Sex and the Spa Town

Shades in Leamington Spa

 In the last three months two nightclubs in my home town of Leamington Spa have applied for ‘sexual entertainment licences’ that allow them to run strip clubs and other ‘adult entertainment’. With the Green Party and others from across the political spectrum I’ve been campaigning to stop the licences being granted. Similar battles are going on up and down the country.

The first period of work for us is now over –  The first club, Shades had their application refused, but Amara have had theirs granted for a 12 month period.

No Sex please…

Visiting shops and residents to talk about what’s going on in their area has been…an interesting experience. Talking about our attitudes and sexual behaviours isn’t something that us Brits do confidently, especially with someone you’ve just met on your doorstep.

Some want to talk round the subject and leave as much as possible unsaid. Others rightly want to articulate a gut instinct that people should be free to do what they want as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else:
“As long as it’s not causing a problem…”
and then rush to clarify their own position
“…not that I’d go there myself you understand…”

These slightly elliptical conversations mean that when trying to stop a strip club you have to fight against coming across as an interfering holier-than-thou-sex-prude trying to ban other people’s fun and freedom of sexual expression. 

No person is an Island

I try to start from the place of recognising that all of us, including me, are a long way from perfect and need the support of everyone around us to become the people we’d like to be.

Sex venues often justify their activity saying that they’re ‘giving people what they want’. This misses the point. We all have conflicting desires within us, some destructive, some positive. Some that feed our selfish parts, others that build up our relationships with each other.

Not only are our choices as rational as we like to think, but our choices are not completely our own. The reality is that we are constantly pulled back and forth by the culture and opportunities around us.

Our lives and decisions are woven into those around us whether we like it or not.

Sex in healthy relationships

I want to live in a town that promotes sex as part of healthy, respectful relationships.

Each day, I want to pass businesses and organisations that send signals that feed my positive, unselfish desires. That support me to see female friends and passers by as people with unique gifts and talents, not as objects there for me to ‘use’ in whatever way pleases me. To point me to new ways to invest and receive deeply in relationships with those closest to me.

Character

The Shades application for a Sexual Entertainment Licence got refused partly because of its impact on the ‘character’ of Leamington.

The style of buildings and the ambience of a place play a part in a town’s character  – Leamington Spa’s character is strongly connected with its Regency architecture.

But there’s something more important for a town’s character – Us. How do we treat each other in the queue at the supermarket or in the pub with our friends? Our lives constantly brush against each other and leave their mark whether we’re strangers or known each other for years. Life’s tough enough. We need a town ‘character’ where we don’t put each other down but rub each other up the right way.

No more sex clubs?

Sex clubs take us away from the best of ourselves. They leave us feeling unsafe, divided and undervalued. The local Council made the right decision with Shades and we’ll continue to fight to keep Sex clubs out of our towns.

About Jonathan Chilvers

Jonathan Chilvers...leads a homeless project in the middle of Leamington and is part of Jubilee Church Leamington. He is a Green Party County Councillor in Warwickshire, but is not writing on behalf of any of the above. Jonathan loves his wife and two beautiful daughters. Follow or contact him via Twitter: @jonchilvers
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3 Responses to Sex and the Spa Town

  1. John Ridgely says:

    You haven’t actually been to one of these venues have you? So what you are basically saying is that because lap dancing clubs don’t comply with your morals be that peronal or religous you want them all shut down and banned? You talk about coming accross as an ‘interfering holier-than-thou-sex-prude’ but that is exactly how you are acting with regards to this issue. I see you have put in link to the Object web site with their nasty little hit list of councils. Do you not realise they are bunch radical feminists (similar level to the BNP) who’s campaigns are based on lies and scaremongering? Have you done any research into their so called studies such as the lilith report which make fake claims about lap dancing clubs increasing the number of sex crimes in the area? I see you have written a good piece on gay marriage on this blog which i agree with and to quote you ‘We have denied, we have judged, we have excluded, we have hurt, we have silenced.’ Can you not see that is exactly what you are doing with this lap dancing club campaign? can you not comprehend that lap dancing clubs, striptease or pornography are part of some peoples sexuality in the same way as being gay is for example. Some people enjoy taking their clothes off for others i.e exhibtionism, others enjoy watching i.e voyeurs. If it is consenting adults and is not on public display then what is your issue? why is this so wrong? I don’t normally get involved in campaigns like this but i was so angered last year when Shades lost it’s licence for no good reason, i thought it was time supporters like me had a say on the matter. Oh and i stumbled across your blog from google and remembered you were they guy who replied to one of my letters in the Observer regarding Shades. I just couldn’t resist leaving a reply!

