Confusion about clubs featuring bare women

MIKE ROYKO

March 22, 1993|By MIKE ROYKO

A running battle seems to be going on between modern women and men who patronize places called "gentlemen's clubs," which are anything but.

These are nightclubs that feature females who dance, jiggle and shake while wearing little or nothing.

Unlike sleazy old-time strip joints, which were run by the crime syndicate, the "gentlemen's clubs" don't have hookers taking guys in back rooms or B-girls hustling customers for outrageously priced drinks.

In the "gentlemen's clubs," the men -- a majority of the yuppie persuasion -- just look, gawk, ogle and, presumably, fantasize. Touching or dating is forbidden, since it could bring on the vice cops and cost the place its license.

But many women find them offensive. They see the existence of such places as an affront to all female persons. The issue has been debated on talk shows and in newspapers and sometimes tempers become venomous.

For instance, there has been this series of comments in the Voice of the People section of the Chicago Tribune.

It began when an obviously outraged Cyndi Smith wrote: ". . . I want to commend Heavenly Bodies [a Chicago club] on their creativity and innovation in the opening of this establishment. Who else could have thought of exploiting and degrading women for a profit?

". . . In order to be consistent in my defense of individuals' First Amendment rights, I acknowledge their right to exist. I can only offer them my best wishes for deficit earnings, lawsuits, community outrage and an assortment of liquor and conduct violations.

"On behalf of my gender, thank you, again, Heavenly Bodies, for yet another slap in the face."

This brought a response from one Jim Stratz, who wrote:

"At the risk of appearing insensitive, politically incorrect and sexist, I must say that Cyndi Smith's letter . . . appeared to verge on the hysterical. Such an emotional outburst over a nonissue such as this is usually the symptom of a deeper emotional problem.

"Is it possible that, in her condemnation of such establishments, Ms. Smith is vocalizing her deep-seated jealousy and envy that she does not possess the necessary physical attributes to obtain a job where men would give her money to dance in a bikini? Please, Ms. Smith, get a life!"

Mr. Stratz is, of course, a yuppie. How do I know that? Simple. Only teen-agers and yuppies use the banal phrase: "Get a life."

And since a teen-ager would find the subject boring, Stratz must be a yuppie.

His letter brought responses from several women.

Kelly Kleiman wrote: ". . . He observed that women who objected to gentlemen's clubs were just frustrated because they didn't have good enough bodies to be strippers. That is indeed politically incorrect -- which is to say both stupid and false."

And R. Edwards wrote: "Is it possible that . . . Mr. Stratz is vocalizing his deep-seated jealousy and envy that he does not possess the physical attributes necessary to encourage women to dance in a bikini free of charge? Please, Mr. Stratz, get a personality!"

Lisa Milam added this sneer: "Could this be the sexist banter of a man who despises women so much simply because he can't get a date and must instead resort to ogling women in strip joints? The cartoon on my office bulletin board seems quite fitting: A young boy says to the young girl in the picture, 'You're only a feminist because you're ugly.' To which the young girl aptly responds, 'No, I'm a feminist because you're a boy.' "

I have mixed feelings about this issue.

As an advocate of free enterprise, I figure that if an adult female chooses to earn five times as much money baring her body as she would struggling with WordPerfect on an office computer, that's her business.

On the other hand, a true gentleman would not go to a so-called "gentlemen's club" to leer at bare bosoms. He would retire to the privacy of his home and see all the nudity he wants on the cable movie channels.

Seeking enlightenment, I asked a female co-worker, who has a background in psychology, what she thought.

"It is all part of a male backlash," she said. "Many men, especially the yuppies, are genuinely concerned about the emerging role of women, their independence and as competitors in the job market. For all their pretense of sophistication, they don't know what to make of modern women. When they look at women like Hillary Clinton, Anita Hill, Kimba Wood, Zoe Baird, yuppie men become terrified. And they panic. So they rush to the nearest peep house to be reminded that women really are objects created solely for their pleasure."

There might be something in what she says. So I bounced her theory off Dr. I.M. Kookie, the renowned expert on lots of stuff.

Dr. Kookie said: "Yes, I believe that there is some validity in her observations, especially about the insecurity of yuppie males, who have a lot to be insecure about. However, there is also another possible explanation for the growing popularity of these clubs."

What is that?

"Maybe some guys just like to look at hooters."

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