Iceland bans strip clubs – a victory for women?

icelandic women feminists

Icelandic feminists on International Women’s Day Photographer: Salvor Gissurardottir

Hello freethinkers, it’s been a while – but I’m ready to make a return.

A piece of news I’ve had on my mind in the last couple weeks is quite a victory for women everywhere, in my mind. Let’s see what you all think.

The Guardian reports:

Iceland: the world’s most feminist country

Iceland is fast becoming a world-leader in feminism. A country with a tiny population of 320,000, it is on the brink of achieving what many considered to be impossible: closing down its sex industry.

While activists in Britain battle on in an attempt to regulate lapdance clubs – the number of which has been growing at an alarming rate during the last decade – Iceland has passed a law that will result in every strip club in the country being shut down. And forget hiring a topless waitress in an attempt to get around the bar: the law, which was passed with no votes against and only two abstentions, will make it illegal for any business to profit from the nudity of its employees.

Iceland, a country that also lays claim to having the world’s first (modern) gay head of government,  Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, has taken a step in declaring that women should be treated as far more than objects of desire.

But on the same issue, I can see that some might consider this an attempt to oppress women from their right to expose themselves in whatever way they wish. The question is, shouldn’t we be allowed to do whatever we like with our bodies, in a free society? I’m not saying I hold to that (because I’m not sure of my position on this issue), but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of you do.

Is this a victory, or an incredibly soft form of oppression in disguise? My sense of responsibility says that banning profit from nudity in the workplace is a relatively positive thing.

Some of you might have been wondering what I’ve been up to (I know Acharya has) – I welcome you to keep up to date with me on my happenings over at my (finally resurrected) web-home:


  1. My first reaction is that it’s a bad thing, for a variety of reasons. My own position is that if we were to teach about [i]sacred [/i]sexuality, the problems with such clubs would evaporate. The women would be honored as divine teachers of sexuality, rather than pieces of meat, etc.

    Of course, not all sexuality has to be approached in this pious – and at times boring – manner, so long as two consenting adults are involved. But the education about sexuality is generally so poor on this planet, and the religious depravity has made it something so revolting, that we have a long way to go before we see enlightened attitudes enough to handle this sort of “Tantric” reform.

    The best situation would be for women to be taught not their bodies are dirty and filthy but that they can be leaders in enlightened sexuality. At that point, they should be able to express themselves however they wish.

    Iceland is small enough that this sort of prohibition might work out – but then again much of the populace may leave because of what may be perceived as oppressive laws.

  2. One man’s jungle is another man’s civilization. To me this is an intrusion on liberty and freedom. The assumption here is all women in a strip club are there against their will. The truth is many women are there because they want to be there, they have no problem with it and they make a living at it. In many cases, a very good living at it. What happens now if there’s something else which a government decides is not good for YOU? Do we really want politicians and bureaucrats imposing their morality, likes/dislikes on society as a whole? This is one of the those things which looks good on the surface but is really troublesome once you analyze where it can go with other areas of life. I’m not a fan of strip clubs but I still see problems with this type of legislating.

  3. While on the surface it might look to some as a victory in morals or conduct. I think if I lived in Iceland. I would be disappointed. Mostly because I believe if there is no harm, then there is no foul. If they want the gov to regulate the women. Then do that. Restricting opportunities for women to make a good living while younger and restricting the public for entertainment choices seems like another push from religious moral morons. If no Icelandic male wanted to see hot naked chicks. Those businesses would fail.

    If they are worried about the girls, then add a tax to establishment to pay for government to protect them. Well those are my quick thoughts.

  4. A victory for women?
    I couldn’t agree more with you Acharya! I have debated(more like battled, some are quite vicious in their attacks on opposing views) with many anti-porn and anti-sex feminist, and I just can’t get on board with such a dangerous ideology. Feminists are deeply divided on this issue alone! And each group has its fring, which have lost touch of all their common sense. You have one group that blames sex and the sex industry for all of women’s woes and the other that says sex and the sex industry has set women free.

    Well, the truth lies in the archeaological and historical, as well as biological finds. This is where I credit you(Acharya), Barbara G. Walker and James DeMeo, for guiding my common sense to the truth on this matter.

