Lapdance vouchers lambasted

James Burton – Deputy News Editor 15 October 2009

A voucher booklet being given out at the Freshers’ Fair last week has caused controversy by promoting a Cambridge lap-dancing club.

The Student Discount Book, which was handed to students outside of Kelsey Kerridge, offered cheaper entry to a variety of clubs around Cambridge, including Fez, The Place, and Revolution.

The booklet also contained a free voucher for the Talk of the Town lap and poledance club, something a number of students found offensive.

Ray Filar, commenting on behalf of the University Feminist Society, told The Cambridge Student (TCS): “The Cambridge Feminist Society asks students to consider that in supporting lap dancing they are also supporting a sex industry in which female and male workers are routinely treated just as sexual objects, a dehumanising process that links directly to practices of rape, trafficking and abuse.

“Lap dancing cultivates an unhealthy subject/object relationship between men and women, and we ask both male and female students to reject such pressures.”

Although the Discount Book was handed out to Freshers on Parkers’ Piece, it was not authorised by the Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU). Natalie Szarek, the Women’s Officer for the Union, said that “CUSU does not permit the presence of third-party advertises like discount booklets inside the CUSU Societies Fair.

“However, we do not have control of the public highways and therefore cannot control what publications are distributed outside the fair. CUSU has longstanding concerns regarding this type of activity at our events – and we have actively tried to prevent the distribution of material at the fair by third parties without permission for exactly this reason.

“We also actively made representations to Kelsey Kerridge Sports Centre and Cambridge City Council prior to the event and during the two days of the Fair expressing our concerns that some individuals and organisations may be attempting to circulate unsuitable, inappropriate or offensive material at or outside the Fair without our permission.

“We will be working with both of these organisations in planning the 2010 Fair looking at the issues surrounding third party advertising and other logistical arrangements.”

She described the promotion of Talk of the Town as “a manifestation of the wider problem of sexual exploitation and objectification of women.”

However, Shirley Titterington, an employee of SDB Print and Web, the company responsible for the book, defended their decision to print the voucher, saying the issue was one of “freedom of choice.”

“There are businesses in Cambridge some people might like and some people don’t like”, she went on. “It’s a matter of choice. People who have a problem with it should take it up with the people who run these places.”

She added she was “happy to talk to people who have a problem with the voucher we printed. We will certainly consider removing things from our publication that offend people in future”.

Talk of the Town was unavailable for comment.

James Burton – Deputy News Editor