Mixtapes for Hookers

RI Minors Legally Allowed To Strip
July 21, 2009, 3:21 pm
Filed under: people from rhode island | Tags: ,


More sexual panic in Rhode Island?  Actually, yes, now that it’s been “discovered” that sixteen-year olds can legally strip in the state.

The legal age of consent here is sixteen, which I actually think makes a lot of sense.  Teenagers have sex, regardless of what you think, and by the age of sixteen I think most teens can make smart decisions about who to have sex with, at least on whatever level the law needs to concern itself with.

But that also means that in Rhode Island teens are allowed to work in strip clubs from the age of sixteen.  As long as they have a work permit and don’t dance after 11:30 on school nights, it’s perfectly legal for girls to go topless.  It’s another law that police “recently discovered,” when it came about that a sixteen-year old Boston runaway was working at a local club called Cheaters.

In one of those weird circumstances of society not knowing what to do with its youth (not unlike how teenagers are allowed to work in liquor stores), girls can’t make pornography or be photographed in sexually provocative situations until they are eighteen.  But while minors are prevented by law from working with deli slicers or power saws, they are allowed to strip.

Sgt. Tom Weston of the Providence Police Department thinks the law needs to be changed, and I’m inclined to agree, though probably not for the same reasons.  “These are just little girls,” he says at the end of an article written today by the Providence Journal‘s moral crusader Amanda Milkovits.  While any sixteen-year old female would rightly be outraged by that statement, I’m not sure that I can fully support teenagers working in Rhode Island strip clubs, either.  (There’s no mention in the article about the state’s lone all-male strip club, though I’ve heard friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend anecdotes about underage performers there, too.)

I guess my issue is mainly with the fact that you have to be eighteen, or more frequently twenty-one, to patronize these places.  No matter how smart the dancers are, they are going to be dealing with older men, sexually frustrated men, drunk men, and men who think they know a lot more about the world than a sixteen-year old does.  While some strippers are perfectly able to hold their own in that environment, I also bet that a lot of them aren’t.

Do the dancers get paid more than they would cashiering at Walgreen’s?  Well yeah, and good for them if they are.  But should they be making their money in an alcohol-fueled environment, surrounded only by men who are by law at least five years older than they are?  For a sixteen-year old I’m inclined to say no, if only because at that age they probably don’t have much work experience (sexual or otherwise) and probably aren’t being informed of their rights as employees.

[UPDATE: I was wrong, there’s actually two all-male strip clubs here.  I only just learned about the other one, which I walk by sometimes and drive by all the time, when the Manhunt blog mentioned it.  How out of the loop am I? (PS: Thanks for the link, fellas!)]

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