    The sexy industry is not the causation of women’s oppression, it is merely a product of it, and nor does working in it, set women free, it only makes women sex slaves to men. The root of the problem is patriachy(male dominance) and its sexually repressive religions. In pre-historic and ancient times there is much evidence that suggest that the female body and sex were sacred and celebrated. It appears in their art, festivals, and in many other forms. For a VERY long time archeaologist with male tunnel vision, viewed the findings as porn and in some sense they were right. What they failed to recognize is there was a HUGE difference in how it was portrayed. In prehistoric times the female figures are powerful, sensual, femininly erotic and clearly sacred. In more male dominated times the female becomes dominated and human sexual expression becomes twisted and exploited. So, the porn we have all been exposed to in our time is a product of patriarchal pyschosis and is very harmful to women, but at the same time if you out law it we force it underground and that NEVER works out well for women and especially children! You only have to look at places like Sadi Arabia to know that banning porn does not free woman and only creates a sex slave industry.

    So, what to do? Well, I personally think we need a female takeover of the sex industry! Not that I am willing to do it. 😆 But, there are female porn stars that are starting to put their own spin on things and it is taking off and getting HUGE recognition! And, the best part about it is even men find female created porn more entertaining and enjoy the erotic sensuallity in them over the cum shot to the face, like so many man made porn contains.

    It is sad that such a feminist country has adopted such an anti-sex attitude. They should have just handed it over to the women, but time will tell if this is a good idea or not. Good luck Iceland.

  5. Honestly, at first I thought it was going to be another Muslim thing pushing their religious ideology onto everybody else again and trying to take over – as they love to do.

    Why was an all out ban so necessary? So, now these girls are all out of a job – nice work.

  6. “The sexy industry is not the causation of women’s oppression, it is merely a product of it, and nor does working in it, set women free, it only makes women sex slaves to men.’

    So a stripper is a slave? A prostitute? Porn star? If it is a choice, they are not slaves.

    When we men are young and we are busy trying to impress some cute tight shirt, or short skirt. Are men slaves? No it is our choice to act ridiculous to chase women. Just like it is their choice to exploit their looks/body/sex for cash.

    I think the men addicted to strip clubs, paying for sex, and porn to be the slaves.

  7. I am Icelandic. I live in reykjavik the capital of Iceland. I guess I’m writing this in response to the comments that I read to this article.
    There seems to be some misunderstanding or lack of knowledge about Iceland and it’s people and culture. First of all this is not about religion.
    Icelanders as a whole are not that religious. Most of us, or about 75 to 80 percent belong to the protestant lutheran church, but I don’t know anyone who actually attends church on a regular basis. There are very few muslims in Iceland, I’d say maybe 1 or 2 percent. So it’s not a religious thing. Iceland has historically had a very low crime rate, in fact one of the lowest in the world. I belive this legislation stems from the fact that since Iceland became a member of the Schengen agreement with the european union, which allows members of all the countries of Europe to move and work freely among the union countries, crime has increased dramatically in Iceland. Especially organized crime. Also the women who work in the strip clubs in iceland, are typically not Icelandic, but eastern europian. And this also ties into the popular discussion that has been going on about trafficing women, and sexual slavery, especially towards women from eastern europe.
    Now I don’t know that I necessarily agree with this legislation, but I think these are the reasons for it, if that helps.

    1. Thank you for your enlightening contribution.

      I’m sorry to hear that Iceland is now being corrupted because of its inclusion in the EU. That’s really a shame.

      Putting things into that context, I can see the soundness of this decision. Perhaps it will drive these villains out of your once peaceful country.

    2. What about nudity?
      H.S., what is the status of nudism in Iceland?

      Is it prohibited or controlled?

      I have long believed in what I term “Arne’s Law” which states :

      in any society, the degree to which women are covered in the name of Sexual Modesty, is inversely proportionate to their rights in that society.

      Thus the woman completely covered in Saudi Arabia, is completely bereft of rights.

      Usually, covering a woman in the name of Sexual Modesty is done by conservative religions. Muslims, Protestant Fundamentalists, and nuns are examples.


    3. For H.S. Tomasson :
      RE: “There seems to be some misunderstanding or lack of knowledge about Iceland and it’s people and culture.”

      I’m sure that’s true H.S., we Americans, regrettably, are a bit self absorbed when it comes to learning about other cultures, and I’ve no doubt our ignorance is the culprit here, for which I apologize.

      However, you also said that, “crime has increased dramatically in Iceland. Especially organized crime.”

      I don’t doubt you. There was a time in this country when we outlawed alcohol – nationally – but we discovered that such an action caused more problems than it prevented. We repealed that prohibition.

      There was also a time when organized crime had a monopoly on the gambling industry, but rather than banning the activity, we went after the criminals. I’m no great fan of gambling, as each man should know his limitations, but I’d never vote to take that activity away from others.

      As for the morality of the issue, as long as there are humans, there will always be a strong one ready to exploit a weaker or less-advantaged one – it’s human nature, and only humans can change human nature, not laws.

