi info,

I've never attended your club, but am intending to next time I'm up
north! I'm a feminist with an interest in strip clubs, pornography,
SM, etc (in that I'm pro-all these things).

However, there are a lot of anti-porn, anti-sex types out there,
and I couldn't help but notice that one of them blogged in celebration
about attacking someone who works for you, and your property:

I am intending to blog about this incident myself, and was wondering whether her little write up about the worker attacking her physically was, well, a little exaggerated. Is there any chance you can tell me the other side of the story?

They responded with the following:

Sorry, I have not responded to this earlier, I have been away. Thankyou for contacting us.The otherside of the story is : Basically we had a worker who stands in Manchester Centre promoting our Rock club, and at this point the promotion that was displayed had No Reference what so ever to lap dancing, as we didnt want to upset anybody and obviously are mature enough not to be putting this infront of minors. On the day in question, it was the worker who was approached with some force. However he was not physically attacked himself, but the girl in question made a lurch for the advertising board he was holding, and they began to wrestle over it(tug of war). In his disbelief he let the board go out of his hands, and the girl ran into H&M and hid the board. She then came out of H&M and ran off down Market st. She was no way attacked or even pushed. Our worker infact was slightly shocked but more embarrassed about the situation that he'd been setupon, infront of the busy shopping area.He is a very peaceful young lad who was merely stood there minding is own business with his Ipod on. All our promotion that is conducted in public refers to our club as a Rock venue which it is primarily. The Lap dancing is available and it is really important to point out here that we have an even split of Males and females who attend. Within the Rock community 30% of the females who attend have lap dances from the girls, some of the customers attend are Bi sexual, some lesbians, how does this fit with our said friends views. Surely it is up to the girls who decide to work and also the girls who choose to have dances from the girls. Nobody is forced. I am all for a well reasoned lively debate and think peoples opinions are extremely important and should be respected, whether they be feminist activists, the lap dancers or female or male club owners. What I cant understand is the way she conducts herself, as I am a pacifist and would rather use my brain. I am fully aware that all feminists do not conduct themselves in this manner and understand she muddies the water somewhat. I could go on a real rant about her, but honestly dont feel she is worth the time as I wouldn't expect to get a well reasoned response for her behaviour. What I will say is, I feel she is slightly displaced within herself and is obviously craving some attention to be seen as some kind of martyr.

I am always available for a converstaion and to answer any questions or concerns you may have, I would also like to extend an invitation to come and visit our establishment and would welcome you to speak to the girls who work with us and see how they feel about the job they do.

I hope this answers your question and as I said please feel free to contact me anytime. We honestly have no ill feeling towards your friend and if she wanted to come and check out the club and see how many women attend to put her mind at rest, there would be no problem.

So, we have two very different accounts here. I don't want to disbelieve Charliegrrl. I don't want to think she's lying in order to make her story there seem more dramatic, more palatable. But alas, I don't believe her. I suspect what actually happened was probably somewhere in between their stories, but it is, frankly, embarrassing, that a 'high profile' UK feminist blogger is happy to bend the truth in order to get her point across.

I'm all the way with Ren on this issue. Sure, go out there, educate people about the sex industry, post your views on a blog, set up events, argue, debate. It's all good.

But I just don't see how this kind of action, attacking publicity for clubs you don't really know anything about, and then lying about the actions of people involved in that club, is ever going to wash as exciting, revolutionary action in the name of feminism. It's destructive. It's derogatory and threatening to the women who work at or attend the club, and bewildering to most everybody else.


  1. she's responded there.

    28. charliegrrl Says:
    July 16th, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    Verte, the author of an S&M blog…for some reason…wrote to Caged Asylum, and received the below response, with the Club owner denying that the lad punched me and pushed me around. But then again…the lad did tell me at the time he wasn’t being physically violent with me…just holding me until the police come…

    --letter text repeated--

    I received a response from the council stating that Ruby Lounge, the actual name of the club, do in fact have permission to leaflet. So bascially Manchester City Council aren’t bothered. I still argue that a lapdancing event should not have permission to advertise. The club states that there is no reference to lapdancing- which is rubbish because the leaflet clearly states lapdances are on offer as can be seen in this copy.

    hokay. He says he didn't get physical, she says he did. Not a surprise either way. There's that part of it. Not gonna touch it.

    But as for the rest...

    okay, so: the city has spoken, the club was within its rights; but -you- think they shouldn't be able to hand out flyers because...because they just shouldn't. Rrright. Well--um, keep on keeping on, I guess?...

    and as for the commenter who said something about how, what with all the crime in Manchester, why does anyone want to go after CG?...

    well, yes, how -about- that, then.

    All the crime in Manchester; and you're getting into pissing matches with boys who hand out leaflets for lapdancing clubs.

    And this helps who, how?

    Whatever else, you know, what the guy said, that at least as many attendees are female, many lesbian or bi--that really pisses me off, that this woman (who's supposed to be a lesbian?) is attempting to shut down one of I would imagine one of the few places in town where queer women can congregate comfortably and express some sexuality. No, it's not the flowers n bunnies separatist shit we're "supposed" to want; nonetheless, from where i sit it beats the hell out of nothing at all.

    and yeah: -most- of the bars and clubs that are -primarily- for dykes do employ go-go dancers, burlesque, advertise for the local women-run porn and toy shop, sex clubs, BDSM, all that jazz. Now those are too patriarchal, too?

