Monday, March 29, 2010

Stripped Bare

Sometimes cultures collide. I was reading about Iceland banning strip clubs and then about the Republican National Committee spending almost $2,000 on a strip club visit. In both cases the strippers are likely to be women, the customers men.

Iceland is not the United States. It is much, much smaller (with 320,000 people, and much more homogeneous):

Even more impressive: the Nordic state is the first country in the world to ban stripping and lapdancing for feminist, rather than religious, reasons. Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir, the politician who first proposed the ban, firmly told the national press on Wednesday: "It is not acceptable that women or people in general are a product to be sold." When I asked her if she thinks Iceland has become the greatest feminist country in the world, she replied: "It is certainly up there. Mainly as a result of the feminist groups putting pressure on parliamentarians. These women work 24 hours a day, seven days a week with their campaigns and it eventually filters down to all of society."


According to Icelandic police, 100 foreign women travel to the country annually to work in strip clubs. It is unclear whether the women are trafficked, but feminists say it is telling that as the stripping industry has grown, the number of Icelandic women wishing to work in it has not.

I don't think the U.S. could have passed such a ban, given the way the RNC visit is written up:

Records show the Republican National Committee dropped $1,946 at a West Hollywood, Calif. strip club last month, but a spokesperson insisted that RNC chairman Michael Steele was not among the ooglers.


In a review last October, the Los Angeles Times said the bar's "dark, leather-heavy interior is reminiscent of the masked orgy scene" in "Eyes Wide Shut," the 1999 Stanley Kubrick film starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

The club features a heavy net suspended above the lounge area where topless performers - dressed in little more than masks and bikini-bottoms - writhe above the heads of clubgoers, the paper reported.

"Even more provocative scenes," the paper added, "are played out in an enclosed glass booth area adjacent to the club's dance floor area."

The kinky costs come at a time when Steele is already under fire from many within the GOP for his high-flying ways.

Astute readers may have noticed that the Iceland link is to the Guardian and the U.S. link to the New York Daily News, and that these are not comparable newspapers. But note that even in the Guardian this topic is filed under "Lifestyles."

That's where we stand: The Icelandic ban on strip clubs is under lifestyles/women and the U.S. coverage is a concern about spending tax money on the titillation of men who work for the Republican party.