Stripping degrades woman

Feb 162004
Authors: Brent Ables

In the interest of candor, I will be upfront with readers: I

deplore strip clubs. I deplore what The Collegian, in a headline

last week, labeled our “strip culture.” On a purely instinctual

level, there is little worse to me than degrading a person to the

status of a pseudo-erotic spectator event for the price of a few

drinks and a cover charge.

For those of us who have such problems with stripping and female

objectification, this is a troubling time. The aforementioned

Collegian article demonstrates why.

In the piece, published last Friday, there was an underlying

theme of agreement among those interviewed. Most – if not all – of

those quoted thought that attending strip clubs was a perfectly

natural, ordinary way to spend a Saturday night. Experience with

many of my male and female friends has given me roughly the same


So, since I am apparently in a vast minority, I though it might

be opportune to share some reasons for my negative assessment of

our strip culture.

The idea of women being less valuable than men is nothing new.

Since the ancient Greeks, women in the Western world have been

defined largely in relation to man and man’s needs. Due to the

relative exclusion of most women from professional and literary

avenues of expression, men have found themselves with the power

(and responsibility) of understanding and reporting on what women

think, feel and desire.

While some men have certainly made valiant and honest efforts to

understand the true nature of women’s experiences, some of the most

influential thinkers in history have found it easier to conjecture

or theorize about women based on data created in their own heads.

Unsurprisingly the resulting theories have characterized women as

having little intrinsic worth and little reason for existing other

than to satisfy male urges.

For example: Aristotle, sometimes called the greatest of

philosophers, tells us that woman is an aberration (albeit a

frequent one) of nature that contributes nothing essential to the

children born in her womb and acts as a mere “flower pot” for a

man’s sperm delivery. Naturally, all the important things about the

child come from the male.

Though such “scientific” conclusions have largely been refuted,

the moral and social lessons imparted to us by thinkers like

Aristotle and Freud are much harder to identify and correct. And

while our views of women have certainly also evolved, the cultural

perception of women as objects to be defined in terms of man’s

needs has evidently not faded away.

Which brings us back to strip clubs. Here, women become the

objects of our lust, worthless as free, thinking human beings and

valuable only insofar as they stimulate the audiece’s hormones.

Strippers are jeered at, grabbed, heckled and generally degraded to

the level of animals by their audience, no more than animals

themselves. In the strip club, a woman is judged not by her

intelligence or sensitivity but by how well her body fulfills the

patrons’ base needs.

Of course, the problem isn’t restricted to strip clubs. One need

only look at CU’s troubles to see how far this sort of thinking

gets us. The more we see women as sex objects, the easier it

becomes to justify dangling them in front of recruits like bait on

the fishing line.

One objection to criticism of strip clubs is that since a woman

(usually) chooses that particular line of work, there’s nothing

wrong with it. Nobody gets hurt. A women is free to make her own

choices about her body, right?

I would respond by saying that, in the long run, it may not be

true that nobody gets hurt. Whenver we see it manifested in beer

advertisements or in the newspapers, the perception of women as

objects for male use is only reinforced and self-perpetuated, and

strip clubs are no different. The consequences of this view of

women are obvious; the CU scandal, molestation, domestic abuse and

rape. The point is not that one justifies the others; what I am

trying to say is that the more people choose to ignore the humanity

of women, the easier it becomes to justify acts of violence against


If more males and females don’t begin to see women as

intrinsically important and equally valuable human beings, I find

it hard to see how the tide of poor treatment of women in our

country is going to get any better. Finding better things to do on

Friday nights than go to strip clubs (and finding better jobs than

stripping!) would be a step in the right direction.

Brent is a freshman studying philosophy. His column runs every


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