"You're just offended" - Collective Shout responds to soccer club justifying strippers

Adelaide soccer club, Para Hills West, have attracted negative attention after organising a fundraiser with female strippers. The club then promoted this event with a poster featuring a highly sexualised image of a g-string clad woman, in their venue frequented by families and children.
Our Director of Operations, Coralie Alison, was invited to respond to this development in an opinion piece on SBS which we shared on our Facebook page alongside an image of the poster. Supporters of the club were quick to respond with the same old predictable arguments. We’ve addressed these common claims below:

1) “There are women on the fundraising committee so this can’t be sexist”

This is very similar to the all too common refrain “I’m a woman and I don’t see the problem”. This is beside the point. Both men and women can hold sexist attitudes and participate in exploitation of women- as evidenced here.

What is the message to young people- to boys about what women and girls are for? Being a club fundraiser, this treatment of women is effectively being condoned by the club, suggesting objectifying women is normal and acceptable behavior.

We already have a culture of sexism in men’s sport- one that various sporting leagues are working hard to eradicate. Given this, it's difficult to see how Para Hills West could have felt recruiting strippers was appropriate.

2) “There is more female flesh shown in women’s magazines and lingerie catalogues than the poster”

It is true that the sexualisation and objectification of women is prolific in media, advertising and popular culture, and we campaign against these things every day. This saturation of such imagery is precisely why it is so harmful- because women and girls are routinely objectified and demeaned, their bodies used to sell products. It has become so normalised and accepted that many people can no longer recognise it when it is happening- like right now. 

Research indicates the objectification of women is at the roots of many forms of gendered oppression, such as sexual harassment, abuse, discrimination and violence against women. It reinforces women’s status as second-class citizens rather than intelligent, valued people with something real to contribute to the world and as such, undermines gender equality. 

The fact that other forms of media similarly objectify and exploit women does not make it okay to do so here.

3) “You see more skin at the beach/swimming pool” 

The issue is not about the amount of skin shown, or an aversion to women's bodies. Context matters, and when the context is women's bodies being commodified for the benefit of men, this is an important distinction to be made. 

There is a big difference between men and women wearing swimwear to the beach and men paying to participate in the commercial sexual exploitation of women in the stripping industry.

4) “Strip club fundraisers enable us to raise money for the club”

It’s staggering that this could actually be considered a defense, but we will address it anyway.  Newsflash: There are many ways to raise funds that do not require the exploitation of women. It is possible to raise money without promoting the sex industry, an industry founded on the abuse and exploitation of women. It is concerning that this kind of event could be used to justify and reinforce men’s sexist attitudes and entitlements to use women’s bodies.

‘Keeping costs to players down’ is not an acceptable excuse for men to participate in the commercial sexual exploitation of women, however convenient this may be. This is true also for the extremely misguided notion that men who pay for sexual services are helping strippers to put food on the table. It is incredibly disingenuous to pretend that men paying for sexual services is somehow a selfless, even charitable pursuit, that it is done out of concern for the livelihood of women involved and not for the sexual gratification of men.

Men who pay for sexual services do not respect women. It’s that simple.

Surely there are other ways of fundraising than recruiting strippers. May we suggest a lamington drive instead?

5) “You’re just offended”

The issue here is not offence- it is about actual harm to women and girls. Framing this issue as ‘people being offended’ (rather than criticism over men paying for sexual services as a fundraiser) is a deliberate obfuscation intended to deflect attention and responsibility away from men participating in the exploitation of women.

The belief that the bodies of women and girls can be purchased for men’s sexual use, or that women and girls exist to please men sexually harms all women- and these beliefs about women are reinforced when a so called ‘family’ sporting club condones this treatment of women through promoting strip clubs. 

6) “If you don’t like it, don’t participate”

To say “if you don’t like it, don’t participate - simple!” – Yes, that is a very simple statement, but it is a completely ineffective response to sexual exploitation of women in our culture.

We don’t like it, we don’t participate, but we have to live in a community with people who do. We have to live in a community with people whose sexist attitudes towards women are reinforced by fundraisers like this. We have to live in a community with people whose ideas that women are objects of sexual recreation are affirmed by these events.

We and other women and girls are harmed by this toxic culture, even if we have never personally visited a strip club or worked in the sex industry.

The normalisation of sexual exploitation of women as entertainment harms all women, not just those who say they choose to participate. “Don’t like it, don’t watch it” makes as much sense as saying “don’t like pollution, don’t breathe.”

