Saturday, March 06, 2004

This is my long awaited rant on strip clubs and romance novels. This is also in my "Random Notes" section of my website.

I never understood the appeal of strip clubs. Don’t get me wrong, I love to look at beautiful naked women. One of the best things about being a musician is getting flashed by a hot groupie (doesn’t ever happen when I’m playing with my Jazz Combo, though).

But I’ve never quite gotten the point in going to a place where you’re surrounded by gorgeous naked (or mostly naked) women whose whole job is to turn you on, and then you have to go home. It’s always seemed like going to a buffet at a nice restaurant, looking at the food, working up an appetite, then going home and eating a sandwich. Why would you do that to yourself?

I think I get it, now. It’s the male equivalent of a cheap Romance novel.

Now I need to clarify that I’m not really an expert on either strip clubs or romance novels. I’ve only gone to a strip club a grand total of three times in my life, and all three times were to see a girl I was dating. And all the romance novels I’ve read were from one summer staying with a sister who had no other books (I’m a compulsive reader - I HAVE to read every day). So I’ve read about 40 or 50 romance novels in my life. Definitely not enough to make me a real expert.

Generally speaking, I don’t believe that either men nor women write romance very well (there are a few exceptions). But in romance novels (which I think we’ll all agree are mainly written by and for women), there are certain things that almost always apply. There’s the woman and her former boyfriend or husband, but the important thing is The Man. Let’s look at The Man:

Tall, very muscular
Very wealthy, unless he’s a cop. Often poses as a laborer, but actually owns the company.
Very sexually experienced, unlike the woman, who’s either a virgin or had one lover
At first he seems cold and distant, or possibly arrogant, but it’s a cover for his Inner Passion
Often bitter towards women, since he’s never really been in love
A great sense of ethics and morality

But the most important thing about The Man is how he changes in the course of the novel. Somewhere along the way he has an epiphanal moment where he realizes he’s In Love. At this moment, he realizes he doesn’t want any other woman ever again. He can’t stand the thought of being intimate with any other woman other than his soulmate. She’s healed him of his bitterness, and he’s happy for the first time. In return, he rescues her from whatever her situation is, and cherished her forever. They decide on three kids, and an awesome wedding.

Oh, and generally somewhere along the way, he forces her into having sex, but it’s not rape, because she really wants it.

Why am I bringing all of this up? It’s not to make fun of it, it’s to say that this is a fantasy world. It’s a world where the man plays by women’s rules. Women don’t understand how men think (no, you really don’t, I swear), so in romance novels, they create men they can understand. Men that act like women feel men should. I think most women know that men aren’t like the ones in romance novels. But they like the idea that somewhere out there, there’s a man like that.

I think men are a lot more straight-forward than women. We are just as in touch with our feelings; we’re just not as turbulent. And one of the biggest differences is that our sex drives are not really related to our emotions. Yes, we are more relaxed and generally in a better mood after sex, but that’s about it.

For most of the women I talk to, everything changes after sex. The way she feels about the guy, the intimacy she feels that she’s shared. And then there’s often a sense of betrayal when the guy doesn’t seem to feel anything has changed. Because for guys, sex is great, it’s awesome, it’s very much a need. But it’s not any more related to love than any other activity.

Is it more intimate for a guy if he’s in love? Of course, but so is watching a movie with his girl, or listening to music, or eating a meal, even just talking.

Quite often, as a result of this, men lie about their emotions to manipulate women so they can get some sex, and women use sex to manipulate men. I don’t condone either gender for this; I think manipulating another person is disgusting. But I think it’s equally shared by both sides, and I don’t think either one can claim a moral high ground in this.

Now let’s bring up strip clubs.

Like romance novels, strip clubs are a fantasy world, but one where women act men think they should.

When a guy walks into a strip club, he knows exactly what’s going to happen. He doesn’t have to guess what kind of mood the girls are in. He doesn’t have to listen to conversation when he’s not in the mood for it. They don’t want to talk about their relatives, or their feelings, or any of the mundanities of life. The girls are just in the mood to be sexy. They are there to be like men wish women would be. Straight-forward and horny. And even if they’re not, they’re good at pretending to be, or they wouldn’t be able to make any money.

A healthy fantasy life is good, I think. It’s nice to have a place to retreat to, where things make more sense than they do in real life. Where good wins, and everybody lives happily ever after. And I don’t really see any problem with either strip clubs or romance novels, provided that you realize that they’re not even slightly based in reality.

Men; you can pay women to pretend they like you and you turn them on. It doesn’t mean it’s true. Wait ‘til you’re out of money, and see whether they’re still there. Also, if they’re really into you, it’s still not likely they’re going to invite their friends over so you can all “have fun” together (although it does sometimes happen).

Women; even if a man is totally in love with you, he’d still like to have sex with other women. He just knows it’s not worth losing you. He’s probably not going to have an epiphanal moment where his love for you makes him emotionally a woman. We’re wired differently (ask me about the whole “crying” issue.), so don’t expect him to change. Also, make sure he really cares before you have sex, because that’s not going to change his feelings.

Well, that’s enough for now.

Have any thoughts about this? Agree or disagree? Tell me why!

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