“Men like strip clubs because they aren’t being told how to behave, or being shamed for their sexuality.”

This is a comment by KKZ on the post “Lap Dance Anxiety“.

“”I don’t think it’s fair to say that men go to the strip clubs with this idea of “Oh yay, I get to objectify me some women with no consequences.” The objectification is not the draw, nor the primary reason they’re there. And it’s not the objectification that bonds them.

“The draw, and the reason this is a bonding thing for them, is that the strip club environment is designed with the men’s desires in mind. No feminist agenda. No being told how to behave (aside from the club’s rules), no being shamed for giving these women sexual attention or for wanting sexual attention back. Out in the real world, they get pummeled with the message that male sexuality is insatiable and dangerous, they should be ashamed of themselves for it, and they must police their actions around women at all times if they don’t want to be labeled as misogynistic creeps (or worse, falsely accused of wrongdoing) just for letting their gaze linger too long on a nice pair of boobs.

“In the strip club? The women are eager to please. They don’t put up so many barriers to sexual attention—they invite it. Here it is safe to be a sexual man, to ogle and gawk and comment and catcall, without fear or shame. You’d think that men who go to these places do it for greedy, selfish, objectifying reasons—“Here’s my chance to treat women how I *really* want to treat them.” I’m sure some men probably have this attitude. But I get the impression that for a lot of men, it’s more about relief and relaxation in an inviting, nonjudgmental environment, than it is about intentionally breaking the rules of how they’re supposed to behave because they secretly want to break those rules all the time.

“I think the stigma we still have around sex gives us this idea that the sexual appetite is dirty and wrong, and any act/profession/image etc. meant to satisfy that appetite, outside the bonds of a committed relationship, is also dirty and wrong. But, as has been written here before, it’s an appetite just like any other. It’s like having a sweet tooth – you know that if you indulge this appetite too much and too often, it will not turn out well for you. But every now and then you have to cave and order that molten chocolate lava cake. There’s an appetite for it that demands satisfaction – no, you won’t die if you don’t get to eat that cake, but it sure will make you feel oh-so-good for just a fleeting moment, right? And it doesn’t make you a bad person to eat your cake and satisfy that craving every once in a while, especially if you are otherwise vigilant about keeping your sweet tooth in check. What’s more, society understands the sweet tooth and provides an abundance of options for satisfying it. You’re not judged for wanting sugar, that’s totally normal!

“It’s only because we view the sexual appetite as dirty and wrong that seeking to satisfy it is also considered dirty and wrong. I don’t see much difference between occasionally breaking the rules of your diet for some sweet, sweet cake, and occasionally breaking out of the restrictive rules of ideal and equal gender relations for some sexy, sexy ladies.” 

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  1. “Men like strip clubs because they aren’t being told how to behave, or being shamed for their sexuality.” – Not true. They like strip clubs because it is exciting, enticing and arousing. All these dancing flesh arouses a heady feeling.

    As for the men being pummeled in the real world with messages of sexual desire being wrong, an over-generalization. You must understand, there are situations that sexual appreciation is not desired by the one being appreciated, just like a cat don’t always want to be hugged and cuddled. The person being admired is a person and has their own thoughts and feelings and wants. There are also places and situations where these things are not desired. Men know this but many still take the risk. They take the risk then they should shoulder the repercussion.

    In a strip club (and many other places and situations), the women are receptive to sexual appreciation and the establishment encourage it. This is different atmosphere for like say a library, a museum or the church. Taking the same attitude in strip clubs to these places clearly is not appropriate or respectful. That is not what people wanted for going to this places. Your desire for having the same sexual attitudes for all places and situation is not realistic or practical. Don’t you just given some hate speech to those men whose attitude in the strip clubs are just like they should be doing in charity centers?

    And, yes they go there for their greedy selfish objectifying reasons. They use strippers for excitement, entertainment and pleasure, much like how we appreciate TV or fireworks.

    “I don’t see much difference between occasionally breaking the rules of your diet for some sweet, sweet cake” – There is no rule to not eat cakes. Eating cakes and other such tasty stuff is part of a healthy diet… or don’t you know that? Have you not know of the food pyramid?

    “…it’s an appetite just like any other…” – and some has appetites for rape, and murder, and torture, and drugs… so maybe we should satisfy their appetites too? The case is; appetites, desires, and whatnot are not the basis for morality. You just can’t say we have to satisfy our appetites and not evaluate the repercussions. Our appetites has their dark sides, always has. Being incautious and unaware will send you in trouble.

    “…no one is getting hurt…” – hmmm. These men’s wives sure are going to get hurt.

