Ne-Yo and his fiancee spent the evening at a strip club. Is there anything wrong with that?
Last week, Ne-Yo, one of my favorite R&B singers, caused a mini-uproar when pictures surfaced online of him (and the mother of his two children, Monyetta Shaw) enjoying the festivities at an Atlanta strip club. Perhaps he was celebrating his new job as senior vice president of Motown Records, his new label home. Whatever the reason, Ne-Yo and his lady were shown dropping stacks on stacks on stacks on their female entertainment.
Depending on which site you saw the pictures, some commenters were highly amused by the way Ne-Yo and his lady spent their night on the town, and recounted their own stories of hitting up the strip club with their men. Others were highly disturbed -- scandalized, even -- that a man in a relationship patronized a strip club, much less with his significant other. And they didn’t hesitate to let Ne-Yo know.
Ne-Yo seemed baffled by the uproar when he addressed the issue with ESEENCE.com: “I don't feel like I did anything wrong... It really doesn't make any sense to me,” he said. (That was the PC response. On Twitter, he hilariously wrote: "Don't like it? Mind ya damn business!")
Uh… I’m with Ne-Yo on this one. The only thing “wrong” was that the pictures got out, and I don’t hold him responsible for that. He’s in the shots; it’s not like he took them. But it looked to me like an adult night out at an adult establishment, and both parties seemed to be enjoy the evening. What exactly is the problem?
Some might call this relaxed attitude toward strip clubs and strippers moral decay; others could say people are finally loosening up. But no matter how you see it, these days you’re likely to find a gym in Middle America offering a pole-dancing class as a means of exercise. If you’re so inclined, you can buy a sturdy (and retractable) pole for home use (less than $100) — for aerobic activity or foreplay. The Olympics is debating adding a pole-dancing competition as a competitive sport. And if you step inside a strip club, you’re likely to see a gaggle of straight women, not on the stage but there to enjoy the festivities. Strip clubs, and, too, stripper culture, has gone from seedy to mainstream.
Most strip clubs are not the dens of sin you might expect. I’ve visited them on multiple occasions in several East Coast cities. The guys are the same ones you’ll meet at the office, at a club, lounge, house party, and yes — clutch your pearls if you’re wearing them! — even at church. The women dancing at the places I’ve been haven’t looked exploited. On stage, they wear about the same let-this-be-over look that every cubicle worker has the last 30 minutes of the workday. And what they can do with their bodies rivals Cirque du Soleil.
If you don’t like strip clubs, then by all means, do not go to a strip club. But go on ahead and let other grown folk (even couples who like to go together) be grown and enjoy without your judgment.
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria), in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk