Today Iâ€™ll be ripping off Emma of Gendergeek, who last week remarked on a cultural abnormality that, coincidentally, has also been gnawing away at my own once-zesty gusto. What she said was this: â€œitâ€™s very uncool to be opposed to lapdancing bars.â€
Thatâ€™s strip clubs to us Americans. I donâ€™t know what theyâ€™re called in other parts of the supposedly civilized Western world.
What Emma alludes to is the perplexing phenomenon of everyone and their dog, including otherwise enlightened self-professed â€œfeminists,â€ giving strip clubs a free pass. This, even when they concede, as a pro-strip-club male acquaintance of mine does, that these bars are â€œa result of the patriarchal need to control womenâ€™s sexuality.â€ Emma reveals that she has Germaine Greer-quotinâ€™ male pals who â€œthink nothing of swanning round eastern Europe on stag weekends, sampling heavily of the local sexual buffet.â€ I feel ya, Emma. I am acquainted with dudes who swan around East St. Louis strip clubs on double-dates, with their wives.
One of which acquaintances explains that strip clubs are a response to sexual repression. He calls this response â€œimperfectâ€ but whatâ€™re ya gonna do, â€œtheyâ€™re what we have to work with right now.â€
What gives? One would think that the entire population of the Western world is imprisoned in a Puritan labor camp, the way weâ€™re always hearing about this so-called sexual repression. Where, I would like to know, is this alleged repression taking place? Certainly not in America, where â€œXXXâ€ banners fly from every flagpole, women are instructed from the cradle to stop at nothing to make themselves attractive to and available for men, and you canâ€™t even buy a hamburger that Paris Hilton hasnâ€™t jizzed all over. America is all sex, all the time. You should check out the article in Menâ€™s Health that Emma found. Itâ€™s about strip club etiquette, for chrissakes. Etiquette codifies, you know, social convention.
The myth of sexual repression is remarkably resilient, but it has to be in order for it to function effectively as the rationalization for the sex industry (which industry, I remind you, makes gazillions of $$$ off the exploitation of women). The traditional version of this myth laments the repression of hetero male sexuality with a tragic narrative: the poor ladâ€™s magnificent, fecund tumescence is controlled by inhumane and unnatural cultural sanctions against fucking everything that moves. In order to save his life, the beleaguered and bewoodied dude (or, in sleazeworld parlance, "the gentleman") is forced to buy porn and lap dances and hookers because blue-balls will fucking kill him, no matter what Jesus says.
That version is stupid enough, but the new improved feminist version is a howler of epic proportion. I allude to the hilarious but widely-held belief that strippers are â€œempoweredâ€–I can barely write this with a straight face–when they are commodified. Male â€œfeministsâ€ who view strip clubs as a harmless connubial divertissement of a Friday eve excuse their retarded behavior by telling themselves that these lucky, liberated gals are happily expressing their pent-up sexuality by rubbing their tits on the slobbering jowls of total strangers. They are telling themselves that the strippers are in total control, and are having the last laugh all the way to the bank. They are also telling themselves that their wives are the real beneficiaries of these harmless shenanigans, since the missus will enjoy bedroom heroism nonpareil once the lapdancers have gotten her fella worked up into a triple-x froth.
Emma links to a study commissioned by the Glasgow city council (PDF here) that pretty much debunks the myth of stripper empowerment, having found that strip clubs are engaged in the â€œsheer exploitation of women–sexual and financial.â€
It is not â€œsexual repressionâ€ that leads to the commodification of women, because sexual repression doesnâ€™t fucking exist. So what makes sensitive male feminists reluctant to condemn a dream world where hottt chixxx are available to them 24 hours a day?
I’ll give you one guess.