7) “But what about Ladies night, with male strippers?”

We do not support ‘equal opportunity’ objectification. We’ve spoken out on various occasions, condemning the sexual objectification of men to sell products and services.

However, while men can be sexually objectified, there are different power dynamics at play. When men are sexualised they are depicted as strong and powerful, whereas women tend to be depicted as sexually subordinate and submissive. Also, this treatment of women is routine and ongoing. Read more here.

Research indicates that the objectification of women, as well as sexist attitudes and rigid gender stereotypes contribute to a culture where male violence against women is rife. Domestic violence is at epidemic proportions in Australia, with 1-2 women being murdered each week, often by current or ex-partners. It is astounding that given community wide efforts at prevention and education, that sporting clubs would still think it appropriate to reduce women to sexual objects for men’s use.

8) “Women choose to be strippers - they are not forced or exploited”

This is certainly debatable. The sex industry is founded on the suffering and exploitation of vulnerable and impoverished women. The majority of women in the sex industry entered as children and do so with a lack of other viable choices. Research found that nine out of ten women surveyed wanted to exit the sex industry but had no other options available to them.

Regardless, this is not about whether or not women choose to be reduced to sex objects - this is about men making choices to pay for sexual services, all the while convincing themselves that the women love it and made a choice to do so. It is reckless and a disgrace that this club would organise and subsequently defend an event that contributes to the ongoing abuse of women in the sex industry.

9) “This (fathers, coaches, senior players organising strippers) doesn’t impact on whether men respect women - it won't affect children”

Those lessons do start at home, such as when a father decides to visit a strip club and justifies it as a 'fundraiser.'

Men who hold sexist attitudes, objectify women and pay for sexual services do not respect women. What is the message to children when fathers, coaches and other men in their lives treat women as objects of recreation? What do children learn about how men behave, and what women are for when the men they look up to model such behavior?

10) "It's just a bit of fun"

That purchasing sexual services or participating in a system of exploitation of women is regarded as 'just a bit of fun' by some indicates just how deeply entrenched sexist attitudes and an entitlement to women's bodies can be. It suggests that men's sexual enjoyment is more important than women's rights to dignity and respect- and why is the degradation and humiliation of women considered to be fun or entertainment for men?

"In a US study, women in strip clubs frequently reported being ‘spat on’ and ‘sprayed with beer’, they report having cigarettes flicked atthem as well as trash, condoms, golf balls and even dead animals (Holsopple, 1998). Men reportedly ‘pull…women’s hair’, ‘yank…them by the arms and ankles, rip… their costumes and attempt…to pull their clothes off’. Women are ‘bitten, licked, slapped, punched, and pinched’ whilst male buyers attempt to penetrate them vaginally and anally with ‘fingers, dollar bills, and bottles’, according to the testimony of Kelly Holsopple who worked in a strip club for a number of years, and then went back to research the venues (Holsopple, 1998). In her research she found that 100 per cent of strippers she interviewed reported being abused within the clubs. Holsopple’s research is highly relevant to the Australian context where dancers face violence not only from their male ‘customers’, but also from club owners." See report here.

This is not harmless fun- this only serves to uphold men's interests of sexual access to women on demand.

Learn more about women's experiences of exploitation in stripping industry here, here and here

Further Reading

What are we teaching young boys about women when soccer clubs fundraise like this?

The truth about life as a lap dancer- The Guardian

Add your comment

Showing 26 reactions
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  • Dion Rider
    commented 2016-05-27 18:56:46 +1000
    Is it illegal?
  • Caitlin Roper
    commented 2016-05-27 12:04:50 +1000
    Dion you tell us to mind our own business- you are fuelling an industry of commercial sexual exploitation of women, where women are reduced to sexual playthings for men’s use. This is very much our business.

    If the club is concerned about its reputation, perhaps it should take swift action to address the ingrained culture of sexism, which is evident in the perceived entitlement to strippers, even when called out publicly. The club could have responded by acknowledging its mistake and making a commitment to model inclusive and respectful treatment of women, instead they have dug in their heels like children having a tantrum.

