America’s Next Bill Clinton!


Feminism, strip bars, and an exotic dancer.

For the last few days, I’ve wanted to write about my experience at the strip club, but I am glad I didn’t, because tonight, I actually got to talk to a stripper about feminism, so it made me think a bit deeper on the issue.

Please don’t kill me – but a few nights ago, my old friends took me to a strip bar, despite my protest. They didn’t put a gun to my head, but I reluctantly went anyway, seeing it as a way for us to spend time together. In that, I feel guilty because I felt as though I was contributing to the objectification and commodification of women by being a patron there. Further, I have to admit that I was somewhat turned on by the visuals of it all. But I am, after all, only human.

 As one of my buddies offered to buy me a lap dance, I refused, out of me feministic values. “Real men don’t have to pay to see a woman naked,” I told him as a way to politely refuse, yet still adhere to my feministic values. But at the same time, even said statement, for me, is problematic, as it defines what a “real man” is supposed to be.

But I felt extremely bad that I was at the club, and that I was physically enjoying the sight of a woman’s body, who was only there because of an imbalance of power. There I was – the male with privilege and money to see her dance naked …I was just like the rest of them, contributing to the misogynistic view of women.

 What was even more upsetting for me, I think, was I saw the cocktail servers walking around in tight little bikinis. While I love the woman’s body, I don’t feel as though I have to part-take in sexism to appreciate it. Although there is always a “no-touch” policy at any strip club, the regulars were actually slapping one of the servers’ butt. I wanted to say something, but realized it was neither my place nor the time. I let it go, and continued talking to my friends. I am sorry!

 Tonight, while sitting at a coffee shop near my house, I was next to a couple a table over. Lost in my new book, “Giving,” by Bill Clinton, as well as texting people, I looked up to the girl asking me if the Ms. Magazine sitting on the table was mine. I offered it to her, and the guy she was with told me she is new to feminism. So, a conversation ensued.

It turns out she’s an exotic dancer, and came to feminism after reading Jessica Valenti’s “Full Frontal Feminism,” and now wants to go to college majoring in women’s studies.

I asked her how she dealt with the political and personal of her life, being both a feminist and a dancer. Her reply was something to this extend:

“It depends on why people dance. For some girls, they dance because they feel they need the approval of men to feel pretty. Some can’t dance unless they’ve got alcohol in their system. I dance because I make a lot money doing so, and I am my own person. I don’t need men’s approval to feel pretty, but I am empowered by it. In the end, it’s about what I do for my own life and not have to feel ashamed by it. I do it because I make my own schedule and report to no one.”

I thought about her answer and wondered: what if stripping truly does make some women happy because they are in control? What if stripping made them happy because they are empowered by the money? What if they are doing it out of their own choice?

Driving home, I think I’ve come up with the answer for it all, and perhaps said answer is still muddled by my experience as a male with male privilege, but I think that feminism shouldn’t be about what we can get out of it, but how we can make the world a better place.

In the end, what we do shouldn’t be motivated by what we can get out of it, but rather, whether it will positively affect woman?

Does seeing women naked make me happy? Sure. But am I contributing to the comodification of women? Yes. So should I do it in the future? No.

The same thing, I think, goes for this woman. This is not a judgement. It’s merely what I think. But as was brought up in my conversation with her, our views on feminism change everyday, as we learn more, and experience more. Perhaps that’s just the case with me.

I recommend to her, “To Be Real,” by Rebecca Walker. I suggest it to all of you, too. 🙂

Thoughts?

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