  2. I just want to add that if my partner did go to strip clubs–I’d WANT him to objectify the strippers. I don’t want him wondering about their personalities or hobbies or lives. I’d rather they just be bodies and curves and holes providing a service that’s nothing more than a transaction. Hopefully, he’ll forget they ever existed as soon as he left. I don’t want the sexuality to be associated with any type of actual intimacy.

    • I understand your point but I find it weird, can he have a basic interest like I do for strangers in their life? I am ok with my partner looking at male strippers, female strippers, getting to know them AS friends, being curious about their personality as long as it doesn’t go as far as being truly intimate and being a real threat to our relationship. Basically look, don’t touch, don’t get involved. If they want a lapdance…I dunno, that might be a bit too much? If I had a partner I wouldn’t want a lapdance but I dunno if I’d even wanna goto a stripclub either. It’s only something that really interests me when I am single.

    • Because tone does not come across in writing, I’m putting the disclaimer here that I ask the following with genuine interest, not judgement:

      Does it make you uncomfortable if your partner has intimate relationships with other women, by which I mean takes an interest in their personalities and hobbies and lives, in a non-sexual context? I.e., Are you comfortable if he has platonic female friends that he is very close with? Is it the double-whammy of intimacy and sexuality in a stripping context that would bother you?

      I’m just curious because I’ve seen variations of your statement here from others and I’m always interested to know more about where those sentiments come from.

    • Yeah that’s a good point and I kind of agree, if my boyfriend went to a strip club, I don’t want him developing an emotional relationship with a dancer and then finding out he’s been secretly buying her gifts and sending cute text messages and fantasizing about an actual relationship with her. I’d rather he see them as kind of 3D porn images and nothing else.

  3. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    Strip clubs ARE based on shame. I’m not ashamed of my sexuality, and wouldn’t waste my money. If I’m not going to make love to a woman, I don’t want her to strip for me. I do like non-sexual nude settings (probably even sexual ones, but I haven’t tried that.) When these clubs disappear, it’ll be a good sign. But the rest of society will need to become more erotic for that to happen. I believe that currrent repressive feminism may have contributed to bringing back these repressive institutions (like strip clubs.) Read Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization for why they’re repressive.

    • Hank, thanks for sharing your point of view. I admit I have not run across many men who would turn down the chance to see a woman naked even if he wasn’t going to make love to her; yours is an interesting perspective. And I would agree with your statement about the repressive aspects of feminism giving rise to more strip clubs. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction; for every effort made by feminists to influence men’s behavior, there will be an effort on behalf of men to escape this influence.

  4. PhilipDeal:
    “I guess it’s because I like women.”

    I would say that you go to clubs because you like womens bodies, though not necessarily the women themselves. I think men who hate women could easily go to strip clubs. They could easily like T&A but think women are beneath them. However, I’m wondering if some men dont differentiate between the two sometimes.

    • PhilipDeal says:

      Alice… really? I would like to tell you where to go put that but I do not want to loose my privileges to comment. And I know there is nothing shameful about being a stripper if that’s what you choose to do. Oh and by the way? What’s wrong with liking women’s bodies I don’t know? Fickled you are.

    • The Wet One says:

      Well Alice, you gotta start somewhere right? So far, based on what you’ve written (presumeable a reflection of your mind) vs. KKZ’s writing (a reflection of her mind), I’d rather spend time with KKZ. Veronica, the stripper above, also seems somewhat less interesting to hang out with than KKZ due to her protestation of feminish bona fides.

      See how that works? I actually determined which of the three of you were more interesting and approachable based solely on your characters as expressed through your written words. Believe it or not, men do the same thing with respect to women with regards to their looks.

      Shocking I know…

    • Why must a woman’s body and her inner mind and soul be so divided? I have trouble understanding this.

      My body is as much a part of who I am as my college degree, my career, my political beliefs, my spiritual beliefs, my accomplishments, my failures, and my flaws.

      I have a page-a-day calendar on my desk with images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Today’s image is “Christ Carrying the Cross” by El Greco. I can look on this painting and enjoy its aesthetics without knowing anything about El Greco, about Christ, about why the artist chose this subject or how he was trained or what his childhood was like or what his favorite type of wine is. Sure, knowing all of those details may enhance my enjoyment of the painting, may bring things to light that I did not otherwise see, and might create a more intimate understanding of the art and the artist. But right now, it’s just a pretty painting on my desk, and that’s all I want it to be.

      I would find it pretty strange and confusing if I said “I like to go to art museums because I like art,” and someone corrected me to say “I think you go to art museums because you like the paintings, not the art itself, because you don’t show interest in the rest of the story of each piece of art.”