    I’ve said it before but I’ll spell it out for you again. Men who pay for sexual services (which is what you are doing if you pay for female strippers) are not men who respect women. You think it makes you a good man because you don’t spit on strippers? Think you need to raise the bar a little.
  • Dion Rider
    commented 2016-05-26 17:59:04 +1000
    Where did i mention paying for sexual services? I said drugs and jail, not from her dad going to his soccer club where theres some topless waitresses, that the child wouldnt even know what was happening that night anyway, and yes alot probably do get mistreated and spat on etc but so do police, bus drivers even centrelink workers, by the way of you do those things in a strip club you will be thrown out the door before it left your mouth, and i dont think the people attending this one would do that as they are quite respectful people, you’re throwing a broad blanket over the whole industry, para hills west arent doing anything illegal and are well within their rights to hold this night but the whole club is getting abused time and time again on that thread and any comments back get deleted by the admin

    If strippers become illegal then you have a point but until that day comes you should really mind your own businesses, if this whole thing was about the poster i can understand and agree but its not about that
  • Melinda Liszewski
    commented 2016-05-26 12:17:20 +1000
    Dion, you said:

    “Theres no doubt in my mind that alot of these “strippers” upbringings weren’t the best but that has got to do mainly with things like drugs and jails”

    You’re saying ‘but’ as though the things you go on to mention (jails and drugs) don’t have an impact on a childs life, or affect their future decisions. You do realise ‘jail and drugs’ has a huge impact on children don’t you? Children who are neglected, exposed to crime, drug abuse etc. have higher incidence of depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, impaired cognitive ability, poorer academic performance, juvenile delinquency and substance abuse. This doesn’t disappear at the stroke of midnight on a girl’s 18th birthday. You’ve accidentally admitted that men who pay for sexual services are exploiting those who have already been mistreated and will continue to be mistreated in the sex trade.

    “In a US study, women in strip clubs frequently reported being ‘spat on’ and ‘sprayed with beer’, they report having cigarettes flicked atthem as well as trash, condoms, golf balls and even dead animals (Holsopple, 1998). Men reportedly ‘pull…women’s hair’, ‘yank…them by the arms and ankles, rip… their costumes and attempt…to pull their clothes off’. Women are ‘bitten, licked, slapped, punched, and pinched’ whilst male buyers attempt to
    penetrate them vaginally and anally with‘fingers, dollar bills, and bottles’, according to the testimony of Kelly Holsopple who worked in a strip club for a number of years, and then went back to research the venues (Holsopple, 1998). In her research she found that 100 per cent of strippers she interviewed reported being abused within the clubs. Holsopple’s research is highly relevant to the Australian context where dancers face violence
    not only from their male ‘customers’, but also from club owners. (page 7)” http://catwa.org.au/files/images/Strip_Club_Report.pdf

    Comparing employment as a stripper with other jobs is not a valid argument. What other business prefers its employees to be as young and inexperienced as possible? In what other form of employment would the above rates of abuse, involving violence and sexual assault – 100% – be acceptable?

    Not sure what the relevance is here Dion, but many of us have visited strip clubs and we do know strippers/ex strippers. However one doesn’t have to have personal contact with the sex trade or those within it to understand the harm it does to women and girls. In any case, the first hand stories I have heard are consistent with what is written in the above report.

    Regarding your link – a company that owns a number of strip clubs promotes its business by claiming that strip clubs are good for men’s health? What a shock. Here’s some research from other companies profiting from human misery. It must be true:

    Dentists recommend Viceroys

    Physicians call this the new health cigar

    More doctors smoke camels than any other cigarette

    Physicians say Luckies are less irritating

    Dion, please look up the definition of slander, you keep using it but I don’t think you know what it means.
  • Dion Rider
    commented 2016-05-26 07:52:59 +1000
    And the other clubs doing it?
  • Caitlin Roper
    commented 2016-05-26 01:13:15 +1000
    Dion, it’s not slander to hold men accountable for their exploitation of women or to call on them to be better- to model respect for women and not treat them like pieces of meat.

    You’ve spent a lot of time trying to explain to me why it’s perfectly okay for you to purchase sexual services. You are free to continue to hold sexist and discriminatory attitudes towards women, but expect to be called out for them. There is no justification for this kind of fundraiser- none.
  • Dion Rider
    commented 2016-05-26 01:04:40 +1000
    The other thing is the other ones having these nights are the 2 biggest junior clubs in SA but it must be ok for them as they arent getting publicly slandered…….. infact i believe the person that took this picture, their child plays at one of these clubs having one, so either its ok or they have no clue its going on either way stop slandering one club when you know nothing about them besides a misplaced poster
  • Dion Rider
    commented 2016-05-26 00:58:02 +1000
    Hate to break it to you but within the boundries of the law i can spend my money on whatever i like, and you’re stereotyping again, im not even going to this club to take part in the night
  • Dion Rider
    commented 2016-05-26 00:55:52 +1000
    Where did i ask about ladies night with male strippers? I absolutely dont care about the ladies nights with male strippers, it means nothing to me

