Social Question

OpryLeigh's avatar

Strip clubs: Are they really degrading to women?

Asked by OpryLeigh (25280points) October 8th, 2009

This is inspired by another question where a few people (male and female) said they find strip clubs degrading to women.

In my opinion, if an individual chooses to make a living through stripping then that is their choose and shouldn’t affect how the rest of the population of that gender are viewed. It may be degrading for the individual but not the whole of the female population.

I feel this way about porn, prostitution, sexy pictures in the media etc. I don’t always agree with the “I couldn’t get work doing anything else” excuse (I would stack shelves in a supermarket or serve burgers in a fast restaurant before I would “settle” for a stripping job even though I probably wouldn’t earn as much money) but I think if an individual chooses that to do so then if it is degrading then it should only be degrading towards that individual.

How do you feel about the audiences of these strip clubs?

If you believe that strip joints are degrading to all women do you believe that male strippers are degrading to all men (I have never heard an arguement for or against male strippers only female)? Why?

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49 Answers

deni's avatar

Why would strippers be degrading to anyone? It’s their body…I certainly wouldn’t do that for a living but if that’s how they wanna make their money then what’s the problem. I’ve never been to a strip club but nothing about strippers (male or female) appeals to me, but I understand there is a crowd that enjoys going there. It isn’t a crowd that I would enjoy hanging aroudn with, but regardless, it’s their choice.

Also, like @Leanne1986 said, if it’s degrading to anyone, it’s the stripper.

Jayne's avatar

I really don’t think so. Most men are attracted to women, and many are willing to pay to indulge this attraction. No secret there. The fact that a woman can take advantage of this fact is equally self-evident, and does not reflect in any way on the value of the woman or women in general in other areas. It only becomes degrading if it is assumed that women are not able to do anything other than be strippers. Obviously there is the specter of coercion, abuse, and exploitation, but stripping in and of itself isn’t degrading.

dpworkin's avatar

Lily Burana wrote a fascinating book about having been a stripper. I don’t think she felt her life was degrading – she seemed to derive a feeling of power from what she did.

My only caveat is that sometimes stripping slops over into sex work, and when that happens I usually suspect coercion, or a past that included sexual abuse, so I’m not so certain that it is completely benign for all women.

gggritso's avatar

I think it’s worse when women use their sexuality in small ways to take advantage of hapless men who can’t see through it. To me, that should be more degrading. At a strip bar everyone knows exactly what’s going on, at least.

Regarding to audiences at a strip bar, I don’t really see anything wrong with it. I’ve never been to one but like I said, both parties know exactly what’s going on and there’s an unspoken agreement.

JLeslie's avatar

I can see both sides. I am in favor of adults being able to do what they want to do as a profession, stripping, prostitution, whatever. But, many many of these women are not happy stripping or performing in porn, and it is really a sad thing that they feel used, and it bothers me that some men think all of these girls just love sex, love what they are doing, and compare other women to them. I wonder if a man knew a particular women had to drug herself up or drink every time before she went to work to be able to do it, if he would even care? If he would just be happy to watch her anyway?

Another problem is young girls get caught up in these activities, which is many time dangerous and damages them for a long time or forever psychologically.

kibaxcheza's avatar

its good money…..

