To strip, or not to strip. That is (rarely) the question.

As second quarter commences at The Creative Circus I am reflecting on the lovely break I had with my family back home in Chicago. Specifically the heated debate we had over Christmas dinner about stripping.

Yes. My family is that family.

The discussion argument we had was sparked by an offhand comment I made about living in Atlanta, “there are, like, a lot of strip clubs.” What? There are. I’m not offended by this, I just find it funny. Funny strange, not funny haha. Mostly in the way that they are not designated to a specific area but mixed in with all the other taco joints, bike shops, portfolio schools, burger bars, and adult gift stores. Okay, I guess that last one makes sense.

The opinion breakdown went like this:

Dad: Mostly listened, made a few comments, against stripping as a career for his children, his opinion about stripping in general is still unclear. Though he is cool with the burlesque option. Cause you know, it’s classy.

Stepmom & Sister: Anti-stripping. Don’t think it’s a respectable career, would not support anyone they know stripping, believe it is degrading and demeaning.

Brother: Would date a stripper if she agreed to stop stripping. (So, wouldn’t date a stripper.)

Other Brother: Down with the cause. Wouldn’t want his daughter to be a stripper, but if she came to him and told her that was the only thing that would make her happy he would support her. But he wouldn’t go watch her perform because – gross.

Stepbrother: Also quiet, taking it all in. I do know he also wouldn’t watch his daughter strip.

Now, all of these points are valid. To some extent, the stripping industry does reaffirm some of the horribly misogynistic behavior that men in America (and the rest of the world) are wont to display. But, doesn’t the affirmation of men’s behavior say more about the clientele than the stripper? There’s talk of the exploitation of strippers because they are “owned” buy the club owners, who are mostly men, and used by the clientele who are also mostly men. But a) unlike prostitution they can (for the most part) leave whenever they want and b) a stripper is never made (for the most part) to do anything she doesn’t want to do. Ever hear about the “no touching” rule? Also who is really exploiting who? Strippers are using their bodies to extract the baser instincts in men to get them to open their wallets. Yeah yeah, the club owners are getting rich while the strippers are making much less, but you can say that about any industry. I know, I know, “but those people aren’t taking off their clothes to make money!” You forget, of course, all the models, or actresses, or Selena-Gomez-on-her-new-album-covers of the world who also get paid to take their clothes off. Sure, it’s “art.” But lets be real, sex sells. We all know and accept this. At least strippers are honest about it. Cause really, pretend you’re an actress who takes her top of in a movie. You think men aren’t thinking about you while they whack it because they are more focused on your art? Bitch, please.

Okay, that was a bit of a rant. All I’m saying is that making broad sweeping statements, nay, judgements, about an industry that you know nothing about isn’t right. Especially when those statements are about an individual’s personal choice or character. For the negative or positive. It’s not cool to say that all strippers are empowered women because some of them aren’t. Nor is it cool to say that all strippers are victims because some of them aren’t. Of course there are women forced into the industry because of a lack of options, but I’ve listened to enough Savage Love Cast to know that there are strippers and sex workers who really enjoy their work. They don’t identify themselves solely by their career (yes, it’s a career). They feel they have self worth and they see past the negative attitudes surrounding the industry. They make good money and even though they may be judged about how that money is made, they have a comfortable life because of it. You know, like a lawyer.

Most of us have never even considered becoming a stripper (yes, a lot because of social stigma), and until you are completely aware, involved, engaged and submersed in the industry, you are not allowed to pass judgement. Period.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Peace, love & panties.

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