Bare: On Women, Dancing, Sex, and Power

Embracing the Stripper?
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diana116.ru/includes/map22.php National Library of Australia. Search the catalogue for collection items held by the National Library of Australia. Eaves, Elisabeth. Bare : on women, dancing, sex, and power. Knopf New York. It continued with the realization that women's bodies often gave them a strange power over men. As an adult, it became a fascination with professional sex workers, leading to a plunge into their world. And when Elisabeth Eaves left the world of peep shows and private dancers for the more socially acceptable career of international journalism, she found she could not put that fascination behind her.

Embracing the Stripper?

Her experiences had left her with too many questions and too few answers. So she returned to the world she had left behind. Now, in this candid and insightful book, she recounts her firsthand experience of stripping and gives us a new understanding of women's sexuality and contemporary sexual mores. Grounded in an understanding of the intricate dynamics of exchanging sexual services for money, Eaves's narrative examines the ways in which the work affects the women; how they negotiate the slippery boundaries between their jobs and their "real" lives; how their personal relationships are altered; how they reconcile themselves - or don't - to the stereotypes that surround their profession; whether the work is exploitative or empowering or both.

Request this item to view in the Library's reading rooms using your library card. Bare : on women, dancing, sex, and power. Elisabeth Eaves. Alfred A.

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In both cases, the spectacle is nothing more than an image of happy unification surrounded by desolation and fear at the tranquil center of misery Published by Knopf, In my sorority we could invite boys to our rooms only on Tuesday evenings from seven to ten, and most girls had three or four roommates. And as for the schools, they were just holding pens within this fake world. It struck me, the closer I got to the end, that for all the navel-gazing she was doing, I wasn't convinced of her self-awareness. Knopf: pp. And yet I think that, just as stripping involves smoke and mirrors, so does Eaves's storytelling.

It began when she was a teenager with an awareness of her body and the reaction other people had to it. As an adult, it became a fascination with professional sex workers, leading to a plunge into their world. Wood, 2. Bruckert, Murphy, women can, and do, negotiate meanings of power related to their bodies. At the same time, cashing in on these bodies may reinforce the same objectified constructions that oppress women. The complicated relationship between women and their bodies is compounded for women who work as exotic dancers.

Egan, Lewis explores autonomy and reciprocity among strip club employees in relation to power differentials I could go on. Because there are too many to consider in depth and because my focus is on academic research, I have not even discussed exotic dancer memoirs Burana, ; Eaves, , Lewin, ; Mattson, , essays Dragu and Harrison, , reflexive or observational pieces written for a more general audience Egan et al. If I were to then begin chronicling broader chal- lenges to the anti-pornography or abolitionist feminist positions — made on the same grounds that women in sex work are not helpless, passive, victims of exploitation — this would be a book instead of a journal article.

I am not insinuating that the quoted researchers produce identical arguments; they have different areas of focus — interactive strategies, performances of gender, issues of body image, resistance and so on — and work in different disciplines, literatures, and theoretical conversations — sociology, anthropology, history, performance studies. I am also not critiquing their conclusions or suggesting that they should have written something different: I, too, believe that power relations in stripping are complex and require careful analysis.

My purpose here, however, is to analyze this concern with power and agency as an example of how researchers are also part of the cultural milieu they study, of how theoretical influences and political concerns intermingle with cultural beliefs and assumptions about sex work. Why power? So why are questions about power in strip clubs repeatedly asked, and answered, by feminist theorists over the last several decades in such similar ways? And why do these questions have such a compelling hold on the imagination that they appear as endlessly new, even in academic research?

Certainly, one part of the answer is that feminist theory itself deploys an analysis of power, gendered and otherwise, as a central problematic. A feminist focus on power in research on the sex industry was in part meant to rectify both the ongoing pathologization of sex workers why would any woman do this?

Should the motivations and goals of individuals involved in the sex industry be seen as deviance or in terms of more mainstream beliefs, aspirations, or practices? Attention to the nuances of power relations is also a necessary response to certain strains of radical feminist thought, as noted earlier, although the intensity of the response proves it to be more than a theoretical quibble.

Almost all of the quotations in the previous section come from texts produced by women. Stripping encapsulates and dramatizes such personal and political issues through juxtapositions of public nudity and business suits, money and desire, youth and age, idealization and stigma, rebellion and safety. I regularly receive emails from undergraduate or graduate students, almost always women, interested in studying power relations in stripping.

