When is it okay to ask a woman to come round, strip off, and jiggle her bits for money?

You can thank the Chiefs, and their recent embarrassment, for creating a raft of etiquette questions.

An internal inquiry - possibly an unfortunate term - has been made into the unpleasant experience of Scarlette, the stripper in question, which seems to have avoided laying down ground rules for future negotiations.

An opportunity has been lost in the interests of damage control, but the issue won't be going away.


What are the expectations of a visiting stripper? Scarlette hadn't agreed to a group of players to - by her account - circle her, expose their private parts, and grab at hers even after being told to stop.

There is also mention of stuff being thrown at her.

I don't know what choice of music accompanied the event, but suggest a little light Mozart would encourage more decorum.

Well, obviously artistic isn't what was wanted. This was one of those team-building exercises where blokes agree that they're all heterosexual and hunky and love nothing more than the sight of a naked woman they've never met before doing raunchy moves to music. It's something women either don't understand, or understand all too well.

It's the objectification of women, backed up by a rather unpleasant attitude to the people - women - in this line of work.

It's a caveman approach to flirtation, the delicate art that leaves nobody hurt, on both sides.

Questions you won't be asking if you're a drunk young sportsman, is why women do it, why men pay them to, and who comes out of the exchange better for it. At the best of times it's a confusing business, surely, but it should be no mystery that nobody should be humiliated or harmed.A problem lies in that drawing a line over what's acceptable seems to be implicitly left to the woman.

That puts her in a position of power, possibly the direct opposite of the arrangement from the buyer's point of view. And so the etiquette issue goes round in circles, because women don't do this work at gunpoint, in this country anyway, and they've traditionally been looked down on for doing it. If we are to empower strippers with a new rule book something will surely be lost in the process, the conviction of the buyer that he can do as he pleases, while expecting a degree of encouragement.


Lacking that, would he bother?

I'm glad we have Louise Nicholas and Jackie Blue to sort this out. They have offered their assistance to the Rugby Union, and maybe they'll come up with a useful booklet to be handed out to boys at puberty.

You wouldn't look to sport in general for progressive social attitudes, though the All Blacks are regularly trotted out on charity missions like good Boy Scouts, and model clean underwear.

It's not all that far back in history when the Rugby Union was locked into the issue of racism, sending an all-white All Black squad to South Africa for fear of offending its racist apartheid regime.

The option of just not going was never on the cards.In living memory there was also a South African rugby tour of this country when the world was even more focused on the evils of apartheid, and other countries ostracised the racist state.

Hosting the tour was, whether the Rugby Union liked it or not, a political act that put us on the wrong side of history.

Protest nearly ripped this country apart while the hard old men who ran rugby stood by their grimly wrong position.

The issue that's now highlighted by the Chiefs' doubtful judgment is how rugby and women connect, and whether it's still okay to have a saint-versus-whore dynamic where long-suffering wives and girlfriends are put on a pedestal, while "lesser" women are hired for a bit of team-building smut.

The issue lingers because it's about the underside of sport, and the underside of all our lives. We know about family violence and violence toward women, and the dramatic rise in violent female offending is no solution.

That's the context in which Scarlette deserves attention, and attitudes need to change.

We weren't witness to what happened, and the Rugby Union deftly shifted the issue from that to what they're going to do about this aspect of sporting - and male - culture.

All they really needed to do was ban strippers from team functions, and withdraw their funding from clubs who defied them.

Would that have been such a big ask?

- Rosemary McLeod is a journalist and author.