Friday, August 21, 2009

How (NOT) to get an accurate reading on what women and men think of strip clubs

Now you would think that if you were to set out with the objective of finding out what men and women think about strip clubs you would think that you would talk to, well women and men. Well apparently Tanya Gold doesn't need to do that. She seems to possess the ability to learn what men and women think on a subject by only talking to women.

Check this out.

This article fails on quite a few points. Here goes:

First off notice the venues that she choose to compare. When choosing a place to observe women watching male strippers she chooses a Chippendale show that is performing in Edinburgh as part of a 20 city tour through Europe. When choosing a place to obverse men watching female strippers she chooses a dive of a place called the Rhino Club in London. So as you see she has already stacked the deck by comparing a one time event where than likely there was a cover charge to get in to an established location that is open every night. This is going to have a big affect on the audience. This is like comparing the crowd at a Korn concert to the crowd at a local bar that has the same local bands playing all the time. This is not going to end well.

Next she makes absolute statements like this about the Chippendale crowd:
There is not a single woman here who actually wants to have sex with a Chippendale. We are all mouth, and no panties. Sex has left the building. We want cuddles, not tongues.
Now I'm sure she spoke to several women while she was there that night but I think it is safe to say that she did not speak to all the women there to find out if they want to have sex with those strippers. I'm pretty sure she is just depending on the gender role of women not actively wanting sex to fill in that space instead of actually asking some more women if they would want to have sex with them.

I would like to point out an absolute statement she made about the men at the Rhino Club but she doesn't actually talk to any of them which brings me to my next point. At the start of the article she asks:
When we watch others shed their clothes, what do we reveal about ourselves?
She somehow manage to figure out what men reveal without actually talking to them. When she went to the Rhino Club she doesn't talk to any of the male patrons she talks to two of the female strippers (I'm almost willing to bet she spoke to more but cherry picked these two responses because they best fit her prejudices). Now in and of itself there is nothing wrong with this but when you walk into a strip club looking to find out what the patron reveal about themselves when they see other people strip it might do some good to actually ask them. She took the time to ask an elderly woman what she was at the Chippendale show for and got the response, "Antique furniture is wonderful to see on stage." (more than likely a reference to wood. At the Rhino she saw an elderly man and took just enough time to nickname him Count Dracula. I guess she already knew what he was there for so why waste time asking right?

She also tries to talk about the difference in the financial dynamic of the two places. Bold mentions how the men at the Rhino Club "The men can make these beautiful women compete for them, when in real life they never would" because of how men pay the women as they strip. What she carefully ignoring is the difference in venues. The men stripping in that Chippendale show are on a tour and more than likely getting a set compensation apart from what they may get from the crowd that night whereas the women in the Rhino are mostly depending on what they get from the crowd that night. If you were to level the playing field in either direction (like compare a Burlesque show to a Chippendale show and/or the Rhino to a regular establishment in which men strip for women) they would balance out. Apple vs. Oranges.

And finally there is her conclusion:
I didn't want to come to a conclusion as prosaic as Chippendales good, lap-dancing rhinos bad. Even as I watched the Chippendales play dirty cowboys, I wondered why they were doing it. But at least they were worshipped. The power dynamic at Spearmint Rhino seems entirely different. The men can make these beautiful women compete for them, when in real life they never would. There was no joy or even appreciation. As I leave, I wonder – have I seen a dark part of human sexuality, sliding wonkily down a pole?
So it would seem that the the women that were whooping and hollering over the Chippendale men was a form of worship while the the watching and paying of men was oppression? I almost like how she decides that the women at the Chippendale show were freeing themselves but the men at the Rhino were forcing women to compete in a way they don't in the real world. She even manages to plant the seed of the notion that the Rhino represents the dark side of human (read: male) sexuality.

All in all this is bullshit. She started off with a conclusion and molded her experiment/test/whatthefuckever she wants to call it around it. Tanya if you want to find out what a group is thinking how about next time you try asking them?

Edit: I forgot to add this link sooner. Its from Robert Franklin at and his own take on this. Worth reading.