Or at least that’s the image that’s stuck in my mind after leaving Las Vegas for the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show. Not the cool 3-D displays I saw or the latest breed of electronic vehicles and tablets and it’s not the image of topless women I saw during my first Vegas strip club visit (yes, you read that correctly, I patronized a Vegas strip club – and was surprised at how enlightening an experience it was). No, it’s the image of those guys and gals (almost exclusively Latino) on the Vegas strip handing out cards with naked girls on them for sexual encounters. Or more accurately, the image of those cards scattered all over the ground like party confetti wherever I walked.
Most people who know me would not consider me a prude. I’m pretty open and open-minded about sex. But the image of naked women carelessly strewn all over the ground bothers me. The image of anything so exposed and discarded bothers me. I don’t care how people spend their time in Vegas. I’m not passing moral judgments on individual life choices. You want to gamble, gamble. You want to pay for sex, go for it. You want to cover your balls in peanut butter and let your dog lick it off – those are your balls and your dog, not mine. I don’t take offense to prostitution, stripping or gambling (*although, thanks to Adam’s comment below, I’m not saying I’m a proponent of them – it’s just they invoke larger thoughts that exceed the limits of this individual post). What I do take issue with, or at least question, is the impact of people mindlessly stepping on images of naked women during their visit to a major epicenter of business in the United States. It makes me think of the Broken Windows Theory, where the norm-setting and signaling effects of urban disorder and vandalism promotes additional crime and anti-social behavior. Except instead of broken windows devaluing neighborhoods, the seemingly trivial “babes on a card” being passed out and tossed aside on the Las Vegas strip are devaluing women.
I can only wonder what impact it has on visitors from foreign countries whose only experience of the United States is Las Vegas and the strip. CES had over 140,000 attendees, up 11% from last year’s 126, 000 (even though visitor numbers to Vegas has been on the decline since the recession). The increase is attributed to attendees from foreign countries, most of whom were men. The irony is a lot of the gadgets at CES were geared towards women. But I’d say less than 10% of CES’ attendees were female (maybe 20% tops). It seems like a big mistake on the part of any seller to ostracize and neglect women – they’re a big fucking consumer demographic. Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases, including everything from automobiles to health care. If consumption is part of the virtuous cycle of production, I want women to be included in that cycle.
So what to do? Am I the only one who’d like to see the sex cards disappear from the strip? Am I the only one who thinks it could have a positive net impact for Las Vegas and its visitors – like when bars started banning smoking. Bar owners were terrified they’d lose patrons and money. But it turns out, most bar go-ers didn’t like the smoke, and smoke-free establishments actually saw a 20+% increase in sales. Maybe a sex-card free strip would actually draw more folks in. Besides, isn’t this 2011? There’s this thing called the internet. Hard copy is, in a word, archaic. Seriously, just bing it.
So I’m petitioning the city of Las Vegas to ban the sex cards. I think the gain would grossly outweigh any perceived loss. Las Vegas will be getting a new mayor – the man who has been running the city for the past 11 1/2 years is saying his farewell. Now seems like the perfect time to makes some changes and possibly make Sin City a little more seductive, a little more alluring and that much more attractive to visit.
If you agree, you can join the cause with me by petitioning @CityOfLasVegas via Act.ly to “Eliminate Sex Cards from the Strip”: http://act.ly/2yf (RT to sign).
Maybe the new leadership might take notice. Maybe the end consumer can actually influence the source. And maybe it’s better to act on Margaret Mead‘s quotes instead of just quoting her.
It’s the little things in life that count.