It’s a Lap Dance. Accept It.


A professional stripper tells the truth: if you don’t want to go to a strip club, don’t go. But if you do, give yourself permission to enjoy it.

This article originally appeared at Sex and the 405.

“I hate bachelor parties,” the petite blonde in a pink bikini sitting beside me at the bar said. “I hate guys who are in here because they think they have to be in here and not because they want to be here. You’d think we were dentists asking to pull out their teeth. You don’t need local anesthesia! It’s a fucking lap dance!”

She’s not alone. When you look at stripping for what it is — a job — and consider what it’s like to have to provide any semblance of customer service to someone who doesn’t really want the product or service, you begin to get an idea of what this situation is like. Of course, when you’re working at Best Buy, you don’t often encounter people who don’t really want to be there. They might be indecisive about the gadgets they’re looking at, but it’s not often that you’re going to encounter someone with a pained expression on their face because they just don’t want to be there. The closest comparison I can come up with is the telemarketer. Most people hate them. I respect them.

When “civilians” think of strip clubs, they imagine exuberant expressions on the faces of the men who frequent them. I wish that were the case. It’s not. The bachelor party, which has turned the strip club into a requirement, is a prime example. Some embrace it as a good reason as any to let loose, but a percentage seem to enter with shame, embarrassment, resentment, irritation, and — the worst — that breed of “understanding” that is closer to pity than anything a guy might have picked up in a gender studies class at some point during their undergrad years.

Case in point: this piece by Nathan Graziano at The Good Men Project:

I’m humiliated by the fact that this woman is being paid to feign interest in me — if they even bother to feign it — only for the duration of Aerosmith’s “Angel.”

I also become hyper-conscious of the power dynamic at work. On one hand, the dancer is being paid for a service, which makes her in some way indentured to the man. And there’s always the arguable point that it objectifies and denigrates the woman, thus giving the man the upper hand.

However, like an actress, the dancer only has to play the role of temptress for a limited amount of time. And while the male is clearly attracted to her and contriving absurd scenarios where the dancer might actually sleep with him, the female is dividing numbers in her head — “Forty dollars for four minutes is ten bucks a minute, which makes six cents a second to sit on this chump’s lap.”

I wonder whether anyone who walks into a Starbucks worries for a moment about whether the barista is being denigrated, standing there hour after hour for minimum wage, smiling and being nice no matter how impatient and obsessive compulsive the customer acts about his soy latte. The barista is not indentured to the costumer, even if she knows that being very accommodating will score her some cash in the tip jar. “The customer is always right!” is not something any manager has ever said at a strip club I’ve set foot in. Ever. Even the high rollers in the champagne room. And if they tried to pull something like that on me or any dancer I know, they’d be on their knees in front of a lawyer before the DJ could even think of putting on Aerosmith.

Mind you, it does happen. But combating abuses in the industry requires something completely different than pitying looks. It requires organization and a stance against a society that refuses to see sex work as a legitimate thing, and the people within that industry as workers who deserve rights like anyone else who has a job.

But I know what Graziano is talking about. When I was dancing, I would often encounter this sort of man. I will never forget one occasion — a man had spent several minutes griping about his job; he hated the schedule, he hated his clients, he hated the paperwork, he was bored, he was tired, and so on. I navigated the conversation away from all the things he hated by asking what he loved to do. We spent several more minutes discussing his love of sailing and the fact he hadn’t spent any time on his boat in the past couple of years.

“You have the power to change that, you know,” I said. “When was the last time you took a vacation or personal day?”

“I don’t even know,” he responded.

“Why not do it? What, exactly, is stopping you?”

He paused for a moment, then smiled. “You’re really something, you know. I can’t believe I am having this conversation at a goddamn strip club. You’re right! I need to just take some time off, just go out to the water.”

He laughed and looked around.

“What are you doing here?” he asked. “This is not who you are.”

“‘This’ meaning a strip club?” I asked. “I’m not a strip club any more than you are your office.”

“I mean, you are doing something more than this, right?” he asked. “This isn’t the last stop for you, right? You are so much more than this.”

“I do a lot of things. The last stop is death. And yes, I am much more than any job I hold,” I answered his questions with mild irritation. Before it could overcome me, I switched tracks: “Have you ever been to Starbucks?”

“Yeah?” he responded, slightly uncertain.

“Ever met a barista who’s really nice?”


