Bristol City Council is running a consultation on whether to allow strip clubs in Bristol. This is something that many of you have written to me about, so I’m encouraging everyone to give their views.

There are currently three Sexual Entertainment Venue (SEVs) allowed in Bristol: two in the city centre and one in Old Market part of the city. The council proposal is for a ‘nil cap’ on SEV licenses, effectively banning these clubs.

As some of you already know, I am in favour of a nil cap on SEVs. Challenging a culture of misogyny and hatred of women is essential if we are to end the culture of male abuse. This has a devastating impact on women’s lives, both at home and in public. Misogyny is based on a very strong belief system where men are entitled to women’s bodies. Being able to pay for stripping or other sexual entertainment feeds into a culture where it is acceptable to discriminate against women, abuse them, pay for sex or harass them. This must change.

Some people have criticised me for this by saying that I am implying that women are responsible for male violence – absolutely not. My argument is with the men who feel entitled to pay for sexual access to women, not the women who work in these jobs. I hold men who discriminate again, hurt, threaten or abuse women entirely responsible for their own behaviour. Male violence and abuse is never the fault of women and it should not be ours to fix. I encourage all male allies to join women in actively challenging the belief systems which legitimise male violence – being silent is not enough.

I am aware that many other people have different views. I have spoken with women who tell me they want to continue to work in SEVs and that they feel safe and I’ve also spoken with women who have had very unpleasant or abusive experiences of working in them. However, for me, this is also about the wider impact on society more generally, which affects all women.

Please do give your opinion by Sunday 19 December 2021. This decision will influence the kind of city we want Bristol to be. We should all have a say.

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