Spearmint Rhino and Gaslighting Feminists

I wrote about ‘Not Buying It’ and stripping here.


For those new to the issue,  a campaign group called Not Buying It paid men to go into lap dancing clubs in Sheffield, Manchester and Camden and film naked women without their consent.


A press release from Not Buying It is here.


It is unclear where the money came from to pay the men to buy lap dances. Requests for this information have been ignored.


The CEO of Not Buying It is Dr Sasha Rakoff. Sasha was also the CEO of Object.  Object frequently used the now-debunked Lilith report that claimed there was a causal relationship between the existence of lap dancing clubs and violence against women. I have blogged on this in the past here.


I have been contacted by many women who have been traumatized and distressed by this non-consensual filming. The organization has not offered an apology or any support to the women who have been violated. I am so sorry that women are going through this pain.




One of my former students Ellie Buck wrote her dissertation on image-based abuse/ ‘revenge porn’.  The project was called ‘I feel Like I Got Gang-Banged by the F*cking Planet’: A Critical Examination of Current Sociological Discourse on Revenge Porn’.  Filming someone naked without their consent can be described as ‘visual rape’. The harms of which cannot be underestimated.


For these groups, strippers are collateral damage. For those who decide to work in the sex industry, they are discredited as having false-consciousness, of reinforcing the patriarchy,  or of being criminals who thieve from male clients and ‘breach rules’. There is no empathy and no support.


My thesis which worked with sex workers in a women’s prison spoke of the way that vulnerability is used in policy,  but made invisible in practice. I drew from the work of Dr Kate Brown and my most recent journal article can be read here.


In the week after two young sex workers were jailed in Ireland,  it is more important than ever that we identify these ‘end demand’/ Nordic Model advocates for what they

are: harmful to sex workers.


As I wrote here,  it is women who pay the price in the criminal justice system for sex work. Interestingly Not Buying It didn’t pay investigators to film men ‘breaching rules’, they have targeted women. Socio-historically it is women who have been punished for breaching social norms of femininity and transgressing gender roles.


An activist asked if they would be supporting women and was met with this reply.





The mask of these groups is starting to slip. They have belittled an activist who supports the dancers because she is a survivor of childhood abuse. Yet they also exploit the trauma of survivors who align with their ideology.


They poured scorn on dancers’ concerns about potentially losing their jobs saying they can get other jobs.


They have claimed that dancers consent to being assaulted: that it is ‘part of the job description’.




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This is incredibly dangerous. Sex workers can consent, refuse consent or withdraw consent at any time. Just the same as any other person.  This idea reinforces victim-blaming rape culture.


The groups discredited the campaigning efforts of activists and dancers as being ’10 people’. In fact, the dancers and allies in Sheffield have had great support in organising and support in unionising. 


The United Voices of the World are helping strippers to unionise see here.


Not Buying It are not about helping women. They are about regulating women.  The relationship between radical feminists/ abolitionists and the religious right has long concerned me. I wrote a short piece in my thesis and am expanding on this. Of course there is Ruhama and Project Rose, but now these anti-strip groups are blatantly supporting the religious right. Here Not Buying It Sheffield retweet the CEO of Exodus Cry a conservative/ right wing Christian org that made film ‘Merchant of Souls’ (no, that is not a parody). Where do they stand on abortion rights and LGBTQIA+ issues?




As noticed by many people, these groups use abusive tactics such as gas lighting, discrediting, belittling, manipulating, mocking etc in order to control those who dissent. This includes harm reduction charities being screamed at, jeered, called names and brought to tears at public panel events. Their conduct is bullying. If you don’t believe me, listen to their conduct. They are master-manipulators.


After I pointed out these gas lighting techniques, I was sent this tweet. That’s right. I told someone they were gas lighting me, and they told me I was wrong. You can’t make this stuff up.





Upon telling the groups that I no longer wished to engage, I was bombarded with tweets. Again this is classic abuser, wanting you to explain yourself and refusing to allow you to disengage.







This was after the groups has refused to condemn the filming of naked women without their consent. One of the groups’ tactics is to ignore your point, then bombard you with your alleged refusal to answer their point. Classic abuser. they deflect onto you. Your point is not justified, but you must answer them.


The groups also tried to discredit me.





They claimed I don’t care about women. A very manipulative technique there is that sly assertion that my perspective harms the survivors.




 Another abusive tactic here is to claim that I support ‘punters’ when I have only spoken in support of the dancers. This is a way in which abusers try and discredit and derail you.


They also are aggressive and swear. Another tactic of abusers.




There are hundreds more examples from the last few months. The accounts are all public, so have a look for yourself. Are these feminist groups? Do you agree with how they speak to people?


This goes much further than twitter and online activism. These aggressive and abusive tactics have made practitioners frightened to attend events. They have triggered and (re) traumatized those who have suffered such gas lighting at the hands of domestic or family abusers.


You can respectfully disagree with someone and not resort to such unprofessional and vile behaviour.  Likewise you can have objections to the sex industry, support survivors and those who wish to leave, and also support those who wish to remain in the industry.


If you are a stripper and need support, please contact SWARM North, UK Decrim Now,  United Strippers of the World, and United Voices of the World.


If you see groups using gaslighting and abusive behaviours, call them out. If you see groups who commission the filming of naked women without their consent: call them out.  Abuse is abuse no matter where it occurs.


Thank you to all those who have contacted me. I look forward to working with some of you soon. In solidarity and sending love.


I am planning some spoken word/ visual performances where I seek to disrupt these understandings of victim-blaming and respectable femininity.


gemma x