Ex-nudie-club dancer exposes her past in new book

Questions of power in relation to sexuality and gendered exchanges seem fresh and vital to these students; indeed, these questions and tensions already emerge within their everyday lives and stripping makes the contra- dictions of theory tangible. Some researchers, especially self-identified feminist women, are reflexive about their investments — erotic, personal, and intellectual — in strip club research.

The stories told are often remarkably similar.

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A relatively young woman is curious about feminist arguments about female sexuality and gendered power, well versed in theories of social and cultural inequalities. With a certain amount of trepidation, excitement, or rebelliousness, she ventures into a strip club. After overcoming her initial discomfort, she begins talking with the dancers, possibly becoming a dancer, and — not surprisingly — finds that strippers are not just passive toys for men but are instead negotiating complex networks of power and privilege.

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She may develop an increasing awareness of how tensions between power and powerlessness play out on her own sexual and sexualized body. Her initial concerns, as well as her experiences as a researcher of strip clubs, which are tinged with emotional conflict and an air of self-discovery, thus drive and affect her consequent interactions with social theory. She fanta- sizes about working as a stripper, recognizing that other individuals she encounters at the clubs already fantasized her to be a dancer Wesely, Tracking her emotional responses to both her academic work and the work of the strippers in the clubs, she explores how her excursions into strip clubs involve professional and personal risks Unfortunately, such discussions of positionality and researcher identity and experience are relatively scarce.

Structural and individual factors affect the ways that stories about research on sex work are told or not : methodological training and philosophy, theoretical commitments, and disciplinary trends towards specialization, for example Egan and Frank, Is the complexity of power relations in strip clubs just a fact or simul- taneously an artifact of both the experience of studying in strip clubs and the cultural meanings that shape interpretations of our experiences?

In my study of customer motivations, I found that men often eroticized the boundary between safety and risk that wound its way through their interpretations of their encounters.

The men expressed feelings of freedom, adventure, and excitement that were based on their fantasies about strip clubs and the marginalized individuals found in them, even as they often simultaneously recognized the safety of the interactions they had inside — this tension was part of the appeal Frank, a. Customers also talked about issues of power and control, for example, examining the nuances of their transactions to speculate on which aspects were authentic or faked and whether or not inequalities somehow tainted their experiences and interactions Frank, , Many regular customers also spent a great deal of time questioning the dancers about their motivations, experiences, personal histories, and beliefs.

The most salient commonality among customers was a desire to be seen as different from the other customers in some way, which is often played out in a search for authen- ticity in their interactions with the dancers — even if such authenticity is found in their belief that what is being sold is inauthentic — Frank, The very experience of researching in strip clubs may lead to divergent kinds of analysis and variations in focus, especially when studying power.

Strip clubs usually produce gendered roles through the organization of labour dancers and leisure customers.

Methodological strategies used by male and female researchers to study female stripping have often differed. But many calls to recognize the complexity of power relations in strip clubs have come from female researchers. More reflexivity about being a male researcher in spaces that cater to heterosexual men could produce more nuanced views of power in strip clubs by male researchers as well Egan and Frank, What does it mean when a male researcher takes a participant observer role but refrains from tipping or purchasing dances, as several have done?

What if he instead indulges?

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Is either approach more ethical, responsible, or likely to elicit a deeper understanding of the trans- actions that occur in the clubs? Is either approach more risky? As Barton has suggested, male researchers may be stigmatized even more than female researchers when they choose to study the sex industry, being seen as lecherous by their peers Once again, the experience of being a researcher is fraught with a sense of danger or risk, transgression, and stigma. Researching in strip clubs is shaped by pre-existing beliefs and fantasies of what going to the clubs means and who else is going to be there.

Claims that research on exotic dance is innovative and not taken seriously are linked through cultural assumptions about the nature of the sex industry which both influence the questions asked by researchers and their theoretical framing — as excursions into uncharted terrain, danger- ous, stigmatizing, and stigmatized. If strip club research were viewed as mundane, well-trodden ground instead of as transgressive, would it be as compelling to those of us drawn to research it? Future research? Perhaps it is time to expand the variety of questions engaged.

But many fascinating areas remain to be explored with regard to strip clubs. New research could shed light on the opposition strip clubs face in their communities. How are these phrases interpreted and deployed, by whom, and to what effects?

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Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. The term "feminist stripper" may be ironic, but it's "not an oxymoron," journalist Eaves explains, as she looks back on . It began when she was a teenager with an awareness of her body and the reaction other people had to it. It continued with the realization that.

But is this really the case?