Little Mermaid in a hijab

Plus, will requiring a permit to strip protect dancers from sex trafficking? Or just cost them more money?

Published May 21, 2007 11:29PM (EDT)

A state permit to strip? Brooklyn Assemblyman Felix Ortiz has proposed a bill that would require all topless dancers to obtain a permit to perform. He says the idea behind the bill is to protect women from sex-trafficking. Some sex industry insiders are rankled by the proposal -- Dacia of Waking Vixen writes: "On top of clubs themselves charging stage fees in order for strippers to work a shift, the government will be joining in the fray and charging these freelance workers fees for a license that proves that they are strippers of their own free will." Others are all for it, like one "bald, mustachioed private investigator" and club-goer interviewed by the Times: "It's a great idea to give them a license -- that way if they get caught scamming guys, they get their license taken away. The only ones who are going to object to this are illegals, those who don't want to pay taxes or if they have criminal backgrounds." Cha-arming.

What's the key interest group for the '08 presidential election? "In the Clinton years, the target was soccer moms. In the Bush era, it switched to NASCAR dads. Now, say several senior campaign strategists, the magic pop unmarried women." Or, as Ann Lewis, a senior advisor to Hillary Clinton calls them, "SAFs": "Single anxious females."

The Little Mermaid in a hijab. There is a lot to be said about the symbolism of this political statement: Someone in Copenhagen, Denmark draped a hijab over a famous sculpture of a mermaid. (Back in 2004, someone dressed the statue in a burqa and left a sign critical of Turkey's European Union bid.) This potentially seems a weighty statement -- though perhaps unintentioned -- about how attempts to protect women's virtue often have much more to do with the viewer and not the viewed.

Make of this what you will. A paper published by the University of Toronto titled, "The Sexual Harassment of Uppity Women" (via Feministing) argues, "The most common form of sexual harassment is gender harassment, a form of hostile environment harassment that appears to be motivated by hostility toward individuals who violate gender ideals rather than by desire for those who meet them."

"Let's Talk About Sex," suggests a New York Times headline. Don't expect to get all hot and bothered by this column, though -- it's a major(ly important) mood-killer. Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, lays out the four facts that everyone needs to know to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, perhaps the most important being: "Our biggest problem is not using contraception properly: 92 percent of abortions occur in women who said they used birth control...The trouble appears to be blindness to how easy it is to get pregnant and what it takes to make birth control really work. Oral contraceptive pills, for example, are nearly 100 percent effective when used consistently. But in the real world, they fail 8 percent of the time -- that is, 8 in 100 women on the pill get pregnant in a year...Birth control requires constancy, and most people overestimate how constant they can be."

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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