    • Jon Chilvers says:

      Hi John, Thanks for your comments.

      Lapdancing clubs are part of a wider culture which constantly tell us men that women are there for our gratification. However much we think that this doesn’t affect our relationships with our wives/partners and female friends the drip drip erodes our perception of their identies as people with equal needs. I talk to many men whose attitudes towards women they know is demeaning because they only see one thing when they look at her – an object for them to find enticing etc rather than a person with feelings of her own. Feeling that you have the power to buy sexual pleasure can be a heady feeling of control as well, but people’s sexuality should never be undermined by a financial transaction. This is quite an interesting article that discusses some of this:

      There may be a small number of women who enjoy exhibitionism, but I think this is largely a convenient myth. I wonder how many of the women at Shades or other clubs would do what they do for free because it fulfills their sexual expression? There is a shocking evidence of the way women get pulled into the sex industry for money and find their identity and self esteem devastated (whilst often been v.low in the first place). Virtually all those that I know that have found themselves in the sex industry are there because even when appearing outwardly confident their sense of self worth is so low that they allow others to use them to get a snatch of attention; and/or because they are desperate for cash, which is no choice at all.

      So, as you’ve probably guessed, no, I don’t think that the sex industry can be compared to sex as part of a loving, committed, gay relationship.

      Jonathan

      ps. No, you’re right I haven’t been to a lapdancing club
      pps. Do you want to meet for a cuppa or pint? – would be great to meet up and talk face to face

      • John Ridgely says:

        Hi Jon,
        thanks for your reply, you make some interesting points.
        I think you are trying to go for a one size fits all approach in where sex should only be an act for loving couples in long term relationships which may be an ideal but would never work in reality. Also i am sensing a negative vibe with how you regard men’s perception of women. When you say things like it encourages men to regard women as objects for their own gratification, i don’t believe this to be true. Fancying a woman, being attracted to her, be that with her clothes on or clothes off does not mean she is only seen as an object. Porn is pure fantasy at the end of the day and most adults are able to distinguish between this and reality.
        Lap dancing clubs are more or less a live version of softcore erotica, not really much more explicit than a nude scene from a bbc period drama to be honest! It’s just another form of entertainment where you are paying to watch a live performance. Unlike porn though you are actually interacting with the performer, not physically as such (you sit there with you hands rooted firmly by your sides) but more in a social sense. Believe it or not the girls are pretty normal people from all kinds of different cultures and backgrounds. Some are students, some graduates and most of them have day jobs too. The majority of the time in the clubs is spent chattting to them and I have had all kinds of interesting conversations.

        There are a lot of natural exhibitionists out there, you only have to observe what people wear to go clubbing for evidence of this. There is no way that a lap dancer would not enjoy taking their clothes off, it would be very awkward for everyone involved if they didn’t. It’s something that can’t be faked. It sounds like the kind of thing ‘Object’ would say when you say it’s a convenient myth. That’s what they would like everyone to believe. If you would like to learn the real truth behind some of these radical feminists then i suggest you check out http://strippingtheillusion.blogspot.co.uk/.

        I think it is perfectly healthy in a long term relationship to have your own space to enjoy things like porn/ lap dancing clubs or whatever floats your boat, which i believe are completely seperate things to a persons love life. I think as long as a person is honest with their partner and agree their boundaries then it should never be a problem.

        Finally i would just like to ask you what you think it would achieve if lap dancing clubs were all shut down? Do you not think it would send it underground?, or that persons would have their own private lap dancing parties? Surely having it out in the open and it being well regulated is better for everyone involved?

        ps. yeah i would take you up on your offer of a pint although i am a bit busy at the moment what with family life. Maybe in the future you could join me at a lap dancing club. You could always say it was just for research purposes! lol

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