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The Soldier and the Slut

December 30, 2008

(or more precisely, the Fighter Pilot and the Stripper)

 

Way back some years ago, at my 10-year high school reunion, I participated in a contest for who held the oddest job. Being a proud stripper, I figured I had as good a chance as anyone. There were about 5 of us, and the winner was an F-15 fighter pilot. To be fair, I came in second place according to audience applause (the method used for deciding the winner), and the young man who won- the fighter pilot- is a sweet young man who was very well-liked in high school.

 

Shortly after the contest, however, I was walking down the hotel hallway towards the elevators, and a young woman (one of the “popular” girls in high school) walking behind me made some remark along the lines of, “I can’t believe you are so open about being a stripper- like you’re proud of it.” It wasn’t said in admiration- more like derision. Of course I was proud of it- should I have been ashamed? Why on earth would I waste my time doing anything I wasn’t proud of?

 

This puzzled me: that a stripper would be derided while a fighter-pilot was honored and revered. Why did this bother me? Because I realized then that violence has always won out over female sexual autonomy. Remember the scene in The People vs. Larry Flynt, in which Flynt (played by Woody Harrelson) shows the court images of violence juxtaposed with images of sexuality?

 

It doesn’t stop there- violent men are not only more acceptable than sexual women, but sexual women are punished for being so: we are criminalized as prostitutes or blamed in our own rapes and sexual assaults.

 

The young woman’s attitude was very revealing. How dare I put myself in the same class as the man who fights for our country? How dare I go there? I’ll tell you how I dare. Because if more people were getting laid, or being sexually entertained, they’d have less time (and desire) for bombing people.

 

We’re terrified of sexuality as a culture, but quite happy to promulgate violence. A fighter pilot, while couched in warm fuzzy “Hallmark” images of bravery and apple pie, is a trained killer. That’s his (or her) job: to kill people.  A stripper’s job, while couched in sleezy, evil connotation, is to entertain people in an erotic fashion. Which is more life-affirming? 

20 Comments leave one →
  1. December 30, 2008 5:03 pm

    Absolutely. I’m disgusted by the amount of realistic, graphic violence that people are willing to show to children in movies, when even least erotic representations of the nude human form or the most uplifting and sensitive sexual interaction makes adults blush and is deemed inappropriate.

    My 12-year-old nephew watched Dark Knight, rated PG-13, where the “hero” is an insane vigilante who violates a whole city’s privacy and Aaron Eckart gets half his face burned into a graphic, flesh-colored skull. Meanwhile, he is not allowed to watch the rated-R Incredibly True Story Of Two Girls In Love, where the worst thing that happens is that they make a mess of the house and freak out their parents.

    The people who run the world have the wrong values, and the people around us have the wrong values.

  2. Nadda permalink
    December 30, 2008 5:47 pm

    Sorry, sweetie, but I’m afraid I’d have to go with the fighter pilot, too, and I abhor violence. We can at least attribute courage and a desire to protect the innocent with those in the military, and these are very admirable traits, indeed. Strippers, on the other hand, along with prostitutes, etc., are the epitome of capitulation to the patriarchy. They are the ultimate symbols of man’s subjugation and objectificaiton of women. Turning a profit, even a very handsome one, from that dynamic doesn’t change the nature of the dynamic.

    Expressing one’s sexuality means that you derive sexual satisfaction from what you’re doing. When you strip, I’m certain that everything you do, everything you wear, down to the way your make-up is applied, is carefully chosen for the exclusive purpose of appealing to your customers. It’s all about the men, what they want to see, what they expect you to do. You mold yourself to fit their fantasy, which means to some extent you are relinquishing your identity in order to please your customers. They aren’t giving you anything in return except their money and attention. They aren’t satisfying your sexual needs, therefore, I can’t see how your sexuality is even tangentially related.

    I respect that some women are born exhibitionists and are turned on by others’ attention. But true exhibitionists set their own parameters, whereas all of your sexual parameters are defined by your customers’ desires and fantasies. Your job is pleasing men.

    Why do women make snide comments about strippers? Because stripping reinforces the patriarchal ideal of women’s sexuality being defined by men, of women being used by men for sexual gratification, of the commodifcation of women’s bodies. Do you believe your customers respect you? I’m not patronizing you, it’s an honest question. I’ve met dozens of men who regularly visit strip clubs and every single one of them is a rabid misogynist. They ooze charm and wit, pretending to be the most compassionate souls, if they think it might get a women into bed, but it’s all a facade. Men who have no problem using women for sexual gratification are not nice men. The really good guys in this world who respect women look upon the men who hang out in strip clubs with disdain, and that should tell you something.

    Anyway, go read Twisty Faster’s blog. She explains why this sort of thing hurts women a thousand times more eloquently than I ever could.

  3. eroticundulation permalink
    December 30, 2008 7:07 pm

    Thomas: “The people who run the world have the wrong values, and the people around us have the wrong values.”

    eroticundulation: Tell me about it! Thomas, I haven’t had a chance to post on it yet, but you’re my favorite new hero. I absolutely loved your piece in the book!!

    Nadda: “Sorry, sweetie …Strippers, on the other hand, along with prostitutes, etc., are the epitome of capitulation to the patriarchy. They are the ultimate symbols of man’s subjugation and objectificaiton of women.”

    eroticundulation: I disagree, cupcake. The ultimate symbol of man’s subjugation and objectification of women, by your verrrry late 80s, early 90s (i.e., sooo yesterday) definition, would logically be wifehood. Wives, you see, not only give up their sexuality to the men who own them, but their freedom, their time, their warm bodies in bed at night (every night), their labor, their ears, and so on. Prostitutes and strippers only give their erotic entertainment for a few hours each night in return for cash. Capitulation to the patriarchy? Hardly. Try capitalization on the patriarchy while maintaining personal freedom. But regardless, I personally think neither is a capitulation to the patriarchy. The capitulation is expecting women to eschew the sexual freedoms all men enjoy, and then blaming them for the “subjugation and objectification of all women” when they refuse to obey you. Double burden, anyone?

    Nadda: “Expressing one’s sexuality means that you derive sexual satisfaction from what you’re doing. When you strip, I’m certain that everything you do, everything you wear, down to the way your make-up is applied, is carefully chosen for the exclusive purpose of appealing to your customers. It’s all about the men, what they want to see, what they expect you to do. You mold yourself to fit their fantasy, which means to some extent you are relinquishing your identity in order to please your customers. They aren’t giving you anything in return except their money and attention. They aren’t satisfying your sexual needs, therefore, I can’t see how your sexuality is even tangentially related.”

    eroticundulation: Oh dear, cupcake. You’ve really got issues with equating work and identity. What is your job? Does it define you? When I was waitressing, should I have been expecting some sort of gastronomic satisfaction from my job? When I was a retail clerk at a women’s clothing store, should I have expected some kind of fashion-based aesthetic satisfaction? The satisfaction I derived from my job was multifaceted. Yes, sometimes it was sexual (I had several orgasms while working in Japan), but mostly it was the pleasure of performing and honing my erotic entertainment skills, and very often it was the smile on my customer’s face as he left my presence. And, of course, the ultimate freedom of coming and going as I pleased while earning enough money in two days a week to pay for 3 years of consecutive traveling to 36 countries, a BA at Cal, an MSc at LSE, and a down payment on a house. Oh yeah- and a wedding in the Bahamas.😉

    Nadda: “Your job is pleasing men.”

    eroticundulation: Absolutely. And I was fantastic at it. Again, cupcake, you seem to conflate work and identity. You’re as bad as a bigot in this way: you forget that while I may have performed for a few hours at a job, I actually did walk out at some point and live a very full life that, although influenced by my being a stripper, was not defined by it. So some of my sexual parameters may have been influenced by my customers’ desires, but only within the confines of the club and the hours I spent there. Far fewer per week than the hours I spent at the retail clothing store, and yet far more satisfying.

    Nadda: “Do you believe your customers respect you?”

    eroticundulation: The majority of my customers certainly did respect me as much as I needed them to (much more so than the customers I had as a waitress). I only needed them to respect me enough to pay me and for a generally pleasant encounter. That they did, and well beyond. (Some of them even came to my wedding, and I am still in touch with them today, while ironically, nobody I served as a waitress was at my wedding.) And I was stiffed far less often than when I was a waitress (I think all of about 5 times in 15 years).

    The interesting thing about your post, Nadda, is that your tone is that of someone who believes they somehow know strip club visitors better than I do. Which I doubt, unless you are one yourself. I’ll bet I’ve met more men who regularly visit strip clubs than you.😉 And with that said, you must hang out with some really awful people. You certainly have my sympathy if that’s the case.