      The paintings and the art are one in the same – two facets of the same gem. My body and my mind/soul are one in the same – two facets of my whole self. You (not you Alice, general “you”) may appreciate one aspect of me without appreciating the others, and that does not devalue me, nor does it make you a bad person. You may benefit from knowing more of me than just my body, but if that’s not what you want, that’s OK too.

      • Your arguments are faulty. Its very ridiculous. Its like saying your finger nail is your whole body. Looking to a finger nail of you is just as good as looking to the whole you. A thing might be a part of you, but a part of you is not you! What makes you You is the whole combination of parts of you.

        Well, to take it further, I’ll give an example. Remember BTK? BTK – bind-torture-kill is a very famous notorious serial killer. That’s an aspect most people know. But before his secret identity is out, many people respected him. He works in a church. Has a wife who sings in the choir. And is a great father to his children. But does knowing only this good facets of him the good way to appreciate this person? Are his relationship with this people really OK?

        “The paintings and the art are one in the same – two facets of the same gem.” – They are not. A painting is just part of art and even the beauty of the painting is just part of the painting. You will miss out a lot of things with that kind of view. Your way of appreciating the painting is like appreciating a bar of gold as a paper weight.

        Paintings and other form of art have important purpose in old time and are still now. Paintings has been used as educational material, a symbol and showcase of power and wealth, an advertisement, a message, etc. . Appreciating a painting only for its decorative value and then equating it to the whole realm of art is degrading. With just one sentence you equate everything about art as something just good to look at.

  5. I just want to pipe in that I love going to the strip club because I like to drink while watching beautiful nude girls dance. I like to go with my friends both male and female and I like getting lap dances. I guess it’s because I like women. I don’t think a women hating men go to strip joints, I think they are all in church and handing out flyers for Mitt Romney. Plus all of my friends are exotic dancers so I go to tip them and support them just like I go tip and support my gay male friends who do drag shows. It is really not that complicated. Men are not that complicated ether. I think kind of debate happens between women, who obviously as you two have demonstrated, have very different points of view on.

    • O.W.Holmes Jr says:

      I am a dancer and I hate to break it to you but men who hate women do frequent strip clubs, but fortunately for me they are in the minority.

  6. This was a very insightful and thoughtful article KKZ. Thanks for taking the time to see things from the male perspective. Luckily the notion of empathy for the male gender role strictures continues to catch on with a lot of women.

    I hope this trend continues. It’s a hell of a lot better than hearing my (or other men’s) problems don’t matter because…….male privilege (or patriarchy yeah that’s the ticket).

    • Thanks, John D. Not to sound all holier-than-thou but I’ve been studying Buddhism on and off for years and lately have become pretty intensely focused on the concept and application of compassion, which in the Buddhist view should be extended to all living things, human or not, male or female, ally or enemy, friend or stranger. I’ve been making a conscious effort to walk the talk, and one of my starting points has been to try to peek behind the cloth of the mainstream feminism I had come to know and try to better understand men and the issues they face. Feminists have long been asking men to examine and adjust their thinking about women; my personal definition of feminism asks me to do the same in my thinking about men, instead of assuming I already know all I need to know about them.

      • wellokaythen says:

        “Feminists have long been asking men to examine and adjust their thinking about women; my personal definition of feminism asks me to do the same in my thinking about men, instead of assuming I already know all I need to know about them.”

        Where can I order more of this kind of feminism? I’d like to order several cases. Can we make this kind go viral somehow?

        • Well, I’ve been practicing it for years.

          • wellokaythen says:

            Yay! Now, I just need to get you to take the place of my colleague who teaches Women’s Studies with a very different sort of feminism. Would you be willing to take over the campus Women’s Center as well? (Also a very different sort of feminism.)

          • I don’t suppose you would be up for some cloning would you?

            In all serious though there are feminists there that are doing it right but those loud mouth incorrect ones are f’ing it up for everyone.

        • Well, I’m glad you like and approve of my vision of fem inism, but unfortunately I’m a poor excuse for an activist, or an evangelist. I try to do well by my ideals in the scope of my own life, but I’m not a “bring it to the masses” kind of person, unless you count commenting on TGMP all day 😉

  7. Excellent points as usual, KKZ.

    I slot “objectification” in with “privilege” and “patriarchy” as terms that indicate all rational thought has stopped.

  8. The moment you started getting huffy about “feminist agenda” is the moment you lost this reader. I’m a feminist and a stripper. See if you can write this again without the obvious disdain for your definition of a feminist. And the reasons you describe for why men go to strip clubs? They’re all about objectifying women. You’d be a better man if you could own up to that and then describe why that’s important to you.

