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Controversially stripping down in Saskatchewan

By in Opinions

Strip clubs are set to be the next big business venture in Saskatchewan — but this industry seems a little out of place, doesn’t it?

While strips clubs have never been illegal in Saskatchewan, selling alcohol at them was. Without the profits of alcohol sales, maintaining a flourishing strip club industry in our province wasn’t realistic.

But new provincial legislation will allow alcohol to be sold and bought in more public places, including strip clubs. So now you will be able to access exotic dancing, lap dances and people taking their clothes off for money — all the while with a drink in hand.

Cities in Saskatchewan are busy planning zones for where businesses can and cannot operate. There will be restrictions — sexually oriented businesses must be 160 meters from schools, parks and recreational facilities. However, there have also been requests that officials look at an even farther boundary.

Reportedly, city council has received many telephone calls posing concerns about increased crime and vulgar behavior in areas where the clubs will be located. This is largely hinged on the fact that a direct correlation is presumed to exist between sexual orientated businesses and crime rates.

In 2012, criminal justice professors Eric McCord and Richard Tewksbury published Does the Presence of Sexually Oriented Businesses Relate to Increased Levels of Crime? Their study was conducted in Jefferson County, Ky. to see if a direct relationship exists.

Their results showed that crime is 12.3 times more likely to occur within 150 meters of a sexually oriented business and 8.3 times more likely to occur within a 300 meter radius. These types of crimes are defined by McCord and Tewksbury as violent, disorderly conduct or property crimes.

Crime rates decrease as one moves farther away from a sexual orientated business, yet it is still unclear as to whether the businesses themselves are placed in higher crime rate areas in the first place or if higher crime rates follow the placement of such an establishment.

Along with the types of crimes listed above, there are other secondary effects of sexually orientated businesses that are strikingly common. These types of businesses often leave a trail of drug usage, prostitution, alcoholism as well as verbal, sexual and physical abuse.

Strip clubs are trashy and amoral. Allowing a strip club to be built means allowing those who work there to be objectified, lusted over and degraded. The person working is paid to show off their body and is sometimes encouraged to do more than just a lap dance behind VIP walls. It’s the farthest thing from a business that upholds dignity or the value of human beings.

I would never step foot in a strip club and I do not support their existence. I never want my body to be objectified in that way and it concerns me that some people are okay with that behavior.

Of course, the reaction to these reasons for hating on the stripping business is simple: if you do not support strip clubs, then don’t go to them and don’t work in them. Trust me, I won’t.

But other people will, and there will be people working in these clubs in our city. While some may choose this occupation, others enter such lines of work due to lack of education, skills or as means of obtaining financial security. Objectifying your body in this way pays the bills.

And it’s no small business; the annual global strip club revenue is $75 billion according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012.

Compared to other parts of the world, Canada is generally much more conservative when it comes to strip clubs.

Calgary, Alta. has rules requiring a minimum of three feet between customers and strippers while onstage.

Saskatchewan has survived without strip clubs thus far, and we certainly don’t need them now. But with the new legislation in place, these types of businesses will begin popping up. Because of the potential for alcohol sales, the strip club industry may be a booming one, offering something that Saskatchewan cities have not seen in the past.

Strip clubs will create a different dynamic to the adult entertainment offered in Saskatchewan. The essential thing here will be to make sure they are regulated and have restrictions and limitations that are enforced.

It is crucial that neighborhoods and communities’ wishes for boundaries are both heard and taken into consideration. Violent crime and other consequences may or may not result from the addition of these businesses, but being aware that it can happen is important.

The placement and limitations of strip clubs will continue to be debated by Saskatoon’s city council in the upcoming months. I hope regulations are strict for the sake of the neighborhoods and the strippers.

Regardless, you won’t find me at these businesses. I’d rather spend my loonies on something else.

Naomi Zurevinski

Graphic: Stephanie Mah

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