Today the Washington Post asks, in regards to strippers and new hit film Magic Mike starring ex-stripper Channing Tatum, that if women are allowed to ogle men, should men be given a free pass too? Here are my thoughts:
Once upon a time, before experiencing jealousy in relationships, I saw myself as one of those girls who claims to be okay with her man in a strip club... and then I fell in love. I was jealous and protective; the thought of someone who is supposed to love me ogling other women was one that repulsed me. However, all of these opinions were formed on a lack of trust in an unhappy relationship, not actual experience of strip clubs.
Like lots of women, I held strip clubs, strippers and the men who attended in a pretty bad light. Like lots of women, I held these opinions without having visited a strip club myself. And now that I have (and have seen performers of both genders) my views on strip clubs have changed dramatically, because I found the experience a wholly un-sexy one.
Sure, eroticism is present. Strippers dance in a provocative manner, play sex games with the audience (a lady tying a man to a stripper pole with the ribbon she was unravelling from her vagina is a particular highlight) and ultimately get naked, and these are all sexual events. Sexual, but not erotic - at least not in a way that I would deem as sexual betrayal. Rather, a stripper is a novelty. Sure, the chiselled, oiled and naked man in front of me is attractive and I enjoyed seeing him, but the distance between performer and audience (even if you get dragged up on stage by your belt buckle) is one without the intimacy of connection with another human being - by watching a stripper, he or she is providing a service. I would compare seeing strippers to seeing porn or other entertainment where people get naked - bodies are to be appreciated in an 'Oh I'd shag you' kind of way but providing that you look and enjoy but don't touch, strip clubs are merely an expression of harmless sexual curiosity and lust.
Moreover, the context in which strip clubs are visited is one that affects how I view them. Whilst, I still don't think very highly of seedy individuals with an addiction to the dominance they feel in watching a nude person perform, I totally understand the need to enjoy the camaraderie of a stag do/girl's night style trip to a strip club. Again, in this environment, strippers become a novelty. They are something to admire (and often marvel at the skill of) and this is best done with a group of close friends, to laugh, to appreciate a good body, to push limits and to bond over - not for the sole purpose of becoming aroused and being gratified.
Unless of course your partner has previously proved himself unfaithful or unable to control himself in such an environment (like breaking the performer/audience line and sleeping with a stripper) there should be no reason to chastise a man, or in fact a woman, who enjoys the occasional jaunt to a strip club. I suppose I was right all along - if you really are happy and secure in your relationship - there is no reason to see a strip club as a threat. Still not convinced? Go to a strip club and see for yourself - the experience totally changed my views.
Why not go together? Have him visit a Chippendales whilst you ogle a well-oiled six pack and then return the favour in a Spearmint Rhino.
To answer the Washington Post's Magic Mike Conundrum - it should be okay for everyone to enjoy the many talents of strippers, providing they do so respectfully.