    • I’m sorry I offended you. It probably wasn’t clear from my original comment since it didn’t appear with my photo, but I’m a woman. I’m also a feminist – a sex-positive, egalitarian feminist, if I need to specify. But I believe I can call myself a feminist and still point out how some aspects or attitudes of feminism can be harmful or stifling to men.

      In my observation, a lot of the language demonizing men for their sexuality comes out of feminist circles; it’s relatively rare among feminists to see an abundance positive, affirming language about male sexuality, there’s generally much more discussion of how “bad” men can be. Also, in my observation, some women (feminists included) don’t hesitate to tell men how to behave. Don’t catcall, don’t hold doors open, don’t make lewd jokes (not even to each other), don’t approach women in public, don’t stare at boobs/asses, don’t slut-shame, don’t watch porn, don’t make comments about women you find attractive.

      Not all feminists are like this, and even the ones who are, I don’t think their intentions are necessarily malicious (I do not disdain them, I merely disagree); I’m just trying to put myself in the shoes of a man who faces this kind of messaging all the time. I’m taking a wild guess here that while men don’t necessarily disagree with the idea that they should treat women with respect, sometimes they just get sick of being cast as sexual monsters that can’t be trusted to govern themselves, and told over and over again exactly how they are “allowed” to express themselves sexually. I’ve heard sentiments like this expressed by commenters on the Good Men Project.

      My unscientific, unconfirmed hypothesis is: Some men find relief in the strip club environment, where they can interact with women without needing to police their every word and every glance and every action so closely, to make sure they don’t do something that could get them called sexist or misogynist. I think it’s is akin to a dieter who drops in on an ice cream parlor when the rules of the diet (rules they agree with and know they should follow) are bothering them and they want a little relief.

      In other words, I don’t think men go to strip clubs to gleefully objectify women. I think they go because it’s a low-risk, low-commitment way to satisfy part of their sexual appetite (the desire to see naked people) without having to jump through so many hoops and gain approval first. And again, as long as everyone consents and no one is getting hurt, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with that.

      • wellokaythen says:

        I think your hypothesis is a very good one, and it shows a lot of understanding. I also think your hypothesis is perfectly compatible with feminism, though maybe not all forms of it.

        I’m guessing for many men the strip club feels like a much *simpler* place. There, the interaction with women that he’s attracted to is more direct and straightforward. There’s still some negotiation and perhaps some game-playing, but much less than in the rest of the world. Some people might think of this as being lazy or giving up making an effort or being afraid of a “real woman.” I doubt that’s usually the case. It’s an escape to a place where sexuality is simpler, and where his desires get recognized and (to some degree) get center stage. Where *he* sets the pace of “courtship,” for lack of a better word.

      • Quadruple A says:

        I thought practically everyone was against cat calling women. I’m not sure what that term means. I think however that we should probably live in a world where its okay to be random and expressive toward strangers even in a sexual way. So in that sense I am pro cat-calling.

        • wellokaythen says:

          I’m sensitive to noise, so in an open marketplace of catcalls, I would request some sort of decibel maximum. And please be specific so I know whether you’re talking to me or not. I don’t want to thank you for comments about my ass if the comment wasn’t meant for me. I hate that awkwardness….. : – )

          • Hank Vandenburgh says:

            I don’t think that this stuff is real male sexuality any more than porn is. It’s almost as though we erect (no pun) a fake sexuality (commodified) on purpose (many of us agreeing on how it should be fake – strangely.) Oh you want more eros? Take anal and facial ejaculation (or bustiers) then. To me, these things are actually anti-erotic.

        • I think what you have to keep in mind is that even in an ideal world where you could be open and expressive about your sexual attraction to random strangers, there is no guarantee that those strangers won’t be disgusted, angry, and turned off by your attention. Their feelings would be as valid as yours and in a perfect world, they would also be free to express their revulsion openly. So openness is a doubled edged sword….

      • In response again to KKZ:

        Clearly I don’t have any problem with strip clubs. But you can’t deny that people go to them to look at women as bodies on a stage. So while men or anyone else may not consciously think “Hey, I think I’ll go objectify some women today” they’re probably also not thinking, “Hey, I think I’ll head over to the strip club to meet new people and learn about who they really are.” I put would put strippers in a similar category as bartenders or similar service providers. They’re there to make you feel good. And that’s what you pay for. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

        As far as “aspects or attitudes of feminism” being “harmful or stifling to men,” I think that’s unfair. There are certainly misandrists out there, but that’s not the same thing as feminism. But because women have a sad history of being manipulated and controlled by men (hello 112th Congress!), we’ve got to really pipe up when shit isn’t right. There are plenty of totally normal, respectful, sexual men who know when it’s time to get frisky and when it’s time to behave. But there are also a number of men who know no such bounds. Men who think women are toys to be batted around. I’ve been around both. There are times when a smack on my ass will warrant a giggle and return play, and there are times when a smack on my ass warrants a punch in the face.

