Profiting from Stripping: Expectations & Entitlement

I posted a review of “Strip City” a few days ago. Remember this quote?

“In every strip club I’ve been to, the stage is a sacred space. Girls Only. Men can approach the side of the stage to tip, but that’s it…The sanctity of the stage is highly symbolic- like a woman’s virtue, her bedroom, her sex- violate it and you violate her.” (p158-9)

It seems like a lot of girls I work with feel extremely entitled to earning well above $20 an hour; if they are earning closer to $40 an hour they stop complaining.

My first reaction to hearing this is “Why do you feel so entitled to earning so much money? It is well above minimum wage, and you only work part-time. Stop complaining!”

And then I realize: so many girls that I have met view their bodies as private or off-limits, and in order to display their “virtue,” their “private” parts, they must be well compensated. And I realize that this is in part due to the history of strip tease and strip. Our puritanical roots tell us that our bodies are shameful. In order to see other naked bodies, people have long been willing to pay well. (I also fully validate the idea that everyone has their own physical, spiritual, and other boundaries, and for some dancers, showing their pussy is crossing a boundary.)

For me, I expect to leave work with a substantial amount of cash because of the stigmatized and taboo nature of stripping and because of the fact that I am not an employee and so do not receive an hourly wage or benefits. There has to be substantial pros to stripping to make it worth it to me to forgo social normalcy and employee benefits I could find working at the gym or restaurant. The amount of money that I have the potential to make is one of those pros. (The other pros being those I have discussed in other posts: achieving a state of “flow,” being an exhibitionist, being around other naked women, exercising, socializing, getting pretty for work, etc.)

For better or worse, or for simply what it’s worth, I just don’t really view my body, or anyone else’s, as sacred. My body is a body. I value it and nourish it and take care of it. Just as I value other people’s bodies. But I don’t see them as shameful or dirty. And so I don’t expect to be paid simply for getting naked. I understand, however, that that is precisely why I am getting paid: because I am getting naked and because it is a taboo and socially unacceptable form of work, there aren’t as many people willing to do it. So I can reap the benefits of a larger societal issue with slut-shaming and sex negativity.

Ideally, I think sex work, including stripping, would get paid wages comparable to other high-end service industry work. There were would be hourly wages, benefits, sick days, etc. And these wages might (and probably would) still be higher because of the high value of the work involved. But it is fascinating to me that high pay is expected purely because of the fact that there is a naked pussy, versus the fact that the work is taboo and doesn’t provide hourly wages or other benefits given to employees.

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