gussnarp's avatar

I think strip clubs are degrading to men. Maybe to human beings. Does the fact that some women take their clothes off for money degrade all women? Probably not. Are strip clubs really a big deal? Probably not. That said, when I was a young man I went to strip clubs, and I found that, first and foremost, it’s not just about taking off clothes. It’s about lap dances, and there is certainly a very fine line between lap dancing and prostitution. And I have to say, at most of these clubs I am convinced that most of the strippers have some serious personal issues, often involving drug abuse. I think a lot of them are there not because of some simple choice, but because they don’t have another option that will provide enough money for their needs, whether those needs are being a single parent, or feeding a drug addiction. When I look back on it, I find the whole thing kind of sad. OK, I’ve changed my mind writing this, it does degrade women and human beings and here’s why: it says that we as a society value these women more as sexual objects for a cheap thrill than as human beings, mothers, or productive workers. That’s pretty degrading.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@JLeslie I see what you are saying but isn’t it all about choices? The woman chose to be there by not being willing to settle for an uninteresting, lower paid job (stacking shelves for example). Yes, the world is going through a recession but everywhere I look there is work available to people. It’s not exciting, the pay is crap and its probably not an ideal career choice but, like I said above, if you are willing to swallow your pride, the chances are you will find work. I just wonder how hard some people have tried to get work before becoming a stripper or prostitute. We have to take some responsibility for ourselves and our happiness so, regardless of job, if someone is unhappy then only they can change it.

dpworkin's avatar

@gussnarp I think you might be partly right about some of the people, but I think you have also made a lot of assumptions, too. Lily is not the only stripper I know, and none of my friends fall into the categories you mentioned.

I do agree very strongly about the affinity with prostitution, however, and in my experience, people aren’t prostitutes by choice.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@gussnarp I see what you are saying about the whole drug abuse thing. I am sure many people who sell their body do so because they need more money than the average supermarket job will pay to feed their addictions. If this is the case then maybe, regardless of what job they are doing, they need help. It is extremely sad when that is the case.

gggritso's avatar

@gussnarp There is a fine line between a lap dance and prostitution? I think the line is thick, red and has signs pointing to it. You don’t accidentally teeter over.

Also, when I go to buy a cup of tea I appreciate the person behind the counter is an efficient and friendly beverage-dispensing machine. If I actually talk to them though, I appreciate them as a human being. I’m sure any sane human being who meets a stripper outside a bar would treat her nicely.

Edit: Grammar

gussnarp's avatar

@gggritso Not sure what you are trying to say with your second paragraph there. As to the first, well, I just disagree with you. What is prostitution? What activities actually count? What outcome? I will let you think about that without going into details, perhaps you can figure out what I mean.

JLeslie's avatar

@Leanne1986 Well, I think we are being a little idealistic by saying they all choose it. Some of these women grow up with little opportunity and little choice. They are unaware of the world outside in many ways, or feel out of touch with it. Grisale has talked about this in relation to growing up in The Bronx and feeling the “white world” is a foreign place. These are people who have Manhattan right next door, they can observe every walk of life out there. Not that stripping is race related, but I would guess it is socio-income related or maybe there is a significant dysfunction in their family that has limited their view of the world and opportunity. I know there are college students who strip to pay for school etc., so they are working towards something and see otehr opportunities, but my guess is that this is the minority. It would be interesting to know the statistics, because I am making a lot of assumptions that I have no data on—how many strippers come from middle or upper middle class homes with two parent non-abusive parents?

As a teen I would have answered that it was fine, what’s the big deal, but as a 40 year old I think most women would eventually regret being part of that lifestyle. So, I would be also curious to know not how the people currently stripping feel, but how the women who are older feel about having to still do it, or having done it.

gggritso's avatar

@gussnarp Ok, I definitely didn’t do a good job getting my point across, I’ll try again. Regarding paragraph one, I will reference the other thread where it was mentioned that strip clubs tend to have a strict no-touching policy. I don’t think prostitution has one, therein lies the difference.

You said that the worst part of strip clubs is that the women are objectified, regarded as objects and not as mothers/workers/productive members of society. I agree. However, I think we do that pretty much everywhere else. In a work environment any person is primarily judged on their performance. My boss/client/colleague wouldn’t give a crap if I volunteered in my free time saving kittens from trees. Unless I’m talking to him during my lunch break. Men who go to a strip club don’t care if they’re mothers. Is this bad? Definitely. Can we avoid it in our daily life? No.

