Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Is Stripping a Form of Female Empowerment

[poll id="167"]

An article at Huffington Post made me think about the issue of female empowerment and the sex trade. I go back and forth over whether stripping, The Bunny Ranch, and so forth is really a sign of progress in the paternalistic state or whether because we live in a paternalistic state that any occupation which serves to objectify women cannot be hailed as progress.

Consider this book called “I’m Glad I’m a Girl, I’m Glad I’m a Boy”. (click on the link for more pages from this book).

im-glad-7

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

15 Comments

  1. Leah
    May 12, 2009 @ 08:04:23

    I remember that book! Wow am I old!

    But as to the stripping. If it’s part of loving, private foreplay, then fine. Otherwise, I don’t think it’s good for anyone, empowering or not. Sex is for lovers, not for powerplays by either gender,IMHO.

    Leah

    ReplyReply

  2. me and not you
    May 12, 2009 @ 08:16:43

    Other, as in, it’s not inherently empowering or disempowering. It depends on the context–many men and women are of their own free will stripping or otherwise engaged in the sex industry, whereas other are coerced and/or forced into the sex industry. Yes/no/conflicted is too much of a simplification of the problem.

    ReplyReply

  3. veinglory
    May 12, 2009 @ 08:41:26

    Stripping is a job women can and do freely chose to do. I don’t see any reason to either condemn or celebrate it. (“other”).

    ReplyReply

  4. Gina
    May 12, 2009 @ 09:05:43

    The problem is really that women are still made to feel that they have to prove themselves. Does stripping empower women? Does becoming a police officer, fire figher or corporate CEO (traditionally male jobs) empower women?

    The real power comes from within, if you can look inside yourself and be happy with what you find, content in the person you are, thats real empowerment.

    ReplyReply

  5. Laura Vivanco
    May 12, 2009 @ 09:09:05

    Leaving aside the question of the objectification of women, if the stripping is taking place at a club like the one described in an article I read in the Guardian, then it certainly does not seem as though the woman is particularly “in control”:

    Like the vast majority of lap dancers in the UK, Lucy was self-employed. Not only was she required to pay the club a dance fee every time she wanted to work, a sum that could vary from £10 to £80 (Friday nights were most expensive, because they were most popular with customers), but she also had to give the club commission on every dance performed (nude dances cost punters £20, of which she kept £17.50; on slow nights, she might perform only once or twice, or not at all). And then there were the fines. “You got fined for everything, at £20 a time: if you were late, if you were wearing the wrong shoes or dress, if you failed to dance on the pole twice an hour. [...]

    Lucy lasted for six months. “It was very hard to make money: it was like having a very competitive sales job. They’d filled the shop with loads of the same thing – us, the dancers – and then there’d be only five customers. It wasn’t just that we cost them nothing; the more of us there were, the more they made, even if the place was empty.

    ReplyReply

  6. Randi
    May 12, 2009 @ 09:35:17

    sex services are a legitimate way to make money. Who am *I* to tell some other woman how she can, or can not, make a living? no one. If we are to get out from under the blanket of paternalism, that means I have to trust that other women can make their own decisions, all by their lonesome (and replacing paternalism with maternalism is not progress). Even if I don’t like stipping or prostituion, or whatever other sex services, that’s MY opinion, which I don’t feel I can impose on other women. The bottom line is: it’s not body or my life and I don’t get to tell others how to use it or live it.

    edited to add: I chose Other

    ReplyReply

  7. K. Z. Snow
    May 12, 2009 @ 09:38:38

    I’ve done it — strip, that is — at a time when I really needed the money. Very sleazy club. It was only a one-night amateur competition, which I won, but I’d hardly call the experience empowering. It was a way to earn some coin.

    Any person, female or male, who feels empowered through sexual activity or self-display is sorely deluded and likely in need of some counseling. These experiences are disempowering. Duh. Becoming a stripper or escort or prostitute is the equivalent of turning yourself into an easily replaceable commodity devoid of any real worth. If you can accept that and be content with the money, you’re mentally sound. But a desire to have hormonal power over others is pretty damned screwy. All the glorifying blab in the world won’t turn that kind of “power” into a genuinely admirable accomplishment.

