January is the most disconcerting month of the year, for the speed at which it passes. It starts off all baby new, but before you know it, the New Year has lost its soft and promising chubby innocence. In no time at all, the shimmer and shine of the New Year more closely resembles some old has-been stumbling about aimlessly and in desperate need of a shave and a hot shower.
February isn’t much help either, being the permanently truncated month. Then along comes March, and the “new” is already looking rather entrenched in its grubby decrepitness.
So, here we are, half way through January in the blink of an eye, with no idea how the year will unfurl, yet still vaguely hopeful that it will be fresh and magnificent.
Having not had a blog for very long, I never knew the importance and difficulty of picking a topic for the very first post of a New Year. It contains a degree of difficulty and a level of decision making entirely unlike the circumstances surrounding the very first post ever, on a brand new blog, which, really, is akin to losing one’s virginity – quick, forgettable, necessary in order to move into the good stuff, and frequently more thoughtless and accidental than deliberate.
After much ado and procrastination, and out of deep consideration and thoughtfulness to my valued and darling readers, I have decided that lap dancers and investment wankers – oops, sorry, that should read investment bankers – is an appropriate topic with which to commence our 2006 together: a balance of suggestive titillation and serious mindedness. Besides, it bodes well if we start the year with a deliciously well crafted piece of journalism.
Over in New York, investment bank Morgan Stanley has fired four of its employees for visiting a lap dancing club in Arizona, while they were in that State attending a conference; presumably an investment banker's conference, rather than a lap dancing conference.
One of many questions that immediately springs to mind, but is not asked by journalist Matthew Lynn, is, for example: if an employee masturbates in a toilet cubicle during their tea break, and no one knows, have they committed a dismissible offence? Morgan Stanley has a rule that prohibits employees from visiting “exclusionary” events, and while the toilet cubicle visiting employee may eagerly welcome company of one, or both, genders, potential attendees may not be so keen, and it could thus, be considered “exclusionary”.
As with so much in the corporate world, these things are most often only offensive, or unethical, or corrupt if the people involved, or their auditors, are found out. In other words, four sacrificial lambs are fired, while 400 (or whatever) other men working for Morgan Stanley are no doubt doing the lap dancing, or some other sexually provocative circuit, on such a regular basis that the nuclear time clock could be set by their schedules.
But I digress and detract from Matthew Lynn’s piece, published in The Age, 13 January 2206.
In “What do lap dancers and bankers have in common?”
“In reality, they are in very similar businesses. Both sell an illusion on which they usually fail to deliver. They are both good at flattering their clients, and making them feel good about themselves. Neither cares much about what happens when the club or market closes.
Both are about appearances rather than substance. In the jargon of economists, they exploit human rather than physical capital. In both industries, youth is favoured over experience.
There is also the obsession with bonuses. The bankers are mindful of how much they are likely to be paid for each deal, the dancers with how much they get for each twirl around the pole. Both, without doubt, are overpaid given their talent or contribution to society.
Maybe that is why bankers like to wind up an evening out in a lap-dancing club. They see people like themselves, only better looking, and with fewer clothes on.”
Lynn goes on to argue (albeit, more elegantly), in essence, that the bankers who fired the employees are applying an old fashioned moral standard, and that, because nearly every living male in the universe visits lap dancing clubs, often taking their clients with them, it’s a perfectly acceptable thing to do, even though women are not, typically, invited to those particular business development bonding sessions.
“The key difference between the two lines of work is that lap dancers do not make any pretence about what they are. In reality, it may make more sense for the owners of a lap-dancing club to ban their female employees from visiting Morgan Stanley than the other way around. Except they are not in the business of claiming moral superiority — unlike the investment bankers.”
While I lurve Lynn’s comparative analysis of the two professions, I can’t say that I agree with his central point that 'it’s all good', because this is what guys do these days, and this is what guys do with clients, and by implication (although he certainly doesn’t say directly), this is not something that could possibly effect a woman’s career prospects, or her professional relationships, or the way she is treated in the business environment. I also don’t think it has much of anything to do with anyone taking a moral high ground, or the worm of morality turning.
Women think about sex during the course of a normal business day too – well, not when the really unattractive guy from accounts is roaming the corridors; and not when the happily married man with three kids guy is lurking about with his permanently fixed sleazy grin and squinty look – but women don’t seem to feel the need to play out their sexuality by taking their manager and the girl from reception to visit a male strip club for lunch every Wednesday, for example. They manage – yes, remarkable as it may seem – to get through their 8 hours of work each day without acting on the urge to see a naked man.
Contrary to what Lynn so beautifully hints, it’s not natural or normal for business men to interrupt their working day by spending a couple of hours with the naked breasts of strangers in their face, while they fondly shove notes of various denominations into the crotches of those same nameless women. To suggest that men are so disciplined and moral in their thoughts and actions as to be capable of then skipping back to the office and treating their female colleagues and female managers with the same awe-filled respect, adoration and forgiveness that they extend to any fuck-witted male colleague who has ever crossed their path is to grant men a degree of latitude and moral righteousness that is, self-evidently, undeserved.
We know that the male mind and male actions are highly compartmentalized, and I’m 100% sure that none of them would unthinkingly tuck a $50 note into the waistband of their secretary’s gabardine skirt at the end of an exhausting day of meetings and lap dancing; and I’m 100% sure that none of them would unthinkingly start drooling into their manager’s heaving cleavage during a performance review meeting, but I do think that the compartmentalized male mind is, perhaps, not as rigid in its compartmental designs as the average male penis, for example.
In other words, while men might be quite capable of distinguishing between a lap dancer – who wouldn’t so much as spit on him if she wasn’t being paid a truck load of money, let alone let him ogle her naked form – and, say, for example, a clothed, intelligent, authoritative female business executive or board member – who, also, wouldn’t be likely to spit on him if she wasn’t being paid a truck load of money – I’m not convinced that there isn’t some leakage in both the mind and actions of men, and thus a significant influence on the real regard and real status they accord to women they work with, or women in general.
Model Elle Macpherson – who really shouldn’t be quoted on any topic for any reason – is quoted in today’s “Good Weekend” magazine (The Age, 14 January 2006) as saying:
Yeah, yeah, okay, that’s not what she said. She was talking about “the empowerment of women…blah, blah, blah”. But didn’t you stop, just for half a nanosecond and think to yourself “WTF”; or “err, gee, why the hell would anyone “believe” in that?”; or perhaps “bimbo; sheesh, I’m glad she’s not the leader of the free world”. But when we change the context to women, it’s not an odd statement, it’s an expected and natural thing to read, quite uninteresting, despite the absolute absurdity of anyone holding to this as part of their world view, or, worse still as a belief system of some earth-mothering kind.
“What I believe in is the empowerment of men in their femininity, their sensuality, and their sexuality."
See, even women get it so muddled and fuddled that it beggars belief that they actually say these things. Doesn’t it make you wonder how hard (no pun intended) men are making it for themselves by using lap dancing clubs as a so-called business venue, and then trying to claim they treat women at their workplace with total respect, and in a manner entirely equitable with the way they treat men?
Of course, they don’t, they won’t, and perhaps they can’t. If that’s so, then it’s time to stop the bullshit, admit the truth of the world, thus allowing men to go off to their lap dancing, while acknowledging that all is not equal in the ways of work, and provide women with an extravagant range of compensatory consolation prizes to choose from each week, for no other reason than to support their endeavors to be productive and happy at work, albeit, unequal, as well as to compensate for all of that dry-retching at the thought of their boss in the presence of any naked woman - icky, eeewwww.