Jess Shepherd, JCR secretary, Keble

‘Oxford clubs should follow Thirst Lodge’s example’

Over the past few weeks, we’ve all been subjected to the pontificating of those who are outraged/mortified/secretly titillated about the recent decision of Thirst Lodge to apply for a license to offer services of the lap-dancing and stripping variety. Ooh-er! Such activities are linked to the rise of crime in the area, to men seeing women as merely sexual objects, and to the seedy underworld of human trafficking and prostitution – this is what we are told, in tones of horror and despair, by those who so vehemently oppose the granting of the license. There are 826 such individuals on Facebook, at the last count.I worry, though, that they are all missing the point completely and failing to see how much of a revolution, nay, blessing, this license could be for the student body of Oxford.

Nudity, stripping and overt sexual displays are a common feature, or bane, depending on your point of view, of life beneath the dreaming spires. How could it fail to be, when we are surrounded by rugby boys playing at being men, and fresher girls who have discovered the dance floor for the first time? When you add the omnipresent double vodka and energy to be found in every hole we kindly refer to as ‘clubs’, you invariably end up with a situation far worse than that of dusky maidens, soft of thigh and moist of lip, twirling and swirling their bottoms in your face. At least they’re sexy, unlike the blank-eyed and slurring specimens you find at Escape, who, after a few too many of the suspicious ‘free’ shots, see a pole and think they’re the Next Big Thing. At least they’re easy on the eye, unlike the rugby squad who can’t help but display their fine muscle-coated-in-chub physiques as they run around the quad after…oh, a few too many of the suspicious ‘free’ shots.

I hope all the ‘clubs’ in Oxford decide to follow Thirst Lodge’s stellar example, since employing women to get their bits out for the punters’ benefit means I won’t have to witness the vile sights of Park End’s finest who currently have no choice but to take it upon themselves to entertain the masses.

There is a world, sadly just beyond our reach at the moment, where the only flesh I have to see is that of only the finest, sparkiest girls, who are toned, voluptuous, and most of all, absolutely well fit – and that is a world I desperately, desperately want to live in. Let’s grab this unique opportunity, please – licenses all round!


Jay Bernard, WomCam Committee, Oriel

‘Thirst Lodge reinforces objectification of women’

The photograph on the facebook page of the campaign against a potential lap-dancing club at Thirst Lodge reads “I can’t believe we still have to protest this crap!” Wry as it is, the point is that despite decades of campaigns, the glaringly obvious is still ignored: granting a license to Thirst Lodge re-enforces the idea that women are sexual objects to be bought and sold by men. So obvious is this argument, that the first response is to highlight how dull, old-fashioned and prudish it is. But what it means is that despite the general understanding that such establishments are predicated upon the subordination of women, people are still willing to let them operate. In fact, until April 6th when the law finally changes, a lap-dancing club is in the same legal category as a café – not a ‘sex-encounter’ establishment – which means the process for selling naked women is the same as the process for selling a hot drink.

In an ideal world, this would be a good thing; buying and selling sexual encounters would be as controversial as having a cup of coffee. In the real world it is fraught with inequalities. Thirst Lodge’s club would cater exclusively to the straight, male libido, and even if they did decide to have the odd night for women, it would still play into the heteronormativity that characterises such establishments. Even if I wanted to spend an evening at the new club, as a queer-identified female, I’d have a hard time doing so. Men are encouraged to gratify their desires publicly and women, apparently, have none. This is not about demonising men – it is about the exploitative sexuality that is promoted to them. Safety is a concern – a report by Transport for London noted that “wherever lap-dance and strip clubs appear, women’s quality of life deteriorates…with increased reports of rape and increased fear of travelling as a result.”

Some argue that women can be empowered by lap-dancing – especially working-class mothers and students – because it pays better than a conventional job. This is true on an individual level but true economic empowerment doesn’t come by playing the part given by society, especially when society conflates freedom for women with the playboy bunny. A far deeper discussion about sex, sexuality and gender roles is required. No-one can overturn the double-standards inherent in Lap-dancing clubs overnight, but we can open our eyes to how places like Thirst Lodge might unthinkingly, perhaps inadvertently, re-enforce the objectification of women.