Strip Away the Guilt

by July 27, 2012
filed under Life
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Mary J. Blige appears as the owner of a strip club in the movie “Rock of Ages.” In it, she uses the classic rock song “Any Way You Want It” to talk about what it’s like to be a stripper.

“That stage is a pedestal. When you’re up there, you’re untouchable.”

The song speaks about the power a woman can gain from captivating a man, making him drool over her, fantasize over her, want her all while he knows she is completely unattainable. However, society sees strip joints as seedy, dirty places and the women and men who perform in them as sluts, whores, losers of society and dangerous individuals with daddy issues.

But it’s nice that they bring up the empowering side. Gurls, let’s admit it: We’ve all bought a new piece of clothing based on how sexy it makes us feel. When we wear it, we feel strong and confident, like nothing can stop us. For instance, my thong.

My thong makes me feel strong. Like a warrior princess. Like no matter what obstacle I take on today, I can do it. My thong makes me feel sexy, because no one can see any panty lines. I feel like the hottest chick around. I am well aware that men look at our asses, and it makes me feel better to know that I won’t have any panty lines when they look.

You may say that means I’m a non-feministic woman, one who needs a man to feel good about herself. But I think it gives me an edge – a strength over men. As they take me at face value, I have strength underneath they can’t see.

Isn’t the point of a workout, other than toning your body and getting you healthier, to boost your confidence? Isn’t it to make you feel stronger and better about yourself? In what way is flying about, feeling as though gravity doesn’t have any control over you an un-empowering experience? Especially when you enthrall a man, having him begging for more.

Now, when people talk about doing stripping classes, for some reason they automatically think these classes involve g-strings and money flung about the room towards gyrating women. However, stripping classes are used for the physical and workout benefits. Have you ever seen a stripper and the way she moves? It’s amazing, and not unlike the feats Olympic gymnasts pull off. Can you hold yourself upside down by just your thigh muscles?

Another name for strippers is exotic dancer. They are known as dancers, and a lot of the stripping classes also refer to themselves as exotic dancing classes because of the stigma attached to stripping and strippers. Now, if I were to decide I wanted to go to a ballroom dance class to learn the rumba, a dance where your hips essentially have to be on a swivel stick, that would be seen as an intelligent use of my time. I would be seen as a forward thinker, cultured even – all because it’s got the word “ballroom” in it. But you attach the word “strip” onto it, and it becomes an unsavory act in some people’s minds.

Why? You’re not expected to dis-robe in these classes. It takes a profession that is intensely physical, just like being a ballroom dancer (if not more so, because I can’t remember the last time I saw a rumba dancer spin herself by her calves) and uses those benefits to create a demanding workout.

Personally, I see it as empowering. I recently asked the mother of a friend of mine if she would like to go to a stripping class with me. She replied, affronted, “I consider myself a feminist. And feminists don’t swing on poles.”

I guess feminists don’t like men either? Or know how to cook? Or have children? These assumptions about being a feminist or an empowered female are actually holding us back from our true potential.

I’d sure as hell love to be able to do some of the things you see strippers doing. Does it make me a snivelling woman who needs a man? Is he the one holding me up there, or the one unable to look away from my shapely bod?

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