        As far as women telling men what to do… well, that probably goes both ways. But in terms of women who are anti- pretty much anything sexual that men may or may not do… my guess is they’ve got their reasons. Most of them probably feel threatened or scared in some way. Women get a tough role in this world. Some of us power through…some of us don’t or just can’t. I was slut-shamed on the BBC last year! WTF! And it messed with my head for weeks. For the same reason I was shamed on BBC (SlutWalk), I’ve received a bazillion horrific comments on a youtube video. For doing a simple dance. With all my clothes on. In a public park. Comments that make me sick to my stomach. That I deserve to be raped. That I would *never* be raped because I’m too fat and ugly. These people are OUT THERE and have no compunction about being total misogynistic a-holes. So while I agree that all men shouldn’t take the rap for the douchebags, the douchebags can’t be ignored either. And I wish the “good” men would pipe up more often in a positive manner, rather than complaining about feminazis (Thank you, Rush Limbaugh) and being discriminated against because, whoa. Get some perspective here. Because frankly, I think the strippers themselves have a much worse stigma attached to them than the men who frequent their clubs.

        • I don’t think going to a strip club to see a woman strip is objectifying, you can still see them as a human. I think it CAN be when people only value them for their body though. I think there is a mix of men and women who will visit strip clubs, some will objectify, and others will simply look but still be respectful and see them as a human who is naked and not an object who is ONLY sexual.

          “And I wish the “good” men would pipe up more often in a positive manner, rather than complaining about feminazis”
          I wish more feminists would pipe up more often in a positive manner, calling out the misandrists, extremists etc in feminism. Every group needs to do more distancing between their radicals and the majority.

          “As far as “aspects or attitudes of feminism” being “harmful or stifling to men,” I think that’s unfair.”
          No, that’s completely fair. Some aspects and attitudes in feminism ARE harmful and stifling to men. You don’t get to pick and choose what is feminist and what isn’t, there are plenty of feminists who will say all men are rapists, that porn is akin to rape, and other vile trash and they self-identify as feminists thus they are a part of feminism are they not? Or would you agree that the misogynist MRA’s are not representative of the MRM for instance?

          There is a clear lack of calling out the misandrists in feminism, there are so many differing views in feminism that it can often be a hostile area for men to even be in. You get some feminists who invite men and they will say to men that feminism = the egalitarian movement, yet others will say feminism = a gynocentric space for women’s issues and men need to stfu. You have some feminists who believe transgendered women are not really women and absolutely hate them, are they not feminists? Are their views not representative of feminism? Who gets to define what feminism is if not feminists themselves. Some aspects of feminism are truly a hatemovement giving the entire feminist movement a bad name, there are extremists who do more to destroy the reputation of feminism than the misogynists could ever dream to do. But alas that’s only one part of feminism, a subset, but when I hear others say Not All Feminists Are Like That it makes me believe that yes misandry is a part of the feminist movement but isn’t something ALL feminists partake in.

          So yes there are feminists and parts of feminism that are absolutely fucking disgusting and to me clearly indicate a hatemovement group, whereas other feminists and even feminist groups are not a hatemovement. What would you call it, a group inside a group, a subset of individuals that can constitute their own hatemovement? Overall I think they’re the minority, but they’re a vocal minority who have a huge impact. Even just some of the internet feminists who are highly antagonistic and combative, full of snark, those who laugh at issues men face do a huge amount of damage to the reputation of feminism (I don’t mean all internet feminists btw). Do you know what it’s like for instance to be actually INVITED in by some feminists, asked why there aren’t more males in the feminist movement, told that feminism will help us with male and female issues and then get blasted by feminists telling us that feminism is a women’s space, that men’s space is everywhere else in the world and to basically stfu?

          So yes, KKZ was being very fair, because what she said was the truth. I as a male have felt my own sexuality has been heavily demonized by some parts of feminism, but at the same time other parts of feminism has also supported my sexuality. When everyone uses the same damn label and doesn’t differentiate then you are going to have so many damn opposing views where some parts of feminism is a hatemovement, other parts is egalitarian, other parts are gynocentric, etc.

          • Wow, Archy, great thoughts and well said! And thank you for the support.

