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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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July 19, 2005

On Lap Dances

A few days ago I objected to a proposed Seattle ban on "lap dances," which is frankly designed to shut down the four legally tolerated strip clubs. Here is a response from a former patron, who asked that his name not be used. It is edited, but still somewhat graphic.

I sometimes went to Sugar's when I wasn't involved in a relationship. I tried Rick's once, but found that the women at Sugar's were generally more down-to-earth and personable, with exceptions. I'm married now, and haven't been to a strip club since long before I was engaged. Yes, my wife knows.

Whether lap dances constitute prostitution gets into how prostitution is exactly defined, and I think it can be reasonably argued both ways. Is it prostitution if she doesn't touch his genitals (which she only does if he
pays the higher of two prices she offers him)? Is it prostitution if she only touches his genitals (through his pants) with her leg, hip, or back? Iíll leave that to the semanticists.

I think a significant difference is that there is virtually no risk of sexually transmitted disease if both dancer and client follow the rules. That's because he keeps his pants on, and she keeps her panties on (she only takes those off up on the stage, where the men aren't allowed to touch her).

Lap dances offer legal, disease-free gratification to unattached men who--some of them--might otherwise be tempted by paid sexual intercourse. It also offers safe, legal, disease-free employment to women who -- again, some of them -- might otherwise turn to paid sexual intercourse, risking disease, assault and even murder, not to mention arrest.

One valid concern about strip clubs is that the rules are sometimes discreetly broken, risking disease and arrest. But the reason these things are possible is because the lights are so low. A simple solution is to require brighter lighting.

If Evangelicals have their way, all forms of sexual stimulation outside of marriage will be outlawed, but is that what the majority here really wants? In a practical, pragmatic society, I think lap dances have a place. But turn up the lights.

Respond to this reader.

 
Posted by Bruce Ramsey at July 19, 2005 10:14 AM



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