Sunday, September 01, 2013

Email about strip clubs from a straight woman

A straight woman recently sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I think this may be the first email you have received from a straight woman. I really enjoy reading your blog as I find it well-written and interesting. It also opens a window into a world that I am not familiar with in daily life. I also like the considered advice that you give without being judgemental and that is why I am writing to you.

I have two male friends, one gay and one Christian, who are thinking of going into investment banking. The problem is that they are concerned about aspects of the "entertaining" side of things, by which I mean strip-clubs. My gay friend dislikes it because he finds it demeaning and abusive and perhaps (I think) because he was always expected to admire women's bodies when he did not want to. My Christian friend is utterly revolted by it because he thinks that it is wrong to buy another human for sexual gratification just because you can, many women are exploited this way, the men behave like farmyard animals and that it is all rather degrading. In any case, this is not an email about the rights and wrongs of stripping. My questions are these:
  • How prevalent is going to strip clubs in banking circles? What percentage of people go?
  • What happens if a person, for whatever reason, does not want to go to strip clubs? Is his (or indeed her) career in banking affected?
  • Is that person subject to taunts from others and excluded either socially or professionally?
  • Is doing sporty stuff i.e. golf, football matches enough?
I know that you have said in the past that you don't do things with women in strip joints, stating that you are "just a voyeur". But my questions centre around what happens if a guy just doesn't even want to go to the strip joint in the first place.

My friends are not writing to you themselves because the Christian one does not read gay blogs (but he has no problem at all with gay people). I told my gay friend to read your blog and email you (you should have seen his face when I said I really enjoyed reading a gay blog)! But I think he is sticking his head in the sand. So I am doing it mostly because I am getting tired of hearing them talking about it with conversations going round in circles all the time. We don't know anybody in investment banking and are not sure of getting an honest answer even if we did.

I am really sorry you split up with your boyfriend and I hope you find someone special soon.

Keep writing, An avid reader.

It was nice to get an email from a straight woman :-). In fact my very first "Dear GB" posting was for a straight woman, and so was my third "Dear GB" posting. However, since then there've been no such emails until last month.

The general answer to this question is that strip club visits are very rare. There were just three occasions in my career when I've been in a strip club as a direct result of my job, and on none of those occasions did I feel forced into going. All occasions were late at night on international business trips and after a few drinks, twice just with colleagues, and on one occasion with some of the bank's clients too. Two of those occasions were in Paris, and one (when I said "I'm a voyeur") was in New York. It would have been quite acceptable to have said that I felt too tired, and to have left the people who I was with to go without me. Had I not gone, it would have had absolutely no effect on my career. However, even though I'm gay and not interested in the women, because I'm fascinated by sexuality I was always interested in going along to see what happens!

There was also a fourth occasion on a team building weekend in Marbella, but at that point some of my colleagues had worked out that I was gay, so I wasn't even invited along with them. And on that occasion, there was also a straight colleague who didn't want to go along with the rest of them, so what happened was that I stayed in the bar in Puerto Banús and had another beer with him. Another important point is that these days banks need to portray a super-clean image to the general public, so employees like the reader's friends who're not going to embarrass the bank are likely to be welcomed :-).

My whole career has been in financial markets, in front office roles, and because I enjoy travel I consider that I've been quite lucky to have had a lot of international business trips over the years. Had I had the kind of role that didn't require travel, then I probably would never have been to a strip club as a result of my work. I'm not sure what kind of banking jobs the two friends of the reader are interested in. However, given that there are many different types of jobs in the banking world, and given how low key bankers need to be these days, it's very likely that if the reader's friends pursue banking careers then this issue will never arise.

Hopefully that answers the reader's question. But do any other readers have any thoughts on this subject?


Mind Of Mine said...

This was an interesting Q and A, but I have a question for you GB. Say the situation had arisen, and one of the group suggested visiting a strip club, and everyone seemed to be into the idea. If you were to decline by saying you are tired or have an early flight, so some other excuse, but you have one or two who insist you come, even if its just to have one drink and despite your polite declines, they continue to push it, would you mention you were gay?

GB said...

Well of course I would come out, Mind Of Mine, because in my case I haven't hidden my sexuality for over 20 years. But other guys don't necessarily have the same level of confidence or pride in being gay as me.

GB xxx

Anonymous said...

I've worked on the trading floor in a front office role (structuring/sales) for nearly a decade, and it's actually shocking to me that someone is asking this question! It's sad that there is still a very big (negative) gap in the image of banking and the reality. Yes, we kill kittens for fun too :p

As GB said, banks never want to be associated with organising events involving strip clubs, so these visits would only happen on an ad-hoc basis with a small number of colleagues. I've only been twice with work and my colleagues knew I was gay, but I went along anyway as it was just how the evening developed after drinks and I wanted to go along for the experience. Many of my colleagues (probably all straight) decided to call it a night earlier on those nights and of course it was not a big deal at all. I suspect some of my colleagues may frequent these places often for their own enjoyment, but it would be frowned upon to talk about it at work and almost certainly no one would feel forced to go along.

Even if you were not out at work, I think you can easily refuse to go to a strip club without outing yourself. People will just think you're just not into that kind of thing. It's not everyone's cup of tea, even for straight men!

GB said...

Thank you very much for your excellent contribution, recent anonymous commenter, I agree with everything you say :-).

GB xxx