            Vanessa, I’d like you to look at two different things you said in the same comment.
            “There are certainly misandrists out there, but that’s not the same thing as fem inism.”
            “So while I agree that all men shouldn’t take the rap for the dou chebags, the dou chebags can’t be ignored either.”

            Well, I agree that misandrists are not representative of ideal fem inism, but misandry and misandrists can’t be ignored, either.

            And when men point out misandry, many many femi nists of all stripes come roaring “patriarchy! privilege! history of oppression!” etc. etc. So as a woman, I feel I’m in a better position to call out my sisters on misandrist behavior than the men who are hurt by it, because they won’t be heard.

            “Be the change you want to see in the world,” said Ghandi. That’s all I’m trying to do.

            • Thank-you, I wish more feminists could read it to understand where so many anti-feminists come from. The hypocrisy and chop n changing rules muddy it all up soooo much, I never know which version of feminist I’m talking to or reading at first look. I usually have to ask (which means I may end up triggering the whataboutthemenz insults) or read them for quite a while to see if they discuss male topics. I wish they’d just use labels like egalitarian feminist or gynocentric, it’d make it a lot easier to avoid all the derailing and fighting that goes on!

          • wellokaythen says:

            The word “feminism” just isn’t as cool as it used to be in academic circles, even among people who are deeply sympathetic feminist ideas. For the past decade or so in cultural studies, gender studies, cultural history, etc., the trendy thing has been to de-center and pluralize everything as a way to challenge people’s assumptions. Slap an “s” on the end of just about any noun and you sound a little more sophisticated.

            For example, you’ll see a lot of papers presented at conferences that speak of “feminisms” instead of “feminism.” In the same way, there are racisms, sexisms, imperialisms, Gods, communisms, homosexualities, etc.

            I think this is a little cheesy sometimes, but maybe there’s some wisdom here. Maybe what we’ve been arguing over is not THE real definition of “feminism,” but instead one feminism in conversation with another feminism, while it’s in conflict with a third feminism and at war with a fourth feminism. Perhaps there really is no single thing that we can call feminism, just related but separate things that have taken on the name or been branded with the name.
            Maybe “feminism” is a genus with a wide range of species.

            • You’re on the right track, wellokaythen – the divergence you allude to is partially why we have labels like First Wave, Second Wave and Third Wave femi nism, all identified by slightly different values, agendas and approaches. It feels to me like there’s a Fourth Wave developing that seeks to reconcile some of the disparities among the other waves – a pro-sex, egalitarian movement (or maybe I just say that because that’s what I personally want to see). But the waves all overlap and bleed into each other, there are still living breathing Second-Wave fem inists who still believe in the ideals of their own feminism and for whom some of the modern issues of fem inism, like slutwalks and pro-sex dialogues, just don’t jive.

              I’m aware when I call myself a fem inist that it comes with a lot of baggage, a lot of ideas that don’t necessarily jive with me, either. But baggage is part of life. I call myself white, and that comes with baggage too. I call myself bisexual, and inherit the problems of other bi’s who face judgement from hetero and homosexual people re: “bisexuality doesn’t exist” or “just pick a side already.” So even though I know the fem inist label means different things to everyone who hears it, and not all of those things are true for me, I still wear it.

              And you know what, lately I’m starting to become more comfortable identifying as masculist (masculinist?) as well, as I develop deeper relationships with men (including many of the men on these boards – I feel I’m creating some friendships here, even in anonymity). I feel there’s no contradiction in being pro-woman and pro-man – because I’m certainly not anti-either.

              • wellokaythen says:

                Just out of curiosity, I noticed in your message that there was always a space in the word “feminist.” It looked like “fem inist.” Is that on purpose, or is that some kind of typing glitch?

        • Vanessa, thanks for your thoughtful response. You make some good points. My hypothesis wasn’t meant to be all-encompassing, hence me trying to say “some men” and “in my observation” etc. as often as I could. I agree there are d-bags out there, and you can probably speak to that better than I can; I’d imagine you have to deal with them pretty frequently. But I also sympathize with the Good Men who have to live in the shadow of these d-bags (I’m not sensitive about cursing, people, I’m just trying to avoid the auto-mod). and who are treated as though all men are cut from the same horrible misogynist cloth.

          It might help to know the context of the comment I was originally responding to, too. A woman on the original article had said she understands that men go to strip clubs together as a bonding thing, but expressed confusion/dismay as to why men can only bond when there’s objectification involved. So my reply to her, the comment of the day up above, was to say I don’t think it’s the objectification that bonds them or that even draws (some of) them to the club, it’s the relaxed, non-threatening, male-oriented environment. And even for those who go because they just plain want to see real live boobs – boobs that they don’t have to jump through any hoops to have access to, just hand over some money – well, honestly, I don’t see much wrong with that either, given the consent of all parties including the strip-club-patron’s significant other, if he has one. (Then again, I’m bisexual and a p-rn consumer, sometimes all I want is to see boobs too.)

