Stripping is Wrong

Since I’m apparently on a roll with my feminist/let’s piss off pole dancers everywhere mode, I’m just going to keep going. I promise this is the last one like this for a while.

Another sentiment I hear again and again from pole dancers is “there is nothing wrong with strippers or stripping.” Hilariously, this is usually quickly followed by “but I’m not a stripper.”

I respectfully disagree with the part about there being nothing wrong with stripping. I can’t speak as to whether or not you are a stripper. Stripping is inherently wrong and fucked up.

I firmly believe that sex is something joyful and that should be experienced with full consent and with no strings attached. Stripping is not particularly joyful, and it is nothing but strings attached. It commodifies something that should be an expression of joy. It also turns women into objects which can be paid for.

Want to have a nice pair of tits rubbed in your face? Pay up. Notice that my language is intentionally crude. Notice that I said “tits” instead of woman. Notice that this sounds like you are buying a second rate bicycle at Walmart instead of expressing joy about being in another person’s company.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, stripping tends to reinforce body image perceptions that are already projected by everything else in society. I was listening to some people exchange stories about trying out to be a stripper (I don’t think they are called tryouts, but I can’t think of a better word). It was horrifying. One woman spoke about being asked to take off her clothes and turn slowly in a circle. It sounded like the way people would inspect their livestock. Others spoke about being told they were “too fat” or “too skinny” or that their boobs were “not big enough.”  We should definitely not be reinforcing that only certain types of bodies are acceptable sexually. Particularly not when the criteria only applies to the women-  I sincerely doubt the men coming in to the club are subjected to that level of judgement.

I’m not going to be the person that defends stripping in some misguided notion that the women are choosing that career path. Even if they are choosing to be strippers, it does not negate the fact that they are objectified sex objects, and it does not negate the fact that they are reinforcing bullshit notions of sexually acceptable bodies. Furthermore, stripping commodifies something that should be freely expressed between individuals. Whether the stripper chooses the career or not, stripping accomplishes these things. Stripping is wrong.

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6 Comments

  1. for me, the main distinction between even the sexiest pole dancing and stripping is, “look at my movement” vs. “look at my body.” I won’t cast judgments on stripping, but I think the reason pole dancers get so defensive about it is that it’s hugely discrediting to be told that the time and energy you put into practicing movement and expression is actually just about trying to get people to get people to enjoy the sight of your body as presented in a sexual context, and for compensation. It is a job. It’s not an art form or a discipline. And it’s definitely not about the dancer’s expression–rather, it’s a series of tactics for effectively making money based on what the customer might want to see. Imagine saying that to a gymnast or a modern dancer–“you dance around in skimpy clothes, you must be a stripper.” it’s ridiculous. And regardless of personal feelings about stripping, it’s just not what we do.

    Reply
  2. Nina

     /  February 12, 2014

    While I agree with most of this post, I do have a problem with “Stripping is not particularly joyful.” Taking my clothes off at an amateur night at a strip club was way more fun than I have ever had performing at a pole showcase. No nerves, no choreography, no freaking out about looking “perfect”, just straight up joy at being able to dance and have fun in front of a very appreciative audience.

    Now, I am well aware that the audience wouldn’t have been nearly as appreciative if I wasn’t taking my clothes off, that they probably couldn’t care less about me as a person, and that they might have been thinking things that would take away all the fun if said out loud. But none of that changes that I had fun with it.

    (And I’m leaving my last name and url out of this comment on purpose, because google can be a bitch some times.)

    Reply
    • Ha ha! Yes, Google can be. I’m sticking with my opinion- I’ve known more than one stripper who was very happy in their work. I just don’t think it’s an atmosphere that promotes joy and that in some ways actively prevents it by making unrealistic expectations. Thanks for sharing your experience.

      Reply
  3. Dorien

     /  February 13, 2014

    Does your opinion include go-go dancers too? Women (and men) who are hired to wear skimpy clothes and dance to add to the atmosphere of a club or event?

    Reply
    • I’m not sure- I don’t have much experience around go go dancers, and I don’t really understand their purpose. I think they are supposed to get the crowd worked up and going, which is fine. It’s the changing sexual expectations by objectifying yourself for money that I have a problem with. If that’s what go go is about, than yes, this would apply to that too.

      Reply

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