While Sydney witnessed the most flamboyant same sex parade of the year on Saturday night, I was stuck in a Queensland strip club with a rum and coke and a guilty conscience. My Saturday night couldn’t have been more outrageously upended had I been stuffed in an overhead locker and sent to Uganda.
I’d found myself in an argument with a topless barwoman who thought she deserved the $5 change from the twenty I’d slid across for my drinks. I hadn’t planned on a debate about the actual economic utility of tipping in an industry not at all geared for my benefit but sometimes these things crop up when they’re least expected.
I hate strip clubs. Partly because boobs to me serve the same erotic function as elbows do (and no, I don’t have a secret elbow fetish) but mostly because there’s something about the power imbalance of leering, animalistic men that makes me feel uncomfortable. Rightly or wrongly, the breakdown in previously civilised human beings at the sight of a pair of boobs disturbs me.
It just does.
But, to counter that, I’ve never suffered from the type of rescue complex that leads me to believe every woman who takes her clothes off for the entertainment of others needs to be saved.
My weekend started with a conversation. My friend had, like almost every other person on the planet, just finished reading How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. “It completely changed the way I think about strip clubs,” she told me. “The women in those clubs, the vast majority of them come from abusive backgrounds.”
Well didn’t I feel bad. I knew a trip was likely the very next night for the buck’s party I was attending. The next evening I ran into another friend at dinner, one of the most staunchly outspoken feminists I know, where she not only implored us to take our friend to a strip club but then gave recommendations as well, like a Lonely Planet guide for mammaries.
Confused? Yup. I’d have more luck assembling the pieces of an actual puzzle in a wind storm. For what it’s worth, here’s a summary of Caitlin’s view: