Letters from men who go to strip clubs is the latest project from renowned blogger Susannah Breslin. It features letters from anonymous men speaking on their experiences in gentleman’s clubs all over the United States. The content of these letters reveal the men’s honesty, openness, and vulnerabilities. The patron’s discuss their various self-perceptions and ultimately – the reasons why they find themselves attending strip clubs in the first place. There is a vast spectrum of diverse perspectives in these always unpretentious and often humorous letters. The letters range from: A self-deprecating narrative from a lonely older man, a gay guy who admits he just appreciates the fine art of pole dancing, and another gentleman that just finds it easier to socialize with other men in this environment.
Here’s a little tidbit to wet your appetite…
Who wants the 80%-naked lady to think they’re a loser? they either move on to the next customer or stay a while and talk. The reason I go to places like this is for those moments when they stay and talk. That’s all I wanted. They don’t have to be naked. They could be wearing a suit of armor for all I care; I just want to talk to someone who cares, and $1 every 3 minutes is a lot less than $250 an hour for a therapist.
Susannah Breslin is one of the most popular mainstream writers to emerge out of the blogging world. She is best known for her original blog The Reverse Cowgirl and her work for Playboy TV’s Sexcetera. Her past blogs also include Letters from Johns, Letters from Working Girls, and Letters from Men Who Watch Pornography. She now writes for Forbes Blogs in a series called Pink Slipped. In 2008 Time.com identified her as the best blogger of the year. She has also published a book – You’re a Bad Man, Aren’t You, which is a collection of hilarious pornographic short stories which have ushered in a new genre of writing – postmodern pornographic literature (PornoPomoLit). She has been labelled a Post-Feminist by some. Simply put, it is someone that rejects most third-wave feminist ideas and accepts that second-wave feminism has already succeeded in its goal of creating a less sexist society. She has been included in a TVO television debate regarding Toronto’s SlutWalk, where she criticized and totally owned the self-proclaimed feminist panelists on the show (See video below). Her literary style and no-holds-barred stories & commentary really entertain and impress us. Her outward and explicit writing has broken some of the notions we have of modern human sexualities. We really like what she does. She’s also self-reportedly 6’1 and quite the attractive lady, we like that too. We decided to contact her and reached out for a short interview. She obliged. Here it is:
Interview with Susannah Breslin of Letters from men who go to strip clubs
us: We saw a television debate regarding the SlutWalk in Toronto on TVO that you took part in. You mentioned that you didn’t think women’s sexuality is taboo today. Do you think that male sexuality is repressed/is taboo or seen as ugly in our culture?
Susannah: I think male sexuality is underdiscussed. I don’t know that it’s so much “taboo” as it is pathologized. Feminism tries to dictate what acceptable expressions of male sexuality are. You can’t police sexuality, and it isn’t always politically incorrect.
us: Some feminists are hyper critical of gentleman’s clubs. They even go as far as wanting to do away with them completely. Do you see strip clubs as inherently negative and patriarchal/exploitative of women or even men?
Susannah: I don’t think strip clubs are inherently exploitative of men or women in the pejorative sense. That is, it is a machine in a capitalist system that functions according to its own laws. You could say the women exploit the men by making the men pay for it. You could say the strip clubs exploit the women by making the dancers pay a house fee to work there. Or you could see it as a microcosm of supply and demand.
us: Surely you have read through dozens of submissions, enough to gain some sort of insight into the motivations and desires of these men. What do you think are some of the major reasons why men seek refuge (if you can even call it that) in strip clubs?
Susannah: I think men are drawn to strip clubs because they want to feel loved. They want to feel good. Watching a naked woman dance makes them relax. Getting a lap dance makes them happy. Having a sexual experience where they don’t have to “take care of” the other person’s needs enables them to get what they want. You can call that sex, or you can call it love, but it’s all the same to me.
Strip clubs and prostitution are immoral because they perpetuate oppressive patriarchal relations of power, relegate women into subservient positions, and turn them into commodities right? Everyone knows that… In fact the good people of Iceland have stepped up and have banned strip clubs in the entire country. Those Icelanders… So ahead of their time… but not necessarily, according to some contemporary thinkers who don’t necessarily agree with this simple black and white view. In our opinion, strip clubs seem to be places that are filled with mostly sad men who are craving affection and congregate for social approval, access to women, touch, intimacy, and a sexual thrill… And the occasional drunk group of idiot frat bros out to have a good time. The argument can certainly be made that if women are being exploited for their bodies… men are being exploited for the product of their labour: money (and lots of it…stripclubs are friggin’ expensive!)
Susannah Breslin opens up an interesting dialogue about these practices, which are normally considered too taboo to discuss openly: Prostitution and strip club culture. Letters from men who go to strip clubs allows patrons of strip clubs to voice their points of view anonymously in frank and honest terms; something that is surprisingly rare these days. In this day and age it’s considered a given that pretty much every institution in our society is one that perpetuates relations of power by white men, right? (Especially the sexual economy!)
For example, marriage is a social arrangement in which women are “bought” by men. Men who spend exorbitant amounts (something like three months salary?) of money on jewellery for a woman’s hand in marriage. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s totally weird to suggest that women can be “bought”… then again what does this really say about men and women? Why don’t women normally pay for a man’s company? There is an implication here that women have something that men need to work and pay for. One has to ask, is such an arrangement really any more inherently patriarchal than matriarchal? Doesn’t that depend on the two people getting married? I’ve observed the dynamics of a few marriages and I’ve seen as many men domineering women as women domineering men. I think the situation is infinitely more complicated than simply a binary of “dominating man : dominated woman”, especially in contemporary western society.
Why are these issues important anyway? More and more political, legal, and gender theorists believe that the stigma against/prohibition of prostitution/stripping actually causes more problems for sex-workers and society than legalization. Let’s face it, these practices are not going to go away. Legalizing prostitution would give legal protection for these women (and men) who do this to make their living. This would take away the need to rely on criminal organizations to provide protection and business advocacy.
Look, sex trafficking is a serious problem, and one that applies to both prostitution and the men’s entertainment industry… but forcing it underground is going to make dangerous criminal elements who profit from this practice more powerful… and that’s not good for the women, their patrons, or for government tax revenues. Does making strip clubs illegal and stigmatizing this practice really do any good to these women, who for whatever reason, have chosen this as their profession? Are the reasons behind their decision to dance always so obviously negative? An informed argument would surely take into account the voices of these women and the (mostly) men who employ them.