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RNC staffer at strip club was...a woman

A woman did it.

Turns out the Republican National Committee staffer who accompanied a group of donors to Voyeur, a bondage-themed nightclub in West Hollywood, and then turned in an expense account seeking reimbursement for the nearly $2,000 tab, is one Allison Meyers, director -- make that former director -- of the RNC's Young Eagles program of donors under the age of 45.

I had assumed that the outing was a kind of frat-boys-being-frat-boys event, along the lines of a bachelor party. That it was a co-ed affair, and that the apparent group leader was a woman, only makes the whole mess even creepier.

As described by the Los Angeles Times, the club, "inspired by the film 'Eyes Wide Shut,' is intended to be 'risque and provocative' and 'a combination of intimidation and sexuality,'" in the words of partner David Koral. "Scantily clad performers play out bondage and sadomasochistic 'scenes' during the night." On opening night, the Times said, "One female performer with a horse's bit in her mouth was being strapped to the wall by another."

Call me naive, call me prudish, but what is any self-respecting woman, anyone who wants to be taken seriously professionally, doing at a place like this -- no less putting it on the company tab? According to an RNC e-mail on the episode, "that person (Meyers) was aware that this activity was not eligible for reimbursement and had been previously counseled on this very subject. Accordingly, that staff person has been terminated."

This activity -- do they mean she's tried to bill for strip club visits before?

Snicker about the episode, if you will, but there is a troubling history to professional women and strip clubs. Entertaining clients at strip clubs was a popular practice on Wall Street until women started winning sex discrimination suits complaining about the practice as part of a larger pattern of unequal treatment and a hostile work environment.

Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO now running for the U.S. Senate from California, describes in her memoir, "Tough Choices," how she was disinvited to an important lunch back in the early 1980s when it turned out the clients wanted to go to a strip club. "I had no idea what I was supposed to do in this situation," she writes. "I couldn't tell myself it didn't matter -- it clearly was important to meet these clients and to convince (her boss) that I should be taken seriously. It never occurred to me to be outraged and demand that they not go -- it wouldn't have worked anyway."

Fiorina decided to go along, "tried to sound knowledgeable ... and desperately tried to ignore what was going on all around me" -- her drunk boss calling over women to perform lap dances. The "next day in the office," she concludes, "the balance of power had shifted perceptibly. I had shown (her bosses) that I would not be intimidated, even if I was terrified."

I don't quite see this as the victory Fiorina does: Why should she have had to grin and bear the lap dances to get ahead? Three decades later, Allison Meyers with her flock of eagles at Voyeur is even more troubling.

Either she felt pressured to go along with the boys -- in which case we haven't come a long way after all. Or she thought it was a big hoot to watch, as The Post described it, "topless dancers wearing horse bridles and other bondage gear while mimicking sex acts" -- in which case we've slid way, way back.

By Ruth Marcus  | March 31, 2010; 3:48 PM ET
Categories:  Marcus  | Tags:  Ruth Marcus  
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Comments

As long as she didn't marry any of the young women performing in the strip club I don't see a problem with this.

Signed,

Republicans

Posted by: Gover | March 31, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I think her age is more relevant than her gender. She's 24 years old, and was tasked with managing events for young high-rollers. These are people with Mom and Dad's checkbook, running around pretending to be important Republicans -- and not used to being told "no".

So I'm convinced that didn't say no because 1) she felt intimidated and 2) she wanted them to like her so they would keep contributing.

Posted by: JimmyMcNulty | March 31, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Umm...excuse me...this is really quite lame for a scandal in west Hollywood...isn't it?

Posted by: goldhorde | March 31, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Wow, talk about baseless speculation. Maybe she's into this stuff? Maybe she's a party loyalist who does whatever the "client" wants, and never gave it a second thought? Who knows?

Maybe a woman can make a dumb decision simply because she's dumb, and not because of some complex gender dynamic that, either directly or indirectly, places the blame somewhere else.

Posted by: simpleton1 | March 31, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Ruthie, you must be one of the most naive
writers on the Washington Post staff. What - after all the women who solicited affairs with Tiger Woods - don't you think some women won't do to get to the top? When it comes to sexual exploits - their behavior isn't much different from the men
they aim to badmouth.

Posted by: shangps | March 31, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Why assumed she felt pressured to go? Perhaps she was there for the exact same reason the men were there.

Posted by: exbrown | March 31, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

She probably was into S&M. Mr. Steele appears to enjoy shows of toughness.