    So the study i put up is biased and from a man and your studies arent? Anyway its gotten off topic again

    Stop slandering a small club, stop targeting one club why arent you targeting other clubs why is all this hate going on this club when nearly every club is doing it, all in the next couple of weeks too

    I find it very convenient you only answer some questions and completely ignore others
  • Caitlin Roper
    commented 2016-05-26 00:29:38 +1000
    Matthew, your comments about the sex industry are incredibly naive. Sex industry regulation is minimal, with the industry fighting for less regulation and more freedom to do as they wish. Women continue to be employed in the sex industry despite being minors (in fact, some report this is when they are most popular, as men prefer them young).

    For what its worth, there have been instances of sex trafficking, sexual slavery and underage girls being prostituted in legal brothels around the country. Many women in the industry verify these reports.

    Again, if you so much as looked over this piece, you’d see in question 7 we’ve addressed so-called Ladies nights. If it means anything to you, my six year old pointed out a poster of a man with his hand down his pants alongside an erect penis, advertising a similar Ladies night fundraiser for women’s sports at our local cricket club (with children under ten playing). I ripped the poster down. This is not okay.

    We campaign against the objectification of women because it is primarily women who are being sexually objectified, harassed, abused, exploited, beaten and murdered by men. If you’d like to start an organisation focussed on men’s issues, fantastic. This of course requires more than just harassing women on the internet for fighting exploitation, of course.
  • Caitlin Roper
    commented 2016-05-26 00:19:22 +1000
    Colour me shocked Dion, you’ve managed to find articles on the internet that claim men exploiting women is good for men. I wonder who benefits from this ridiculous argument (hint- it’s not women.) I’m assuming you did not engage with any of the research, including major international studies containing in our submissions before you went off to prove how paying women to take off their clothes and give you an erection is healthy and good?

    Again Dion, if you actually bothered to so much as skim read this piece, you’d see we have already addressed your argument in question 7.

    I have to say though I am impressed with your commitment to justifying your ‘right’ to pay for sexual services.
  • Dion Rider
  • Dion Rider
    commented 2016-05-25 21:47:59 +1000
    “Research shows”
  • Dion Rider
  • Dion Rider
  • Dion Rider
    commented 2016-05-25 21:37:17 +1000
    How was i blaming the government for going to strip clubs? I was blaiming them for not funding local sporting teams, once again you havent answered why you arent attacking other clubs for having these mens/ gentlemens nights
  • Matthew Hawkes
    commented 2016-05-25 20:47:31 +1000
    Caitlin – you’re an organisation that campaigns against exploitation of women. Rather hypocritical that you only care about one sex. Personally I’m all for equal rights in this world. Pity you’re not.

    Can you imagine the uproar if I said I only cared about the rights of white people.
  • Matthew Hawkes
    commented 2016-05-25 20:45:16 +1000
    A few comments.

    If you have any proof that the people in this industry in australia are not doing so of their own free will then I suggest that you dial 000 immediately.

    If you have any proof that anyone under 18 is employed in this industry in australia is under 18, then I suggest you dial 000 immediately.This is especially the case seeing as you believe it’s the MAJORITY of women.

    You have condemned the PHW club for having a men’s night but have failed to even acknowledge that they also had a ladies night. 2 other clubs across 2 different codes of football are having a ladies night. I was informed of one of these by a 14 year old girl who saw the adverts at her club. The other is actively using it to fundraise a Junior side.
  • Caitlin Roper
    commented 2016-05-25 20:44:12 +1000
    Dion, what good is it for me to highlight a single study? There is a large volume of research documenting the harms of women in the sex trade. If you care to learn more, feel free to read any of our submissions to government inquiries- www.collectiveshout.org/submissions/

    I think you’ve missed that fact that we are an organisation that campaigns against sexual exploitation of women. We have worked with many sex trade survivors and survivor organisations and collaborated on different projects. You are free to disregard their voices, but that does not negate their experiences of abuse, violence and trauma in the sex industry- stripping, lap dancing and prostitution.

