Wrestling with Sass

Sassy commentary from a failed journalist


April 2016

Why does Marvin Rees hate strippers?

On International Women’s Day 2016 Marvin Rees, Labour’s mayoral candidate in the upcoming election, announced that he would do two things for women in Bristol.

Two things. That’s right ladies, we’re THAT special.

  1. Close the gender pay gap
  2. Shut down strip clubs in Bristol

Two policies, which seem a bit at odds with other. The first one wants to stop the systematic of discrimination against all women when it comes to the pay gap. The second one want’s to make women jobless. Closing down strip clubs will negatively the main people who profit from such establishments. So, obviously, that’ll be the women who work in them.

“Wait, why?” you may ask.

According to Martin, strip clubs are a “real concern” and pondered if Sexual Entertainment Venues (SEV’s) “feed into wider inequalities that are faced by women”. He concluded by talking to nobody and asking “Is the price paid by wider Bristol very, very high for this?”

Obviously, Marvin has conducted extensive data on this. He must have looked at academic papers and seen that SEV’s are the one of the main proponents of gender equality. He must have seen that women get treated awfully in these establishments. He must have seen that crime rates around these areas include the sexual assault and harassment of women. OBVIOUSLY, HE CAN’T BE JUST BASING IT ON NOTHING GUYS.

I don’t know if you picked up on it, but I was being heavily sarcastic in the previous paragraph.

It’s also pretty well known that Marvin Rees is a pretty socially conservative Labour MP, he even wrote to Bristol Churches asking them to write a manifesto about what they thought “a good Bristol looks like”. Something out of step with a modern Bristol, where under half of the population self identifies as Christian. So perhaps he’s basing on his good Christian moral compass instead of actual data.

When Marvin Rees announced this policy, there was backlash. Which is pretty great because I imagine a few years ago this type of policy may have slipped under the radar.

Esme Worrell whose been a stripper for 8 years in Bristol spoke to Radio Bristol and called Marvin Rees attempt to ban SEV’s as “patronizing” and said that if nobody should be policing consenting adults sexual behavior.

Tuesday Laveau, a stripper/burlesque dancer wrote an op-ed for Bristol 24/7 titled ‘Sex Work is Work’ where she stated “Firstly, I do not believe Mr Rees consulted with any dancers currently working in Bristol’s strip clubs or sexual entertainment venues. If he did, he would find grown women with agency, foresight and a knowledge of what field of work is most suited, convenient and advantageous for them. He would very quickly find that the assessment of strip clubs, as exclusively a place of exploitation would be incorrect.”

Two women who actually work in the industry have managed to cover the main points of why banning SEV’s is dumb as fuck.

  1. It’s patronising and essentially misogynistic to have a man tell women what to do with their bodies.
  2. This is especially backwards when it appears he’s not even spoken to any women in the sex work/sexual entertainment industry.
  3. Policing anybody’s sexual practices when it’s between consenting adults is pretty 1984, and we live in a society where people scream McCarthyism whenever the word ‘safe spaces’ is mentioned.

So by now you may be thinking, okay so I’ve heard from the people who work in SEV’s and they’ve made great points. Surely, this is a feminist issue as well. Aren’t Bristol Feminist organisations helping make these naturally unheard women heard by a wider audience?

Well, you’d be exactly like me a few weeks ago when I submitted a question to the Bristol Women’s Voice mayoral hustings, as I couldn’t attend. I was pretty bummed when I looked at the hashtag and realised that the majority of Bristol feminist groups like Bristol Women’s Voice and the Bristol Fawcett Society are anti-sex work and were delighted at the idea of women loosing their jobs.

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Sex work is work. Closing down SEV’s won’t stop inequality, it won’t stop women getting groped, it won’t stop the police not believing them, it won’t stop them not getting senior positions at work and it won’t stop them loosing money every month because of their gender.

If you truly believe that women are exploited if they work at strip clubs, then I’d invite you to work for a few hours at a call centre or bar for minimum wage and I’ll ask you after if you felt exploited – should we ban shitty jobs too?

Vote with your feet and don’t vote for Marvin Rees. Because if he bases one policy on no data, no information from the people it affects and only does it to get headlines from women whose feminism is stuck in the 1970’s with Germaine Greer – then chances are he’ll be a crappy politician.

I’m not a sex worker and I’ve never been one, and with most things like this, we should listen to the people who work in the industry instead of drawing our own conclusions.


The Top 5 Most Essential Kitchen Nightmare’s Episodes

Using the word ‘essential’ in the title of a blog that lists episodes of a now defunct US Reality show centered around a foul-mouthed British chef shouting at lesser chefs, is a bold move. But, to write a blog about Gordon Ramsey – who could be described as bold man – you need to be bold. 