      Sometimes that human tendency works out advantageously – two humans learn to exploit each other – we call it, marriage.

      pax vobiscum,

  8. No Guy in the Sky,

    In responce to your comment…”So a stripper is a slave? A prostitute? Porn star? If it is a choice, they are not slaves.”

    Yes, even strippers are slaves to the male owned sex industry. You assume because northern European and western women generally have a choice in the matter, that all women have had that same choice. That just isn’t the case, and even in the western world it’s not most women’s first choice for a career. It is one they either resort to as a means to support their children or are drawn to, because of the amount of money they can make in a short amount of time. Many, strippers will tell you that they feel objectified and dirty, but the money is too addictive to give up. And speaking from experience, having bar tended a few years in strip clubs in a small redneck town in NC, where jobs for women were few and nil, even for someone like myself with an associates degree in accounting, who could only land a job bar tending. Imagine if I hadn’t had that? I just might have been one of those girls up on that pole, that happens to be owned by men and managed by men for men. Strip clubs are either run down filthy shacks, run by rednecks or big fancy over done “gentlemen’s” clubs, run by rich powerfull men. Very few are run by women and even fewer owned.

    SO, my argument is, that if these businesses were handed over to the workers, which is usually women, than it would be their choice and they would most likely create a sex industry that was more female positive and more female empowering. We only have to look at what Jenna Jamison(I hope that is her name?) has done for women in the porn industry. She created a whole line of porn made for women and it has been a big hit, even with men. For years many women have hated porn and for good reason. It was made by men, for men and the women in their flicks severely abused and degraded with rough barbaric sex and cum shots to the face. Many of these women suffered from vaginal, and anal tearing, and sometimes so sever that it put her out of work for months. I’m sure that was her choice too. Now, with more and more women in the industry taking control, they have more choices and the porn has softened up. It has taken a turn towards equal sexual pleasures and not just pleasures for men.

    And, prostitution is one of the MOST danderous sex profession there is and the #1 target for serial killers. I can go on and on here, but I don’t have the time unfortunately.

    You also said this…”When we men are young and we are busy trying to impress some cute tight shirt, or short skirt. Are men slaves? No it is our choice to act ridiculous to chase women. Just like it is their choice to exploit their looks/body/sex for cash. “

    I would argue it is not as much of a choice as you think it is. Google up biology 101. And, it isn’t only for the young. People of all ages do it, we are all wired to seek out sexual pleasure, it may lessen as time goes by, but I’ve seen a few old men out there chasing skirt and is prob what keeps them young at heart.

    And then you said this…”I think the men addicted to strip clubs, paying for sex, and porn to be the slaves.”

    I agree, men are just as much of victims of patriarchy. And don’t get me wrong, I like men just find, it is patriarchy and male dominance ideology I despise.

    H.S. Tomasson,

    Thank you for clearing that up for us, but my biggest concern with banning strip clubs is that it might force it underground where those women will not have any protections under the law. History has showed us time, and time again, that banning sex workers, and their jobs only forces them underground, where they are force to put up with barbaric treatment, and extremely bad sex practices.

    Best of luck to your country. I do hope for the best outcome.

  9. Personally, I do not go to strip clubs or other places like that. It make sense to me to look, but do not touch. I believe that sexual relationship should be base on feeling toward each other. Any other way it is just “dog style”. Hay, that is my personal opinion. Female should have right to do whatever they want with their bodies and if they find a “sucker” that it is willing to pay for, good for them.
    Forcing female (or male) to perform sexual act it is wrong. I am 58 years old male and I did “lived my life”.

  10. This is such an important issue for me, being a student of gender studies and a feminist. I don’t mean to ruffle so many feathers here, but I also can’t turn a blind eye to the treatment of women in the sex industry and while it might seem that many women choose to be in it, it really isn’t a matter of choice. There is a HUGE economic gap between the sexes and its what really drives many uneducated and even some educated women into the business. When your choices for income are flipping burgers at McDonals or sitting behind a desk for few more dollars than minimum wage, it is very easy to get sucked into the sex industry. I know first hand how that happens and even though I didn’t have to take my clothes off as a bartender, I was still treated like a piece of meat by the owners and managers, who were all men. They hounded me about getting on the stage, or flash them some booby, and my fav…”oh you’re one of those good girls(WTF is that?) too smart to be up on that stage”. Yeah, they really just needed me to do their do their book keeping, payouts, tend the bar and keep the dancers on the floor to make them MONEY, cuz they were too fat and lazy to do it themselves or they were too busy getting it on in the back with one of the dancers, even though they were married.

