The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Strip Clubs

If there is one thing that having friends getting married (and therefore having bachelor parties) has taught me, it is that I loathe strip clubs.

For some reason, this surprises people. "What, a man hates strip clubs?"

Yes, this one does.

"He must be some sort of religiosu zealot!"

Nope, I'm an atheist. I am not going to moralize about the evils of such places. I am not going to demean the strippers themselves (I have met many rather accomplished women who have, at some point, worked as strippers). Nor am I going to point to the owners of the establishments and yell "sleaze merchant" - I haven't a clue as to who any of these people are or why they run these businesses as opposed to some other, so any argument I make about them will be steeped in ignorance.

"He must be a left-winger who hates them on social/political grounds!"

I imagine that most people are prepared to hear an argument about the commodification of women and marketing of female sexuality. This, in turn, might cause somebody to react by arguing that the strip club can be re-claimed by women and used as a place and tool of female sexual empowerment. This will then usually result in the person opposed to strip clubs arguing that the sort of "meat market mentality" of the strip club reinforces gender stereotypes and roles that normalize the view that women are simply objects for men's pleasure, thus disempoewering them even if women are attempting to use the strip club for the counter purpose. The second arguer will then start providing case studies of women who had, through the confidence and self-wroth that they gained while working as a stripper, gone on to do great deeds...and the argument will continue to go in circles until someone gives up or both argument partners get distracted by something else.

Yes, I did hear these arguments occuring at almost every barbecue I attended while in graduate school. Drunk anthropologists are either entertaining or annoying, depending on your tastes.

But I can't be bothered to get far enough to decide which, if either, side of this debate has the better point, because I despise strip clubs for another set of reasons altogether.

There are two things that I don't like about them. One is the physicial environment, the other is social. Let's take the physicial environment first.

For starters, they are loud. The flashing lights, the extremely loud music, I find it physically painful. They're generally as bad as dance clubs in this regard - another place that I can't stand. Unlike dance clubs, however, the strip clubs that I have been in aren't built for movement, so getting outside or to a relatively quiet place is rather more difficult.

Then, of course, there's the activity set to take place in the strip clubs. Yes, there is a woman undressing on stage and moving in a (usually allegedly) suggestive manner. However, any eroticism that such a thing might hold for me is completely and utterly nullified by the fact that I can think of nothing less arousing than being surrounded by a bunch of drunken frat boys - and yet this is what has been the case everytime I have been in such an establishment. What's more, if I am interested in some sort of sexual satisfaction, I can get that at home and don't need to spend money or time in a place that I find physically uncomfortable.

On the margins one will often see the psuedo-sophisticates sitting back, trying to be cool, as if there is nothing much happening here and they're a bit bored. They may have their girlfriend or a date with them, and this may be a bit of foreplay, or it may simply be them trying to show how trendy they are by going to a strip club and not getting riled up. Either way, I have always wished I had the ability to wander over and try to distract them with card tricks or something equally inane, just to see how they would react.

And then we come to the social aspect of the strip club. I'm not taslking about the social costs of such places for women, there are many people who have done a much better job of debating and discussing that than I possibly could (and even more people who have muddied the waters through rhetoric and questionable claims). What I am talking about is the sort of socialization I have been subjected to during and after visits to the clubs.

Some folks would argue that this is a forum for male bonding, and that I should embrace such things to become closer to my friends. But, you know, I really don't want to bond with people while they are preparing to shove money in someone else's G-string (and, no, I don't want them shoving money in my G-string either - they always want to give me rolls of coins and that's just uncomfortable). I also don't want to sit in the back with the psuedo-sophistactes trying to look bored. I really just want to be as far away from loudspeakers and flashing lights as I can get.

During the visit, social interaction between my friends and I seems to turn into arm punches and pushes, the occasional exclamation of "check out those tits! Look at that ass!", and someone moping because they weren't offered a lap dance (I always am, and by women who don't seem to want to take "no" for an answer, which leads me to believe that R. K. Milholland is right). After the visit, things don't improve much. There's always a couple of guys who want to out-tally the other's lap-dance total (uh, guys, they do it because you paid, not because they think your hot, so don't get your ego too tied up in it), and constant back-and-forth about "the boobs on that one!" or some such thing.


If I wanted to see my friends reduced to over-sexed gibbering idiots, I'd do it in the comfort of my own home by spiking their Cheerios with Mescaline and showing them clown porn. That might actually produce a conversation worth hearing.

So, yeah, I am, indeed, an adult male. I do, indeed, dislike strip clubs. I am, in fact, mystifieid as to their appeal. anyone who decides I need my "man card revoked" can go get bent.


Lt. Cccyxx said...

I'm with you, man. I wasn't even that into it when I was in college and what you describe was age-appropriate behavior (well, if it ever is). Now - forget it.

Sex is something I can get at home. Even just talking about it is not something I'd want my male friends associated with at all. If I see a hot woman I can think "nice ass" to myself and that's about as far as it needs to go.

And the loud music and flashing lights works like a total repellent on me, too. I think 30 minutes is the longest I've ever managed to tolerate a dance club, and that was mostly skulking around uncomfortably trying to decide whether I could leave already.

Anthroslug said...

I think that one of the things that most annoys me about both strip clubs and dance clubs is that many people don't want to accept that someone may simply not be interested, and so turning down an invitation results not in "Okay, I'll catch ya' later, then" but in "You are so uptight and judgmental, you need to loosen up and live a little."

Uhh, by going somewhere that I find physically painful to be in?

Shawn said...

While I don't find clubs of any kind nearly as painful as you do in general (I enjoy clubs for the environment, but don't feel the need to go out much - strip clubs even less), I would like to say that the following quote greatly entertained me:

"If I wanted to see my friends reduced to over-sexed gibbering idiots, I'd do it in the comfort of my own home by spiking their Cheerios with Mescaline and showing them clown porn. That might actually produce a conversation worth hearing."

...both because of the non-sequitur, and because of the absolute truth behind it.

Lt. Cccyxx said...

To your point, more than once in my younger days I accompanied a group to a club, paid the cover to get in, milled about for five minutes until the rest of the group got distracted, and immediately left. That was to avoid being labeled as lame.

I've been really lucky in largely avoiding the bachelor party circuit. Moving around and being poor for most of my 20s and early 30s had its benefits!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, sorry for dragging you along to the club for my bachelor party. There don't seem to be a lot of choices for that type of event. :)


Anthroslug said...

Aaron - no need to apologize - it was your bachelor party, and I could have simply bowed out. That being said, I won't be going to a strip club for any other reason.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, agreed, agreed. Strip clubs were cool the first 3 times I went because I had just turned 21 and it was new. Now they're just a waste of time.