Empowering, degrading or a 'mutually exploitative' exchange For women?: Characterising the power relations of the strip club


This paper seeks to characterise the gendered and sexualised power relations of both female and male strip clubs, and to signal what this means for establishing positive definitions of female desire. It is argued that while it is not useful to present female strippers, or female patrons of male strip clubs as purely passive victims of male heterosexism within these venues, it is equally damaging to assume that these venues represent a whole-scale challenge to conventional oppressive gender and sexual relations for women. Some research has even suggested that both strippers and their patrons are engaged in a 'mutually exploitative' power relationship. Moreover, further empirical research documents key points where female dancers have perhaps wielded 'more' power over patrons at certain moments, and female dancers have highlighted feelings of empowerment and highlighted potential for gender and sexual relations which position women as passive to be subverted within stripping. However, such feelings are often temporally specific and are not applicable to all women in the strip industry. It may be particularly hard for these to manifest in women concentrated in the least economically-rewarding areas of the industry who have less 'power' to resist compromising their bodily boundaries. Furthermore, it is argued that women watching male strippers does little to reverse the 'male gaze', and nor does this male occupation carry as much negative social stigma with it as female stripping suffers. It is thus argued that the overwhelming picture, stemming largely from accounts of former dancers and from empirical studies of individual clubs, suggests these venues in fact do very little to challenge normative hetero-oppressive sexual scripts.

Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Policy
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities
Additional Information: This item is available as part of Virtual Commons, the open-access institutional repository of Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, Massachusetts.
Publication ISSN: 1539-8706
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2024 08:06
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2014 15:45
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Related URLs: http://www.scop ... 18b74259dc4a8d7 (Scopus URL)
http://vc.bridg ... ws/vol10/iss3/7 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2008-03
Authors: Pilcher, Katy (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-5973-8251)



Version: Published Version

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