The trouble with Stringfellows

I LOVE the quaint argument put up by those opposed to the Stringfellows club in Parnell Square – that it will attract the ‘wrong type’ of men. 

I would have thought that after the last twenty years in Ireland nobody could raise that type of argument. Sex is practiced by all sorts of men, from all sorts of backgrounds, in all sorts of way.

But the local campaigners have a point. If Stringfellows is the only strip club on Parnell Street then there’s little to worry about. But if the next strip club applicant uses the presence of the Stringfellows club to set a precedent then Parnell Street is in trouble.

At the moment Dublin doesn’t have a sex district and experience from abroad might suggest that we would be better off without one.

In London and New York, two of the world’s most famous sex districts have been transformed over the past 10 years or so. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani cleared all the sex shops, sleazey cinemas and brothels out of Times Square. The district had become a byword for crime and violence. 

In London the Soho area has gone through a similar change with most of the sex shops having been cleared out and the illegal bars and brothels closed. 

In both cases the areas became magnets for drug trafficking and for police corruption.

It’s not so much that sex districts attract the wrong sort of people as that it attracts people behaving badly. You can see young lads at a funeral behaving impeccably – while the same young lads will be demolishing the chipper at 3am on a Saturday after a belly full of beer. It’s all about context.

We’ve had an inkling of this with Temple Bar when it became a haven for stag parties and hen nights. I don’t object really but what happens is that other people who don’t appreciate young women throwing vibrators at each other and young men doing  odd things with blow-up dolls tend to stay away. Then the district loses its appeal for residents, the elderly and families.

So the lesson is to keep the sex thing to a minimum or to keep it spread out throughout the city.

The Ruhama Women’s Project, who work with women in the sex trade in Dublin, also objected to the licence. They are opposed to any legalising of the sex trade. They have a point.

In principle there’s no reason why any woman should not be able to strike a deal with any man for sex. But that’s not the way the world works. Given the choice between being a prostitute and a brain surgeon most women would opt for the latter. 

In the real world a huge number of women working in the sex industry have little or no choices. Many of the women who work in these clubs or in the sex trade built up around them have been trafficked in appalling circumstances. 

It’s all right for Stringfellows to have a ‘no touch’ policy but the trade that builds up around these clubs is all touch.

You would have thought with the relaxation in general morals regarding sex that the need for the sex industry would be reduced. Given the lurid tales of what happens at Dublin’s ‘normal’ nightclubs it’s a bit sad if you have to pay for it.