Sunday, September 23, 2012

I Go Lap-Dancing!

Back in the early 1990's, when I lived in Seattle, two male acquaintances of mine were dating two women who worked as strippers in a club near Pioneer Square. The men in my social circle viewed these women as feminist pioneers, who had taken ownership of their bodies and were supporting themselves by exploiting men. Stripping paid well and the women were supposedly paying their way into or through college.

My female friends were outraged. They felt that these two women were being exploited - not being the exploiters, and that stripping was degrading. Both strippers came from extremely troubled families, and it was felt that they had a poor sense of personal boundries. I don't know what the women themselves thought since on the few ocassions that I actually was in a room with them, I rarely heard them talk, and we certainly never discussed their jobs. What I do remember was that my male friends viewed stripping as empowering and my female friends as degrading, and that this was a frequent topic of conversation. For the record, I have never stepped foot in a strip club.

Moran and one of her friends went to a strip-club because they wanted to write an article about it. While the strip-club chapter starts out as funny and upbeat, with Moran debating over what to wear to a strip club, it rapidly becomes darker. Moran finds the club and its patrons depressing:

"You spend this money on nothing at all - addiction to porn and strip clubs is the third biggest cause of debt in men. Between 60 and 80 percent of strippers come from a backround of sexual abuse. This place is a mess, a horrible mess. Every dance, every private booth, is a small unhappiness, an ugly impoliteness: the bastard child of misogyny and commerce" (p. 164).

In other words, she doesn't feel that the strippers are happily exploiting men for personal gain and getting empowered in the process.

Moran is also horrified by recent spate of interviews with young women who become strippers (or call girls) to pay their way through college. I must agree with Moran about this trend. I think that it is a sad state of affairs when young women have to resort to selling themselves to get a college degree and it is considered acceptable for them to do so. While I've read about young men selling their sperm to fertility clinics, and their blood to blood banks, I don't think that I've ever read about any who have had to turn to stripping or escorting in order to do so. Either they are in the minority, or too smart to get themselves into the media.

 I doubt that these young women will remain anonymous and it will be difficult for them to get employed in non-sex industry jobs after they are outed. For example, a New York City teacher was fired by the Department of Education after it found out that she had formerly been a sex worker. Evidently upper management thinks these women will try to corrupt the youth when in reality they are becoming teachers to prevent the youth from falling into the problems from which they themselves have escaped by hard work.  I just wish that the economy is better so that people can work relatively lucrative and rewarding jobs, preferably related to their future occupations, while in college.

Interestingly, Moran does enjoy pole-dancing at home and burlesque shows, which she thinks are empowering to women because they are fun for them. Since I've never pole-danced or attended a burlesque show, and neither have any of my female friends, I'll have to defer to Moran on those area. Feel free to comment if you have anything to share on these topics.


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