Why Is It…?

“Why Is It…?” was designed by Dr. Steiner to address readers’ questions about human behavior from a social psychological perspective in order to inform and stimulate dialogue about the ways in which our thoughts, feelings and behaviors are influenced by the presence of other people. Dr. Steiner holds a Ph.D. in Applied Social Psychology. In addition to working as a university professor over the last 15 years, she conducts individual and group consultations in matters of social relationships and behavior. Readers are invited to submit their questions in one paragraph or less to Dr. Steiner at [email protected].

Q: Why is it…that so many women have a problem with their boyfriends and husbands going to strip clubs?

My friend is getting married in a few weeks, and his best man is throwing him a bachelor’s party. When my girlfriend found out that a stripper was hired for entertainment, she had a fit! Why would she be upset when it’s a male tradition to do such things at a bachelor party? I mean it’s not like I have a relationship with the stripper or anything.

A: With a few exceptions, most women find this form of male entertainment objectionable, offensive and personally hurtful. Some are very vocal about it, some remain quietly angry (the silent treatment), while others may “act” as though they are okay with it, but then privately hide their tears. While the rules of engagement (no pun intended) differ across cultures, Americans ascribe to a practice of monogamous relationships.

Among the factors that have been associated with healthy, romantic relationships – trust, intimacy (feelings of closeness), and sexual exclusivity appear to be essential ingredients. Sexual exclusivity involves restricting sexual activity to the partners in the relationship. When one partner seeks sexual association with a third party, their mate feels betrayed, which undermines (if not destroys) the elements of trust and intimacy necessary for relationship satisfaction.

Many men have the false impression that to attend a strip club, flip through a Playboy, or engage in pornographic Web sites, etc. does not (and should not) constitute an act of betrayal because there is no physical contact involved. However, love, while it may involve physical sensation and expression, is not really a physical entity. Symbolically speaking, we may talk about love as residing in the human heart, but if you were to dissect a human heart, you could not extract a physical entity labeled love. Love for another person is spiritual in nature – an emotional bond. Therefore, by directing your sexual attention to another woman, especially when there is arousal involved (as is usually the case), you have betrayed the spirit of your relationship, although no physical contact occurred.

It has been argued that, on average, sex for women is “relational,” while sex for many men is “recreational.” This difference often explains why men can become aroused by the sexual objectification of the female body (with no emotional connection), while most women regard trust, intimacy, and loyalty as prerequisites for sexual fulfillment.

Our culture tends to promote and condone the casual sexual stimulation of males as evidenced by the T & A in mass media, and establishments such as strip clubs or Hooters. Many men have been socialized with expectations of entitlement and adherence to this social norm. However, for the women in their lives, the reality is that it hurts. Many women are labeled as “insecure” or “nags” when they express their objections to their mates. As a result, if not taken seriously, women may become depressed, withdrawn, angry, and suspicious. I once had a middle-aged, female client who would lock herself in the bathroom and cry for hours when her husband disappeared behind closed doors each month with the new Victoria’s Secret catalog. After drying her tears, she would dutifully prepare dinner for the family without ever saying a word.

If your romantic relationship is important to you, encourage your mate to talk openly about this topic and be prepared to take down the girly posters. In the end, you will both benefit from a deeper, more meaningful, connection, as well as a more satisfying sex life!