    I mean, hey, some women don't like the bar scene at all, which is totally understandable--I've gotten pretty underwhelmed as I've aged myself--but you know: IS there and LGBT center in Manchester? Organized events for lesbians? If not--maybe y'know -that- might be a more productive use of the budding young lesbian's time than fretting about all the nasssty straight boys and the fact that they, too, like dancing girls?

    or, any one of 1001 other things?

    oh well, whatever. so glad I live in NYC. I mean, -after- Stonewall.

  2. Wow.

    I feel similarly to you, verte. I don't want to disbelieve someone who claims she was attacked, but I've also seen quite a bit of activism from CG that I think oversteps the line. I can't go in for "porn is so bad that cutesy vandalism is necessary" or even, really, acceptable. And grabbing the guy's sign out of his hands and running into a store isn't acceptable.

    Tht doesn't mean it is acceptable for him to get physically violent, no... but why is that supposed to be acceptable in the first place? Reading CG, it's almost like "see what these brutes DO when I interfere? Their threatening reaction proves I've the right to interfere!"

    and, well, NO. Their threatening behavior proves they're gits, and violent ones if you've reported correctly. It doesn't prove you've a right to seize their signs.

  3. right.

    it does sound like he at least chased her down and put his hands on her; the story doesn't make any sense at all if that's not so. which, yeah, probably would've been better to go in and report it.

    but god, just--i can't get over how really -dumb- that behavior is. you know, i feel that way when i pass the Scientology table in the subway or suchlike; it would still accomplish -nothing- good if I, you know, knocked over their display table or ran off with their thingummie or whatever it is. do I think they "should" be handing out their crap? Can't say as I do; I do think they're a cult, actually. Does that make it okay, never mind -smart-, for me to just go trying to tackle one of their outposts physically? Um, no?

  4. i meant to say: would've been better if he'd just let the strange woman run off and told his boss. maybe he gets docked for it or something though, i don't know.

  5. Yeah. I know someone who liked to shout at Zendiks, but she never tried to steal their shit. That would just be dumb.

  6. I guess my threshold for sympathy toward someone being on the receiving end of violence is a great deal higher when its somebody who makes it their business to go out and physically confront people.

  7. They're a group of weird-ass hippie types in a commune who like to stand on streetcorners handing out bumperstickers reading "STOP BITCHING START A REVOLUTION" and try to recruit people to join their commune.

    They seem to hero-worship their leader/founder in a creepy sort of way, but they're pretty harmless all told.

    I tried to listen to one of their webcasts -- indecipherable ranting for the most part.

    Anyway, my point was I've seen them get screamed at and called cultists. Never seen anyone try to run off with their stuff, tho'.

  8. o right.

    yeah, best of all is when TWO such groups start attacking each other. good times, not.

    (FREAKS! the world is full of FREAKS! the world is full of...)

  9. Why, again, has she brought up the SM? What has that got to do with this? Honestly, she writes like someone from the Daily Mail. Any 'outrageous' extra titbit she can find.

  10. see what these brutes DO when I interfere? Their threatening reaction proves I've the right to interfere!

    And yeah, that's what completely bewilders me. I wondered if she's thinking of targeting SM events, too.

  11. wouldn't surprise me. o delicious irony! ATTACK the ev0l violent BDSMers! o right, it's not attack, it's -defense-, always.

    and she brought it up as further proof that you are an Enemy Person and thus Fair Game, I expect.

  12. "Why, again, has she brought up the SM? What has that got to do with this?"

    Only SMers would be ca-raaaaaaaazy enough to think she shouldn't commit vandalism, I suppose.

  13. "And yeah, that's what completely bewilders me. I wondered if she's thinking of targeting SM events, too."

    Wouldn't surprise me.

  14. "charliegrrl Says:
    July 17th, 2007 at 6:09 pm
    When is feminism not feminism…?
    When a so called feminist refuses to believe that a woman was punched and sides with the man who punched her."

    So now it all makes sense... Their feminism is better than your feminism... And men are always, intrinsically wrong... They should have said...

  15. Yep – charliegrrl simply represents feminism reduced to its most childish – a man assaulting a woman is abuse – a woman assaulting a man is striking a blow against the Patriarchy. (Apparently, she also thinks that's "anarchist".)

    She'll go far with that mentality.

  16. This whole debacle really irritates me, I've tried to leave a couple of, what I consider to be, very mild posts up on her blog, both of which have been denied through moderation. Evidently she doesn't just assume men are automatically evil and wrong, but she discourages any kind of debate that might just question why she commits illegal activities in the name of femenism.

    I'm completely for femenism and women's rights, indeed my partner considers herself to be a femenist. I just think that in the form that 'CharlieGrrl' presents it, it is sickening.

  17. Great! So, if you know - I am addressing Verte - what Charliegrrl wrote was a lie that means you must have evidence that she was not assaulted. In other words, you were there.

  18. And if she was assaulted, Anonymous, what then? She stole the guy's sign! His means of making money! Why exactly should he NOT try to wrestle it back from her? And if she WAS assaulted, with all those witnesses there, why did she not press charges? It would be great PR for Charlie and chums to get a lap-dancing club employee arrested for assault! A great victory! Why would she wait before pursuing the path of all that is right, if an assault had taken place?

    I'm sure we all know the answer.

  19. Who are these anonymous commenters and can we delete their shit?

  20. God yes, they're a right pain in the arse.