In this week’s Uncovered episode we’ve been speaking with women on both sides of the debate around sex work. Strippers across the UK have taken to the streets, joined a new union and formed collectives to fight back against some feminists who are trying to shut their industry down.
The debate has laid bare the fault line in modern feminism and what women can do with their bodies. For the strippers campaigning to keep their clubs open, they say this is a liberating choice for them and they don’t need rescuing: “Put your time and effort into someone that really needs your help.”
But those against strip clubs say the industry’s very existence is a threat to all women, arguing that stripping isn’t a real choice, but exploitation. Charlotte Mead, Sheffield branch leader for the Women’s Equality Party, said: “The route for women out of poverty is not for society to sexualise and objectify them… We need to look at the bigger picture.”
Experts estimate there were around 350 strip clubs in England and Wales a decade ago. Now there’s thought to be around 150. Dancers say the closures have put pressure on their career options and ability to earn a living doing what they want to do – and say they want their working rights protected.
Anja Popp explores the fightback to save what’s left of the industry and meet the women locking horns on the front line.