Let’s All Move to Iceland!

The “World’s Most Feminist Country” apparently – discuss!

I wonder why there is such a strong consensus behind the country’s decision to ban all strip clubs – even among men. Or are there good reasons to be suspicious about the accuracy of the 2007 poll results? Can any Icelandic readers help the rest of us understand the secret of your country’s success?

It would also be interesting to hear from those mentioned in the article who believe that strip clubs are ’empowering’. Is there anything to this argument?

15 thoughts on “Let’s All Move to Iceland!

  1. I just want to know why the Guardian (which is my beloved daily) saw fit to put this in the ‘Life and Style’ section of the G2. This seems to me to be a hard news story and that it ought to have gone in the ‘International’ section of the main paper.

  2. I think the Guardian considers pretty much all things to do with women to fall into the ‘Life and Style’ section.

  3. i haven’t read the article yet, but i saw the first paragraph of it on a facebook post. i don’t understand why guardian thinks that a lesbian prime minister explains strip-club-banning. ?

  4. 1. There were somewhere between 1 and 4 stripclubs in the entire country when they were at their peak.
    Hardly strong lobbying going on on their part, while most people are made aware by feminists (Male and Female) that the thing was all rather sordid and financed by crooks with “wimmens wot might be in sexual slavery, maybe”.

    2. No-one gives a a bag of dead rats about strip-clubs, the older blokes what go their have discovered the internet, the ones looking for, shall we say, companionship of a carnal nature have found that, heh, independent contractors to be more reliable and cheaper (I must admit to not being a primary source of this information, full disclosure ftw)

    With the legalization of prostitution but the illegalization of Pimpin (‘Side from the guvna o’course, can’t be stealin his shillin and watnot),

    3. Lots of people speaking against it, few with. I mean, whos going to stand up and say: “Nay dear fellows, I hath been greatly pleased with the services provided by yon carnal institutions”

    4. The only owner of the clubs was male, so he didn’t try to pick up the “Right to choose Wrong” argument aboot “sexual freedom and female empowerment through base manipulation of the carnal urges of sad men”.

    5. Really, the major step was the banning of pr0ns in “TeeVee,, years ago. Since then there’s only been one softcore magazine going on, forcing young lads and lasses to find their pr0n related kicks somewhere else, whether in eachothers arms or das interboot.

    6. We just have a general respect for women and men, starting with the vikings and ending with our lovely invisible prime minister.
    (BTW, you might like to know that the proposal wasn’t drafted by her, or her party, but hilariously enough from the right-centrist power-grabbing Framsóknarflokk, Siv, who, while a woman, is still a capitalist. Funny how that goes.)

    7. No-one noticed, no-one cared but the activists.
    And possibly the women in held in sexual slavery.

    (Disregard point 6, it isn’t chauvinistic enough)

    A question:
    Why do you allow strip clubs?

  5. Woops, Post Scriptum,
    I happen to be Icelandic
    Ísland, fjandakornið Já!

    Full disclosure and waht

  6. I’ve never been to a strip club and, though not a few of my favorite contemporary films are quite sexually explicit (e.g. by Catherine Breillat, Ulrich Seidl, and, my favorite, Bruno Dumont), I’m not a porn consumer, so perhaps I’m just naive here, but can someone explain how the banning of strip clubs is consistent with not banning porn? Maybe there isn’t any inconsistency, but it seems to me that just as some kinds of porn are condoned, some kinds of strip clubs, under certain regulatory arrangements, might be condoned; and so I’m wondering why Iceland has chosen this, to my mind, extreme policy, and whether that’s something to be celebrated.

  7. All the strippers I ever knew (nyc) said it was “empowering,” etc, but that wouldn’t be said while they were high or looking for a place to cop or the two bucks they were short or whoever beat them on the last bag . . . .

    For some reason beyond my understanding, this seemed to happen less to other sex-workers.

    Is there a crack (shaddup)
    in there about power corrupting?
    Or is it all too sad for that.

  8. There are plenty of countries without strip clubs. Most of them with appalling human rights records.

    I wonder if all this legislation is gender neutral, are males too prohibited from stripping in Iceland?

  9. An Icelander chiming in:

    Hamish, of course the legislation is gender neutral. Why on earth wouldn’t it be? It is, however, highly misleading to say that men (or women) are “prohibited from stripping in Iceland”. You can run around naked as you wish (dancing or not) in your own home and invite all your friends to come and watch you. If you have many friends, you can even rent a banquet hall for the event. What is prohibited is for a restaurant or bar owner to host the event and charge admission to the spectacle or otherwise benefit from the nudity of her/his employees.

    Rob, I’m not sure where exactly you think the inconsistency lies. But it so happens that pornography is prohibited in Iceland. What’s difficult, of course, is defining it. I.e. what should count as porn and thereby fall under that ban? In practice, the definition used seems to involve fairly violent stuff with anything else classified as ‘erotica’, which is allowed. There hasn’t been an active porn industry in Iceland (so far) with people being trafficked into the country to star in porn flicks whereas that has been an issue with the strip joints so there’s a practical reason for the emphasis on the latter.

    And now to the question that specifically called for the input of Icelanders:

    Iceland doesn’t feel like a particularly feminist country to me. We’ve just been through a financial crash resulting from a mess made via neoliberal policies. Over the past few years leading up to the crash, the wage gap increased, both in terms of gender and in terms of social status. I didn’t see much feminism in the things going on there. There have, however, been periods with much feminist activism. In the 80’s and into the 90’s, we had a women’s party that did reasonably well in terms of getting parliament representatives. Some of the women currently (or recently) in the government were originally in the women’s party (currently they’re in the Social-Democratic party or in the Left-Green party). In 2003, a feminist association was founded and quickly became very active and prominent. One of the things prompting it was the pornification of practically everything in society and the commercialization of sex which was very blatant at that point (it seems to me that it’s gotten better but sometimes I wonder if maybe I’ve just gotten accustomed to it and thus fail to notice it anymore). So porn, strip clubs, and prostitution became one of the main targets of the feminist association, but certainly not its only target. This movement seems to have been quite successful in getting people to listen; I know a good number of people who identify as feminists now who would never have done so 7 years ago.

    Maybe one of the reasons is the small monolithic population (300 thousand people who are practically all related to each other). All kinds of trends catch on here and become all-permeating. This holds for both good and bad trends. It can be extremely frustrating, and harmful, if the trend involves something negative, but the upside is that a positive message (such as a feminist one) can be passed fairly easily to the bulk of the population.

    In short, I’ll say that it’s complicated (as most things are) but that I’d be very hesitant to award Iceland the title of “the world’s most feminist country” even though feminists have had some successes here lately.

  10. How is putting all these women (and men) out of work a victory for feminism?

    How is using one’s body to earn a living less feminist than using one’s mind? (Other than the obvious and unacceptable reason of a clearly Judeo-Christian disdain for the body.)

    If there’s evidence of trafficking, fight the trafficking. If there’s evidence of unfair treatment by employers, help sex workers to unionize or otherwise to win the protection of labour laws (as in the Netherlands). Putting people out of work because you think their employers abuse them is a tragic and bizarre solution.

    Ellen Willis and Joan Nestle are instructive to read on more sex-positive, less puritanical feminism. Puritans have never made good feminists.

  11. Thanks for the insight and information, Eyja.

    I wonder what Karen Finley makes of this. In the late nineties, at a southern CA art school a girlfriend was attending, I once heard Finley talk about her work, and how she drew upon her experience as a stripper. I wanted to ask her what she thought about the morality of stripping, but since this was a school where swimming naked in the campus pool and seeing a woman at a show opening with only pieces of tape (barely) covering her nipples were apparently not unusual, I was too cowardly to do so, for fear of being typed as prude.

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