  4. Nadda permalink
    December 30, 2008 8:38 pm

    “Wives, you see, not only give up their sexuality to the men who own them, but their freedom, their time, their warm bodies in bed at night (every night), their labor, their ears, and so on. Prostitutes and strippers only give their erotic entertainment for a few hours each night in return for cash.”

    The traditional wife exchanged “sexual entertainment” and domestic services for cash (via his paycheck), shelter, and protection. Strippers exchange sexual entertainment for cash… I’m not seeing the distinction here aside from the fact that traditional housewives received more benefits in exchange for more services.

    Both roles are still ultimately dependent on the degree to which they pander to men’s wants/needs and criteria for femininity.

    “Try *capitalization on the patriarchy* while maintaining personal freedom.”

    Bingo! At least you’ve admitted that stripping is just another way of bowing to and licking the shoe bottoms of the almighty patriarchy. The difference resides in quantifciation of benefits received in exchange for sole licking.

    “What is your job? Does it define you?”

    I work in social services. And, yes, my career does, in part, define who I am. Everyone’s career reflects some facet(s) of their personality. What personal qualities come to mind when I say “teacher”? What traits would you associate with a person who’s a “mobster”? What do you think when I say “politician?” How about “biologist”? What about “pimp”?

    Why do you think the most popular question introduced into conversation between two strangers is, “What do you do for a living?” It’s because a person’s job tells you something about that person, aside from giving you a conversational platform.

    And, no, I don’t believe people are solely defined by their jobs, but it is one aspect.

    “I only needed them to respect me enough to pay me and for a generally pleasant encounter.”

    So their perception of you didn’t matter at all? I promise you they did not fully view you as a human being, as an equal, though they may have “liked” you, found you entertaining, and possibly amusing. But ask them if they would want their daughters to be strippers and I virtually guarantee you’d find out what they *really* thought of you.

    “The interesting thing about your post, Nadda, is that your tone is that of someone who believes they somehow know strip club visitors better than I do. Which I doubt, unless you are one yourself”

    I think an objective source is more likely to get to the truth of the matter than a stripper whose customers are oozing charm in the hopes she’ll go home with him that night. Not to mention, it’s an ego boost to them. Not that any man has ever said that, verbatim, but every single strip club patron I’ve spoken with gets a certain gleam in his eye…they really believe the strippers want to fuck them. They talk about how the strippers enjoyed the lap dances as much as they did. They turn it into a sexual conquest story. They are the most shallow men I’ve ever met. They not only use women for sexual gratification, they think it’s awesome that they can get beautiful women to writhe naked in their laps while conveniently forgetting that they paid them to do so. It’s almost kind of funny.

    Anywho, these guys always turn out to be patriarchy’s biggest supporters. As long as women know their place and cater to their fantasies of male domination/female subjugation (for money, if need be), they’re perfectly happy to humor us by pretending we’re human beings. I’m sorry you were deluded into thinking they were decent people. The more positive attention they lavished on you, the more attention you showered on them, correct? See, they didn’t have an agenda when sharing their “stripper stories” with me.

  5. Nadda permalink
    December 31, 2008 12:55 am

    This data culled from a study on strip clubs illustrates beautifully the attitude of the typical strip club patron:

    “In one study with 33 women in stripping in Minneapolis and Saint Paul MN, the women reported being routinely called “whore” (61%) and “bitch” (85%) by customers (Holsopple 1994). The same women reported that customers repeatedly grabbed their breasts (73%) and buttocks (91%). In another recent study, 61% reported that customers have attempted to penetrate them vaginally with their fingers, and of these women, 39% were indeed penetrated. (Holsopple 1998.) One hundred percent of the women said they have been propositioned for prostitution by stripclub customers and 78% reported that it was a daily occurrence. The women reported that customers exposed their penises, rubbed their penises on the women, and openly masturbated in stripclubs. Women in both studies reported being bitten, licked, slapped, punched, pinched, and spit on by customers.”

    This study is not at all unique, and there is a plethora of anecdata, from ex-strippers all over the U.S., to back it up, but it was the handiest. Similar studies have yielded similar data.

    Let’s face it, the men who patronize strip clubs are paying for the opportunity to subjugate women.

  6. ephraim permalink
    December 31, 2008 9:40 am

    Great post. I totally support the idea that more sex (and healthier attitudes towards sexuality) = less war.

    Nadda,
    Your whole 70s-esque rant about strippers cashing in on the objectification of women seems like one huge diversionary tactic. Totally not the point of the post. Would not stripping actually do anything to hasten the end of patriarchy? No. If all the strippers of the world quit their jobs today, all that would happen is a bunch of women would be economically disempowered and women would continue to be objectified, only without compensation. The patriarchy remains undamaged.

  7. December 31, 2008 11:30 am

    This post is excellent. I’m a sex worker and yes, stripping is part of my job as well and sure enough, I take pride in my work. I also absolutely love the title…reminds me in many ways of a piece I did a while back titled “Whores & Other Mercenaries”…http://renegadeevolution.blogspot.com/2008/04/whores-other-mercenaries.html

    But oh my Nadda, where to begin?

    Calling a woman “sweetie”! How Feminist! I’ll start there. It is, in the eyes of many women a dismissive, degrading and demeaning term. Points off the Real Feminist card for that right there.

    Moving on: Your arrogant tone and the way you seem to presume you are smarter, better informed and in general, just better that the author here indicates that you, via arrogance alone, have a hard time seeing her as an equal, let alone a feminist. Yes, sure enough, there are people out there, male and female alike, who will dehumanize strippers and think of them as nothing but whores, but how is what you are doing, with your superior tone and assumptions about what people you don’t even know think any better? Clue here, it isn’t.

    And I do love when people who never have done any form of sex work but have happened to read very select and often slanted feminist “studies” decide they know more about the nature of any form of sex work than the people doing it. I’ve read a whole lot about the auto industry- does that make me as qualified to speak on the matter as someone who works for Ford? I think not.

    As for everything strippers do in their work being all about the men, you are incorrect. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and in that time I have been told to not cut my hair because men like long hair…guess what, I cut it anyway. I’ve been told to be blonde, all the time because men like blonde. Guess what? My hair is black as pitch. I’ve been told- repeatedly- that while one or two tattoos are okay, don’t get any more because men don’t like tattoos. I have 13. I’ve been told to lay off the gym, because I was getting a bit more athletic and muscular than most men liked. Guess what? I still hit the gym at least 3 times a week. I’ve been told to wear more frilly things in pastel colors and those clear, plastic stripper heels because men prefer that. I’m still decking myself out in red and black and boots. I do my make up the way I think it looks good, I dance to the music I like to dance to, I wear what I like to wear, and guess what? The money is still just fine. And like it or not, a lot of men find strippers interesting because sure they look good, but they are also not “typical women”; they have strange and interesting lives, or are sort of free spirits, or very tough yet down to earth, they fucking work for a living.

    And yep, sure enough, many women dance because they have to or feel it is all they can do, but a lot of women also dance because they like doing it and prefer it to other jobs or find it a good and easy way to make money while getting and education. I started for that reason- to make damn good money while in college. Well, I now have not one but two degrees on my wall, I’ve been offered other “straight” jobs with decent salaries and insurance plans but I am still dancing because woo, I enjoy it. I like the hours, I like the money, I like most of the people I work with and for, I like the freedom and ability to make my own work schedule, and yeah, I like that it can be a creative job and I can do it my way. And I’ve been doing it pretty consistently for 18 years, so I think I might know just a little bit about the business.

    And no, I do not think stripping or any other form of sex work is some bastion of empowerment for tribe woman, but it can be individually empowering, and really, it does not need to be feminist-empowering. Getting out of bed and brushing one’s teeth or kicking back and watching a movie aren’t empowering either, but people do those things because they want to, need to, or enjoy it. Same goes for stripping.

    Also, question- how is rejecting things like stripping, dressing sexy, whatever any less “allowing men to control a woman’s sexuality” than accepting them? Either way, it is allowing men (being conventionally “sexy” or not being conventionally “sexy”) to dictate the terms.

  8. eroticundulation permalink
    January 1, 2009 8:51 am

    Thank you for responding, Nadda, Ephraim and Renegade. (Great to see you here, Ren!)
    I am getting ready to jump on a plane just now, but I will compose a response to post later this evening.

  9. Nadda2 permalink
    January 1, 2009 11:32 pm

    Renegade, I’ve seen you around the feminist blogosphere, so it’s nice to finally “meet you”. Sorry it had to be over a clash in ideology. I loved your posts on misogyny in mainstream pornography, by the way.