Posted by: Martial | March 31, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Republican = Masochist anyway. Hopefully reduced to minor party status after the next election cycle. Dems need real Conservatives to counterbalance politics and not these radicals. Not a third party but a new second party would be best.

Posted by: Ez2DoubtEveryone | March 31, 2010 11:35 PM | Report abuse

OMG Gail, grow up. Who cares who goes to a strip club? Being offended by that kind of stuff says more about you and your really squeamish sense of morality. You have been in up-tight D.C. far too long. It is a great big world out there, strip clubs and all -- especially in California; but you could find the same thing in NYC or Texas. One fall out, other than the bruised sense of morality of Gail Marcus, is that the GOP, who might have a shot at a lot of success in this year's elections, may just blow it by these kind of hi-jinx, because they forfeit the voters' inclination to give them the benefit of the doubt, considering the mess that Obama & Co. have made of things.

Posted by: marcom_news | April 1, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Real journalists would have the list of Young Eagles and interview quotes from the dancers by now!!!!

Posted by: gradya3 | April 1, 2010 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Voyeur West Hollywood isn't a strip club. It's a cheesy, bourgey dungeon themed nightclub. Most nightclubs are meat markets, and lots of perfectly ordinary and unexceptionally decadent nightclubs have gogo dancers and lingerie parties and girls grinding on each other on the dance floor.
Plenty of girls in Hollywood have taken their tops off for money and not been shunned for it. It's not that big deal.

Posted by: philogratis | April 1, 2010 1:59 AM | Report abuse

Surprise!

It IS the 21st Century.

Posted by: gary4books | April 1, 2010 5:30 AM | Report abuse

As the comments on Marcus' comments show, this incident has so many dimensions, someone could practically write a book using it as the core event.

Count me as one of those who believe the acceptance of strip clubs as mainstream entertainment is a major step in the vulgarization of American popular culture. Our race to the gutter is unbounded.

The only thing that surprises me is Ms. Marcus' surprise at the role of a female in this affair. Surely, any feminist idea that most women naturally abhor the idea of women being seen primarily as sex objects long ago ended up on the dustbin of history. Surely, any idea that women would naturally shun a milieu exploiting the scantily clad, or nude, female body was long ago revealed as one big myth. It's long been clear that the major result of the feminist revolution has been to free women to be what their genes and instincts compel them to be--sex objects for men.

Seen in that light, the Voyeur episode is not some jarring exception to the standards governing male-female relations in the 21st Century, but shows men and women adhering to the standards we have all agreed on.

Posted by: tbarksdl | April 1, 2010 6:07 AM | Report abuse

for pete's sake, she's only 24. She can always put a disclaimer on her resume..."I was young, stupid and worked for Republicans." People will forgive her. SHe will get a new job.

Posted by: mimo1 | April 1, 2010 7:16 AM | Report abuse

Her age has nothing to do with the choice she made. It was wrong and has caused problems for the RNC. Are not some now calling for the chairman to resign, even though the "perpetrator' was fired. Stop trying to rationalize BAD behavior. There are certain principles that the Republican Party is suppose to adhere too. Paying for or going to a sadomasochistic strip club, as a sponsored event, should not ever be in the mix....ever! No gray here....real black & white!

Posted by: franjam | April 1, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

RNC staffer at strip club was...a woman

what a stupid headline - where are all the libbers when you need them?

Ruth, I would think it is the last thing you would say that because a woman was present, it creeped you so. Don't you believe in equal rights?

Now we know the demmie NOW gang has nothing on the pubbies!

Posted by: mlemac | April 1, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Ruthie - Get a life.
Eyes Wide Shut was provocative. Unlike your thoughts on this matter.

Posted by: Arnold375 | April 1, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

How did this go from blaming Michael Steele head of the RNC to this? Might it be a case of liberal overreach???

Posted by: barrysal | April 1, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Ha! Liberals giving advise on sex scandals. What a joke! It is the Liberal "flower children" like President Clinton having oral sex with his young intern in the Oval Office or John Edwards philandering while his wife suffers with cancer that come to mind.

Is there no end to Liberal hypocrisy?!