Extrapolating what your said, the worst part is that these women aren’t given a chance to use their other talents and skills to earn a living.

gussnarp's avatar

@gggritso OK, now I see your point with part two, but I think the amount of money involved says something about how we value people. A stripper can make more than a teacher, a nurse, or a construction worker. That’s a little different than just seeing people strictly for their value in a particular role. Now I’m not sure I’m making my point clearly.

As to part one, I have seen very few strip clubs with a no touching rule. More and more states and cities are instituting such laws, but left alone, strip clubs are not likely to have one. The stripper may control exactly where you can touch, but an awful lot of touching goes on. A law was passed in Tampa requiring strippers to not contact patrons (I think it actually said they had to keep 6 feet away). A well known strip club changed their marquee to say: “we are breaking your law, come enforce it”.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@JLeslie Ok, I understand what you are saying and I too would like to know statistics on this matter.

I think we need to show kids their options when it comes to work long before they would start looking for work. Not just for their careers but for jobs that would help them afford to survive if needs be. That way fewer people would be able to use the “I had no other option” excuse.

gussnarp's avatar

@Leanne1986 and @JLeslie I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a study out there on strippers and their histories and current situations. In fact, I’d be surprised if their weren’t. Were I still in college it might make an interesting dissertation. Obviously what I have seen is strictly anecdotal.

gggritso's avatar

@gussnarp Your first point was crystal clear, I agree, that’s a sad state of affairs. Regarding the second one, well, I wasn’t aware of that. The more you know.

CMaz's avatar

1. I guess you have the right to do what you want as long as it does not hurt others or yourself. Your self is what you can live with.
2. It always seems to be ok when there is money being made, #1 applies and you call it hard work.
3. A stripper is just a piece of meat. If you see it as anything else you are trying to justify your being there.
4. There are exceptions to every rule but it is the only profession that after 20 years working at it, the only thing you become is an old stripper.
5. Stripping is a profession built around (generally) a mans (sometimes woman’s) poor self esteem.

I have been to strip clubs from time to time in my life. For me. I do not get it. It is too hard to convince myself that these girls are actually interested in me.
I would rather put the time and money into acquiring a real woman. For me it is not that hard to do, or anyone with good self esteem.
At the end of the evening I have a lovely lady to bring home (real)
and do not have to wake up with a hangover, an empty wallet and the need to wash my hand.

Facade's avatar

It’s definitely degrading. And male strippers are degrading to men, but men have not had to work for equality as women have. Women stripping is a step backward in that effort.

Sabotage82's avatar

I would like to know if there is a significant difference in how the stripping profession is viewed by young girls (for sake of argument the bratz doll generation in comparison to the barbie doll generation). For example, a lot of people were watching when Miley Cyrus sent a powerful message to young girls today about the joys of dancing on an Ice Cream truck with a strippers pole. (The following is not my personal opinion.) Perhaps girls have begun to look at becoming a stripper as a hot and glamorous thing that defines them as women.

syz's avatar

I once went on a road trip with a friend to visit two friends of hers in New Jersey. We were going to pick them up from work and then head into NYC to party. I was somewhat surprised when we picked them up at a strip club. We were early, so I spent about 2 hours sitting at the bar, watching the interactions in the bar. It was creepy and disturbing. The girls were young and gorgeous and completely disassociative – every transaction and action was rote, without any emotional connection, completely superficial. The men were worn, almost bored seeming, and cold. It was like watching a film on sexual and emotional abnormality.

At home, the two women exhibited a twisted world view. They expected, nay, required valuable gifts from suitors (cars, jewelry, sailboats). Their only emotional attachments seemed to be with other women (they both had sexual relationships with women). I could only assume that their attitudes toward men were as a result of their jobs.

I’ve also been to 3 male reviews. The first was interesting – I was curious. The next two, I was dragged to by friends. After the initial novelty, they too were just kind of tawdry and uninteresting.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I think it is. You can claim feminism and women having the power, but I suggest reading this book to explain why it remains degrading to women. He explains it about a million times better than I could.