    “Calling a woman “sweetie”! How Feminist! I’ll start there. It is, in the eyes of many women a dismissive, degrading and demeaning term. Points off the Real Feminist card for that right there.”

    Call it culture clash, then. Where I’m from, “sweetie” and “honey” are terms of endearment between women meant to facilitate and cement sisterly solidarity. This is the first time I’ve encountered a woman who took offense at being called “sweetie” by another woman. No condescension was meant, I assure you.

    Points off of your “Real Feminist” card for not realizing that the quasi-sex slave atmosphere of a strip club is a thousand times more demeaning to women than a cutesy term of affection could ever hope to be.

    “Moving on: Your arrogant tone and the way you seem to presume you are smarter, better informed and in general, just better that the author here indicates that you, via arrogance alone, have a hard time seeing her as an equal, let alone a feminist.”

    I’m not arrogant, I’m snarky — there’s a difference. If you think I’m sitting here glorying in my illusion of superior intelligence and general better-than-thou-ness, you’re sadly mistaken.

    Is Erotic a feminist? Let’s put it this way: She willingly admitted in an earlier response that stripping is “capitalizing on the patriarchy”. If you make money off of an unjust system, are you not indirectly supporting that system? If you directly or indirectly support a system you’re allegedly fighting to dismantle, aren’t you a hypocrite? I’ll leave it at that.

    Am I better informed? I’ve had first-hand access to the side of your customers that you never get to see because the nature of the stripper/pervert, er, patron relationship precludes it, so I do have a different knowledgebase than you do.

    “Yes, sure enough, there are people out there, male and female alike, who will dehumanize strippers and think of them as nothing but whores, but how is what you are doing, with your superior tone and assumptions about what people you don’t even know think any better? Clue here, it isn’t.”

    You forget, I’m not making assumptions, I’ve spoken with many strip club regulars over the course of my life (to date), and I’m relying on countless testimonies of ex-strippers and studies on the stripping business that all point to one indisputable fact: the vast majority of strippers experience sexual harrassment and abuse on a regular basis. That one stripper and an ex-stripper who appear to be the exceptions to the rule are posting here does not alter the experience for the majority.

    “And I do love when people who never have done any form of sex work but have happened to read very select and often slanted feminist “studies”…”

    You say “feminist” like it’s an epithet. (Re: people who have never done sex work: refer to above paragraph.)

    “…very select and often slanted feminist “studies”…”

    That’s a rather grandiose accusation. So in what way, precisely, are the studies from which the data was taken “slanted”? Please, I’d like to know.

    By the by, I could not find mention of the author’s feminist status, or lack thereof, anywhere on the internet. How do *you* know she’s a feminist? The only biographical information I could unearth is that she’s a former stripper. I should be able to extrapolate from your critique that ex-strippers know a thing or two about the stripping business.

    “As for everything strippers do in their work being all about the men, you are incorrect.”

    That is your customer base, is it not? Wait, I forgot, you do occasionally perform for women. I concede, it isn’t ALL about the men, just most of it.

    “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and in that time I have been told to not cut my hair because men like long hair…guess what, I cut it anyway. I’ve been told to be blonde, all the time because men like blonde. Guess what? My hair is black as pitch. I’ve been told- repeatedly- that while one or two tattoos are okay, don’t get any more because men don’t like tattoos. I have 13. I’ve been told to lay off the gym, because I was getting a bit more athletic and muscular than most men liked. Guess what? I still hit the gym at least 3 times a week. I’ve been told to wear more frilly things in pastel colors and those clear, plastic stripper heels because men prefer that. I’m still decking myself out in red and black and boots. I do my make up the way I think it looks good, I dance to the music I like to dance to, I wear what I like to wear, and guess what? The money is still just fine.”

    The exception to the rule does not get to apply her experience to all of stripperdom. I’m genuinely happy for you that you were able to keep your job while breaking out of the mold, but it’s only fair to acknowledge that you are a rarity, the token “suicide girl”.

    I’m sure you’re still slender and have perky body parts, are fairly young, and have a conventionally feminine face (with make-up, at any rate). That your job requires youth, make-up, perky body parts, a certain percentage of body fat, are all indications that you’re still required to conform to patriarchal beauty standards. You just get to be the bad ass sex kitten.

    “And like it or not, a lot of men find strippers interesting because sure they look good, but they are also not “typical women”; they have strange and interesting lives, or are sort of free spirits, or very tough yet down to earth, they fucking work for a living.”

    Because it’s oft overheard in strip clubs everywhere: “Dude, look at the free spirit on that one!” Or, “I’d love to put my **** in that ****’s interesting life.”

    “And yep, sure enough, many women dance because they have to or feel it is all they can do, but a lot of women also dance because they like doing it and prefer it to other jobs or find it a good and easy way to make money while getting and education.” I started for that reason- to make damn good money while in college. Well, I now have not one but two degrees on my wall, I’ve been offered other “straight” jobs with decent salaries and insurance plans but I am still dancing because woo, I enjoy it.”

    Let me ask you this: Have you never experienced harrassment or abuse in all your time as a professional stripper? You’ve never been called “bitch”, “cunt”, “whore”, “slut”, etc.? You’ve never been grabbed or groped? No customer has ever attempted to penetrate you with his fingers? You’ve never so much as had a customer call you “sweetie”? If you have experienced any degree of harrassment/abuse, how did you justify tolerating such dehumanizing treatment in exchange for easy money?

    And please allow me to take a moment to point out that harrassment/abuse are illegal in every (or at least most) other fields of employment, so the faux excuse that “other workers in other fields experience harrassment/abuse” isn’t gonna fly.

    “And no, I do not think stripping or any other form of sex work is some bastion of empowerment for tribe woman, but it can be individually empowering, and really, it does not need to be feminist-empowering.”

    This reminds me of the Onion article, “Women Now Empowered By Everything They Do” (or similar title), mocking faux feminists who claim Empowerment! every time they make an independent choice that is still, in essence, collaborating with the patriarchy to keep women second class citizens.

    I’ve got news for you: any activity that hurts women as a collective group is DISempowering, regardless of whether or not you get your jollies from it.

    What am I talking about? How does that patriarchal male dominance/female sexual subservience — also known as quasi-sex slave — paradigm that permeates and defines most sex work manifest? It promotes patriarchal constructs such as: male entitlement to sexual access to women (which, in turn, creates men like Prager); female sexuality defined by men; compulsory patriarchal beauty standards as criteria for fuckability; women as objects used by men for sexual gratification (the “living blow-up doll”).

    Because when men can get It however they want it, with their patriarchy-approved and programmed sexbots — aka strippers and prostitutes — it encourages them to value their own sexuality over women’s, it encourages them to place undue value on a narrow range of physical characteristics, it encourages them to depersonalize sexual activity, it encourages them to view women more as potential cum receptables and less as equals.

    That’s the short list, I’m sure.

    Why do female strip clubs outnumber male strip clubs by a very wide margin? Women are, generally speaking, just as “visual” as men, so why aren’t we flooding the clubs in equal numbers? My theory is that women aren’t socially indoctrinated to view men as second class citizens and sex objects (primarily). Most women I’ve talked to think the whole male quasi-sex slave stuff is absurdly ridiculous. We aren’t used to subjugating men, it makes us uncomfortable; we’re used to being the ones who are subjugated. Which is also why stripping and prostitution look like such innocuous, viable jobs on the surface to so many young women. When you’re been socially indoctrinated as a second class citizen, you think nothing of perpetuating your own oppression.

    But I digress.

    “Also, question- how is rejecting things like stripping, dressing sexy, whatever any less “allowing men to control a woman’s sexuality” than accepting them? Either way, it is allowing men (being conventionally “sexy” or not being conventionally “sexy”) to dictate the terms.”

    Please don’t place “dressing sexy” in the same category as “stripping”. They both exist on the same continuum, but are miles apart in the degree to which they support patriarchal ideals. Apparel can be used to signal sexual availability, or as ego gratification (I’m gonna show off my hawt bod because patriarchy says a woman’s primary worth is in her looks and so there’s a direct connection between my looks and self-esteem), but the wearer is still firmly in charge of her sexual destiny. A stripper is a peon of male patriarchal sexuality, existing to serve and serve only.

    Incidentally, “dressing sexy” is also highly subjective. Is it sexy because you decide that it’s sexy or because an independent party deems it sexy? If I think a guy in faded blue jeans and body-hugging t-shirt is sexy, does that means he’s “dressing sexy”? Dress code and sex is a varied and complex relationship.

  10. January 2, 2009 10:36 am

    Nadda-

    Eh, I don’t care about points on off or around my feminist card, since I don’t claim to be a feminist. And having worked in several strip clubs in my day, calling them a quasi sex slave atmosphere is a bit…dramatic. Heh, glad you liked the porn and misogyny posts, I’m pondering doing anti porn and misogyny at some point as well.

