Lapdancing and strip clubs are legal and licensed in countries the world over. You can find gentlemen’s clubs from Europe to Australasia and everywhere in between. You even find strip clubs in incredibly remote locations such as Guam and New Caledonia. Therefore, it is a very perplexing paradox that the striptease industry is heavily censored. It experiences a huge amount of prejudice that make following laws challenging. Stripper censorship creates a dangerous precedent for the safety of women in the industry.
Stripper prejudice and financial services
Strip clubs and companies related to them, like any business, operate subject to taxation and regulation. Like any other business, banks require proof of identity, proof of address and proof of incorporation. Yet, many businesses in the industry struggle to find financial providers and this applies in many different forms. Clubs in certain areas have to carry out cash transactions. Credit card processing companies won’t provide service and they shut down accounts with little warning. Furthermore, they refuse account services altogether when the prospective client discloses the specific industry involved.
It could be argued, though very tenuously, that there is far too much room for exploitation within the industry and it is safest to be risk adverse. This, however, is a rather illogical thought process. Strip club owners have to go through extensive ID checks like any other business person. In fact, strip club owners are often under more scrutiny in certain countries due to stricter licensing laws for sexual entertainment venues, such as in the UK. This also doesn’t explain why the dancers themselves struggle as soon as they divulge their profession. This can be, most significantly, for a mortgage or rental agreement. Furthermore, it can also affect applying to insurance, credit cards and loans. Even with tax returns.
I know of one dancer anecdote where she was refused a credit card with a well known bank, only for the bank manager to tell her he could probably help her out, for a lapdance. It can’t be argued that this isn’t grossly unprofessional behaviour but it did and does happen.
Tax it but don’t acknowledge it…
The reason for stripper censorship can only be down to stigma. No legitimate and reasonable human being would consciously support trafficking and exploiting. Not all strippers are there against their will. If it is a taxable business then it should be eligible for the financial services afforded to any other legitimate, taxable business. This is of benefit to the government and wider society as it ensures transactions go through the correct channels. Therefore, it is easier to chase outstanding money by officials and harder to siphon money away by club owners.
Strippers or models. Does it make a difference?
The double standards in the treatment of sex industry related businesses stretches far wider than banking. Dancers and performers experience huge prejudice on social media. One of the huge issues on Instagram is the shadowbanning of accounts. This is where accounts can’t be found on the homepage or searches due to the algorithm automatically flagging up certain words, phrases or images. Stripper accounts aren’t alone in this issue. This seems to be the result of an issue with ‘sexualisation’ of women to any degree. Social media deems female nipples in any degree inappropriate, whilst male nipples are not. Pole fitness and fitness influencers also seem to be affected by these problems. It has even gone as far as deeming accounts that are advertising pole dancing shoes as too sexy.
Why is stripper censorship so dangerous?
What prompted this subject matter was the information that a very large dancer group on Facebook has been shut down overnight. It had 3,000+ members and steadily growing. It was a respected resource for dancers to discuss club feedback and a safe zone with the intention of being free from club management, allowing women to be able to communicate their experiences without compromising their jobs and security.
A dancer placed a negative club experience and the post consequently had a mixture of responses. Some said they loved the club and returned year on year. Conversely, some confirmed that, they too, had very negative experiences at the venue. The owner was allegedly intimidating and threatening. Girls mentioned passports being ripped up and physical abuse. An unknown member informed the owner of this thread. His girlfriend was in the group along with other dancers from his club. He found out, contacted admin to remove the information to which they refused as to not silence the multiple women that came forward. Conveniently, Facebook shut the group down the next day.
Of course, all of these club reports are alleged. However, strippers are silenced online regularly and this illustrates that.. This is under the guise of protection. It is ironic that the powers that be quash dancers when they set up avenues to be less vulnerable. It’s sheer hypocrisy. Instagram has no issue with the Kardashians posing nude on their platform but a company selling shoes? It’s a very problematic scenario.
What are the outcomes of stripper censorship?
Dancers have very little aversion to protecting vulnerable women in the industry. However, the way websites block anything even slightly related to striptease is damaging and puts women at risk. The admin set privacy controls of the discussed Facebook group to secret. Nobody could find it in a search and the only way to join was by invitation only. Children and those underage would not find it by accident. Even those outside the industry would not find it or even know of it’s existence. It only served the community that it sought to help.
It’s closure is a real blow and the loss of a valuable safe space, but it is possible to start again and it has set a precedent for what is achievable when dancers band together. This and other groups have also inspired discussion about creating and exploring alternative platforms without the censorship. These groups also provide a space for dancers to share ideas on how to tackle issues such as financial stonewalling and information on stripper friendly accountants, mortgage brokers and insurance companies. They will continue to grow and thrive no matter the obstacles put in the way. Safety and being part of a community is too important to girls in the industry and these groups provide that so will always be protected. Stripper censorship may be an ongoing problem but a loophole will always be found.