Posted by: joshjasper | May 1, 2009

1 down…2,499 to go

The news broke this afternoon that The Office is officially closing their doors effective July 1st 2009.  The Office is the 1 and only strip club found in Dubuque Iowa.  I applaud the city of Dubuque for taking strong actions against this organization.

As a reminder, it was the Riverview Center not so long ago that reached out to The Office, extending a hand to offer violence prevention strategies for their employees.  This offer of course was ignored repeatedly.  We made this offer because of what we know.  We (Riverview and the community) know that women are subject to incredibly high rates of rape and physical abuse while employed at these establishments.  We also know that going to the local strip club with your buddies, having a few beers while throwing money at naked women ABSOLUTELY negatively influences perceptions and expectations of women.

While I am at it, it probably makes sense to address the common response when people object to strip clubs.  This is of course is the notion that women “choose” to work there and if they didn’t like it, they wouldn’t work there.  I understand the response and I can see how easy it can be for someone to assume it is that simple.  The flaw in this thinking is the word “choose.”  In a society in which women are raped, beaten, and killed at epidemic rates, all while not seen as equal in the home and at the workplace, is the ability to “choose” the same for men and women?  When BILLIONS upon BILLIONS of dollars are spent in the pornography, film, advertising, music, and video gaming industries to specifically objectify women, doesn’t it seem like the choice for some never really existed?

It is also important to examine the consequences for women working in strip clubs aside from the obvious violence that exists.  A recent study revealed that nearly 75% of the women working in strip clubs were sexually abused as a child.  An environment in which men objectify, verbally harass, and physically/sexually abuse strippers only reinforces some of the potential negative messaging that exists in the minds of the women on stage.  When counseling survivors of sexual abuse we must combat low self esteem, feelings of worthlessness, and despair that survivors feel on a daily basis.  The overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame can often times be too much to overcome.

When thinking about what takes place in a strip club, I often imagine standing on the stage, looking back at the men, looking into their eyes to better understand what it truly is that they are after.  I know what they seek is not the sexual arousal that is often assumed, but rather it is the opportunity to once again place themselves in a position of power, if only for a moment.  How easy it must be to sit at that bar stool and call her a whore, all while knowing deep down that it is you that is the whore.  And it is your presence that reinforces so much of the violence that exists for her and for the other women in your life.

I say good riddance to you The Office and all that you stood for.

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Responses

  1. I second that! Good riddance!


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