By: Chris Talgo
A funny thing recently occurred in Reno, Nevada. The town—nicknamed “The Biggest Little City in the World”—has made it illegal for any woman under the age of 21 to work in a so-called gentlemen’s club.
In response to the city’s dubious law, a handful of women aged 18 to 21 have filed a $15 million lawsuit challenging the legislation. The eight plaintiffs claim the law violates their civil rights. The women argue the anti-stripper statute will prevent them from earning $50,000 to $100,000 annually. Moreover, the women claim the law allows the government the power to prevent them from earning a living.
Although you may be thinking that this law is no big deal, you might think otherwise when you consider its arbitrary nature and its constitutional muster. For starters, any law that prevents an adult from engaging in a profession because a few haughty lawmakers don’t approve is grounds for immediate questioning.
Should lawmakers be allowed to prevent an adult from engaging in an occupation that poses no immediate clear and present danger based mostly on subjective reasoning? If this becomes the new norm, all sorts of employment bans predicated on completely subjective grounds would become fair game.
Another concerning aspect of this law is the precedent it would set in terms of age discrimination. Would these legislators be okay if the same establishments prevented employment to any woman over the age of 30? I think not.
Furthermore, how can we be sure that this law would not expand (as laws always do) in its size and scope. What if other righteous lawmakers deem that women under 21 should not work at restaurants like Hooters? The slippery slope that this law invites is akin to opening a pandora’s box concerning women’s employment rights.
Another stout argument against this law is the fact that a woman can defend her country by entering the armed forces as young as 18. According to the logic of the law (or lack thereof) it is 100 percent fine for a woman to put her life on the line to defend our freedom, however, she cannot choose to work in a dancing profession in which she is not fully clothed. This is ludicrous, on its face.
It is easy to fall prey to the argument that “we don’t want women to be taken advantage of in sleazy strip clubs.” Yet this argument is hollower than the Good Year blimp. If an adult woman, on her own accord, decides that she would like to work in a gentlemen’s club (and make lots of money), shouldn’t she have the ultimate right to make this decision?
Why should a bunch of mostly-male lawmakers hijack this decision because they claim to smugly “know what is best” for these adults? In reality, this type of law, veiled under the guise of “protecting women” does the complete and utter opposite in practice.
Laws like the one recently passed in Reno harken back to the dark old days when lawmakers openly derided entire groups of people based on their inability to make “good” choices for themselves. Put another way, the Reno law is an extension of the progressive philosophy that super-smart elites know what is best for the “rubes” they govern.
I for one, reject this philosophy because it is anti-American in and of itself. What makes America great is the very idea that “we the people” run our own lives and make our own decisions.
We do not need pompous politicians to micromanage our lives. Hopefully, the Reno lawmakers who supported this law and waged a war on women will be held accountable at the voting booth next election.
Chris Talgo ([email protected]) is an editor at The Heartland Institute.