Can strip clubs empower women?

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STRIPPERS ARE GREAT; IT’S THE CLUBS THAT ARE THE PROBLEM

“I’m an exotic dancer.”

With the way strip clubs are portrayed in movies, music videos and television, hearing someone say this would have you picturing big, flashy clubs with huge stages and young, attractive crowds.

Unfortunately, for a lot of the women, the stage they dance on is often only a part of a dirty, run-down establishment with a lot of unsavory characters as customers. The night can quickly go south when a man older than your dad is demanding your attention and you don’t have much of a choice but to hold your breath and hope his stench of liquor, tobacco and body odor don’t cause you to pass out. Where’s the glamour in that?

When I say I am on the pro side of the stripping-as-a-profession argument, I am in no way saying drop out of school and go find the nearest pole to jump on.

However, I am all for people, male or female, making their own decisions with their lives and their bodies. I find it rather annoying when judgment is so quickly passed on female strippers and the word becomes synonymous with ones such as “slut” or “ho” and male strippers are just laughed off like no big deal and are often seen as comical.

The Daily Sundial previously reported on some of the dire situations some of the women are in and it brings up issues of abuse and hostility. Strippers are often insulted, and when insults aren’t being hurled at them, they are given pity. I have found that many people feel this way because they ask themselves, “What must have happened to her in her childhood?” or think, “She must have very low self-esteem” without having any knowledge of the person.

I won’t go as far as saying stripping is empowering for all women, but I will say that it takes a lot of guts to wear next to nothing (although many times it’s nothing) and prance around for strangers. A good friend of mine, Ciara, a bay area native, spent some time working at a strip club just a few years ago.

“It’s not the first thing I say to people when I meet them. I’m not like, ‘hey, I used to be a stripper!’ but I’m not ashamed of it.  It is what it is,” she said.

Ciara worked at the club for a little over a month and decided it wasn’t for her. She told me about the creepy old men that wanted the youngest women there and how little she made for enduring some gross situations. We talked about how media portrayal makes it seem like strippers are always making the big bucks, but she told me that was never the case where she was it.

“I worked the worst shifts. Six hours one night, over eight another, and still rarely making over $75-100 after giving the club their cut,”  she said.

This concept of paying the club a big portion of your earnings is not something that is new. As the previous article stated, it is common practice for clubs to take over a third of what the dancers make.

Until Sept. 2, there was one club in San Francisco called the Lusty Lady that was owned and run by the dancers themselves. They formed a union and supported their dancers unlike any other club. They even had health insurance and 401(k) plans established for employees. This club broke the mold and showed that this profession did not have to be shady and that it could work in a positive way where entertainment did not come at the expense of overworked and underpaid dancers.

Unfortunately, the club could not afford to pay the rent on the space after it climbed to $16,500 a month. The landlord was unwilling to work out an agreement out with the club owners and the business was shut down as a result.

The concept at the Lusty Lady is one that more clubs should implement. Why not provide better working environments for the dancers? Why not have the dancers themselves play a more active role in how a club should run? The negative stigma of being a stripper could start to lift away if clubs were run differently.

Obviously there are some women who are doing it because they enjoy it, not just as a last resort to make ends meet, otherwise there would be way less strippers.

I say dance for those bands if you want to, or not. The choice is yours and no one else’s.

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STRIP CLUBS ARE NO PLACE FOR WOMEN – EVEN IF THEY’RE RUN BY STRIPPERS

By Abbey Rondon

Makeup, the sexy outfits (or lack thereof), the dollar bills being thrown from across the room are things we as an audience generally associate with female strippers. However, there is so much more to it than meets the eye.

I had the opportunity to speak with Crystal, a former dancer residing in the Hollywood area.

“Yea, there are definitely some people out there that make my job more difficult than it already is. It’s like, you tell them no but they keep insisting, some men even coming back stage begging me for a private dance.”

There is a major misconception of this type of business, because in reality, it is only a job, not a ticket to sex.

“[For] most men, sex is all they are there for. They could care less if we were wearing potato sacks. They just want it,” she said.

Being a young woman myself, I find it kind of insulting that these types of businesses are still around today. How can a young woman with an entire life ahead of her be lured into such a profane business? They are objectified and looked down upon, because let’s face it, it’s generalizing all these women as nothing but kinky dancers and one night stands.

Another dancer, Jasmine, a 21-year-old Irvine resident, was in Hollywood visiting friends when I met her, and her story really spoke to me.

She said, many times the only reason men go to strip clubs is to get away from a reality at home, such as a boring wife or a tough day at work. Strippers are only seen as toys. Once men enjoy themselves for a couple of hours, they go back home to their normalcy as if they had just gone out for a drink. To them, it’s routine. It’s not a big deal.

When I asked her if she enjoyed dancing at strip clubs she said, “It’s kinda hard sometimes, I’m not going to lie.”

“For some privileged people, education and work is at their fingertips, but for people like me, the struggle is real and no one will ever understand what i go through just to get a paycheck,” Jasmine said.

Having come from a poor background and witnessing her parents’ lifelong struggle to support her and her four siblings, Jasmine went job hunting, and the only job with open doors and a decent paycheck was a strip club.

“There is a huge misconception of strip clubs. People think we’re just prostitutes and not dancers, when that is not at all how it works,” she said.

Of course many men who go to strip clubs are usually looking for a good time, whatever that means.

Unfortunately in circumstances like ones inside a strip club, clubgoers feel the need to touch a woman in places she doesn’t want to be touched. There are rules and consequences for the man who takes advantage of a dancer, but for that woman, the scar is forever implanted in her memory.

Men are not entitled to force themselves onto women, but in a business like this one, the “no” sometimes has no effect to a desperate man.

Even San Francisco’s only employee-owned strip club, Lusty Lady, which will closed its doors this month due to rising rent, is not a place Jasmine would want to work in.

“Good!” Jasmine said, happy to hear of another strip club closing its door. “Hopefully there will be more of that coming this way. I’m ready for a new job.”

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