“Have you ever told her, after some conversation, that she is so much more than her job, that you hope she is going places, that what she does is beneath her?”

He didn’t respond.

“What would you do if I walked into your office, looked down my nose at you and said, ‘I don’t really know you, but you can do so much better. I’m just a client, but I know how this works better than you and I think this shit is beneath you. Anyway, here is some money, now get me my project specs.’ Does that sound motivating to you?”


“So why are you saying it to me?” I asked. “I stand to make six figures a year if I work really hard. But I don’t work hard. I work sporadically. I choose my own hours. I don’t dance for anyone I don’t want to dance for. I come in whenever I want and leave whenever I want. I meet really interesting people. I connect with them, I share a moment. It’s not just a song; it’s a moment we’re having that we’ll never get back. It may change everything or become just one more vignette in the carnival of experience. You never know. That’s the best part. Sure, I get up on that stage and take off my top. You think that’s demeaning? I think it’s beautiful. This is my body, and I love it and respect it the same way I love and respect my brain, which I also gyrate for a price. I think the only differences between you and me are the way we file taxes, the health benefits, the ready-made retirement plan and the fact I don’t have to take it in the ass from my boss because I am my boss.”

“When you put it that way, your job sounds better than mine.”

“It’s not a contest,” I said. “Work is work. We do what we gotta do in the hopes we’ll have a shot at doing what we wanna do, whether that has anything to do with a career or not.”

Understandably, there is some degree of privilege in my experience. I was dancing by choice, not circumstance. Many women in the industry dance because their circumstances limit their options. But that’s not much different than having to take a retail or waitressing gig. How many people do that because they want to? Why do we honor their choices and call them hard-working but deny sex workers the same right? Why are baristas and attorneys and engineers allowed to whine about hating their jobs while sex workers are questioned about their choices every time they have the audacity to complain about theirs?

Everyone has great days and bad days at work. Everyone lives through workplace situations that are difficult. Everyone has moments of recognition and empowerment and days that make them simply want to bash their heads into the nearest surface. No one questions the barista, the manager, the editor, the programmer about their choices. No one says they’re letting themselves be exploited. No one walks into their workplaces with pity in their eyes or feels resentment because they have to pay to receive a good or service. Most people pride themselves on tipping their waiter decently!

And yet, if you are not fully dressed, it doesn’t matter if you speak seven languages, kick ass on World of Warcraft, are working on a book, paying your way through law school, supporting your kids, saving your mortgage, or planning to take the next year off to travel the world. You are no more than a stripper and you can do so much better.

Looking at me as a human doesn’t mean feeling sorry for me because I am sitting there, topless. It means realizing that I, just like you, am a multidimensional being who has likes and dislikes, boundaries, ideas, emotions, and dreams. Like you, I am more than the job you see me doing, this one tiny facet of a life that is filled with an incredible array of things no one else will ever truly grasp. Like you, I shouldn’t have to justify why I am doing what I am doing to everyone who walks in the door. Just let me do my job the same way I would let you do yours if I were to walk into your office.

And just what is my job? My job is reading you. It’s determining whether you want me to help you bring out what’s preoccupying you to pick apart, or distract you from that reality. My job is catalyzed in flesh, yes, but really, I’m trafficking in intimacy. There’s something beautiful in those moments shared between strangers who have, beyond the briefest transaction, no obligations toward one another beyond three minutes — or thirty, or an hour, or three hours.

I’m not here counting how many cents I am making every second I sit on your lap. I’m not here to make you believe I desire you. I’m here to make a moment. Take that moment. It belongs to you.


Photo— courtesy Jessica Janson

About A.V. Flox

AV Flox writes about Love & Sex, a lot, often as the section editor of Love & Sex on BlogHer. You can connect with her on Twitter @avflox, Google Plus+AV Flox, or read what she's reading on Tumblr.


  1. Alan Swather says:

    A lap dance with a beautiful girl is great. Try 3 at once. But your money is much better spent on a prostitute. If you are a high roller with money to burn you can get lucky with a stripper otherwise save your money. Problem with a lap dance there is no release, at least most of time.

  2. Alternate says:

    This article is insulting.

    “Work is work.” – What? What about hired killers? Pirates? Human traffickers? Are you sure that you will have nothing to say against them?

    Or how about a NASA scientist? Or a farmer? or a cancer surgeon? Could you really say that your job has done the society great good like theirs?

