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