It was a hard invitation to turn down.
It came from my ex-boyfriend: a boorish, arrogant jackass with a penchant for dirty dames and seedy spots.
Once I managed to claw myself back from recoiling in horror, I mustered up the composure to reply, “Thank you for the invitation. Mr. LA and I would’ve been delighted to accompany you and your friend (a transgendered prostitute) to watch your current girlfriend (a Russian stripper) perform. Unfortunately, we have plans that evening.”
While there isn’t a doubt in my mind that an evening with Our Lady of Omsk et al would inspire tomes of literary output, the thought of subjecting myself to a) an evening with my ex, b) navigating through awkward conversation and much eye-diverting and c) worrying whether or not I could catch Chlamydia from a barstool filled me with repulsion. Not to mention the biggest issue of them all:
I hate strip clubs.
My jaundiced view towards strip clubs isn’t a moral objection. If you want to make a living taking your clothes off or fucking lumpy sweat-addled strangers, I applaud your dedication to Brazilian waxes every ten days (once a month is more than enough for most of us) and the buttressing of the sulfa drug industry.
I hate strip clubs because they make those of us who keep their clothes on in public feel bad about ourselves. But only when your boyfriend decides to go visit one. The rest of the time we regard these establishments with haughty indifference.
Mr. LA recently found himself at a strip club. When I received the 2:31AM text six hours later informing me of this fact, I felt like I had been kicked in the gut. Suddenly I felt fat, ugly and incapable of providing him or any man with the excitement, arousal and frisson that strippers “clearly” deliver.
But, I remained calm and dispassionate. On the outside, that is. On the inside, my logic, intellect and female irrationality emotionalism were waging a rancorous war.
If you tell a man, “It hurts me when strange women shake their tits in your face,” men immediately interpret that as, “Why does my girlfriend always tell me what to do?” And when men think you’re telling them what to do, they start to resent you. And then it’s a short route from the strip club to another sympathetic boob ear.
But what truly vexes me is how did bunch of coked out, emotionally scarred, under-educated women destabilize the clout we have with our partners?
Fucked if I know. The mainstreaming of porn? Men trying to find ways to assert their masculinity in a society that emotionally equalizes the genders? Glitter body spray?
And it’s hard to articulate what you’re feeling to a man because there really isn’t a parallel comparison. Women generally aren’t sexually aroused by male strippers. They’re funny and kitschy, but not necessarily sexy. In fact, most men would not be threatened in the slightest at the thought of their girlfriend watching a miscellany of nude men parade down a catwalk deftly wagging their member for a throng of screaming women.
Men, consider the following scenario:
Girls night out. Several men of ordinary handsomeness park themselves at the table next to your girlfriend and her friends. Obviously successful, they are funny, well-built, affable and start sending over drinks. Your girlfriend starts talking to one of them. He’s funny. And attentive. And interesting. He buys her another drink (Guys, are you piqued yet?). He says something funny; she bursts into a peel of laughter. He gently puts his hand on her thigh. She takes a few moments before she slowly brushes it away.
Men have more physical contact with a stripper than just a hand on their thigh, and yet the above situation would be enough to trigger jealousy and suspicion. How does $20 buy a boyfriend a privilege (touching a sticky naked woman) and yet it’s the barroom flirtation that calls into question the issue of fidelity. Namely, ours.
The ubiquitous double standard.
Almost as irritating as my ex.
Originally published February 2011