I have become fascinated with Iceland since its financial collapse. So the news that Iceland is about to strip the rights of its clubs to strip is an interesting one.
There is the fact that feminists in Iceland appear to be entirely united in opposition to prostitution, unlike the UK where heated debates rage over whether prostitution and lapdancing are empowering or degrading to women. There is also public support: the ban on commercial sexual activity is not only supported by feminists but also much of the population. A 2007 poll found that 82% of women and 57% of men support the criminalisation of paying for sex – either in brothels or lapdance clubs – and fewer than 10% of Icelanders were opposed.
To me, the level of almost unanimous support the women of Iceland has given to the issue, which demonstrates not only the backlash against the hedonistic and chauvinistic ways of the 2000s, but also showcases the homogeneity that is not altogether uncommon in the Nodics, but even more so in a country of 300,000.
Now if you remember Michael Lewis’ brilliant treatment of the Icelandic debacle back in 2009 (partial essay available here, Vanity Fair has restricted access to the whole piece so it seems, another Q&A here), it sounded to me that despite Iceland’s reputation on various gender equality indexes, the two sexes on the island are astonishing alienated and segregated from each other.
To me, this law’s passing demonstrates not some great leap of progress made by a progressive or an increasingly feminist state, but one that is seeing greater rifts between its two gender groups.