I believed Michael when he said he was sorry after his drunk driving arrest in 2004. Hey, he was young. He made a really stupid mistake. (Drinking is one thing, but drinking and driving is another.)
I have to confess: Maybe I’m not as concerned as I should be about the photo that surfaced recently of the Olympic champion sucking a lungful. As long as he’s not toking and driving, or dealing weed at some middle school, it’s probably not a big deal (although some would say he might as well be dealing at a middle school; a role model doing illicit drugs could influence kids to do the same).
What really got me was the photo of Michael, the son of a strong, intelligent, supportive, and cheerful single mother, hanging out in a strip club.
I don’t like strip clubs.
Years ago, I itched to know what the big deal was about strip clubs. I convinced two male friends to take me to one (yes, I really did this). What I found was a bunch of seemingly normal men who’d been dragged there for a bachelor party, sitting in a ring around the stage with their tongues in their mouths. They chatted and laughed among each other and paid not a lot of attention to the individual gyrating above their heads.
I also saw sad, lonely, and desperate guys, glassy-eyed and leering over their sodas (the place didn’t serve alcohol) at the woman warming up on the club’s second stage. And, of course, I saw a pile of clowns making noise in an anxious effort to prove their masculinity.
I felt sorry for every living soul in the place. It was dark and depressing, and I couldn’t even get a drink.
But back to Michael Phelps. Judging by the photo, he’s not one of those guys who sits around with his tongue in his mouth.
Strip clubs objectify women. They may pay well, but in the end, they objectify women. I’ve learned from experience that some men don’t care to objectify women in strip clubs or anywhere else.
I hoped and imagined that Michael Phelps, the son of a single mother, would be one of those men.
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