BWV on Prevention of Male Violence Against Women and Girls and Sexual Entertainment Venues

Bristol Women’s Voice on the Prevention of male Violence Against Women and Girls 

Like all our members, Bristol Women’s Voice believes in a future where there is equality; a world in which all women and girls (men and boys) can access their rights to safety, health and well-being, decision-making power, choice and representation.

We know that structural gender inequality is a key cause of male violence against women and girls; and that male violence against women and girls is a key cause and exacerbator of structural gender inequality.

In order to end this cycle, we need to change cultural norms as well as change policies and legislation.

Ending male violence against women and girls is a key priority for Bristol Women’s Voice, and for our members.

As part of our work in this, we firmly believe Bristol needs to commit to a city-wide preventative strategy to tackle harmful attitudes, behaviours and gender stereotypes so that women and girls can feel safe – and be safe – in all public and private spaces.

We feel key aspects of a holistic prevention strategy, include:

  • Schools and early years: A consistent strategy across all schools to tackle sexism and racism from an early age that goes beyond just PSHE classes to take a whole-school approach
  • Higher education: A consistent approach to stamp our sexual harassment on university and college campuses that includes, for example, bystander training to support young people to intervene and challenge when they see/hear harmful behaviours or language; cross-campus sexual harassment policies and procedures; somewhere for students to report and get support with incidents; taking action against offenders
  • Work: Work with employers to understand and address sexual harassment in the workplace; and to write work-place domestic violence policies to ensure survivors can access safety and support in employment;
  • Transport: A consistent approach across Bristol’s transport companies to ensure public transport and taxis are safe for women, particularly young women, Black and minoritised women, lesbian and bisexual women, and disabled women through, for example, training transport leaders/drivers, having visibly-published zero tolerance policies, encouraging reporting and evicting and prosecuting offenders;
  • Campaigns: a city-wide commitment to focussing on men’s behaviour, holding them to account for it through campaigns that focus and use images of men, (not women)
  • Public space: taking action to prevent the promotion of harmful attitudes, which includes implementing a nil cap on sexual entertainment venues.

At Bristol Women’s Voice we believe all these actions will help reduce men and boy’s harmful attitudes towards women and girls, from a young age and into adulthood.

In our fight for gender equality, we will support and campaign for the things we see as part of the solution to greater equality, and we will continue to oppose the things we see as part of the problem.

This is as important now as it ever has been: 97% of young women have experienced sexual harassment, one in three women experience male violence at some point in their lives and a woman is killed every three days.

We know that tackling cultural and attitudinal norms is vital if we are to end male violence against women and girls because the link between men’s objectification and men’s violence is well evidenced:

  • Men’s feelings of entitlement, their right to dominate and their right to have power and control over women – their bodies and their behaviour – are the foundation of gender-based violence. In the largest ever multinational study of male violence against women [1], the most common motivation of men who have admitted to rape is feelings of entitlement: 70-80% of men who had raped reported that they believed they had the right to sex.
    • The second most frequently reported motivation was related to entertainment-seeking.
    • The most identified attitudinal risk factor for men’s sexual and domestic violence and coercion against women globally stems from gender inequality – a belief in the dominance of men, and their needs or wishes and bodies, over women. [2]
  • Power (dominance) and sex are interconnected in the minds of those who are the most likely to sexually harass – by sexually harassing, men express their power. [3]
  • Men who endorse hierarchical (unequal) relationships between the sexes are not only more likely to sexually harass women, but also choose to sexually harass women who they see as feminist more than women who they see as ‘traditional’. [4]
  • Men who have viewed the sexual objectification of women are more likely to misinterpret women’s friendliness as being sexually motivated, and to assume that a woman protesting a date rape is not ‘really’ protesting, and that “no means yes”. [5]
  • Men who buy sex have a lower level of empathy towards women selling sex; lower level of empathy among men is also associated with sexual aggression toward women. [6]
  • The “key characteristics” that men who buy sex and men who commit acts of sexual violence share are: “a preference for impersonal sex, a fear of rejection by women, a history of having committed sexually aggressive acts and a hostile masculine self-identification.”[7]

Bristol Women’s Voice on the nil-cap for sexual entertainment venues
Under the Public Sector Equality Duty, the Council has legal obligations to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment of women, and to advance equality of opportunity for women as well as to foster good relations between men and women.

We recognise that closing of clubs will result in unemployment for a limited number of women and men that work in them (as strippers, bar staff and security) which is regrettable. The women involved – many of whom have skills, experience, education and knowledge and should be supported to access training, employment and opportunities outside the sex trade, we will do what we can to support with this.

“The strip club elicits and requires direct expressions of male domination and control over women”. [8]

Regardless of the money women involved make, the Sexual Entertainment Venue business model is one where men temporarily ‘buy’ the bodies of women. Sexual Entertainment Venues are set up to profit from condoning, indeed encouraging, the objectification of women and reinforcement or traditional, gender stereotypical power dynamics that are part of the problematic patriarchal norms we are trying to dismantle to achieve.

Therefore, in line with our Womanifesto, Bristol Women’s Voice cannot ethically or without hypocrisy support their continuation and we support a nil cap on Sexual Entertainment Venues.

You can read Bristol Women’s Commission’s position here: https://www.bristolwomensvoice.org.uk/bristol-womens-commission-call-for-nil-cap-on-sexual-entertainment-venues-sevs-in-the-city/

 

References

[1] United Nations 2013 study which interviewed 10,000 men, one in four of whom admitted they had raped a woman. 

[1]  Flood & Pease, 2009; Ricardo et al., 2011; Fulu et al., 2013, and others.

[1] Maass, Cadinu & Galdi, 2013

[1] Ibid., 2013

[1]  Milburn et al., 2000

[1] Ibid, 2015.

[1] Farley et al 2015

[1] Prewitt 1989

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