    ReplyReply

  8. Mireya
    May 12, 2009 @ 09:54:34

    I consider it a job. Period. I don’t judge any females or males that do this for a living, many are just looking for extra income. Empowering? I seriously doubt it.

    ReplyReply

  9. roslynholcomb
    May 12, 2009 @ 12:19:43

    My experience with women who were employed with various aspects of the sex trade leads me to believe that not only is it not empowering, it’s actually exploitative. There’s a reason why so many of these women have prior history of sexual abuse and rape. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to seek out that which is familiar to us, thus, they continue their own abuse.

    ReplyReply

  10. Kaetrin
    May 12, 2009 @ 19:22:31

    I think the idea of stripping as foreplay (for both sexes actually) is nice but not so much on the empowerment when it is for the general public (for both sexes actually).

    So, I answered “other” as I’m not at all conflicted – time and place is all I’m sayin’.

    ReplyReply

  11. Aoife
    May 13, 2009 @ 10:07:06

    I chose “conflicted” because it all depends. A few years ago a I read a book by Lily Burana called Strip City: A Stripper’s Farewell Journey Across America, and I think it really sets out what a complicated issue stripping is in terms female empowerment. At the time Burana had recently become engaged, and before she got married, decided to take some time and travel across country working as a stripper, something she had left behind several years ago. I can’t remember exactly why she decided this was something she needed to do before she got married. The writer herself seems to be in a good place, but there is no doubt that not all of the women in the book are. As I said, it’s been a few years since I read it, but I remember that by the end of the book I had a much less positive or neutral view of stripping than I did at the beginning or middle, and I don’t really think that was Burana’s intention.

    ReplyReply

  12. Gina
    May 13, 2009 @ 11:23:41

    I voted other.

    I used to say that it wasn’t empowering. And then I became friends with a woman who stripped to put herself through college, and my opinion changed. I think that perhaps on a large scale, a woman stripping for money is both conforming (in the sense that a woman is supporting herself via displaying her body) but also subversive (a woman is earning money by using an asset at her disposal, and money is a symbol of power and autonomy in our culture, and that she is asserting her right to make her own choices good or bad).

    The issue that I have the toughest time looking at objectively is prostitution. Because the reasons why I think that stripping can be empowering should apply to prostitution, but I get hung up on my own personal feelings about sex. But ultimately I respect the ability of other people to make their own choices, whether or not I would make their choices myself. To me, that’s empowering.

    ReplyReply

  13. Jane O
    May 14, 2009 @ 05:49:20

    People do demeaning jobs because they need the money. How does that make the job any less demeaning?

    ReplyReply

  14. veinglory
    May 14, 2009 @ 08:41:29

    Yes but what makes it more demeaning than any other crappy job?

    Also, stripping jobs vary just like retail or sales jobs do. I doubt every single one is demeaning.

    ReplyReply

  15. Granny Still Young
    Mar 06, 2012 @ 21:33:55

    I am incredibly conflicted on this issue.

    I have always considered stripping to be a job that encourages the objectification of women and further reinforces a patriarchal model of society in which men have power over women.

    My conflict comes from two places, a friend of mine who is a stripper and disagrees, and my partner who wants to strip despite having a successful career and university education.

    My friend insists that she is empowered as she has control over her body and men willingly pay large sums of money for her to dance. She has expressed that she enjoys the power she has over the men that come to see her and is happy to earn a wage from that.

    I still have been unconvinced, feeling that she would never do it for free so the power is an illusion. Men are in control with their money, and they cause women to strip, breaking a boundary that otherwise would remain in tact.

    But now my lover wants to explore this. She doesn’t want money. She has a beautiful body, and loves it when others also think her body is amazing. She wants to celebrate that with dancing for others.

    This seems in some ways healthy and other ways deluded. She does not want power over any particular sex, but will the people she strips for experience her body in it’s beauty, or will they see her as an extension of their own fantasies; her individuality becoming largely irrelevant.

    I think some forms of stripping can be extremely positive, burlesque and drag are art forms that I find incredibly reinforcing. Strip clubs scare me.

    ReplyReply

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

%d bloggers like this: