No sex please, we’re British: Burlesque belles denied chance to perform in Hebden Bridge as it ‘demeans women’

I was baffled when I read a flurry of Facebook posts, Twitter messages and, subsequently, national media coverage of the decision of one West Yorkshire Council to refuse a burlesque festival the use of one of its buildings.

Hebden Royd Town Council ruled that it was ‘inappropriate’ to host the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival event at the town’s picture house next year.

Hebden Bridge flickr mrrobertwade (wadey)

‘INAPPROPRIATE’: Hebden Royd \Town Council burlesque decision

The town council sub-committee refused the application, stating: “The Picture House Committee does not feel that it is appropriate for Hebden Royd Town Council to be associated with the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival.

“Burlesque arouses strong feelings, and many people feel it is demeaning to women, and raises issues of gender equality.”

I really object to the term ‘arousing strong feeling’ – do they think it’s purely a sexual art form intended for people to get their rocks off? If so, they are completely missing the point.

The few times I’ve been to a burlesque show it’s been a female-dominated audience who are celebrating the beauty, confidence, creativity and showmanship of these women.


EMPOWERED: Burlesque performer Juniper Crush

In terms of ‘demeaning’ do they mean the performers themselves who choose this career path or the women, like me, who freely choose to purchase a ticket and attend the event?

Have we somehow all been duped into being demeaned? What about actresses who choose to perform sex scenes on screen, are they being demeaned too?

It all sounds a bit too Mary Whitehouse for my liking….

In response to the news burlesque star Heidi Bang Tidy,  a co-organiser of the festival, insisted that burlesque is a legal and legitimate art form.

She told the Hebden Bridge Times: “We object to being told that the people of Hebden Bridge are not capable of deciding for themselves whether they wish to purchase a ticket for a burlesque show, that our show is not ‘appropriate’ use of a public building.”

Understandably the council’s decision has baffled the wider vintage and burlesque community who have taken to social networking sites to share their views.

Manchester’s own Laura Norrey tweeted: As a burlesque fan and amateur performer, the argument surrounding @hebdenburlyfest infuriates me… #SoDemeaning

So if you, like me, appreciate the talent, beauty and creativity of these fabulous women who choose to perform, make your voice count.

You can sign the petition here, and for more information visit the Facebook group and search the hashtag #sodemeaning on Twitter.

Hebden bridge picture courtesy of mrrobertwade via Flickr, with thanks

6 Responses to No sex please, we’re British: Burlesque belles denied chance to perform in Hebden Bridge as it ‘demeans women’

  1. Helga says:

    How bloody ridiculous! Can’t believe this puritanical behaviour!

  2. Vix says:

    Burlesque isn’t something I care for but I can’t for the life of me understand a council acting in such a puritanical way, it’s the 21st century after all. I bet they don’t ban The Sun from the newsagents there! x

  3. Desiree says:

    I’ve never been to a burlesque show. The opportunity simply hasn’t presented itself. But this is a complete load of bollocks! Good on the organisers for publicly campaigning against the council’s decision. I hope they’re shamed into overturning the decision. xo

  4. Arouses strong feelings? Isn’t that EXACTLY the reason ART exists? I love that as a complaint so much I may have to add it to my business cards right under my name :) Love my first visit to your blog.

  5. SJP says:

    I’m really surprised at this – burlesque is an art form and I think they’re lumping it lapdancing clubs when it’s completely different.

  6. Cyn says:

    Common lap dance strippers refer to what they do as an art form, too. You can all anything “art” but not all of it is appropriate for all venues. I feel the right decision was made as burlesque is regressive in terms of gender equality and a huge step BACKWARDS for our gender. Women won’t be treated equally as long as they keep sexually objectifying themselves and encouraging others to join in… It’s a pathetic way for women with low self esteem to get validation of their bodies and sexuality. Makes me sick!

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