    As for capitalizing on whatever…people need to make a living. Many like to make a good living if possible. When Feminist Author X makes a book or a movie or makes very nice speaking fees is she not also capitalizing on the system? When she ends up working at a university largely controlled and funded by men, is she not doing the same? Some people would say it is different because she is using her mind rather than her body, to that, I say what a lame argument. Not everyone can teach physics or write brilliant dissertations, just like not everyone is a size 4 with nice skin and above average flexibility. Not everyone has the temperament for an office job, just as not everyone has the temperament for a sex work job. We’re all different people with different strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. However, there are women in the sex biz, like countless other businesses and industries, who do think changes can be made from within. Erotic strikes me as a smart, articulate, strong woman…women who can actually change the sex industry from within. Is that feminist? Well, I think it can be, but I don’t actually care.

    “Am I better informed? I’ve had first-hand access to the side of your customers that you never get to see because the nature of the stripper/pervert, er, patron relationship precludes it, so I do have a different knowledgebase than you do.”

    Really? How much? In what capacity? Do tell. I’d like proof, please, or at least some of explanation on how you have that information. I mean, I’ve been asked to prove my creds before, and yes, I’ve done so. And, much like the strippers themselves, the customers are all different. There is no one stereotypical strip club patron. It might be easier to think there is, but that does not make it so.

    “You forget, I’m not making assumptions, I’ve spoken with many strip club regulars over the course of my life (to date), and I’m relying on countless testimonies of ex-strippers and studies on the stripping business that all point to one indisputable fact: the vast majority of strippers experience sexual harrassment and abuse on a regular basis. That one stripper and an ex-stripper who appear to be the exceptions to the rule are posting here does not alter the experience for the majority.”

    Well, customers speak for themselves, sure enough, but the studies? Countless testimonies offered up by people who are behind an anti sex work agenda. Yes, I’ve read such things too, and guess what, they are never from a neutral source, but always one seeking to show how bad it is. Sketchy data and sloppy school work quite often. All it takes is a person with a dissenting view and the time to prove that much. I mean, it didn’t take me long to take apart Gail Dines’ arguments on porn (which were full of historical fact that was anything but and assumption and agency denial) or contradict Prof Robert Jensen in a University setting. And sure enough, both feel they have lots of “fact and testimony”, but when you read these studies, do you ever consider that the research might be slanted to support the view the author or the group conducting the study might want to put out there? I do. When it comes to studies and statistic, a smart theory is that really, none of them are very good. Will the experiences of dancers in a low to mid range club in one town be different that a dancer in a mid to high range club in a another city? Probably. And yep, sure enough, I tend to think that as a dancer, a customer telling me I have a nice ass is not sexual harassment. In an office would it be? Yes, but in an office, I would not be in a g-string highlighting my ass and using it in my job. So, things can be and are very subjective I suppose.

    Nope, I don’t know if Erotic is a feminist…I don’t actually care either, but I still get annoyed when feminists decide to tell strippers all about the truth of their world, business and experiences…as if the women doing the job don’t know anything about that job and they should go read twisty…

    Yes, I perform for women as well. Perhaps 10-15% of the time I perform for women or crowds that are mixed…and even then it’s not all about the men. I actually enjoy my job, so why yes, it being about me has a little something to do with it. I think it would be great if everyone was pretty happy with their job and enjoyed it most of the time. Harsh reality is that a great many people hate their jobs and dread going to work every day. I consider myself lucky not to be one of those people, and actually liking what I do is nice for me, and yes, somewhat about someone other than the men.

    And I’m not actually a token suicide girl either, but that is neither here nor there. Most of the dancers I have ever known…and that has been a few, in four different states and over the course of more than a few years, do not drastically alter their appearances for work, I have yet to see a truly “extreme make over”. Do some get implants? Yes. Do some diet? Yes. But for the most part, their appearances pretty much are in line with what they tend to like personally, in style of dress and hair style and such.

    “I’m sure you’re still slender and have perky body parts, are fairly young, and have a conventionally feminine face (with make-up, at any rate). That your job requires youth, make-up, perky body parts, a certain percentage of body fat, are all indications that you’re still required to conform to patriarchal beauty standards. You just get to be the bad ass sex kitten.”

    I’m 37. I have a very angular face with a crooked nose. I ran track in highschool and college, and still run often, I rather look like someone who plays sports. So yes, I am slender, but I also am just sort of built that way by nature, slender. I always have been, as are other women. I also have some really intense burn scars, but oddly enough, that has not mattered, even though such things are far from conventional, and do not cover all that well with make up. As for face make up, do I wear it? Usually, but not always. Flight attendents are required to wear heels and make up to, as well as hose, and there are body size standards there too. Same goes for athletics, all forms of modelling, retail and service industry jobs, and I dare a female pitboss to show up without mascara and lipstick to work. Is there a beauty standard in stripping? Yes, but that condition is not unique to stripping. I’m not much of a kitten either…

    This is cute: Because it’s oft overheard in strip clubs everywhere: “Dude, look at the free spirit on that one!” Or, “I’d love to put my **** in that ****’s interesting life.”

    You know the same shit gets said about waitresses and soccer moms right? And even such coarse and horrible things get said about men too on occasion. I’ve been and seen other dancers complimented on everything from their tits to their senses of humor to their ability to talk sports to their posture….even their dancing skills. The idea that every dude in a club sits in the corner talking about nothing about how much he wants to fuck every woman in the room is…well…incorrect.

    You ask me if I’ve been harassed, groped, so on. I have, in all my years, had one, exactly one, really horrible night of work. Have I been called names? On occasion. Have I been touched? Touching I did not agree too? Very few times. Have I been penetrated against my will? No. When I worked other jobs, was I called a bitch? Yes. Have I had my ass grabbed on the subway? Yes. As for justification…everyone on the face of the earth has annoying things happen to them at work, everyone has bad days or people they do not like dealing with. Stripping is no different in that regard. Some people could not deal with a guy pinching their butt, I cannot deal with, well, some asshole screaming about data reports and deadlines over a telephone or coworkers nattering on on their phones all day long. We all having things we can deal with and things we cannot. Apparently, for some people, those things are different.

    “This reminds me of the Onion article, “Women Now Empowered By Everything They Do” (or similar title), mocking faux feminists who claim Empowerment! every time they make an independent choice that is still, in essence, collaborating with the patriarchy to keep women second class citizens.
    I’ve got news for you: any activity that hurts women as a collective group is DISempowering, regardless of whether or not you get your jollies from it.”

    Yawn. Been there, done that: http://renegadeevolution.blogspot.com/2007/07/choice-empowerment-expectation-bullshit.html

    I actually tend to find my job to leave me feeling empaychecked. But that has allowed for other nice things like, oh, getting a college education and such, which I do think falls under even the puffed up version of feminist empowerment, yes? I sort of think the second some feminist starts paying my bills and all that, stuff I have been doing for myself on my own for a long time, even while some truly empowered feminists were still living and learning of their parents dime, well, then maybe they can talk about independence and empowerment to me.

    And yes, the typical Patriachal Sexuality 101 / participating in my own opression thingy. I like looking at naked men myself, dancing or otherwise. I watch all kinds of sports not just for the actual sports and all, and yes, I have been to male strip clubs. I also rather feel as much as some women are talking about how men are defining what sexuality is for women, well, they are doing a lot of that themselves. People are very diverse when it comes to that sort of thing, and nah, it’s not something all defined by gender lines and such. Human sexuality is pretty complex, and I think a lot of people, male and female, like looking at people they find attractive when they are not wearing much and being rather sexy. And yes, true, women absolutely face more pressure in the looks department than men do, but sure enough, I bet more women find Brad Pitt attractive than Jack Black. And sure enough, men (while not as much as women) also face pressure in the looks department and probably figure women would rather look at, touch, and be near a flat stomach than a beer belly. Is it as all consuming for men? No, not generally. But when it comes to what people find, personally, attractive in others physically, there is some serious variety there, and no, it cannot all be blamed on the patriarchy.

    “A stripper is a peon of male patriarchal sexuality, existing to serve and serve only.”

    Whatever. Yet, I notice you did not answer the actual question. Care to do so or not? I like a guy in faded jeans and a tight shirts too, so humm, maybe if a guy notes women do like such things, he realizes it is “sexy” and dresses as such because, well, he rather likes it when women think he is sexy (which I think is fine, for men and women). But that has nothing to do with what I asked. I tend to think rejecting the forced pornification gulag (I actually managed to type that without laughing) stuff is in no way any less letting men dictate what a woman does than jumping right into it. Either way, you are still (supposedly) letting men dicate your behavior.