    I’m certainly not suggesting ‘all men’ participate in exploiting women, but if you’re a man who pays for sexual services (e.g. visiting strip clubs) then yes, you are part of the problem. Please don’t try to justify going to strip clubs by blaming the government. Nobody is buying it.
  • Dion Rider
    commented 2016-05-25 14:54:07 +1000
    Or better yet point your anger towards the government for not funding these clubs enough, so nights like this dont have to happen
  • Dion Rider
    commented 2016-05-25 14:45:47 +1000
    No not some women, some people, i dont class women or men differently i only judge by their personalities not their sex, and i said saying “research shows” isnt a study, you cant say research shows and not present the study

    As for the difference of opinions its quite clear we have a difference of opinion but i can honour your opinion and agree to some extent, whereas you start talking about, “all strippers” “all men” all you’re doing is stereotyping.

    How many have you have actually been to a strip club or personally know a stripper?

    Saying they dont want to work as stripper isnt a valid argument, majority of the population dont want to do the jobs they’re doing

    Theres no doubt in my mind that alot of these “strippers” upbringings weren’t the best but that has got to do mainly with things like drugs and jails, once again the poster was wrong for kids to see, and thats the only real issue here with this club, if your minority want to try to take down a big industry thats fine, but leave a little soccer club alone
  • Melinda Liszewski
    commented 2016-05-25 13:26:24 +1000

    Are you saying that a woman disagreeing with you leads to you not respecting that woman?

    re this: “saying research shows isnt an official study” – what do you think research is Dion?

    “The current literature makes it clear that sexual objectification is both directly and indirectly linked to various mental health distresses and disorders in women, including anxiety, depression, disordered eating, and reduced experiences of flow and productivity. Constant experiences of sexual objectification cause women to internalize society’s scrutiny; the resulting self-objectification leads to habitual body monitoring and self-consciousness, which in turn increases feelings of body shame and appearance anxiety and diminishes states of flow. These variables can then lead to depression, which may be a risk factor in the development of disordered eating habits (Augustus-Horvath & Tylka, 2009; Szymanski & Henning, 2007; Szymanski et al., 2011).” http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/appsych/opus/issues/2016/spring/rooney

    “…associations between men’s exposure to objectifying media and attitudes supportive of violence against women were mediated by their notions of women as sex objects. Specifically, frequency of exposure to men’s lifestyle magazines that objectify women, reality TV programs that objectify women, and pornography predicted more objectified cognitions about women, which, in turn, predicted stronger attitudes supportive of violence against women.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26585169

    Find more here: www.lmgtfy.com
  • Caitlin Roper
    commented 2016-05-25 13:03:33 +1000
    Dion I’m struggling to identify your argument in your incoherence- surely you are not suggesting that some women are worthy of respect and others are not?

    When you visit a strip club, make no mistake about it, you are paying for sexual services. When you believe it is your right to attend strip clubs and create demand for the commercial sexual exploitation of women you are showing your entitlement to use women’s bodies for your own sexual gratification.

    You cannot support systems and industries that exploit and abuse women while simultaneously claiming to respect women.
  • Dion Rider
    commented 2016-05-25 12:17:07 +1000
    And what sexual service will be taking place? And there is no belief that men are entitled to womens bodies, once again you have turned it into something its not, this article and that whole post have changed the way i think about ‘some’ women and that has led my mind to negative thinking and research shows alot of other people feel the same way, those people are also women that i respect, unlike the people on this page and thats not societies fault thats this pages fault and the people that have commented on it
  • Caitlin Roper
    commented 2016-05-25 11:08:14 +1000
    This article is very biased and one sided Dion? Yeah I guess we are pretty one sided in our condemnation against men paying for sexual services to raise funds for soccer.

    Men’s belief that they are entitled to women’s bodies harms women, even if men want to pretend women enjoy such exploitation. There is certainly a significant volume of research on these issues, even if you are not aware of it or if it is inconvenient for you to acknowledge.
  • Dion Rider
    commented 2016-05-25 09:55:36 +1000
    This article is very biased and very one sided, saying research shows isnt an official study i could say research shows you’re wrong, saying its debatable whether strippers want to be strippers or that they are ‘forced’ is another inaccurate statement unless you show me figures or facts that support this, ok the poster shouldnt have been put up, that was an oversight, but as for the actual event, its not like the kids are there, you have been sent pieces on other clubs that do this but continue to publicly slander this club, which i am not a supporter of, im from an opposing club, lets remember that this is a senior team that doesnt have an awful lot of affiliation with the juniors besides they share a council owned ground and they mistakenly put a poster in the toilet which has been yaken down and apologized for

You can defend their right to childhood

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