• Fri, May 28 2010

The Manswer: Strippers, ‘Sex and the City,’ and a Modest Proposal

Elizabeth Richard’s cautionary tale about aggressive strippers made me think on the current state of stripperdom. While I do not fear saying that, as a man, I am generally not turned on by strippers, I recognize and respect their place as a paramount fixture on the Lazy Susan of forced male bonding. I have to.

When I was a pledge in a college fraternity (yup), on the propitious evening that a stripper appeared (and then did something unthinkable with a lollipop) there were many caws and hoots and hollers and, I’m sure, any recumbent collars were thusly popped (perhaps as metaphor). But I also felt and saw the mixture of horror, wonder, and wayward enticement set across the faces of my future bros at the spectacle. If this was our initiation into fellowship, the brotherly succor would partially exist in the form of shared ambivalence. I would venture to say that this how a majority of men feel about strippers.

With the rise of the internets, burlesque, sexting, and general sluttiness (this is a global all-gender indictment), I’m finding the allure of tit-glitter and “proximity” waning in this new world era. What we’ve mythologized no longer exists solely at low-lit, shame-drenched locales by airports or Midtown West, but seemingly anywhere. The dentist’s office, the 92nd Street Y, even mothers on playgrounds are looking surprisingly sultry these days. Maybe it’s decay, maybe we (the royal “we”) have just become more comfortable with our bodies. I don’t know the name for it, I only know the feeling I have when I see something hypnotic and instinctively reach for a dollar bill.

But here is “the rub.” Do I enjoy strippers? Not really. Do I frequent tithouses often? No. Nor have I any close friends who do. But would I sleep with a stripper? Absolutely.

On the unwritten bucket list of most any man, sleeping with a stripper goes up there somewhere near getting into a fistfight or firing a lethal weapon at a defenseless animal. Some men actually pursue these tasks with vigor while others only dream of them (some even dreaming of them against the very fibers of morality that guide their lives). I can’t explain it and won’t try.

That said, I want to make a modest proposal. If strip clubs and the pursuit of strippers were something negotiable and if men and women were to strike up an accord on something we each view as poisonous for the other, I think men would be willing to renounce strippers if women renounced the Sex and the City franchise. I mean cut all cords. Shit’s gotten out of hand. No reruns. None of the third-wave dime store psychology. A complete effacement out of pop culture. You’re not even allowed hearken back to the simpler days when it meant something to you. Do we have a deal?

I didn’t think so.

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