    Actually, I think any sort of such black or white thinking is bullshit, but people do tend to love their universals and whatnot…

  11. January 2, 2009 3:02 pm

    After reading the comments here, I’ll stick my oar in:

    Norah Vincent,. in her book “Self-Made Man”, describes the experience of dragging up a a man and frequenting a strip club. the account is pretty grim reading, not just for the state of the women, but also the state of the men: for the men it is a place where they attempt to cast of the grime of a miserable working life, but come away with the miasma sticking to them. The strippers are presented via their own words as lacking any self-respect or identity other than their jobs. In that world, it is where men go to wallow in their lack of self-respect, too.

    And yet… that’s clearly not the whole story. Because it is self-evident from Erotic, and Ren, and any number of other sex workers’ blogs that I’ve read, that there are plenty of strippers and whores and porn performers who have self-respect in spades (and diamonds and hearts…)

    I am always puzzled by the feminist rejoinder that ‘Because it’s oft overheard in strip clubs everywhere: “Dude, look at the free spirit on that one!” Or, “I’d love to put my **** in that ****’s interesting life.”’ Seems to me, it’s a sex worker’s job to make her audience feel horny, thinking about “phwoar, sex!” and generally focussed on how much they’re enjoying the sight of her (or his – don’t forget, there are male strippers, porn performers and prostitutes in this world too!) body. If he’s thinking about her interesting life, or her free spirit (in any other way than “phwoar, a free-spirited woman really turns me on!”) then she’s not doing her job very well.

    The same with any service industry job, for the most part. A cook or a waitress at a restaurant isn’t there to make people interested in their lives – they are there to make the customers focussed on enjoying their meals. A supermarket “ambient replenishment technician” (or “shelf stacker”) isn’t there to make people interested in the life zie leads outside of the supermarket; zie is there to make sure the shelves are filled, and direct customers to the right part of the store when asked where to find item ‘x’.

    Let me ask you this: Have you never experienced harassment or abuse in all your time as a professional stripper? You’ve never been called “bitch”, “cunt”, “whore”, “slut”, etc.? You’ve never been grabbed or groped? No customer has ever attempted to penetrate you with his fingers? You’ve never so much as had a customer call you “sweetie”? If you have experienced any degree of harassment/abuse, how did you justify tolerating such dehumanizing treatment in exchange for easy money?

    And you think that a lot of that shit (except the “penetrate with his fingers” bit) never happens to waitresses? You think waitresses never have to put up with rude, abusive, aggressive customers? How about supermarket workers – think they never get that shit? Because believe me, I’ve seen it happen often enough! If you talk about the way men disrespect women who strip, you have to realise that those same men aren’t going to respect you any more if you keep your clothes on. So why do you single out stripping as a special case?

    please allow me to take a moment to point out that harassment/abuse are illegal in every (or at least most) other fields of employment

    You see, that only works because people allow it to. Because people believe that a sexual woman deserves all the shit she gets. And your arguments only serve to uphold that idea. It would be very easy to make it illegal in strip clubs as well, and if we changed the laws so that sex workers had proper protection and employment rights, then it would be as easy to complain as it is for the waitress on minimum wage to do so – maybe even easier. But by singling out sex work as being “something else”, you deny these rights to sex workers. You uphold rape culture by saying “a woman who likes sex deserves to be molested”.

    It promotes patriarchal constructs such as: male entitlement to sexual access to women (which, in turn, creates men like Prager);

    Wrong. It doesn’t promote anything. But what it is an example of is the “no-sex class” paradigm whereby men are programmed to see women as having a price; male entitlement to sexual access to women is predicated on that male being able to meet what he perceives as her “asking price”. In stripping, prostitution and porn, the asking price is upfront.

    female sexuality defined by men;

    This is where the empowerment comes in for people like Ren: when women, e.g. exhibitionist women, perform as strippers or porn performers, their sexuality simply isn’t being defined by men. I can’t speak for how their performances are affected by how they perceive the men will respond (that is, how they tailor their performances to reflect male definitions of female sexuality), but I can speak for how a lot of men perceive it. You see, what you probably don’t get from all your talking to strip club attendees, is that men are grateful for any crumb of sexual display in a (purportedly) consensual manner – in a context where it is genuinely okay to comment on it, for example. You think stripping is about conforming to male ideas of what female sexuality should be, but honestly – men are eager for any glimpse of female sexuality as long as we get to watch: that’s what the patriarchy teaches us: to get it while we can!

    compulsory patriarchal beauty standards as criteria for fuckability;

    You don’t know many men, do you? As friends and whatnot, anyway. Men see patriarchal beauty standards as a barrier to fuckability, in general: “Man, she’s out of my class, I’ve got no chance with her!” It’s that same thing of the “asking price”. A woman who conforms to beauty standards is eminently desirable, but that desirability equally means that she can ask for a much higher price.

    women as objects used by men for sexual gratification (the “living blow-up doll”).

    People as objects used by other people – the very definition of minimum wage service jobs. In particular, in sexual terms men have this fantasy of “the living blow-up doll” only because they think that’s the only way they can get past the perception of woman as not wanting sex except for a price.

    Because when men can get It however they want it, with their patriarchy-approved and programmed sexbots — aka strippers and prostitutes

    So approved, the patriarchy has been trying to get rid of them for 3,000 years – for example, by stoning them to death! With approval like that, who needs censure?

    it encourages them to value their own sexuality over women’s,

    See above.

    it encourages them to place undue value on a narrow range of physical characteristics,

    This, I agree with – but it doesn’t do men much good either – see above.

    it encourages them to depersonalize sexual activity,

    What, you mean, they can see a sex act as not implying anything about a person other than that they fuck? As Ren says, “intimacy lives in the head and the heart, not the crotch”.

    it encourages them to view women more as potential cum receptables and less as equals.

    I may be strange in this, but I don’t see these two ideas as being mutually exclusive of one another. but that’s a different debate.

    I disagree with the basic premise of “encourages them to…” In my opinion, nobody who respects women as equals is going to go into a strip club and then come out again saying, “women are just trash really”. He’s going to come out with admiration of a job well done by the performer(s) (and maybe a big stiffy). Equally, nobody who views women as second-class citizens is going to have their assessment of women as a class shifted one iota – he might have a much lower opinion of the woman who appeared on stage as an individual, but his sexism isn’t going to have been increased, and it’s affirmed often enough (in his eyes) outside of the strip club that one more bit won’t make much difference!

    This whole obsession with sex work, and assumption that it is a driving force behind misogyny, strikes me as a case of mistaking a symptom as being the cause.

    mocking faux feminists who claim Empowerment! every time they make an independent choice that is still, in essence, collaborating with the patriarchy to keep women second class citizens.

    Well, if we look back just a few decades, women’s sexuality was really frowned upon. Consent (or the refusal of) was a luxury, not a right, in marriage. Life was very different. then second-wave feminism had some big successes. What you call “faux feminists” are not “faux” at all. They are just reaping the rewards won for them by second-wave feminism. I think it is a mistake to call pole-dancing in front of men “empowering”, for example. But it most certainly is an empowered decision. It is a decision that she has the power to make for herself and for her own reasons (i.e. not for the men, but for herself). Any time a woman makes a decision for herself, for er own reasons, she is empowered – because not so long ago, she wasn’t able to make those decisions for her own reasons, only for others’. The problem for second-wave feminists, as I perceive it, is that they mistake the action for the motivation – and that’s the problem you seem to be having here.

    I’ve got news for you: any activity that hurts women as a collective group is DISempowering, regardless of whether or not you get your jollies from it.

    So, I’m guessing you are opposed to women working as nannies, as cleaners, as supermarket assistants, as waitresses, or indeed in any minimum wage service role? Because obviously, the more women are seen in those roles, the more it is expected that they are “women’s jobs” and the less chance women have of getting better jobs – no? Or maybe you’re opposed to women taking high-paid managerial jobs, because in order to get that high up the ladder, they have to trample on other women along the way, and contribute to their oppression? And then there’s stay-at-home mums – they’re dragging down Team Woman by not going out to work, aren’t they? By conforming to a patriarchal expectation instead of being powerhouses of labour, right?

    Forcing women to march in lockstep with one another for fear of what men might think about them might be many things, but empowering and empowered? I think not.

  12. eroticundulation permalink
    January 2, 2009 8:52 pm

    Finally back- would you believe it took me two days to get out of Charlotte? Ugh.

    Nadda: “Bingo! At least you’ve admitted that stripping is just another way of bowing to and licking the shoe bottoms of the almighty patriarchy. The difference resides in quantifciation of benefits received in exchange for sole licking.”