    I am all about the freedom of sexual expression, but it should be on the person who is expressing terms and doing what others want you to do on their terms, is slavery in my book.

    If you have any doubt about the way women are exploited in the male owned industry, please watch the documentory linked below.

    It is from 2008 and some areas have advanced, but much has not.

  11. It may well be that God caused the volcano to erupt because He was angry over the strip club ban. 😡

  12. putting the BAN back in…
    there are so many specious, slanted, fallacious statements in these comments it’s not worth answering all of them. “…prostitution is one of the MOST dangerous sex profession there is and the #1 target for serial killers.” WTF? what are the “safe” sex professions? so you close all the strip bars in iceland. no more serial killers? catholic children are the #1 target for predator priests. so we are going to ban catholic children?

    ICELAND! putting the BAN back in Taliban.

  13. sex industry
    If working in the sex industry is such a choice for women why is it then that many find it so difficult to leave? Why is it that the women working in the industry are not the ones making the most money? This does not happen in male owned establishments only. Women exploit women too. Too many women are coerced or forced into this type of work by the men in their lives who use the proceeds to feed addictions or the women themselves who can see no other way but to sell their bodies to feed an addiction which in turn makes it bareable to sell their body. Even in societies where the sex industry is allowed there are young women from foreign lands who are held captive by the organisers of sex slave trafficking. The depiction of the sexy schoolgirl must appeal to a wide enough audience for these types of images to prevail. No wonder then that our young women are at risk from those who find these images stimulating. When I worked as a nurse, I heard over and over the lewd comments made by some men about their fantasies about nurses. I have no problem with people who participate willingly in the sex industry but I do question the thought that nobody can be harmed. We should look at how women are percieved by men who find the majority of the sex industry a necessary part of their lives. Is it possible not to view women as a commodity in these circumstances? I recall hearing men refer to strip shows as going to watch the sluts. I know from conversations with these ‘sluts’ that they feel forever tarnished by their previous occupation. Some feel that they can never fully move on to other things. Human beings have a sex drive. It is not exclusively a male thing but the idea that it is natural for men to need an outlet and that this need will be serviced by a lower class of women still persists. The raunch culture is yet another way that women, especially very young women, are being influenced into believing that to be sexy is desirable before thay are old enough to understand what being sexy really means. I could probably go on and on but I hope I have made my point. I hope Iceland manage to achieve something good from their efforts and from all of this debate which has ensued.

  14. Fantastic
    I think its great that the strip clubs have been banned. I’m not sure that porn will ever be banned but I do hope that one day it becomes a distant memory for a lot of us.

    The objectification of women is wrong on so many levels. Firstly its a crime against men. Both men and women cannot help becoming aroused or wanting arousal from the sight of nude bodies. We have all been conditioned to expect sex after the sight of nudity – it has been conditioned through the media and from our lifestyles and society. Men are unfortunately being led around by their penises and too many of us enjoy it too much to understand what it is doing to us. We are brainwashed to believe that our goal in life is to spread our seed. That we are all predisposed to adultery. That we are animals. We carry on behaving this way because we think thats how we are supposed to behave and thats how we enjoy life. My wife thinks less of me because she believes how media portray men.

    I love my wife but it is extremely difficult to defend myself. Society does need to change. We should view women as companions, not someone to sexually dominate, or dominate in any other way. Perhaps the sex industry does need to be run by women, but I feel that most women would not be up to the task since their view of themselves is also skewed by society. Some women feel they need to act like whores to get attention from men, and invariably enough they do – only its not the attention they wanted and it soon diminishes when they put their normal clothes on and start talking. This is a very sad way to treat women, and it is often the norm.

    I don’t really have any solutions. But I don’t think that banning explotation of nudity is against womens freedoms. Nudity is pretty much banned in public anyways so this is just an extension of that.

  15. In ([url]searching for a stripper jobs[/url]), ask the club you are planning to work in how much they charge to work there and any tip outs and make sure you’re okay forking over up to 50% of your hard earned cash. Different clubs vary and can also change nightly.

  16. Where is the link? I’d be very interested in watching it. Maybe you could just copy the url

  17. I wish I could move to Iceland…America is a most horrible place to live..America has degraded itself and lost all the sense of its worth…there are street drugs killing our children and guns but almost everyone has a form of alcoholism..a majority of people just party all the time but there is so much gambling and yes strip clubs destroyed my marriage…America people have lost all morals and the corruption is out of control and not to mention everyone here is down right rude..mean..and violent and out for only themselves..if it weren’t for my grandchildren…I would move the hell out of this country and leave it to go to hell…

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