I’ve been to strip clubs twice in my life both in different circumstances but both for the same basic reason; to prove I could do it, sit in a testosterone filled room and pretend the women there wanted to dance for me because I am a man.
The memory of my first time has faded, fuzzy like memories of all 18th birthdays are, tainted by alcohol and regret but I think I liked it, I think I did feel like a man for the first time in my life. Having just finished school and moved out of home it felt like something only the truly free could do. Staring at breasts unapologetically is essentially screaming to the world “I am a masculine stereotype and proud”. As someone who had/does struggle with not being a typically masculine man I can remember that for sometime afterwards being to a strip club with a group of friends was like a vaccination against attacks on my manhood, though like all vaccinations my immunity to criticism weakened over time.
The memory of my second visit is far more vivid and, perhaps as a result, distressing. After drinks at a friend’s new house close to the clubbing district me and another friend, at his behest, headed to the closest strip club. For 3 hours we stared at women with sad eyes dance on a stage, some were middle-aged some young, some high, some pretty and some not – but all, in their own unique way, sad. While we watched waitresses in skimpy outfits brought us drinks and prostitutes propositioned us, the men around me willed themselves, no doubt with the aid of some strong drinks, into believing the fiction. One pretty but clearly high young girl danced to Coldplay’s “Paradise”, the grossly inappropriate lyrics still make me feel ill (“when she was just a girl/ she expected the world/ but it flew away from her reach…). She finished and dressed herself, sat at the bar by herself and stared vacantly into the distance.
Its unfair to say that all women in strip clubs are weak pawns in a male dominated world, some entries here suggest the opposite, but it was true of this place. I went to a strip club to prove to the world I was a man, maybe I did but as the brother to 3 sisters I don’t think I can justify it on the basis of my self esteem again. I’m pretty bad with women but I prefer rejection to guilt.