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1/12/2002 Strip Club

I said this in a forum on the Receipt Site: "... as for personal ads, I think I'm way too cynical to find someone via a meat-market advertisement." Cynicism has prevented me from looking in traditional places for a girlfriend; I don't think it is necessary for me to date, but it would be nice to have someone close. The cynic in me sees a bar, and the single women seem to radiate desperation, trying to connect with someone who you have no starting point with. Starting an innocent conversation has that hidden agenda behind it, even though a relatively benign objective, and that feels disingenuous. This also goes for personal ads like above - both sides have something they want for the other, but aren't comfortable asking for it from a stranger. Ultimately, the hidden agenda ends up being sex. Sex drives the relationships found in a bar or via a personal ad, even if sex is held off for marriage. Nobody marries solely for financial stability; sex comes unified with marriage. The majority of the people taking out ads want a lover, not only a roommate nor just a buddy to watch TV with. The driving force behind trolling for a partner is because you want to get something from them, and that makes me look at dating with a jaundiced eye.

And you wonder why I don't have a girlfriend?

This brings me to last night -- I and some friends ended up at The Northern, a "gentleman's club" barely a stone's throw from my office. I've never been to a strip club before. There were four men and two women in our party, and we sat in the back, near the bar. One friend commented how she felt sorry for the dancers, disapointed by the fact that he dancers couldn't find a better way to make money. Another friend responded that the dancers know exactly what they're doing, and that's why they are doing it. As with personal ads & singles bars, I felt the samy cynicism at The Northern. And, truthfully, I wasn't turned on by the goings-ons.

The dancers don't rub themselves against customers because of sexual attraction or desire -- it's because the men (and women) patronizing the Northern are customers. It's the money, it's the show, it's the job. Like Wil Wheaton, the dancers are performers. They are just people doing something that they have a talent for, and earning money for it. Who mourns Bruce Willis because his sympathetic character dies? The public realizes the distinct seperation between the person & the person's performance when it's a play down at the community theatre, but not at a strip bar. Theatre patrons allow themselves the suspension of disbelief to look at the performers as the characters, but that suspension evaporates when shaking hands in the lobby with the actors.

The same suspension of disbelief exists at strip clubs. In talking to other men who have been to strip clubs, they admit that they understand the women aren't dancing because the customers offer sexual satisfaction. Men know that the reason the dancers gyrate and flop around is to fill up the bank accounts. Still, the men go; they put aside the not-so-hidden agenda of the dancers, and allow themselves to believe that the woman on their lap really is attracted to their manly virtues. Men voluntarily forget that the dancers aren't after hot meaty sex, and they line up to have breasts rubbed against their heads and shove their sweaty fivespots into g-string straps.

I lack this suspension of disbelief. Like the people who remark "oh, that teleporter is so fake" during a movie, I've let myself forget that the feigned smalltalk of the singles bar is also a show, the performer only trying to achieve their wants and needs without vocalizing the truth. I must start to ignore my assumption of the obvious, and let my suspension of disbelief fog over the knowledge that interested parties are trying to get something from me. Naked women do turn me on, and I admit I'm partly looking for a sex parter in a girlfriend, but my cynicism sours the taste of the things I want. I wouldn't mind having a mostly naked woman in my lap - and I can, if I let myself believe that the stripper really wants it too. I could have a girlfriend too, if I let myself believe that sex is the last thing on a single woman's mind when she says hello.

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