          I’m not a stripper but I am a pole dancer/pole fitness enthusiast and have devoted much thought to the stripper stigma, because a lot of non-stripping pole dancers face it too (much like you did when you performed a clothed dance in a public park). Strippers do face more stigma than strip club patrons, because for the patrons, it’s often an eye-rolling, dismissive “boys will be boys” sort of attitude. But for the strippers – well, they must be desperate, or misguided, or drug-addled, or they have daddy issues, or low self-esteem, or no other useful skills, etc. It can’t possibly be because they enjoy any of it. It can’t possibly be because it’s a relatively easy way of making money. It can’t possibly be because there’s empowerment in being openly and outwardly sexual and in touch with one’s own sexuality.

          I don’t agree with that thinking. It casts women, strippers, as the victim yet again – as though stripping is something “The Man” (Patriarchy) forced them into, rather than a choice they made. They have their reasons for doing what they do, and who am I, or who is anyone else, to question that?

          • wellokaythen says:

            [Admittedly, some generalizations here. I’m saying many, not all.]

            I’ve noticed that when many women who aren’t strippers talk about women who are, the sentiments expressed are not really about sympathy for the less fortunate, empathy for those with fewer options, or a sense of feminine solidarity. Maybe in the abstract, but when they meet or talk about an actual person, it can be pretty hostile, even hateful. When many women think about the men they know going to a strip club, they don’t think “oh, those poor women being oppressed.” More often they think about “those trashy sluts” threatening their relationships.

            So, I don’t fully buy the idea that the central concern is the objectification or oppression of fellow women. Certainly my wife would not be angry at me for visiting a strip club because she felt sorry for the strippers there. She would not be appeased whatsoever if I told her I was a very respectful client and tipped generously and got to know them as people and not just bodies. (That would probably make it worse….)

            • Why can’t it be a very uncomfortable combination of both?

              • wellokaythen says:

                Good point. It can be both. People don’t have to be consistent. Or it could be there’s a visceral, emotional reaction that’s different from a political, ideological thought.

                Obviously people can hate someone and try to help the person at the same time. There’s charity work out there that’s like that.

            • O.W.Holmes Jr says:

              wellokaythen, I am a stripper and you are right on the money.

            • Like Julie says, my reaction to my boyfriend/husband would be a combination of both. One the one hand, I’d feel threatened because I know I’m not as young and physically attractive as a stripper, so I would wonder if he’s tired of our relationship or thinking about cheating. I realize those feelings might or might not be accurate, but I am just admitting that my first thought would probably be to blame myself for not being sexy enough to keep him entertained at home. I would feel pretty sh!tty about myself. At the same time, I’d also think about issues like human trafficking, exploitative prostitution and so on, and wonder how my boyfriend can enjoy strippers knowing that some of the women there may have been sexually abused, or are addicted to drugs or being exploited or whatever.

              That said, I’ve never freaked out and told him “you can never ever ever go to a strip club!” I just hope that when all is said and done, it’s not something he will feel the need to do often, if ever!

          • Adsum Ozar says:

            KKZ, I think you did a great job with this article, and I also agree with Vanessa when she says that the stigma that women who are strippers carry is more severe than that of men frequenting these joints. I used to frequent a strip joint back when I was single because it was nice to get a drink after a hard night’s work, see beautiful girls perform, and maybe -just maybe- carry on a conversation with one of them without worrying about all the complex restrictions and requirements society imposes on both sexes before considering the other. Now, I’m not under any illusions about the sincerity of most of the conversations had by any patrons with employees in such a social setting, but I did make some cool connections with some people there both employees and regulars. Vanessa is correct to say that a lot of the men hanging out at these places are just d-bags, but I think those same men usually out themselves early and are watched closely thereafter. What I know for certain is that I met a girl -also named Vanessa by the way- working there, that was very powerful in my view. She seemed to enjoy what she was doing, and the attention she got. She was in control, but was also open to conversation from just about anyone with good common sense about the dynamics of the situation. She was lovely to me -as she was to a lot of folks- and her performance became second to her conversation. Again, I was not, or am under any illusions concerning meaningful interactions in such setting, but after dealing with complex personalities and stiffing societal postures all night at work, well… it was all so refreshing to me. This is indeed a very complex subject, and I’ve had one or two discussions with my wife regarding the objectification side of the story, but as we already know it is multifaceted in nature. She focuses on the d-bags, and their objectification of the women working there. I like to focus on the memory of Vanessa’s beauty, graceful vulnerability, and seemingly absolute power. Yes, it was probably just Vanessa being perceived by me this way, but I wish it to be otherwise. She was a goddess on stage, an angel off of it, and will always remain a beautiful human being to me. Regarding the whole feminist thing -and I mean no disrespect- I tend not to focus so much on labels but the humanity of the principles. I am pro-women (can I say that?), pro-children, pro-humanity, and my wish for equality is greater than my desire to lead in any way other than to accomplish the truest equality of it all.

