Public Attitudes to SEVs

Sexual Entertainment Venues and managing risk:
Key findings of an ESRC project on public attitudes to SEVs (Dec 2012)

In the last decade, venues where the live display of nudity is regularly offered have opened across England and Wales. This ESRC-funded research collected evidence of the impacts of such venues on surrounding businesses and residents. Some of the key findings were:

• There are 241 licensed premises regularly offering lap dancing or striptease in England and Wales. Nearly half (43%) of those applying for a Sexual Entertainment Venue (SEV) license have received no formal objections.

• A survey of residents in towns and cities with lap dance clubs suggests that around one in five were not aware there was an SEV operating in their town or city. Fewer than one in ten identified an SEV as a particular source of local nuisance, and in some locations this was considerably lower.

• Women, those over 40, those who have lived in their current home for over 5 years and those with children are most likely to argue there are too many lap dance clubs in their town. Women, those with children and the over 40s are least likely to suggest that striptease is harmless entertainment and most likely to suggest it attracts criminal elements and promotes sexism.

• Around one in ten in our survey suggested there is no suitable location for lap dancing clubs. Very few believe clubs are suitable near schools, though the majority (55%) regard town and city centres as appropriate locations.

• Walk-along events were used to gauge the impact SEVs had on the night-time economy in four case study locations. These suggested that SEVs were not the most significant source of fear or anxiety for participants, with most instances of antisocial and rowdy behavior being associated with other venues, notably pubs.

• Women were more likely than men to pass comment on SEVs and express un-ease or anxiety about them. None argued that SEVs were a major source of antisocial behavior, or were able to cite any instances of harassment, noise or violence associated with such clubs: concerns appeared to coalesce around the normalization of male-oriented sexual entertainment and the encouragement of sexist attitudes among younger people. This suggests moral anxiety and disgust, rather than fear, may underpin many objections about SEVs.

• SEVs which were discrete in terms of their signage, naming and exterior appearance appeared to generate least comment or concern. Sexist imagery and names were objected to by many of our participants.

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