Shall I say bold one more time? Yes. Bold.

Now, I’m not speaking about Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmare’s – I’m speaking about Kitchen Nightmare’s the American version of the British series.

The British series was a lot more, well, British. It looked at the issues of alcoholism within the restaurant industry and running a restaurant in a country where most people cook at home. That’s all well and good, but gets honestly boring as shit – the only thing that stood out was that Gordon Ramsay is excellent at shouting at people and gave everyone a really useful clip on YouTube on how to carve a chicken correctly (seriously, it’s so good).

The American series is honestly the worst best TV show in the history of world.

  • Are you ill in bed and you don’t know what to watch?
  • Relationship going down the drain and you have nothing in common anymore?
  • Stuck at the top of a mountain facing certain death?


Here’s my expert opinion. Yes expert opinion, I’ve watched each episode like 5 times AND Sir Gordon Ramsey tweeted me once and it was the best moment of my life.

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So here are the five essential episodes you need to see before you leave this mortal coil.

  1. Burger Kitchen

Burger Kitchen is one of the few two-part episodes featured on Kitchen Nightmare’s, which stands as a testament to what a giant shitshow it is.

Alan and his wife Jen have opened a burger restaurant in a popular area of LA; everything should be going great right? Wrong. What’s odd about this episode is that Alan very openly admits to using his son Daniel’s inheritance from his grandfather, Alan’s dad, to open the restaurant without Daniel’s permission. Alan also thinks that there’s a conspiracy against the restaurant organized by Yelp. The head chef David Blaine (seriously) also accuses Jen of being on Prozac constantly and ends up getting fired in the middle of service for threatening Daniel. Oh and Daniel’s girlfriend wears really stupid hats all the time.


It’s a classic and should be watched every Christmas as a new family tradition.

  1. Dillons

Gordon’s visit to Dillons is only the second episode of the very first series of Kitchen Nightmares. A testament to the awesomeness that is this episode. An Indian/American/Italian every type of cuisine restaurant located in New York it features some excellent Kitchen Nightmares tropes:

  1. Too many managers, none of them doing anything
  2. A smug British guy Gordon seems to hate disproportionately
  3. An incredibly unhygienic kitchen
  4. A head chef that can’t speak in English who smiles when Gordon swears at him
  5. A ridiculously old phone


  1. Nino’s Italian Restaurant

There are a lot of Italian restaurants on Kitchen Nightmare’s which makes for interesting viewing as US Italian restaurants usually feature some interesting and different dishes – although obviously the ones you see on the show look god awful because they’ve been cooked in a bin or something.

Nino’s Italian restaurant is a fantastic example of another Kitchen Nightmare’s trope – the chef/owner who just lies about everything. Nino the owner of the restaurant chooses an odd lie though. Rather than saying the food is fresh or that all the recipes are delicious, which are the standard lies restaurant owners tell to Ramsey, he says his main job at the restaurant is cleaning.

He says he cleans. All the time. He actually gives Gordon pictures he got someone to take of him cleaning.


It’s fucking mad, as you’ll see because the restaurant is absolutely filthy. I love it, an excellent introduction into the batshit crazy world of restaurant owners.

  1. The Secret Garden

Another gem from Season 1, the promotional advert that came before this episode was just Gordon screaming at the owner “YOU FUCKING FLITHY FRENCH PIG” – so either it was a good episode with an arrogant French owner or this is the episode where Gordon reveals he just fucking hates French people. I think it’s a little of both.

Fucking pig

Things to watch out for:

  • The British waitress and the chef are totally having a love affair
  • Strawberries, garlic and prawns sounds strangely delicious to me
  • Gordon fucking hates crispy onions piled on top of food and now I do too
  1. Amy’s Baking Company

OBVIOUSLY. If you didn’t know anything about Kitchen Nightmare’s you still might have heard about the infamous Amy’s Baking Company. A restaurant with such insane owners that Gordon actually left half way through the show and the owners then took to Facebook to contest their representation on their show. You can check out the Buzzfeed article here and their Know Your Meme page here.

BUT before you check out the aftermath, you need to watch this episode. Most Kitchen Nightmare episodes have a typical format: Gordon meets owners, Gordon eats food, tells them food is shit, finds out chef is shit/owner is mad/kitchen is gross and then he fixes it all. However, in Amy’s Baking Company the kitchen is clean, the cakes are delicious and the owners only seem slightly bad – so what gives? The disastrous dinner service involves firing, threats, screaming, bad food and Gordon at the end of the episode saying he can’t do anything for them. OH GOD IT’S SO GREAT.


Think I’ve missed any? Tweet me at @callsignemily – come on, Gordon Ramsey follows me, are you better than him? NO OBVIOUSLY NOT.

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