By Scott Tibbs, November 24, 2002
"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;" Romans 1:28
A new strip club opened in downtown Bloomington recently, and the Girls Gone Wild film crew was in town over the weekend to shoot part of their latest video in a local bar. Like Shane Enterprises' visit to Bloomington in early October, the Girls Gone Wild crew was attracted here because of an article in the Princeton Review naming Indiana University the nation's #1 "party school".
The opening of the After Hours nightclub is causing concern among many people, and the fact that it operates downtown (less than one block from the County Courthouse and three bocks from City Hall) has people worrying about the negative impact it will have on the downtown area. Some were surprised to find out that Bloomington's zoning laws do not regulate where sexually-oriented businesses can locate, given some of the restrictive zoning laws put in place by the city. With the start of the 2003 city elections only two months away, this could become an issue in the campaign.
City leaders would do well to consider amending Bloomington zoning ordinances to restrict the placement of strip clubs. The Herald-Times reported on November 18 that "studies have repeatedly shown that prostitution, drug dealing and other crimes fester around strip clubs and other sex shops. For example, a 1984 study by Indiana University in Indianapolis showed that crime increased 23 percent more in areas with adult businesses than in other parts of the city."
Concern over the After Hours nightclub is certainly justified. Strip clubs are basically living pornography, taking viewing pictures or films to the next level. Having such a club downtown works against the efforts of the city and private business to revitalize the area. Unfortunately, not all city leaders see it this way. At-large City Council member Anthony Pizzo said in the Indiana Daily Student, "I don't see this as an issue," Pizzo said. "I don't see any potential danger it poses to anyone."
Pizzo should do more research on the issue. Pornography has been linked in studies to rape and child molestation. Notorious serial killer Ted Bundy said in an interview shortly before his execution that he became addicted to pornography around 12 or 13 years old, and his addiction progressed to more and more extreme porn until he began acting out violently. The Traditional Values Coalition Web site reports that serial rapist Maximiliano Cilerio Esparza sexually assaulted and murdered a nun (strangling her with her own rosary beads) after leaving a strip club in Klamath Falls, Oregon. According to VictimsOfPornography.org, "87% of girl child molesters and 77% of boy child molesters studied admitted to regular use of hard-core pornography" and "of 36 serial sex murderers interviewed by the FBI in 1985, 81% admitted using pornography".
The link between porn and violence is easy to understand. Someone viewing porn or watching a stripper dance for him isn't concerned about her hopes and dreams, her childhood, beliefs or education and what is important to her. A name isn't even necessary. She is simply an outlet for sexual pleasure, something pretty to look at. When women are simply sexual objects, and not human beings with intrinsic value and a soul, what does it matter if they don't want to have sex? When pornography objectifies women, it demeans their value as a human being and reduces them to lower even than animals: they become inanimate objects. A rape victim's consent is of little or no value to someone who views her as merely a sexual object, not a human being.
Society is becoming desensitized to regular pornography, so porn (especially internet porn), is becoming more perverse and disgusting. Wired magazine reported that sites promoting bestiality, incest and rape are increasing, and people who wouldn't even think of going to such sites are being exposed to them anyway through progressively graphic and aggressive SPAM. In addition, while those who SPAM others e-mail inboxes were once content to include graphic text and a link, some porn sites are including pictures in the SPAM they send out.
The First Amendment prevents much from being done in terms of banning pornography or strip clubs, but the sex industry does bear closer scrutiny given the documented negative effects it has on society. More importantly, society needs to wake up to the danger pornography poses to both those addicted to it and those who have been victimized by porn addicts. This isn't something government can solve, but Christians can chip away at the industry's hold on society through prayer and by speaking out against the exploitation of women and children.
This also presents a unique opportunity for conservative Christians and anti-porn feminists to join forces. While women have made great progress in terms of legal and economic equality, the sex industry is an obstacle to women's liberation by putting women "in their place". If we want true equality for American women, the sex industry should be the feminist movement's next target.