Stripping: A Little Understanding
"The sexualisation of your body, if it is your own choice, is far more liberating than people understand. However, it isn't for everyone, all we ask is for a tiny bit more understanding."
Sexuality has been on my mind the past few months. More specifically, the difficulties women can experience expressing and finding power in their sexuality. In my previous post, I discussed how I have found this to be case, and I place the blame somewhat on how society objectifies the female body, causing women to struggle with owning their sexuality.
During a catch up with a friend (who wishes to remain anonymous), she brought up the fact that she had started stripping. I asked her many (probably obnoxious and annoying) questions, and our chat left me wanting to discuss it even more.
There is a stigma around strippers, one they face every time they go to work. One that had me viewing strippers very negatively once. With this piece, I hope to raise a little awareness to help break down the stigma. So I contacted my friend again, and here's our conversation.
Katie: Firstly, why did you get into stripping? What made you want to strip?
Anonymous: It was something I'd always wanted to do but never felt like I was "allowed" to. I really enjoy dancing in that way and the club is the place where I can do that for myself and not care what people think. Once I kind of shed the feeling of "what will people think" I just went for it!
What made you feel like you weren't allowed to?
The stigma and the thought of it killing my future job opportunities, disappointing friends and family, etc.
How do you feel about those factors now you've started stripping?
To start with: Feminism is feminism if it is inclusive and respectful of the woman's choice. The sexualisation of your body, if it is your own choice, is far more liberating than people understand. However, it isn't for everyone, all we ask is for a tiny bit more understanding. Just because most of us love expressing ourselves in this way and actually feel very powerful, not because of the viewers but because we are happy in our bodies.
So when it comes to the realities of the job, what do you like and dislike about stripping?
It's just like any other job in that you have to deal with crappy customers and people wasting your time, etc. The best part is that everything is based around consent so you have clear boundaries. I dislike the fact we can't be open about our jobs, the fact that we have to pay a house fee and commission to work, quite annoying but it's not the end of the world. Obviously in some clubs the management can be quite exploitative.
The stigma is the main con.
Safety is something I would worry about if I was to get into stripping. How do you feel about your club in terms of safety?
The club I work in is super safe. We have panic buttons and security cameras in every part of the club. We have bouncers, two on the door and one upstairs, and two lovely dogs that are great at letting people know when they are doing something they shouldn't. The management are lovely and if they see anything get out of hand they will have the person in question out within 30 seconds. The bouncers escort the dancers to their cars after work and they don't let us leave until they know we will be safe.
Thats great! I feel like the way strip clubs are shown in film/TV can make it seem like a really grimy and unsafe job, but I'm sure in more cases than not it's great working conditions.
100 percent. You've got to do your research to make sure the club you work in is safe for you, everyone's safety needs are different but the fundamentals should definitely be there.
And if they're not, get the fuck out.
It's the same with so many jobs!
Exactly! I can't work in the majority of restaurant/cafe jobs because my mental health doesn't mean shit to them. I've been assaulted way more times in that industry than this one.
I love that your club make consent a big deal as so many "regular" jobs don't give a fuck.
Yep! No "customer is always right" motto here.
If someone was considering getting into stripping, what would you say to them?
Do your research! I did mine for about three years before stepping inside a club. Don't do it because of the "lifestyle" or because you think the customers attention will make you feel good. It has to be about you and doing what's best for you. Be careful not to get sucked into anything dark. (Drugs, etc. It happens everywhere, but just a warning.) And be prepared for the stigma, because it is real. But if you do decide to do it, keep your head screwed on, set your own boundaries and don't stray from them!
If a woman can earn a living by expressing her sexuality and finding empowerment in it, that's pretty amazing and absolutely not something to be shamed. As a society we should be encouraging the idea that women can use their bodies, however they want, instead of dragging them.