P.S. The title of the book may not be one you want to pull up at work, even though the book itself is not dirty or anything like that.

kheredia's avatar

Hey if they don’t mind being nothing more then a piece of meat its their decision. And if the guys don’t mind spending money on something they’ll never have that is totally up to them. I would never do it myself because I value myself more than that and because I know I am capable of getting a decent job where I can use my intelligence rather than my body. The whole stripper thing is nothing more than an illusion with no real value. It’s a way for men to step out of reality for a couple hours. But in the end, they’ll always have to step out of the illusion and live their reality.

MissAnthrope's avatar

The problem isn’t choice or being aware of being objectified, it’s that it feeds this whole male culture of looking at women in a particular way. And if you delve into that particular way and the repercussions thereof, it’s disturbing. I’ve always been a bit bothered by how women are presented in porn (Abby Winters being the one exception), because of the fantasies men apparently have about women, but after reading that book I linked, I really can’t watch most porn anymore without feeling guilty.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

at least strippers admit they use sexuality for profit, I know plenty of girls who use it in subtle little ways every day to get what they want, what’s more degrading?

Sabotage82's avatar

This is a question that I feel is entirely cultural. You answer will be based on your life experiences.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@Sabotage82 I don’t think it is.

CMaz's avatar

All answers are based on life experiences.

Sabotage82's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 What do you think it is?

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

I just don’t think it’s strictly cultural, it might have a little influence, but I know plenty of cases where the culture in which someone was raised, does not influence their decisions on certain subjects.\

I was going to write some long winded answer but I’m hungry

Sabotage82's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 That answer was good enough for me. Go eat!

noodle_poodle's avatar

well i am a woman and other women swinging their knockers for money doesn’t degrade me in anyway….in fact hats of to them for having the confidence to do so…not that i want to but even if i had an urge i dont think i could…people can do whatever suits them in my opinion so long as they are not doing anyone any harm.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I believe in freedom of choice And I believe in non-judgment.
Having said that the research does support the fact that porn (not stripping) creates a culture of degradation and even violence towards women. This is relatively new research btw. I took an entire college class on the subject (it was not from a biased viewpoint as it may sound like it was, but at the end of the class it was quite evident that harm was being done). If porn can have this affect I would suggest that stripping can as well. It is at the cultural/societal level that I am speaking. In short it really emphasizes a mindset that women are objects and this mindset does, by research, absolutely get ingrained into the heads of the viewers making their actions and attitudes towards women less than respectable (of course not for everyone, just in-general). Keep in mind that this happens subconsciously so that most people who are affected do not realize as much.

Sabotage82's avatar

@noodle_poodle What if they harm themselves?

Sabotage82's avatar

@RedPowerLady I wish I could have taken that class. I was once attended a lecture in which the speaker did extensive studies directly with the porn actors themselves. The results show as well as several personal testimonies from the porn actors themselves that the women basically become empty shells with very little life unless they are posing for the camera. Off the set and out of the spot light they are quit miserable. The men were found to be indifferent of their lifestyle. The just simply looked at it as getting laid for a living. There is a lot of harm going on in this world because of porn. It’s sad to say that humans get so much joy from it : (

noodle_poodle's avatar

@Sabotage82 hmmmmm well that’s up to them also I guess

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Sabotage82 That sounds like a great lecture it would have been really complimentary to the class I took. The class focused more on the other half of the story, how society and viewers are affected by the porn. One study they interviewed porn-watchers on camera. They asked very simple questions and the answers that were given were so surprising. So many men simply said that yes they would engage in certain acts of sex (some violent) simply because they believe women want that and just are to shy to say so. Of course these were the porn-watchers. While others were like “huh?, what?, no way.

Jack_Haas's avatar

I wouldn’t put porn and stripping in the same category. Granted; I don’t watch a lot of it, but everything I’ve seen that was filmed after the 70s is just pure hatred for women. At best it’s a competition in which the guy doesn’t mind dismantling women’s bodies, at worst it’s pure rage against the female body.

