‘Strip Club Tax’ to Fund Houston’s Rape Kit Analysis


Like many cities, Houston doesn’t have the funds to analyze all of the rape kits sitting in their labs.

The city needs to raise money, so they did something clever… They created a “strip club fee” wherein every strip club patron must pay $5 toward analyzing rape kits.

I can imagine that some men feel this is discriminatory. After all, aren’t the majority of patrons at strip clubs men? Don’t the majority of rape kits belong to female victims?

But having rape kits analyzed benefits men who are falsely accused or identified as well. DNA that has been analyzed after many years has exonerated many men, some on death row. If they can’t analyze the DNA, they can’t use the DNA to free innocent people. Certainly some of these rape kits also belong to male victims, and they must have a representative set of evidence sitting there, unanalyzed.

The Wall Street Journal investigates this tax further:

Supporters of the ordinance, which was supported by Mayor Annise Parker and approved on a 14-1 vote, contend that strip clubs should shoulder some of the costs of rape investigations because the establishments can cultivate unhealthy attitudes toward women that can lead to sexual assaults.

“There are negative secondary effects associated with adult-entertainment establishments,” said Ellen Cohen, the council member who championed the ordinance, which could generate up to $3 million in annual revenue.

This is where they lost me. I want to see evidence that there is a tie between established strip clubs and sexual violence against women.

Luckily, WSJ also featured commentary to counter:

Critics strongly question attempts to tie strip clubs to violence against women, calling the fee unfair. “There is no known correlation between people going to nice, high-end gentlemen’s clubs and rape,” said Albert Van Huff, a Houston lawyer who represents local strip clubs.

A 2009 report by the University of Texas at Austin concluded that no study has “authoritatively linked alcohol, sexually oriented businesses, and the perpetration of violence.”

WSJ also notes that nationally, the number of unprocessed rape kits numbers around 400,000. That’s a staggering number. When you think about how many men are probably falsely imprisoned, while the real perpetrators walk the street because of the natural failings of victim eye-witnesses and other factors, due to financial shortcomings, that number is terrifying!

What do you think of the “pole tax” in Texas?


Photo of sexy stripper courtesy of Shutterstock

About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and editor with a special focus in issues facing raising boys and gender in the media. Her work has appeared on Redbook, Yahoo!, xoJane, MariaShriver.com, TIME.com, and more. She and her husband are outdoor sports enthusiasts raising very active sons. She is currently co-editing a book of essays for boys and young men with author and advocate Jeff Perera. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.


  1. OMG…you didn’t actually print this and not refute it, did you? :”I can imagine that some men feel this is discriminatory. After all, aren’t the majority of patrons at strip clubs men? Don’t the majority of rape kits belong to female victims?”

    Dear, that makes NO sense at all, since the rapists are men. They rape because they feel entitled to do so. You can’t make a case that those that don’t actually USE the rape kits should not pay for them, because it’s the men’s data you are collecting. What you are saying is that women are not full citizens and should be tossed aside–like in just about every other female medical need: birth control, abortion, breast cancer. Heck, it’s a female problem, of no interest to men, and as such, not worthy of funding or of any interest at all. Men can go about life doing what they please. Women just have to lump it.

    I’d like to hear from a few strippers here to see if they really do need those bouncers to keep then creeps off of them. If not, then I’d say that the tax is off base. Or how about just freaking funding as a matter of course? If we could not afford erectile dysfunction mediation, for sure they’d find a way to fund it. Hey wait…they did that already. You can get that on insurance, but not birth control.

    • So why charge people who don’t commit the crime with the costs of the crime? Specifically, MALES? Your argument falls flat when non-rapists are made to pay, the fact that it’s mostly men that rape women has ZERO to do with this since the majority of men do not rape. If it’s so bad then tax the entire population, men and women, otherwise yes it is discrimination to only tax part of the population at a setting which has nothing to do with rape. What’s next, taxing female gyms for funding male abuse helplines?

      Bouncers exist anywhere with alcohol pretty much, alcohol tends to make some people do very stupid things. What this tax is saying is that all men are responsible for the harm that some men do, so your argument of how women aren’t worthy of help fails a bit in that respect. I support putting them on the tax-paid BY ALL system (quite frankly it should be as part of police budgeting) but not selective tax unless you’re making the tax paid for by rapists themselves (both male and female rapists).

