The popular perception of strip clubs tends towards the notion that these venues are “Gentleman’s Clubs”, geared exclusively toward fostering misogynist attitudes to women, and the devaluing of the female body. But are these opinions or views outdated? After all, as the habit of hen-nights hiring male strippers will attest, striptease is not only for men. Despite the rumours, strip clubs (especially those that are part of a chain organisation, such as Spearmint Rhino) have very strict rules: they are establishments for adult entertainment, for exotic dance and striptease, touching the girls or asking for “extras” is not tolerated and customers who have any objections to the rules will be asked or forced to leave. What’s more, most clubs are now female-friendly and even hold student nights.
Thinking about this side of the coin, can we challenge conventional perceptions and break down the taboos that may perhaps unfairly surround these establishments? After all, when we consider the other ways in which women are embracing their sexual freedom – sex toys, costumes (fancy dress) female-friendly porn – perhaps we should be able to appreciate the other ways in which women can express their sexuality.
One. Watching other women dance erotically can teach you a lot about your own body. Learning to appreciate other women’s bodies and even to find them attractive can help you to lift your own self-confidence, and to love and appreciate your body and perhaps to help you realise that you are attractive in other people’s eyes.
Two. If not… Know thy enemy (!). Going to a strip club will inform and bolster your convictions about this industry.
Three. If you’ve never thought about finding other women sexually attractive, this could be a chance to test your sexual preferences. Being in this environment could challenge your personal boundaries. Watching women in a club, rather than making moves on your friends, could be a safe and a relatively unembarrassing way to explore your sexual orientation if you’re bi-curious or even unsure about whether you’re lesbian. You won’t be the only one.
Four. Strip clubs can be an exciting new experience for couples, and can offer fun and friendly opportunity. Why not go with your partner? You may find it an intimate experience to be there together, to find out what turns him on, and to spice up your sex life. Being in that environment is highly likely to turn him on, but at the end of the night, it’s you he’s going to go home with, because you’re the one he loves. Accepting and understanding that could be exciting and exhilarating for both of you.
Five. Learn to become upfront and honest with your partner about other women. It may not be an easy experience, but it may help both of you to understand that he may find other women attractive. Nevertheless, there are thing that as a girlfriend, really set you apart from the kinds of women you’ll see in a club. Understanding and being sympathetic to each other is perhaps a good way to foster an honest friendship between a couple. It could even just be fun to compare which of the girls you find attractive, or stimulate some healthy debate about what your relationship means to both of you.
Six. Go to chat to the girls who work there. No matter what your feelings are ethically, morally or personally about the sex industry, talking to the women who have been right in the middle of it could help you understand the “other side of the story”.
Seven. Go to find out whether this is something you would be happy doing to earn some extra money. Most “strip joints” do have rules and tend to take care of the women who work there. This is becoming an increasingly common or normal way for students to supplement their income and help ease the burden of student debt; and looking at the recent Browne Review, it may become more important than ever for students to find new ways to fund themselves through university.
Eight. Beauty is only skin deep. Go to reassure yourself that, even if your body isn’t as “perfect” as the dancers, you can appreciate yourself as being normal and feel beautiful just for being that. And don’t forget that the girls who work there are more than dancers, too.
Nine. They’re full of single guys. Take the most good-looking one home (!).
Ten. You only have one life. We are lucky to live in a liberal society. And to understand what this really means, sometimes you have to tease the boundaries of your comfort zone.
There are, of course so many counter-arguments to all of these reasons. But it doesn’t mean that the reasons aren’t there. In many ways, this article is playing devil’s advocate. How many of you have ever thought about going to a club? Or immediately assumed that they are dirty places where dirty men go to drool over women in an environment made only to exploit women? Perhaps this industry encourages behaviour or attitudes which does lead to exceptional cases and there can be little doubt that the “rules” in some clubs are more lenient than in others. And, of course, if you were to go to a club, especially with a group of other girls, you have to be careful not to make the girls who work there feel demeaned or judged.
Sometimes it’s best to recognise that it is “better the devil you know” and not to dismiss out of hand something it’s difficult to understand without trying. After all, it could be fun, exciting, and as research has shown, women tend to see other women’s bodies as more attractive than naked men. Find out for yourself.