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.
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.