Posted by: 2009frank | April 1, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I suppose there is angst among the older women who view any assertiveness or sexuality as being forced upon women. But the author has not been out much apparently, young woman are in charge of their lives and their bodies as never before. If Meyers went, quite likely, if she was a typical 24 year old, it was her idea and she WAS the leader, and probably enjoyed every minute of it.
Good for her, her fore-sisters fought for her right to be in control and now it seems bizarre that the younger women are being criticized for using that freedom and self determination that was so hard won in the past.
Go to a disco sometime or any social event, young women are no shrinking violets, and they are the ones to appease.
I live in a country now that has had it womens liberation and sexual revolution occur very recently and very completely over a short period of time. Among the young educated class it is the young woman who are sought after for position ahead of their male contemporaries, it is the women who have more independence and easier access to education, better jobs and determine if any when a relationship is entered into. They are delaying marriage, developing their careers and having fun. The trend is to boyfriends if it suits them but the woman are in control much to the chagrin of the boys who had grown up expecting to take their place at the head of society.
The best thing that every happened to Meyers is that the RNC dumped her, now she will likely see what a morally bankrupt outfit she worked for.

By the description of the club, it sounds as if it has nothing in common with your idea of a strip club, it sounds like a co-ed place that features eroticism and light S&M play in more of the vein of the women oriented clubs, like the woman oriented porn, heavy on the romance and situations and light on graphic depiction. The club will get a boost also, it is surely visited by more women than men.

Posted by: km6xz | April 1, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

the sheep are out in force today trying to defend the creepy repugnant party.

Posted by: easysoul | April 1, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

All the commenters who call Ruth Marcus naive or old-fashioned are completely missing the point. The point is about hypocrisy, and the hypocrisy is political. It's also cynical. Most of us have known for years that the GOP cynically paints itself as the Party of Morals and Uptight Christianity. They court the religious right, and they court older Americans who hate change. They court unsophisticated rural folks in the heartland. If they're Scott Brown they brag about driving pick-ups and having decent, old-fashioned American values. What do you think all that "real" American stuff is about?

And then their fundraisers end up not just in strip clubs, but in lesbian bondage clubs? This is the Party that thinks lebians are immoral and could quit "sinning".

Come on. No one cares if a bunch of young idiots want to go to a strip club. But all those heartland, elderly, and supposedly moral (which they define in sexual terms) voters ought to take a second look at the leadership antics.

I've been a Democrat for a long time and am sick of listening to the piety that pours out of the mouth of the GOP leadership.

Posted by: cturtle1 | April 1, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Why is it more creepy because a woman? Can't believe the faux morality of the Washington Post.

Posted by: ElRosas | April 1, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

===I'd like to recommend you a club for men and women to find love ======[seekrichbeauty

dot c O m]=====it said Adam Lambert met a rich beautiful girlfriend there.. at the begining

of 09...Feel free to view his success story with 18 HOT photos....DFFFFFFFFFFFFFDD

Posted by: nathanlanad | April 1, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

What's creepy is the author's antiquated mindset. I've been to Voyeur with my girl AND guy friends. Had an awesome time. The music and drinks were deeeelish. It's a freaking nightclub for crissakes, lady.

Posted by: jazzence | April 1, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Ruth, are you telling us you are ... HETERONORMATIVE? Maybe the staffer was a lesbian. You have a problem with this?

Oh, right: Republican hypocrisy. But that doesn't seem to be what you're freaking about.

Posted by: herzliebster | April 1, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Of all the choices that this woman could have made to entertain young potential RNC contributors it's interesting that she chose a lesbian strip club. One wonders who were her guests and why she made this particular choice.
If she had been counciled previously that this was an inappropriate venu to bill to the RNC it suggests that she had done this before and yet the committee allowed her to continue planning such outings. Interesting choice on their part.

Posted by: OhMy | April 1, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

It was a Bondage Strip Club with a LESBIAN theme.

May be she is a closet Lesbian or swings both ways?

Posted by: ddoiron1 | April 1, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't more of this gay, lesbian, bondage activity occur in the more "liberal" areas of our country?

Is Ruth Marcus insinuating that there is something wrong with this activity or just that conservatives were present?

Stone-throwers beware! ;)

Posted by: spamsux1 | April 1, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I don't in any way think this event was inappropriate, but I'm not sure how the staffer is especially lacking in self-respect. I think it depends on what "lesbian-themed" means and whether that's the sort of display that's obviously not intended for an audience including actual lesbians.

Even then, I don't know that we can say these days that all young women have the same attitude about this, or that we can be at all sure that this meeting looked similar to that "old boys intimidating the girl" story you're reporting about.

This staffer may have been gritting her teeth and setting this up for power, ignoring that it made her feel demeaned... or she might have been enjoying herself as well. Or finding it silly but hardly offensive. Or anything in between. We have no idea.

