It is an age-old battle, and one many in Europe are fighting. Should lap dance clubs be regulated? What about the topless clubs in Australia, where gentleman’s entertainment is one of the most prominent businesses around? Culture seems to have a good deal to do with what battles regarding women’s sexual expression are fought.
This discussion arises over the banning of strip clubs in Iceland, a small nation of about 320,000 people, nearly a decade ago. In an effort to halt sex trafficking, the Prime Minister banned strip clubs.
This means you will not hire a topless waitress if you plan on hosting a buck’s party in Iceland. Fortunately, culture has something to do with what is considered exploitive. Australia has the good fortune to allow topless waitresses who provide gentlemen entertainment they seek for special occasions such as buck’s parties. Iceland, however, has a different view.
Its been reported that most women were in agreement with former Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir when she banned strip clubs in 2010. It sparked a move towards gender equality and women’s rights.
The ban took aim at clubs where total nudity was allowed. Today, these clubs are referred to as champagne clubs. The staff can only reveal so much with their skimpy outfits.
Club owners were among the biggest opponents of the ban, and rightfully so. Their businesses were either shut down completely or they were stripped, no pun intended, of the right to operate in the manner they had done previously which pleased many customers.
The ban had solid reasoning behind it. The aim was to keep sex trafficking from occurring. Some of the clubs were fronts for prostitution rings and the only way around this was to shut the strip clubs down. Erotic dancing is still lawful in Iceland just as it is in many other nations. There is only a ban on stripping.
Iceland has been known for being a strong feminist nation. Many women who were pressuring Parliament to pass the law were feminists who were vehemently against stripping. In the United States, ironically, the same types of feminists are extolling the freedom women have to choose to strip or dance exotically. This points to a definite cultural difference which influences how the act of stripping, exotic dancing or simply topless waitressing are viewed as bad, good or neither.
Most any reasonable person would, indeed, back Iceland’s ban on strip clubs owing to the government’s crackdown on sex trafficking. It was designed mostly to protect young, underage women, many of them foreigners who were impoverished and needed a way to earn money. One of the easiest jobs for them to get once in Iceland was stripping. Too many were then introduced into prostitution and other ways of existing.
This however is not what honest club owners are about. This is why they were quite upset about the strip ban, initially. The ban does have its purpose, and, it should be noted that women are still free to dress suggestively at champagne clubs and provide respectable service to customers of all kinds, both men and women.
Cultural differences influence different countries’ tastes. It is interesting that American feminists find stripping somewhat empowering. Men in Iceland have spoken of their realisation that they need to get used to the idea that women are not objects for sale. Indeed, beautiful women everywhere are to be regarded with a tremendous amount of respect.