The government of Iceland last week outlawed all businesses that profit off the nudity of employees — strip clubs, most notably. Many feminists have cheered the move. Janice Raymond, a director of Coalition Against Trafficking in Women believes it is "a victory... for everyone worldwide who repudiates the sexual exploitation of women." But other observers eschew the idea that stripping is inherently exploitative and wonder if the ban won't backfire. Is Iceland's new law visionary — or just short-sighted?
Iceland has become a beacon of true feminism: This small nation of 320,000 people "is fast becoming a world-leader" in feminist politics, says Julie Bindel in the Guardian. Why? Thank "a strong women's movement and a high number of female politicians" who worked together to pass this legislation. Hopefully, this ban will serve as a "shot in the arm" to other countries — the U.K., most notably — that should be doing more to stop the exploitation of women.
"Iceland: the world's most feminist country"
Wrong move, Icelanders: This is definitely "not a feminist victory," says Miriam at Feministing. If history is any guide, the industry will just be forced underground and that will "harm the workers more than anyone." The best option "would be a highly regulated industry that made sure dancers' rights were protected" — think "good wages," unions, a safe work environment, and tough enforcement on human trafficking laws.
"Iceland bans strip clubs..."
Actually, Iceland is a unique case where this makes sense: In general, it's true that banning an industry just forces it underground, says Matt Yglesias at Think Progress. But that's "probably not true of Iceland" — a country so tiny that people don’t even have last names. Here, "the authorities would find out about" any underground clubs — after all, there are no secrets in a country of 320,000. From a U.S. perspective, this is more analogous to a small town banning strip clubs.
"Iceland bans strip clubs"
Don't forget, strippers are people too: It's true that stripping isn't all "glitter and fun" and third-wave feminist empowerment, says Jill Filipovic at Feministe. "I’d be willing to bet that most strippers strip because it pays pretty well." So, sure, some feminists are declaring victory because Icelandic frat boys won't be able to "male bond over seeing naked ladies anymore." But keep in mind: "the ladies will be the ones who are dead broke because of it."
"Iceland bans strip clubs"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- Scottish independence is another financial crisis waiting to happen
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- 10 things you need to know today: September 1, 2014
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
- These real-life Rosie the Riveters changed the face of labor
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
Subscribe to the Week