A couple weeks ago my boyfriend went bowling with some friends. I expected him home around 9 or so to eat some leftovers, watch a little TV and hit the sack. Halfway through the night he sent a 'hey, how's my love?' text (he is so sweet) and I asked who all was there. He mentioned a list a of his buddies including a brother of one of his bffs. The brother, let's call him George, is a notorious player. Chris Rock would call him "the old guy in the club." He is late 30s, never married, regularly dates, refuses to settle down, parties at downtown clubs and is a frequent guest of another type of club. Yes, oh yes, George is strip club fanatic. So in a text, I joked with my man, "ha, ha, don't let George take you to the strip club." Little did I know that my psychic abilities were on fire that night. Not 30 minutes later I got the following text:
"George says we are going to the strip club, I don't have my car, he is driving, we are almost here. I'm sorry, I didn't know."
I don't know exactly how my lovely boyfriend knew he should tell me this. But needless to say I was not happy. A note in my defense... I trust my boyfriend and I love my boyfriend. And most importantly, I know my boyfriend is not a sleaze. In fact, what bothers me about strip clubs has nothing to do with my boyfriend at all.
Over the last decade or so, the strip club trip as a male "bonding" ritual is becoming more commonplace. It has gotten to the point where friends of soon-to-be married young heterosexual couples expect a strip club visit for the men and maybe the women... that is of course if you happen to live in one of the rare cities that has a male strip club. Why, why, oh WHY does getting married have ANYTHING to do with letting naked strangers grope you??!! I cannot think of anything more contradictory.
Let's break this down.
I am a man and I am in love with a woman that I want to spend the rest of my life with. Therefore, I think the best way to celebrate this love and commitment is to take my closest friends to a creepy bar where exploited naked women sexually tease me all night for tons of money. Really?!! Makes perfect sense!
Look, ok, we all know I am a feminist and a Marxist (no, not a communist). And I have huge concerns about the power differential between men and women. I do not agree with placing women in a vulnerable (see: desperate, naked and outnumbered) position, such as the strip club. But beyond that... this so-called Male-Bonding Ritual is sick. Go golfing, go to a football game, eat a steak, go on a fishing trip, go to vegas, have a party, shit go to shooting practice for all I care! But DO NOT go get a stiffy from a self-esteem challenged, body-image distorted, sad, confused, young woman rubbing her fake breasts on you for 20 lousy bucks!!!!!!! (I know, not all strippers are like this, but you get my point).
So, before I go on a total rant about the exploitation of women... let me get back to my original point. I found a crack, or I should say an exception to The Man Code. As my boyfriend and I hashed out this unexpected strip club trip. I realized I had to stand my ground. I told him that I was not ok with him going there. I understood that he was being taken there by his buddies and felt like he should stay (because of course they were celebrating his friend's upcoming wedding) But I shared, honestly, that him staying would upset me. I said I rather come pick him up. What did my boyfriend do...!!!? He said, ok babe, come get me.
I was shocked. No fighting, no I'm going to just stay for a little bit, no speech reeking of 'bros before hoes.' Was he happy with me? No. But was he angry or mean about it, absolutely not. He simply put my concerns before the requests of his buddies. WOW. I have a special man... yes I do.
Did he get tons of shit from his friends? Oh you better believe it. He still is getting shit. Because he is now labelled (one of my personal favorites) "pussy-whipped." And I can't protect him because it is my pussy that supposedly has a stranglehold on him. And did I get shit... oh you better believe it! The bachelor came out from the strip club to tell me that he thought I was a "fun girl" and asked if I was going to be a big downer at his wedding... As he put it (while he motioned to my bf and I in my car) "this is not fun." I agree, and it was not fun for me and my boyfriend either. Geez, I hope he doesn't invite any of the strippers to his wedding.
My boyfriend said to me later that night, 'why can't you just understand that this is what guys do, it doesn't mean anything?" Because it does mean something, a very big something to me. I know he will probably never see things through my eyes. The point is, he didn't have to agree with me in order to put my concerns first. Most days it is challenging to insist on equality and respect. It is even harder to ask for in our intimate relationships. But one thing I have realized, it is much easier to insist on respect for yourself and others when your partner has your back.
So although my boyfriend and I were able to find crack in The Man Code... we are suffering the wrath of breaking those unwritten rules. He will forever be remembered as pussy-whipped and I will be spoken of as the controlling bitch. I am just thankful that both of us are strong we know who we really are, no matter what labels get put on us.