Promoting Intimacy and Positive, Healthy, Consenting Adult Sexuality

Stripper shortage national disgrace
From The Toronto Star Nov. 26, 2004

Rather than give Immigration Minister Judy Sgro a hard time about whether or not she greased the pole, as it were, to fast-track the process to allow a Romanian stripper to stay in Canada, we need to be taking a look at the bigger issue: Why is Canada unable to meet the demand for exotic dancers on its own?

What is lacking in our national character that we cannot turn out enough people who can figure out how to take off their clothes? Are we so lacking in skills that we do not know how to pull down a zipper, unhook a bra, unsnap a garter, or roll down a stocking? Is it not a source of national shame that we must import people to do this kind of work? What does this say about us? Nothing good, I think.

Who knew things would get so bad that Ottawa would have to come up with a stripper visa program to deal with the shortage of exotic dancers in this country? Last year, 500 Romanian women got such visas, and thank heavens they did, otherwise thousands of Canadian men would have had spend their household grocery money on booze without any entertainment to help justify it.

The opposition parties up in Ottawa are trying to discredit the Liberal immigration minister and members of her staff for allegedly meeting with strip club owners wanting help with this problem, and for a ministerial permit Sgro supposedly gave a Romanian stripper who worked on her election campaign. If Stephen Harper thinks we shouldn't be bringing in strippers from overseas, what is he doing about ensuring that these sorts of skills are taught at home? Not much, evidently.

How often have we heard politicians demanding that our schools be more competitive? How often have we had our students' test scores compared to those of kids from, say, Japan? It's seen as nothing less than a national crisis when we hear that some children in Tokyo have done better on a fractions test than some students in a classroom in Toronto. But when people from overseas beat us, pants down, in the stripping competition, no one seems to care.

Perhaps, to be fair, stripping is a skill that simply does not come naturally to Canadians, male or female. We have become so accustomed to layering that removing clothing goes against everything we know.

Many strip clubs, to their credit, have been willing to let Canadians audition. But by the time most locals have finished their act, you can hardly see the dancers onstage, hidden as they are by parkas, snowpants, and fur-trimmed boots. "There seems to be," said one strip club owner, "a lack of understanding of the process. They start their act in a skirt and blouse and heels, and by the time they're done, they're ready to go snowboarding."

It may not be that taking off one's clothes offends Canadians' sensibilities. It may not be a moral issue at all. We may not like to take off our clothes because once we do, we're cold, especially when you do it in a big, open room. And it may not even be that we're incompetent when it comes to the intricacies of undoing laces and buttons and zippers and snaps. It's just that it's very hard to do that sort of detail work when you're wearing Thinsulate gloves.

It's possible we may never be able to compete against the Romanians, if it's true that they send their kids to school in winter without mitts or scarves as a way of preparing them for a better life someday in Canada.

So let's just cut Judy Sgro and her office some slack. If we're not willing to tackle the tough jobs ourselves, we can't go blaming those who make sure there's someone here to do them.

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