    We live in a world that has certain predefinitions that are currently- whether or not I strip for a living- unchangeable. The main predefinition is that we live in a capitalist world. Thus, I must engage in some kind of work to survive. I love performing, I love sex and I love men. (I don’t hold individual men responsible for patriarchy.) So I choose to do work that incorporates the things I love. I do not lick anyone’s boots any more than you do. And somewhere along the line in your work in social services, you likely run up against structurally predetermined [read- patriarchal] factors that make your work more difficult. Chances are that your work is far more confined to patriarchal hierarchies and limits than mine. While for the most part men pay for my services, a growing number of women are becoming consumers of sexual services and have patronized me over the years. And if I don’t like the way someone is treating me, I can walk away. If I don’t like the way a club treats me, I can also walk away. Can you? How hard is it for you to change the place where you work? Who signs your paycheck? A man or a woman? We ALL lick boots as long as we live, work, and shop in a capitalist and patriarchal world, and other than a pocket of enlightenment or two dotted around the planet, there are no places one can go to escape that. However, my personal freedom is more assured as a stripper than if I were to depend on a capitalist hierarchical job for a paycheck.

    As I perform my job, I have an exchange of some sort with each person I encounter. My own philosophy requires me to ensure as much as possible that I maintain an inner meditation of love and healing with each person I encounter (in or out of work). Meeting about 50 to 100 new people every night over the 15 years and in the 39 cities in which I worked meant that I became an expert in my meditation, and whether or not each individual I encountered was aware of it, I actively held them in an energy of love. Love is purifying and healing, so in my own way I positively affected those with whom I came into contact. Love does not condone wrongdoing, it brings the recipient of itself closer to purity. So in that way I feel I have done something towards a better world.

    I commend you for your work in social services. You do caring work just like I do, and I personally believe your work should be better paid than it probably is. What qualities come to mind when I say, “factory worker”, “cleaner”, or “door-to-door salesman”?

    In fairness to you, I very much identify with my job (to some extent I was playing a bit of a devil’s advocate). But my perception of my job is clearly far different than yours. And thus my experience of it is far different than you may expect it to be.

    Nadda: “So their perception of you didn’t matter at all? I promise you they did not fully view you as a human being, as an equal, though they may have “liked” you, found you entertaining, and possibly amusing. But ask them if they would want their daughters to be strippers and I virtually guarantee you’d find out what they *really* thought of you.”

    If I lived my life worrying about what others thought of me, I would be living a very limited life. I honestly don’t care what their perception of me was, but I am pretty sure that most of them smile when they remember me. I doubt my customers while I was waitressing thought any more of me, but I am sure I remained in my strip club customers’ minds far longer. Hopefully they masturbate when they think of me (I love the idea of being somehow responsible for an orgasm or two out there somewhere). Regardless, the most important issue here is that I know I am fully human, and a fabulous, wonderful, loving human at that. I hope they feel they are also fully and fabulously human. I know I did my part to make them feel that way while I was entertaining them.

    Nadda: “I think an objective source is more likely to get to the truth of the matter than a stripper whose customers are oozing charm in the hopes she’ll go home with him that night. Not to mention, it’s an ego boost to them. Not that any man has ever said that, verbatim, but every single strip club patron I’ve spoken with gets a certain gleam in his eye…they really believe the strippers want to fuck them. They talk about how the strippers enjoyed the lap dances as much as they did. They turn it into a sexual conquest story. They are the most shallow men I’ve ever met. They not only use women for sexual gratification, they think it’s awesome that they can get beautiful women to writhe naked in their laps while conveniently forgetting that they paid them to do so. It’s almost kind of funny.”

    And bless their hearts! The strippers who entertained them must have done their jobs very well. Kudos to those goddesses!

    Nadda: “See, they didn’t have an agenda when sharing their “stripper stories” with me.”

    I know all about men’s stripper stories, as besides a stripper I’ve also been a student and simply a woman in the world (all over the world). So, yes, I have heard them too. Minus a few misogynist exceptions, the men I have met have not been any more awful than the women I have met. Truthfully, women like you have been far more hurtful to me than any of the men I have met.

    Ren: “And like it or not, a lot of men find strippers interesting because sure they look good, but they are also not “typical women”; they have strange and interesting lives, or are sort of free spirits, or very tough yet down to earth, they fucking work for a living.”

    I completely agree with Ren here- the men who patronize us are fascinated by the varieties of fascinating strippers. In all of the 49 strip clubs at which I have worked, there have been plenty of women who did not fit the “patriarchal” ideal of “fuckability.” Because, newsflash for Nadda, fuckability to most people is about chemistry and so much more than what someone looks like on the outside. And furthering her point, sex workers are renegades (sorry for the pun, Ren!), who don’t fit into society’s box for women (or people in general). We often do whatever the hell we want, go further in challenging gender norms, and thumb our noses at (patriarchal AND matriarchal) convention. We LIVE full, exciting, unconventional lives.

    Ren: “Also, question- how is rejecting things like stripping, dressing sexy, whatever any less “allowing men to control a woman’s sexuality” than accepting them? Either way, it is allowing men (being conventionally “sexy” or not being conventionally “sexy”) to dictate the terms.”

    Touché.

    Nadda: “the quasi-sex slave atmosphere of a strip club”

    My goodness! Where on earth did you get that? Have you ever been in a strip club? If anyone is enslaved there, it is most likely the men. Bless ’em, but they do tend to give us all the money they have in their wallets.😀 Just how is that demeaning to women?

    Nadda: “Is Erotic a feminist? Let’s put it this way: She willingly admitted in an earlier response that stripping is “capitalizing on the patriarchy”. If you make money off of an unjust system, are you not indirectly supporting that system? If you directly or indirectly support a system you’re allegedly fighting to dismantle, aren’t you a hypocrite? I’ll leave it at that.”

    See the part of my response above- if we live on this planet we are supporting the patriarchy by so much as buying a pack of gum. Some feminists would say that by using the English language we are supporting the patriarchy. So, my dear, we’ll be hypocrites together.

    Yes, I do consider myself a feminist, by the way. Just FYI.

    Nadda: “Am I better informed? I’ve had first-hand access to the side of your customers that you never get to see because the nature of the stripper/pervert, er, patron relationship precludes it, so I do have a different knowledgebase than you do.”

    But again, you seem to forget that besides being strippers, we are also women in the world out there. Not every man we meet is in a strip club. We have access to those same sides of those same men as you do.😉

    Nadda: “By the by, I could not find mention of the author’s feminist status, or lack thereof, anywhere on the internet. How do *you* know she’s a feminist? The only biographical information I could unearth is that she’s a former stripper.”

    I actually met Ren last July in Chicago at a conference we both attended. But our feminist statuses never came up in conversation. But, yes, I do consider myself a feminist. I think I would most closely identify with sex radical and queer feminists.

    Nadda: “Let me ask you this: Have you never experienced harrassment or abuse in all your time as a professional stripper? You’ve never been called “bitch”, “cunt”, “whore”, “slut”, etc.? You’ve never been grabbed or groped? No customer has ever attempted to penetrate you with his fingers? You’ve never so much as had a customer call you “sweetie”? If you have experienced any degree of harrassment/abuse, how did you justify tolerating such dehumanizing treatment in exchange for easy money?”

    In my entire life I have had exactly two instances that I felt were threatening to me in an abusive or harrassing way. Neither occurred in a strip club. One happened while I was hitch-hiking as a younger woman, and the other happened on a boat from Stockholm to Helsinki.

    Men in strip clubs tend to try to get away with stuff like touching the dancers where they are not supposed to. I expect it there. My skills as a stripper allowed me to remain untouched in those instances, while maintaining the customer’s (and my) dignity and establishing my personal boundaries. I would never “tolerate” any treatment I felt was dehumanizing in any situation. That’s why I quit all my straight jobs. The great thing about stripping is that it allows me to not have to tolerate it.

    Interestingly, I often felt that if anyone was sexually harrassing anyone in strip clubs, it was me sexually harrassing the men. I always grabbed their asses and rubbed my body against theirs. Poor guys. Especially in Japan, where they were terrified of me, I loved jumping into their laps and running my fingers through their hair- effectively completely disarming them on the spot. I probably traumatized a few of them in my time. But, I figured, they were coming into MY space, and that was MY performance.

    Nadda: “What am I talking about? How does that patriarchal male dominance/female sexual subservience — also known as quasi-sex slave — paradigm that permeates and defines most sex work manifest?”