        • Quadruple A says:

          “Clearly I don’t have any problem with strip clubs. But you can’t deny that people go to them to look at women as bodies on a stage”

          I think you are wrong. I did not go to strip clubs to see woman as bodies. You are also wrong when you say men don’t go to meet human beings. I think you would be a much more successful stripper if you had a more nuanced and more generous understanding of men’s sexual desires and motivations.

  9. Older guy says:

    I wasn’t crazy about strip clubs as a younger guy. Why pay to see something I ought to be finding on my own for free? Being older, I’m ok with them and enjoy them. I accept that I’m never going to see/touch a lovely naked 19-year old unless I pay for the privilege.

    Going with other guys was always a so-so part of it when I was younger. It was ok to have company if we were so drunk it was all just a raucous mess. If we weren’t it was kind of awkward. Being older, I just go by myself to have a drink, chat with whoever’s there and enjoy the view.

  10. Quadruple A says:

    “I think the stigma we still have around sex gives us this idea that the sexual appetite is dirty and wrong, and any act/profession/image etc. meant to satisfy that appetite, outside the bonds of a committed relationship, is also dirty and wrong.” –

    Everything you are saying here is essentially correct and needs to be said and often. Although, I wish I could enjoy strip clubs in the simple manner with which you imply that they are enjoyed. Male sexuality can consist of physical desire and it can consist of emotional connection love making, etc. The neglected middle is where desire is partially physical but also personal as well. This neglected middle explains why a recent study showed that men are much more turned on by pictures which show a woman looking directly in the camera. The study showed that men were barely aroused when shown pictures of women not looking at the camera.

    • Then you’ll be happy to know I’m presenting an essay containing the same essential message to a class of mostly women and a few men tomorrow evening. 🙂

      And though I didn’t touch on this in my original comment (my first C.o.t.D., woot woot!), I agree with you about male sexuality being multifaceted and not just about visual/physical stimulation – and very interesting about the study findings! I do think some men can find a level of emotional/personal intimacy with a stripper (and from what I’ve heard, a small number of men get very attached to their favorite dancer). It’s a low-risk intimacy – there’s no commitment or exclusivity, and unless you tell her something really horrible, the dancer is unlikely to dismiss, belittle, mock, judge, or argue with you. For one, if she keeps you talking, you’re likely to spend more; for two, like a bartender, she’s probably heard it all, so your confessions are unlikely to faze her much. Still, getting cozy with strangers is not everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s fine too. To each their own, I say, as long as everyone consents and no one’s getting hurt.

    • wellokaythen says:

      A strip club isn’t necessarily a place where male sexuality is celebrated and honored without shame. Ideally it would be, but in practice there is probably still some “pro-shame” messages floating around in some places. Any reference to a woman being “naughty” in some way, or setting up men in a voyeuristic position, or celebrating tackiness for its own sake, can tap into that whole shame thing. Shame and guilt about sex can be used by sex workers to make the experience more intense. It’s like you’re allowed to get away with it, but still reminded that you’re getting away with something you’re not supposed to get away with. Strip clubs are successful because they’re sort of the flip side of repression – the more repressed the outside society, the more special the strip club feels.

      I’m not trying to be anti-stripping here. I think it’s important that men have spaces where their sexuality is respected and open, and I think strip clubs have taken on that function, but they don’t necessarily do that very well for most men. It may just be it’s a slightly less bad option compared to the few other options out there.

      • Yeah, I agree – strip clubs are no male-sexuality utopia, but still better than the alternative, at least for some men.

        The shame – well, the strip club industry does capitalize on it, I’d agree with that too. They know they’re a guilty pleasure for their patrons. There is appeal, for some people, in knowing you’re doing something naughty, something you’re not supposed to do – the whole “you know you want it” thing is a pretty tried and true marketing strategy. It’s used to get women to drop hundreds on shoes and clothes that really aren’t worth their price tag. You know you shouldn’t spend that much money on a single item, but you know you want those boots….

  11. Seeing nudity is nice, what can I say.


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