• Maajid Nawaz, Strip Clubs and Sexuality

    So, it turns out that attending a strip club is antithetical to feminism. Or at least that is the narrative being spun about Maajid Nawaz by the notoriously conservative UK rag the Daily Mail.

    For those unfamiliar with Maajid, he is a former Islamic extremist, current Muslim reformer, Liberal Democrat political candidate and, most pertinently for this story, a self-described feminist. If you have had the pleasure of seeing him opine on current events, you likely won’t object if I also say that he is one of the bravest individuals any of us is likely to encounter.

    Prior to getting married in October 2014, Maajid did what many men do before walking down the aisle: he had a stag night—or bachelor party, if you prefer. As part of the evening’s entertainment, it appears the Lib-Dem candidate was taken to a strip club by his friends and, gasp, treated to a lap dance or two.


    Unfortunately, the particulars of the evening were captured by security cameras and later procured by unscrupulous, dirt-digging members of the tabloid media. The resulting Daily Mail story contains a description of the video that could scarcely be less charitable had it been co-authored by Reza Aslan and Glenn Greenwald.

    The picture it paints is of a lecherous lush relentlessly harassing a young dancer. What the video actually shows is completely open to interpretation, but it appears perfectly harmless. Indeed, condemning Maajid’s behaviour on the basis of said video requires an imagination that is positively Tolkien-esque.

    Critics seem to be hanging their collective hat on the bizarre notion that receiving a lap dance is in direct opposition to feminist values. This may be true for the left wing authoritarians who populate Twitter and Tumblr, but certainly not for those of us with the more modest goal of gender equality.


    If attending a strip club is contrary to egalitarian values, an uncomfortable number of men and women are going to be labelled as chauvinists. The concept of sexual objectification has taken a thorough beating at the hands of puritans who would pose as sex positive feminists. In truth, there is no tension between sexualisation and equity feminism, egalitarianism, or whatever other term you might favour.

    The discourse surrounding sex and gender has been held hostage by the absurd notion that appreciating the sexual characteristics of another human being first requires that we dehumanize them, as though sexual desire and theory of mind cannot co-exist. That being said, I’ll save a more thorough analysis of sexual objectification for a future post.

    Maajid hasn’t been targeted by this section of the political left just yet. Conservative opponents are certainly attempting to leverage the views of extreme left-wingers against him, though. Maajid’s voice is truly indispensable in the current climate of religious extremism, so one hopes this doesn’t distract from the good work he is doing.

    Category: FeaturedgenderNewssexSkepticism

    Article by: James MacDonald

    James MacDonald is a freelance writer and featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. In addition to sports writing, James holds masters degrees in both Psychology and Social Sciences and covers subjects including sex, gender, secularism, media, and gaming, among others.