STRIP CLUBS changed my view on men, for the better

We sent one of our writers to work a shift in a strip club and apparently it isn’t just full of sleazy men.

The LAD Culture debate is rife with stereotyping and discrimination, representing men as binary. One writer argues from personal experience that the truth about men is more complex and palatable than many students are willing to accept.

Gingerly inching in to the booth for the first time, I didn’t suspect that my first time dressing up and dancing for men would dress down the sexist assumptions I held against them. From social conservatives and radical feminists alike, scorn is meted to men soliciting sexual services; the former more interested in censoring than understanding the female form and the latter seeing the market as one of abuse.

Not only are well-meaning concerns for women discriminatory in their typecasting of sex workers as vulnerable and weak, but they are also hosted by individuals ideologically opposed to ever attending a strip club; people unlikely to speak to its employees or clientele before forming an opinion. A simplistic paradigm of man is accepted as the norm, without reference to the spectrum of reasons and motives that compel a man to buy in to the sex market. In short, men are unreasonably stereotyped.

When a friend suggested that I climb the greasy pole of personal finance by pivoting around it, I accepted out of hardship and curiosity; I don’t resent a woman her freedom in selling her sexual liberty. Nonetheless, a hotch-potch of my mother’s views, those of reproving Guardian articles, a loose identification as ‘feminist’ and salacious memoirs had shaped my conception of strip clubs. I’d accepted by default that the club would be full of a ‘primitive’, lecherous type of man.

Arguing that this establishment effused respectful, courteous individuals would be impossible; Ugly characters frequent these establishments. One sneering specimen advised my exquisitely pale friend to find another vocation, before comparing her unfavourably to the more tanned girls. Another customer told my breasts that I should be ashamed of myself, and insisted, in slurring words, that his friend had dragged him there against his will, when it was evident he’d turned up of his own accord, to gleefully debase women. None of this was surprising, or shocking, it merely legitimized my suspicions.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised to find male customers capable of respectful dialogue, but I was. The most disarming conversation came when, after eyeing me quizically and seeking confirmation that I was, indeed, a broke student looking to make ends meet, he launched straight on to topic of politics, assuming (wrongly) that I’d be able to give a knowledgeable response. What was my opinion on Blair? Did I think he had betrayed the left? Or did I think that Blair rightly perceived that the left needed a kick up the jacksie?

Although he knew more on the subject than I, he was continually interested in my response and totally respectful of it. His non-invasive body language and insistence on looking at my eyes and gestures – commendable given what I was (or wasn’t) wearing- is enough for me to know that this wasn’t a situation in which I was being patronised.

There were multiple exchanges in which I could tell that the exchange of words and services occurred between two mutually respectful individuals, who viewed each other as equals; I’ve encountered many students who aren’t capable of this calibre of interaction.

Ultimately, my high-earning career failed to come to fruition because I was too busy relishing these conversations to earn more than enough for a cab home. If these men are misogynists, give us more of them.