What does bother me is 1) how Republicans tout themselves as the party of decency and "values" while running around doing this kind of thing, and 2) doing this on the party dime. That's beyond ridiculous, whether it was fun or not.

Posted by: amm72 | April 1, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

HAVE YOU SEEN ALLISON MEYERS - 24yrs!?!?

She's HOT!

Posted by: kparc | April 1, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

This is one of the biggest non news worthy stories I have ever seen. You guys are desperate to make the Reps looks bad. I voted for Obama, but stories like this makes me realize how deep in the back pocket of Obama/Dems the Post really is.

Posted by: CarolinaMike | April 1, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I've been posting all week that West Hollywood is a gay community, so at least I'm not surprised.

What I am surprised about is that Michael Steele wasn't spotted in his leather dominatrix glam, and found whipping some young Republifreak into submission.

Posted by: lindalovejones | April 1, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

The headline is a misnomer: Just because she picked up the tab doesn't mean it was her ballgame. She was supposed to entertain the participants, that was her role, but that doesn't necessarily make it her thing........besides what does gender have to do with anything, especially this type of business expense....corporations do it all the time....and write it off their taxes.

Posted by: Tawodi | April 1, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

It's April Fool's Day. Why aren't Michael Steele and the Republican National Committee in a more jovial mood? www.eightfits.blogspot.com

Posted by: Baxter24 | April 1, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Marcus' comments describe a generation gap. The sexual mores of women of her generation are colored by 70s feminists like Katha Pollit. Women under 30 generally don't have the same hang ups about sex.

Posted by: mthand111 | April 1, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Lets just look at it this way.

That was a couple of thousand in tax deductible dollars given to a political party for the business of the party, not for party business, as in playing games.

One good thing. Since the news hit, my very conservative brother said he wasn't going to give any more money to those jerks. He never gave a lot. But, he was one of those steady, a few dollars every few months, types.

Oh, he will get over it. But, I do suggest the Pugs keep a lid on this sort of thing. Either don't do it or cover it up better.

Posted by: amelia45 | April 1, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Being counseled, again, on not misusing your employers' funds isn't terribly bright.

I find strip clubs cheesy and stupid--whether it's the women doing the stripping or men (I remember the Hangar Club!). It's legal...but I wouldn't be proud or happy if any of my kids worked as an "exotic dancer", or in the porn industry either.

The big deal is this staffer did it AGAIN. Couldn't she have gotten the Young Republicans with Big Checkbooks just as drunk and generous at a ball game?

Posted by: Skowronek | April 1, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

When have Republicans *not* been involved in sex scandals?

Posted by: argh2 | April 1, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Equal Opportunity in action.

Posted by: wallysworld | April 1, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Like most Liberals, Ms Marcus moral compass only perks up when it comes to evaluating Republicans. As long as you believe in Global Warming and the "Failure of Capitalism" you'll get a free pass to do as you please!

Posted by: vince33x | April 1, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I can't pass up the opportunity to comment on the Republicans and/or conservatives who allege that liberals have a double standard when it comes to judging sexual indiscretions. Far from scoring a point against the opposite camp, such people have simply reinforced their hypocrisy. Listen carefully, Republicans: It's you people who tout your role as the party of "family values." You are the ones who scream and shout about how your core values are not just the self-serving rationalizations of one special interest group--i.e., white, affluent America--but represent a superior morality based on Christian principles. You are the people who seem to honest to God believe that you are the "real Americans" as opposed to the rest of us. The combination of arrogance, blindness, and plain stupidity behind that attitude becomes increasingly clear.

So having set such a higher standard for yourselves, the rest of us have every right in the world to judge you according to your own self-professed principles when you transgress them. That's the difference between the all too human Bill Clinton and the self-righteous hypocrites known as Republicans who spout "family values" while entertaining in sleazy strip joints. What part of that do you not understand?

Posted by: tbarksdl | April 2, 2010 7:21 AM | Report abuse

Wait a minute. It would have been okay if it was men (boys will be boys), but is somehow creepier and not okay because she's a woman? What sort of prude are you? Women aren't supposed to enjoy sex? And they certainly shouldn't go to sex themed parties? What decade is this? Her crime was putting it on the RNC tab. Being there was totally okay in my book.

Posted by: dan_stiles | April 2, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Its no big deal. You gotta do what you gotta do to sway people. People go to church to brown nose as well.

Posted by: gilesjp | April 3, 2010 1:09 AM | Report abuse

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