Lap Dancing

A crowd of about six of us go out for a drink every Friday night. We’ve got in the habit of going to a couple of lap dancing bars, which are a great laugh. A couple of the guys bring their girlfriends with them, who say it’s fun and have no problem with this. Mine refuses. She’s not a prude and normally she’s great fun, so why is she being so unreasonable?

I wonder how you would feel if the positions were reversed. If, every Friday night, your girlfriend and five of her friends toured bars in which semi-naked men danced on tables and between their legs, begging for tips and gyrating lasciviously for their attention? Think of the way you and your friends behave to each other, to the lap dancers and towards these girlfriends and then consider whether you’d be happy or comfortable having the exact same behaviour turned on you.

Of course, the analogy isn’t perfect. There is a difference because men who strip for women are always more in control and less victims than women who strip for men. Women at a male strip show are far more on the edge – flirting with dominance but not really in control of it. Lap dancing and stripping are, in essence, male expressions of male supremacy – no more, no less. Male strippers are seen by men as an affront and a challenge, but the reality is you don’t take that challenge terribly seriously and so it’s one you can comfortably ignore and discount.

But your girlfriend can’t ignore or discount your choice of Friday night entertainment because, much as you’d like to play it down, it has a quite profound resonance for your relationship. What are the messages your girlfriend is getting from both what you like to do, and the fact that you can’t hear her reaction?

That you like looking at semi-naked women, which is perfectly natural and normal? More, surely, than that. That you see women as a commodity, to be paid to shake their booty for you. That you don’t see sexual stimulation or display as something personal and private between her and you but just as legitimate in the company of other men and directed at an impersonal object. But, above all, that your pleasure is infinitely more important than her feelings.

She doesn’t like it and has the guts to say so, but your response is that there must be something wrong with her – Look, you say, other women are fine about it! Well, I doubt that. The problem is that many people find it hard to go against the pressure of their friends. Worse, a lot of women define themselves by having a boyfriend and will put up with all sorts of shit rather than throw the bastard over or get into conflict with him. And, alas, the accusation of being a prude or frigid or sexually bourgeois can still tie women in knots and have them doing all sorts against their own preference, rather than be seen by their men as spoiling the fun.

It may be worth while just trying to analyse exactly what sort of pleasure you get from going to these bars. The pleasure of looking at a scantily clad women? (How old did you say you were?) The pleasure of having women apparently begging for your approval and approbation? (How needy can you be?) The joy of joining with men in a Man Thing (Oh perleaze, go run with the wolves and bang a drum in the woods!)

I know this lap dancing thing is frightfully fash at this moment, but that doesn’t mean it’s either good or healthy. Like many women, your girlfriend probably finds it humiliating and degrading. She finds the interaction between the working women and your friends embarrassing. She feels your involvement is debasing to her, you and your relationship and perhaps to women in general.

Arguments about the free choice of the women involved and the fact they earn the money cut no ice; what is important here is that she doesn’t like it and has said no, and you can’t or won’t seem to listen to her point of view or take her “No” as her last word. Which really, to be frank, is what her refusal is all about. Your pleasure, your rights, your point of view are all you seem to recognise; if it’s good for you, that’s fine.

So go run with the boys and the 2 girls who are so scared of losing their boys they’ll tag along. Maybe your woman will wait until you can hear her, listen to her and engage in an adult-to-adult discussion about this. And maybe she won’t.

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