Strip club

by Guest Blogger // 18 March 2012, 10:54

Tags: exploitation, feminism, oppression, strip club

This is a guest post by Rosie, in which she talks about how her ideas of feminism clashed with her reaction to her husband visiting a strip club. Some readers may find the subject matter triggering, so please approach with caution.

neon club sign

"So, we did end up going to a strip club briefly", says my husband, lolling bleary-eyed against the kitchen cupboards after a stag do in London. "Jim asked me what you would think about it and I said that although you were totally against strip clubs, you wouldn't get angry with me for going to one. That's right isn't it?"

He has assumed correctly, I think. I consider myself a strong woman and a feminist. I think strip clubs are for pathetic losers who can't relate to a real woman and so have to reduce them down to subservient tits and ass. But my husband is not like that: he does half the cooking and cleaning, he earns less than me and is desperate for children. So if he stumbles into a strip club every once in a while then I'm modern enough to be cool about it, right? I mean, hell, we even watch porn together sometimes!

So why am I staring at a patch of floor under the kitchen table and trying not to cry? Why do I want to scream at him? Why do I feel betrayed and hurt and humiliated? The cognitive dissonance is dizzying. I retreat upstairs in silent fury to think about all these confusing feelings before I do or say anything I'll regret. I ring a couple of friends to ask how they would feel if it were their husbands. They say that although strip clubs are horrible, my husband is lovely, and admirably honest for telling me, and I shouldn't give him too hard a time. My sister says she would definitely lose respect for the people who took him there - a shift of blame that makes me feel a bit better. And then a thunderbolt of enlightenment hits me. The problem is not my husband, it is me!

What on earth am I doing trying to be alright with my husband and a bunch of his leering mates going to a club where they pay to objectify and degrade woman? What am I, some kind of self-hating fool? How did I manage to twist the definition of feminism in my pretty little head to include endorsing the existence of strip clubs? How on earth have we got into the position where we expect me, a woman, to be cool with him and his mates treating other women in an outdated and offensive way? This is the 21st century! Doh!

I laugh out loud at how stupid I've been. The cognitive dissonance disappears. I now understand completely why I feel degraded and betrayed - because by visiting a strip club my normally right-on husband has degraded and betrayed women - and I'm a woman! I go downstairs and make up with him, because after all I was just as culpable of expecting myself to be okay with the casual exploitation of women. Clearly, I have a lot to learn about feminism.

Finally, I tell my husband that if he feels the need to subjugate women as a form of Saturday night entertainment again, he would do well to lie about it when he gets home or face an almighty row. Because this is the last time either of us should assume that this woman will be cool with the oppression of other women.

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Rosie is a 36 year old university researcher who used to be an arts journalist.

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Image based on Shark Club from dieselbug2007's photostream; used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license.

Comments From You

Sarah March // Posted 18 March 2012 at 15:49

Of course this is awful! What is modern about being ok with this? The modernity that has turned its back on feminism and makes porn mainstream entertainment! I'm 48 and a teacher and I say you were right to think its WRONG!

Laura // Posted 19 March 2012 at 09:11

Completely agree that you don't need to force yourself to be OK with this!

I have to say, though, that I think you're being pretty lenient on your husband when you say "The problem isn't him, it's me!" If he knew you were against strip clubs, why didn't he check in with you before going, instead of rocking up afterwards and assuming you'd be OK with it? I think your feelings of hurt and betrayal were totally valid, and you don't have to blame yourself for them.

Rosie // Posted 19 March 2012 at 10:37

Thanks for your comment Sarah. I think my problem is that because I've always been a very bolshy, confident person, that I don't think deeply enough about things that oppress women because I rarely feel personally oppressed (although obviously am totally outraged by unequal pay/the fact that rape almost always goes unpunished/the financial and career penalties women pay for having children etc and understand these things affect me too). I was initially slightly reluctant to admit to feeling upset that my husband had gone to a strip club because I thought it meant I was an insecure person who was upset because she was sexually threatened. But when I thought about it properly I realised - as I wrote - that it was just completely bonkers to expect oneself to not to be upset and angry about someone I love and respect (and therefore want to love and respect me) patronising strip clubs. I thought I'd completely seen lads' culture for the sexist crap it is and yet, actually, I'd internalised it to the extent that I was trying to be okay with strip clubs. Perhaps I'm just thoughtless and naive - I have got a lot to learn. But I thought maybe some other people would identify with my experience.

Shadow // Posted 19 March 2012 at 10:40

You are not to blame for your husband's choice in visiting a strip club. But Male Supremacist System wants women to take responsibility for men's choices in visiting Strip Clubs and driving the demand for women in prostitution. Your husband is 100% accountable and whilst men commonly claim to their female partners 'dear you are not like those nasty s..gs' who work in strip clubs because you are different.' Men employ a multitude of excuses/justifications for their pseudo male sex right to view and treat 'other women' (women they do not own) as men's disposable sexual service stations. This man is no different to the innumerable other men.

It is hard discovering one's male partner who claims to be supportive of feminism is in fact just another misogynist in disguise. However, it is essential he is held to account for his 'choice' and he must not be allowed to minimalise/excuse/deny/his accountability or blame you or any other woman for his choice in going to strip clubs. He is endorsing men's pseudo right of male domination over all women by his patronising strip clubs.

Rosie // Posted 19 March 2012 at 17:05

I'm not trying to let my husband off the hook - he is, of course, entirely responsible for the choices he makes. He did try the 'my friends made me do it' excuse and it made me want to headbutt him, but I suppose what was more interesting to me was how muddled my response was initially, given that I proudly call myself a feminist.

f // Posted 19 March 2012 at 22:58

rosie, thank you for this post, i related entirely to how you felt, i have had a similar experience.

JericaLily // Posted 07 December 2012 at 15:22

The problem was that your husband wanted to go to a strip club to look at naked women who aren't his wife, to encourage women to debase themselves for money, to put money into that kind of philosophy. Let us call it what it is. And he did it for his own gratification. He used his friends as an excuse for what he truly wanted to do. Did it not occur to him to say NO? (We need to work on men's ability to say no to other men.) He could have said, "No guys, I don't believe in supporting that kind of stuff because it is debasing and dehumanizing. Plus, I love my wife and respect her too much to go looking at other women."

I think he was a victim of peer pressure to an extent because it doesn't seem like he'd go to a club all by himself. But still, ick.

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