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26th Feb 2024

The reaction to Pleasure Boys proves Ireland still has ways to go

Anna Martin

pleasure boys

It seems like every single WhatsApp group in the country has been talking about the Pleasure Boys

They took to the stage in The Devenish Complex on the 17th of February and to say things were eventful would be the understatement of the century.

Videos of the last ten minutes of the event – which featured all-out nudity and performers and audience members simulating sex acts – have since gone viral online. 

While the clips had a lot of people clutching their pearls in shock, it did spark a wider conversation about shaming women for embracing their sexuality.

How did people react?

People weren’t short of sharing their opinions about what went on that night in Belfast and as the videos ended up in group chats, the harsh words and thoughts were made public.

“Disgraceful. After seeing the videos if that’s the [Devenish, they] have scraped the bottom of the barrel calling it entertainment,” one person wrote.

“Why would any self-respecting woman lower herself to go to something like that? God help them they are obviously desperate.”

“Why was this not stopped it is disgusting. The manager should have stopped this,” wrote one concerned social media user.

“To bring an act like that to a family venue is a disgrace…,” another echoed.

All of which seem to be just a bit biting for a show that was advertised as “a night filled with exciting thrills” for grown women.

If you just do a quick Google search you’ll find plenty of gentlemen’s clubs in Dublin alone, but nothing is being said, rightly so when it involves two consenting adults.

The only difference is that there are usually no phones allowed into these establishments so the public doesn’t get to see what happens behind closed doors.

It seems that the Pleasure Boys manager has taken note of this though, as John Woodward, their manager announced a ban on smartphones at future gigs.

Is this ‘slut-shaming?’

Jack Wilson is one of the Pleasure Boys who performed at The Devenish
Jack Wilson is one of the Pleasure Boys who performed at The Devenish Credit: Pleasure Boys

Slut shaming is defined as the stigmatisation of an individual based on his or her appearance, sexual availability, and actual or perceived sexual behaviour.

As slut-shaming behaviours can take place on social networks or as this incident has proven, in private messaging groups the internet and new technologies have made it possible to massively extend its scope.

Though these women in the clips and videos all seemed to be enjoying themselves and had consented to any activities, people still had a lot to say about them.

At the end of the day, some attendees were identifiable and they had to return to work or outside the school gates knowing the people saw them at the show.

The impacts of slut-shaming

the devenish pleasure boys
Credit: The Devenish

Of course, being a victim of this can have long-term effects on people.

For instance, a 2004 study about shame found that encountering feelings of “low social standing” increased people’s cortisol levels and their sensations of low self-worth, as humans are social animals who receive a great deal of information about themselves from others.

The reflected implications of slut-shaming, that the person experiencing it is of low worth and unwanted, can create huge damage to lasting self-esteem levels, and that sort of problem can extend throughout life.

The social media storm that happened begs the question, “Have we come far enough when it comes to slut-shaming if this is how we react to the Pleasure Boys incident?”

Feel free to draw your own conclusions but mine is a firm no.