Dear Julie: is it OK that my boyfriend goes to strip clubs?

    1 August 2019

    Q. I’m a woman in her thirties who’s just about managed to shake off her youthful reputation as a bit of a wild one; I’ve recently become involved in a relationship with a man ten years younger. He’s clever, kind, ambitious and I was hopeful we could go the distance – then a few weeks ago he turned up for dinner joyfully boasting about being at a strip club the night before. When I objected, he seemed incredulous, asking how I could possibly object to female ‘empowerment’. In the few short years since I hung up my dancing shoes, has it really become puritanical to consider strip clubs as anything but the frontier of modern feminism? I’d been rather set on the idea of a younger man, but this has made me think twice.

    A. If you’re in your thirties, surely you know by now that ‘empowerment’ is anything a woman does that seems feisty and gives men a cheap thrill? Forget the Vote – if Mrs Pankhurst was about today, she’d be demanding free pole-dancing classes for all women of property. And the only reason the suffragettes would be chaining themselves to stuff would be in the course of BDSM Workshops.

    But, seriously, I can see both sides here. (It’s one of the few bad things about getting old – the creeping reasonableness.) Putting partisan personal passions aside, the Stoics might suggest that you look at this situation first from the strippers angle rather than turn it into a lovers tiff.

    Why shouldn’t the young women who make a living in strip clubs monetise their beauty and earn in one night what they would slog for a month to get in a minimum wage job? They’re grafters who have chosen to pay their own way in life and this makes them self-respecting young women, just like you.

    One thing that is guaranteed is that, like the vast majority of sex workers, be they prostitutes and pornography performers at the hard end or pole dancers at the soft end, they generally despise the male sex. You yourself probably have more chance of being sexually attractive to these women than your young man, who will have been dismissed as a barely human ‘punter’ – a credit card with legs – by the majority of the women he imagines are there for the picking. Remember this and you will feel pity for him rather possessiveness.

    But being the one who occupies the moral high ground in a relationship is no fun – and can lead to a martyred attitude. As well as being patient, you need to out-sin him. Personally, I wouldn’t go for the obvious *tit-for-tat* and take yourself and a gaggle of girls off to see a male stripping troupe – that just looks childish. No, in order to bring yourself down to his level – and therefore cease feeling put-upon – you need to get involved in a flirtation with a man of your acquaintance. As this is liable to turn into a full-on affair – unlike your boyfriend’s lusting after women he doesn’t stand a chance with – you’re now the Bad Guy and will thus feel much better about his wandering eye.

    Everyone objectifies somebody sometime or it would be very hard to have sex. You’ll never stop men looking at good-looking women, but remember that a man – unless he is good-looking/rich/famous – has a very small chance of getting actual free sex with a stranger. Practically any woman can, though, no matter how unattractive, poor or anonymous. Remember this – and also that nothing’s less attractive than a wallflower unless it’s a clinging vine – and you will view any further visits to strip clubs with stoic equanimity.

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