  2. Only one surprising response, & even that one didn’t stray too far from the party line. No, no one is actually saying that “men are driven to a frenzy by strip clubs & then go out & rape.” No one is saying that “all men rape women”. or “sex is bad.” What the tax is saying is that men do the raping & the rape-culture in this society (“men are entitled to sex”, “women should be sexually available”, “women who object are feminazis,” etc) is fairly well enshrined in strip clubs. Not in beauty salons. Men rape women because they feel entitled to do so.

  3. Kendall says:

    I suppose merely fining customers is a step up from the UK, where feminist lies about strip clubs causing rape have been used to shut down and ban clubs in a number of places.

    Over here in Britain, feminist groups like Object, London Feminist Network, and UK Feminista published statistics claiming that there are significant increases in rape around strip clubs. According to them watching a woman dance naked drives men so crazy with lust that they’ll attack the next women they see after leaving the club.

    Banning the clubs was promoted as a matter of women’s safety, with anyone opposed denounced as a pro-rape misogynist. It was also used to attack the dancers, portraying them as so selfish that they put their greed above the welfare of innocent women walking past their clubs. That way any protest by women worried about losing their jobs during a financial crisis could be dismissed as anti-feminist and unimportant.

    Of course when people looked at the police statistics for rape and sexual assault they showed no correlation between the presence of strip clubs and attacks on women.

    Not that that did anything to stop the moral crusade against them…

  4. It’s appalling to single out strip clubs like this, why do it? Put it as a general tax, I wouldn’t want to pay $5 for a rape kit for someone JUST because I went to a strip club, wtf should I have to pay it for? Why are men in particular being made to pay for it? Because a few men commit crime? How about everytime someone is convicted of rape, they have to buy 5 rapekits.

  5. I don’t really have a problem with this per se, (maybe because I don’t go to strip clubs) but I do have to wonder what the reaction would be if a “tax” (for lack of a better term) was levied against something with a primarily female patronage. Like if, for example, they tacked a five dollar tax onto salon patrons to help pay for something like paternity tests.

  6. John Anderson says:

    “can imagine that some men feel this is discriminatory. After all, aren’t the majority of patrons at strip clubs men?”

    I don’t think that a $5 tax will really affect a patron as a lap dance is probably at least $10, but may affect a waitress or stripper.

  7. David Byron says:

    It sounds like just another feminist inspired “all men are rapists” statement. It’s this sort of thing that rightfully casts feminism as a hate movement. It’s obviously discriminatory, obviously seeks to punish men just for being men, obviously based upon a deeply sexist view of men.

    I think there was a recent piece of research that examined sexual assault convictions using DNA evidence and found some huge proportion of them were false convictions of men. Any time you have a man convicted of sexual assault of some sort in the US it seems there’s a good chance they were innocent. Essentially sexual assault has become a political crime in the US and the men convicted of it are often political prisoners to feminist theory. I don’t see these “rape kits” doing anything about that because the accused men aren’t being tested.


  8. james thurber says:

    joanna: you are correct, but i will bet dollars to doughnuts that isn’t why they are doing it. after all the ‘beauty’ industry sets unhealthy attitudes towards women as well, in imho, ever worse than strip clubs, i wonder why they aren’t putting the burden on them…oh that’s right, men visit strip clubs…

    • Well, technically it’s a tax on strip club owners, not patrons, and owners can be women as well as men.

      Seriously, it’s a bit a stretch to see this as an “anti-men” tax. It’s an anti-sex(uality) tax. It’s a penalty of stepping outside a narrow moral code. And since women are as much sexual creatures as men are, enforcing an anti-sex culture is as much anti-women as anti-men.

      • John Anderson says:

        “created a “strip club fee” wherein every strip club patron must pay $5 toward analyzing rape kits.”

        Joanna said club patrons not owners. If you have other information please link. It may be collected by the owners, but it’s charged to the patrons.

  9. Copyleft says:

    If you want to fund rape kits, do it with a general tax. Why single out strip club patrons as though they were responsible for rape, or had a special obligation to remedy it?

  10. Loading strip clubs with a specific “rape investigation tax” sounds like a case of “sex is bad, anything goes”, justifying just about any kind of regulation. It becomes a tex on “bad morals”, penalizing whatever is felt to be less than appropriate behaviour.

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