    Most sex work? Can you be more specific? Except for certain fetish-type videos and S&M work for pro subs (rare compared to work for pro-dommes), I have to say that my own observations of the sex industry is quite the opposite. Women have all the power. I certainly had all the power in my own interactions with my customers once the deal was struck.

    Nadda: “It promotes patriarchal constructs such as: male entitlement to sexual access to women (which, in turn, creates men like Prager);”

    Male entitlement to sexual access to women, in my opinion, is promoted far more by women sleeping with men and being available to them for free.😉

    Nadda: “Because when men can get It however they want it, with their patriarchy-approved and programmed sexbots — aka strippers and prostitutes — it encourages them to value their own sexuality over women’s, it encourages them to place undue value on a narrow range of physical characteristics, it encourages them to depersonalize sexual activity, it encourages them to view women more as potential cum receptables and less as equals.”

    You’re beginning to sound like that Genderberg chick. (Is that you?)

    Nadda: “Why do female strip clubs outnumber male strip clubs by a very wide margin? Women are, generally speaking, just as “visual” as men, so why aren’t we flooding the clubs in equal numbers? My theory is that women aren’t socially indoctrinated to view men as second class citizens and sex objects (primarily). Most women I’ve talked to think the whole male quasi-sex slave stuff is absurdly ridiculous. We aren’t used to subjugating men, it makes us uncomfortable; we’re used to being the ones who are subjugated. Which is also why stripping and prostitution look like such innocuous, viable jobs on the surface to so many young women. When you’re been socially indoctrinated as a second class citizen, you think nothing of perpetuating your own oppression.”

    My theory is that until very recently, women have not had the disposable income that men have, and there have been fewer ways for women to be consumers of sexual services. Of course now that is all changing. In my city alone, there are no fewer than 6 places where women can patronize male sex workers (and I definitely take part). Women are beginning to claim that right for themselves (finally!).

    Sex is fun. We pay for all kinds of things that are fun- food, games, and many other kinds of entertainment. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that.

    Snowdropexplodes: “And you think that a lot of that shit (except the “penetrate with his fingers” bit) never happens to waitresses? You think waitresses never have to put up with rude, abusive, aggressive customers? How about supermarket workers – think they never get that shit? Because believe me, I’ve seen it happen often enough!”

    The difference is that a stripper can walk away from the offensive customer. The waitress can’t.

    Snowdropexplodes: “Forcing women to march in lockstep with one another for fear of what men might think about them might be many things, but empowering and empowered? I think not.”

    Excellent!!🙂

  13. January 3, 2009 4:15 am

    I just discovered this blog through Renegade Evolution, who is also a co-contributor of the Blog of Pro-Porn Activism (sorry for the shameless plug there)….and thanks to the responses here, I am so glad I did. It is so refreshing to read an sex worker and a woman who manages to express exactly what pro-sex feminism should be in all its finest practice.

    And unfortunately, it is all so typical to see someone like Nadda2 attempt the same old tired tract of antiporn/antisex “feminists” by reducing eroticundulation and Ren Ev’s experiences to trite, simplistic strawmen to be hoisted for her ideological myopia.

    The responses by erotic, Ren, and SnowdropExplodes are powerful and truthful in themselves, and need little or no addition by me. I will, though, offer some rebuttal to Nadda based on my own perspective as a progressive feminist-supporting sex-positive radical man.

    [eroticundulation] “I only needed them to respect me enough to pay me and for a generally pleasant encounter.”

    [Nadda] So their perception of you didn’t matter at all? I promise you they did not fully view you as a human being, as an equal, though they may have “liked” you, found you entertaining, and possibly amusing. But ask them if they would want their daughters to be strippers and I virtually guarantee you’d find out what they *really* thought of you.

    And how the hell would you know that, Nadda?? Your “studies” that you quote?? Acutally talking to men who frequent strip clubs?? Or just assuming out of the usual antiporn GenderBorg** microcode??

    No, most men who frequent “titty bars” wouldn’t want their daughters to be strippers….but that’s besides the point entirely. They’re not there to get a date or to fantasize about their daughters; they’re there to admire and to be sexually aroused at the glory of the female human form…and to feed their fantasies. Unless the guy is totally stoned on booze or totally lost in lust, he probably does realize that he’s NOT going to be able to take the stripper home with him…and if by some chance he doesn’t get the point, the stripper and the bouncers at the club who protect them will assuade him of his delusions real quick.

    Not to mention the fact that most patronizers of “titty bars” actually do manage to strike fanships and even on occasion friendships with their favorite performers as regulars….that is hardly reducible to treating them as “less than human”.

    The only people I’ve seen who really do disrespect strippers are those who are prejudiced to believe that women who perform or simulate sex on stage or screen really are nothing but “whores” and “sluts” to be used and abused. Those kind of people are considered to be the worst kind of patron, and are quickly isolated and banished.

    And finally….I know of several male fans of ballet who would say that they would never allow their daughters to be ballerinas….and the physical rituals and body type requirements for that profession are, if anything, even more strict and confining than even stripping. So…when are you going to cast your gaze on bashing ballerinas as a source of male domination?? Oh, I forgot…no sex in ballet, hence no “objectification”….hence, no problem.

    [Ren Ev] “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and in that time I have been told to not cut my hair because men like long hair…guess what, I cut it anyway. I’ve been told to be blonde, all the time because men like blonde. Guess what? My hair is black as pitch. I’ve been told- repeatedly- that while one or two tattoos are okay, don’t get any more because men don’t like tattoos. I have 13. I’ve been told to lay off the gym, because I was getting a bit more athletic and muscular than most men liked. Guess what? I still hit the gym at least 3 times a week. I’ve been told to wear more frilly things in pastel colors and those clear, plastic stripper heels because men prefer that. I’m still decking myself out in red and black and boots. I do my make up the way I think it looks good, I dance to the music I like to dance to, I wear what I like to wear, and guess what? The money is still just fine.”

    [Nadda] The exception to the rule does not get to apply her experience to all of stripperdom. I’m genuinely happy for you that you were able to keep your job while breaking out of the mold, but it’s only fair to acknowledge that you are a rarity, the token “suicide girl”.

    Oh, please…. all this shows, Nadda, is that you know nothing about either stripperdom (other than the strawwomen you create to imitate them) or the Suicide Girls. Ren is no more a “rairity” in the business than Joanna Angel is a “token”; both of them have thrived by going against the prevailing stereotypes of what strippers (and in Angel’s case, female porn performers) are supposed to look like. Of course, you mock their success as mere “tokenism”…..but if your point was indeed true, then how would they be able to succeed at all?? It must be because there is a large group of men who buy into what they are selling…and considering Ren Ev’s success and the growth of “alt.porn” as a feasible alternative to conventional porn, it might just be that the stereotypes might be crumbling more than a bit.

    [Nadda] I’ve got news for you: any activity that hurts women as a collective group is DISempowering, regardless of whether or not you get your jollies from it.

    What am I talking about? How does that patriarchal male dominance/female sexual subservience — also known as quasi-sex slave — paradigm that permeates and defines most sex work manifest? It promotes patriarchal constructs such as: male entitlement to sexual access to women (which, in turn, creates men like Prager); female sexuality defined by men; compulsory patriarchal beauty standards as criteria for fuckability; women as objects used by men for sexual gratification (the “living blow-up doll”).

    Because when men can get It however they want it, with their patriarchy-approved and programmed sexbots — aka strippers and prostitutes — it encourages them to value their own sexuality over women’s, it encourages them to place undue value on a narrow range of physical characteristics, it encourages them to depersonalize sexual activity, it encourages them to view women more as potential cum receptables and less as equals.

    Oh, yes….”sexbots”…..”cum receptables”…..”living blow-up dolls”….if I didn’t know right, I could swear that this was Sam Berg posting posthumulously; all that was needed was to break out the “cum dumptster” and “bi-seeeee, hot, willing to drop to her knees at any c*ck she sees” cards. Of course, there’s absolutely NO demonization or dehumanization of strippers happening here at all….no, indeed not.

    And you do know that men can serve as the “cum receptables” of women as well, too…do you??

    Riddle me this, Nadda: why in the hell does the idea that a woman can actually initiate and take full pleasure from sex with a willing, consenting man so threaten you?? Or that an individual woman insisting on her right to pursue physical pleasure on her own terms with men who are just as willing and respectful of her humanity even while they reward her genuine efforts to respect their sexuality, happens to so anger you as to simply dismiss her as some fiendish plot of “the patriarchy”???

    And this “narrow range of physical characteristics” nonsense….are you saying that men who regularly spend money at strip clubs are incapable of greater intimacy with women merely because of what they seek there?? I would guess that most of those men do have wives or girlfriends…many of whom know all about what they are doing…..I guess that the next step is to accuse these men of outright cheating their marriages and relationships merely for looking at other women??? Or is “intimacy” supposedly such a high goal that it should only be expressed by one man with one woman the rest of his/her natural life???