A lap dance isn’t necessarily a dirty thing. It can actually be beautiful. There’s something about the female body moving in sync with music in assortments of colors that is just amazing.

Unfortunately, stripping can be degrading, it all depends on the customers and based on countless conversations with strippers, it seems like a lot of guys think a handful of $1 bill allow them to treat these girls like garbage. I wouldn’t say it’s the rules, but it’s clear to me it’s not the exception either. Decent strip club owners seem to be the exception, however, and, and it does nothing to improve these girls’ working conditions.

CMaz's avatar

“here’s something about the female body moving in sync with music in assortments of colors that is just amazing.”

Go on…. Go on…. Yea… Tell me more…

Jack_Haas's avatar

hehe at least that wasn’t creepy or anything…

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i think it’s as degrading as the woman involved feels.
if the stripper hates it, then it’s degrading to her.
if the stripper enjoys her job, and does feel she has self-respect, then more power to her.
i think saying that it’s degrading to all women is a huge generalization. i’m not planning on becoming a stripper, but i don’t feel personally disrespected because some other chicks make a career out of taking their clothes off.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

what a thoughtful discussion this has been, wonderful to read the responses
if someone said to me ‘i’m a stripper, do you judge me?’ I’d honestly say ‘no, but I’d judge the world and the society where this is something available and profitable for (mostly) a woman to do’ – I don’t mind sex work of any sort if a person chose it freely and had other options for jobs or had other jobs…I feel the realities of the stripping life are full of self-deception…people attending deceive themselves into getting attention, strippers deceive themselves in saying ‘they have the power and the money’

dutchbrossis's avatar

I don’t think strip clubs are degrading to women at all or the stripper. I think of strippers as entertainers and that is all, I have nothing against them

Pandora's avatar

@gussnarp I have to say that I agree with your view. It’s degrading to all to be reduced to nothing more than your body. I once went to a wedding shower and have never been to one since. There was a male stripper there. He was a friend of my husbands who he knew from a part time job they both had. He was always very nice, and sweet. He was also smart. He did this as a side job. When he started to strip and I looked away the girls told him to try his best to get my attention. He saw I felt very uncomfortable and so he stopped and focused on the bride to be. I left the room while he danced. I could tell that my discomfort made him feel really uncomfortable.
I couldn’t help but feel sad that he would let women objectify him and treat him no better than the bills in their hands.
I asked him one thing. If there was no money involved would he still strip at parties. He said absolutely not. Other than flashers or nudists. This is one job most would not do for free.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
BeccaBoo's avatar

I think if there wasn’t the demand, then there would not be intent to supply. Most of these clubs are full of beautiful young girls trying to fund their way through college, because regular jobs don’t pay that well and the hours suit. You go see them in 10, 15 yrs and they are the ones that have done quite well for themselves and will tell you themselves, it may have been seedy to them back in the day, but it helped get them where they are today. I want to also point out that the image of these places we see in the media, is not going to be like they really are. The girls do stick together, they like the money and it keeps them fit. They see hundreds of different guys each week and MOST hold no feelings to them, they see another guy walk in and immediately see money. And lets face it, if they have the body why not use it to make the cash if its going to help them in the long run. It’s only degrading if you are doing something that to your own personal standards you wouldn’t normally lower yourself too. Its only offensive to women if the women in question is offended by the sight of a naked woman. But judging by the responses I have had on some of my questions about the naked female form, most say that they don’t find it offensive.
I have to ask you though @Leanne1986 do you feel the same way about actress’s on the TV, because they are doing the same thing, only broadcasting to a wider audience. Taking their clothes off for money and using their bodies to simulate a sexual situation?

OpryLeigh's avatar

@BeccaBoo I can’t really answer your question as I don’t think that stripping is necessarily degrading to women (and I don’t think I have said on this post that I do) so, obviously, I don’t necessarily think that the actresses on TV are any better/worse. I think the important thing is to consider each individuals situation rather than look at it as a whole.

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