    Tell me how this is any different from the ideology of Rick Warren or Donnie McClurkin or any other “ex-gay” fundamentalist huckster.

    [Nadda} Why do female strip clubs outnumber male strip clubs by a very wide margin? Women are, generally speaking, just as “visual” as men, so why aren’t we flooding the clubs in equal numbers? My theory is that women aren’t socially indoctrinated to view men as second class citizens and sex objects (primarily). Most women I’ve talked to think the whole male quasi-sex slave stuff is absurdly ridiculous. We aren’t used to subjugating men, it makes us uncomfortable; we’re used to being the ones who are subjugated. Which is also why stripping and prostitution look like such innocuous, viable jobs on the surface to so many young women. When you’re been socially indoctrinated as a second class citizen, you think nothing of perpetuating your own oppression.

    Ahhh….not really, Nadda…..perhaps there are slightly different reasons why we don’t see the same parity regarding (hetero) male strippers to female strippers. First off, as Snowdrop and Ren and erotic have all noted, women don’t have the disposable income that men have, and thusly they don’t have as much financial base to tuck bills in some guy’s G-string. Secondly, women are still a bit behind in the “openly gaziing at the male body” department…but the gap is closing faster and faster with each male pinup, each Chippendale’s tour, and each David Beckham poster sold.

    And as for the “indoctrination” of women to view men as “sex objects”, and the thinly veiled implication that men are somehow doctrinated by strip clubs to dehumanize men: Really, Nadda, you must make up your mind here. Either men are naturally and innately programmed to sexually objectify women (meaning that there is no “indoctrination” involved at all, but only simple biology and animalistic “urges”), or they are programmed by “patriarchy” to do the same. But if the latter is more of the case, then how is it that so many men manage to escape the “indoctrination” and don’t reduce women to “sex objects”?? The “patriarchy” must not be so powerful if so many women and men are not being so affected by it.

    To expand on Snowdrop’s final statement: Consensual, mutually sought, and mutually pleasurable sex is fun. Whether is is done for free or exchanged for compensation. And since when do adult women feel that they have to get anyone’s approval (whether men’s, women’s, fundamentalists’ or feminists’) approval to engage in activity they like, and to pay for and get paid to offer such mutual pleasures??? Giving and getting orgasms is not a bad thing, regardless of how some so-called “feminists” may attempt to shame people to think.

    Well said and said well, erotic…..mind if I link this???

    Anthony

  14. January 3, 2009 4:17 am

    BTW…”GenderBord” is my personal “gloss” for the collective that runs the Genderberg site and forums…..While Sam Berg is the main perpetrator there, they all share the same beehive collective Groupthink when it comes to antiporn/antiprostiturion/antisex/antimale myopia.

    Anthony

  15. eroticundulation permalink
    January 3, 2009 3:15 pm

    Hi Anthony! Nice to meet you. Thank you for your response. I would be honored if you linked.🙂

  16. January 5, 2009 11:01 am

    Very intersting post (and blog, I was linked here from a reader, I’m going to have to read more.

    I agree with the odd cultural devide there (still you DID come in second, that’s saying somthing to. I’m wondering how my past career as Feild Marine Biologist would have held up…I doubt very well at all) my only disagreement is while fighter pilots do make a living working in the military and flying a very expensive weapon, I’ve known a few that have never engaged a target. So it’s not always Top Gun.

  17. perrybc permalink
    January 9, 2009 12:15 pm

    Bringing this back to (what I thought was) the initial point made by eroticundulation…

    I was just having a conversation with someone at a party the other night about the fucked-upedness of people’s values when it comes to sex and violence in this country. It made me remember a piece of news I came across during college when I was researching censorship of films…I think it ties in nicely with the fighter pilot / stipper anecdote.

    Everyone remember a great little UK film called Trainspotting that came out in 1996? Well in the orginial European version, the sex scene with Diane shows her having an orgasm for an additional 20 seconds or something. Meanwhile, director Danny Boyle was asked to trim some time off of another scene featuring a bit of graphic violence. When the film was brought to the U.S., the studio here asked him to cut Diane’s orgasm to a few seconds, and add the violence back in.

    I know this example is a bit random, but man oh man does it ever illustrate eroticundulation’s point on an organizational level.

  18. eroticundulation permalink
    January 10, 2009 6:30 pm

    Brilliant example, perrybc! I had no idea about that. But that’s it exactly what I am referring to. Violence always seems to win out over sex. I can’t help but think it is a concerted effort to undermine a more peaceful culture.

    Reminds me of an article I read in Discover magazine, called “Are the Desert People Winning?” And of a book I read called Sacred Pleasure by Riane Eisler. That whole concept is another post, but basically both point out that the “desert” cultures in ancient history revered a divinity that had the power to kill, while the “forest” cultures revered a divinity that had the power to bring forth life. The Discover article points out that the desert culture seems to be winning out.

  19. Jannet permalink
    August 14, 2009 2:11 pm

    I just discovered this blog from Ren’s. ::applaud:: I never ever ever see this kind of no apologies, smart, comprehensive analysis in real life, and seldom online.

    I’m a sex worker and I identify as a feminist (because I want to and nobody can stop me -na-na-na-na-na-na!). My best friend is a feminist who is against prostitution, but not porn. We engage in conversations/debates often, and never, not once has she ever dehumanized me, silenced me, or made my voice to seem less than her own. And she always gives me something to think about. It CAN be done, y’know. Intelligent, rational conversations about things we disagree on. But, I see it all over the place: women who identify as feminists using the same old shaming, the same old name calling, the same old just plain fallacies to put down other women. The worst part is, sometimes I can get a lot from hearing viewpoints of people with different p.o.v. or different experiences. In fact, I think there IS something to the anti-sex industry arguments. But nothing is black and white. And as soon as you start treating me disrespectfully, you’ve lost my respect and anything you have to say is going to be questioned by me. Also, I hate to say this, but it will quickly put me on the defensive.

    I mean, do these people really believe that the sex-industry is the giant pillar holding up the patriarchy?! I believe there are things there to be changed. I believe there’s a lot of f-ed-up-ness (most of which I think just reflects mainstream attitudes toward sex), but, seriously, I’m really creating a hoard of women-hating abusers by showing off my tits?? ::eyes cross:: I just don’t get it.

    Also, perrybc: omg, i would have loved to see diane cuming for 20 more seconds! must .. find .. this … version …!

  20. malena permalink
    June 25, 2011 8:43 am

    I know I’m very late to the party, but I just recently discovered this blog for myself. I love reading the posts, especially Thomas’s and Jaclyn’s.

    Although I agree with Eroticundulation’s if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them mindset and charging men for sexual entertainment (I say do it if you can get away with it! Dismantling the patriarchy will take a long time, and we women need to earn money to get by, anyway), I would disagree with this statement:

    “Male entitlement to sexual access to women, in my opinion, is promoted far more by women sleeping with men and being available to them for free.”

    So are you saying that the path to female sexual autonomy is for them to charge their male partners for sex?

    As far as I am aware of, offering sex for pay makes it more available. Women who do not charge for sex (for convenience’s sake, I’ll generalize that prostitutes are women and customers are men) sleep only with men who appeal to them, while sex workers, if their work involves sleeping with men, are more likely to offer their services to anyone who has the cash to exchange for it. It is harder to get sex for free because you do not really know what will make someone want to have sex with you, but you only have to have the money to pay a prostitute in order to be able to sleep with her.

    I don’t know exactly what a man who pays a prostitute thinks during their encounter, but I’m sure it’s along the lines of “I’m paying you to do this so you have to do this.” He is, after all, a customer availing of someone’s services in exchange for money. I tend to agree with Nadda here when she says that in a transaction between a prostitute and a customer, the interaction is overwhelmingly more about the customer’s sexual desires than the prostitute’s, whether it be the customer’s desire to just get off, or to be seen by the prostitute as the best lover she has ever had.

    I don’t think you charge someone you decide to sleep with whom you met outside of work. Sex between two persons without exchanging anything but pleasure is the most natural kind of sex in the world. i’m sure you’d agree with that. And if men and women are inherently equal, then why should a woman’s sex have more monetary value than a man’s?

    Anyway, I sense that you only said that because Nadda hit a nerve, so I’m sure you could not have possibly meant to say that it would be best for all women to charge the men they are sleeping with. I get from your comments above that you are already married. I’m sure your husband does not pay you for sex, and you do not think that giving him sex for free perpetuates male entitlement and supports patriarchy in general.🙂

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