    Really! Justification, excuses, rationalizing… and pitiful arguments. The stripper is just using the same excuses a 10 year old makes for playing computer games.

    Hmmm, this is featured content.

    • AppleSauce says:

      The article is insulting because you are unaware of your own blatant insecurities when it comes to stripping and strippers.

  3. @Two : I dated a stripper once and I loved the honesty and overall unpreteniousness she embodied. I find women who admit to their own lust,to their own desire’s and know their own biology, to be far easier to understand and get along with. In my view,one reason, which hasn’t been introduced, that explans why so many women loose interest in having sex with their men, is boredom.

  4. The Wet One says:

    For the record, I enjoyed my days at the strip club. Learned a lot and saw tons of great looking women. Enjoyed many wonderful lap dances and many unforgettable moments. Also learned how to talk to women there for the first time and got over my fear of them.

    I also learned that the real victims of strip clubs were the patrons. They were the prey. Eventually, I left to move on to richer pastures, but it was a fine beginning to enjoying the company of women and hearing what they had to say. Probably didn’t have to learn these skills at the club, but I had to learn it somewhere.

    Tip of the hat to the ladies on the pole! May their right to live their lives as they wish ever be protected and may their freedom ring out.

  5. This article is maddening!
    It’s one thing to say, if you’re in a strip club, you’re a chump; just don’t act like a chump.
    But it’s another thing to say that stripping is a job just like any other. Leaning on a pole with your vulva exposed isn’t quite like being a U.S. Supreme Court justice, now is it?
    Don’t pity, don’t judge, don’t condescend, don’t assume—fine, whatever. But don’t make any distinctions? Come on now.

    • wellokaythen says:

      You’re right. Supreme Court justices serve for life, while pole dancing tends to demand a youthful athleticism.

      No reason why one can’t occasionally pretend to be the other, of course….

    • AppleSauce says:

      Mike, if a person is getting paid to do something, it’s a job, end of story. And whether you like it or not you ARE judging and being condescending. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be so concerned with exposed body parts or how much of a “worthy” job stripping is.

  6. Booster Blake says:

    Great piece. I especially liked this line:
    “Work is work. We do what we gotta do in the hopes we’ll have a shot at doing what we wanna do, whether that has anything to do with a career or not.”

    Some of my favorite people have been strippers. Smart, savvy, and real. I love the no bullshit tone of this writing and the challenge to clients to bring some awareness to what they’re engaging. However, in my experience I don’t expect a stripper to truly be present with me, she is working afterall and plenty of ladies are completely checked out while performing, but when I do encounter one that’s truly present,ugh! Such a treat!

    Thanks for your grit and wisdom. Keep up the good work and challenging us men to bring our best game.

  7. Men pay for sex in a variety of ways, always have. Prostitution, going to sex clubs is just more is just more up front.

    • wellokaythen says:

      I couldn’t help but notice these two comments juxtaposed right next to each other:

      “Men pay for sex in a variety of ways, always have.” — ogwriter


      “I can cook my wife a nice dinner and pick up a bouquet of flowers for the same cost as a decent lapdance, the difference is my wife will be giving me the “lapdance” out of a true appreciation for the man I am, not the dollars I possess.” — Jon D

      Ogwriter, are you referring to what Jon D mentioned in his post? It sounds like an example of what you’re talking about.

      I guess the question is the difference between a home-cooked dinner with flowers and a cash payment. Obviously there is a real difference, but is it really a black and white difference? Two different kinds of exchanges, but exchanges nonetheless.

  8. I am one of those men who are uncomfortable in strip clubs. I don’t go on my own, I don’t enjoy going when a friend suggests it, and I’ve been to a few bachelor parties and not enjoyed the strippers very much. It is not because I have a problem with what they do, their job or sex work in general. I honestly do not judge any woman who chooses this job. It just kind of makes me sad for myself to be paying another person for contact, fake intimacy and sexual attention. I would always support a woman to feel her body is beautiful and be comfortable being naked and sexual with me and to be confident in her femininity and to desire a shared connection of real intimacy. But I know that the attention a stripper gives extends briefly, superficially, and only to the extent that I am willing to pay. I can cook my wife a nice dinner and pick up a bouquet of flowers for the same cost as a decent lapdance, the difference is my wife will be giving me the “lapdance” out of a true appreciation for the man I am, not the dollars I possess.

  9. It’s been years since I’ve been, but if I buy a lap dance my only problem is it feels like going to the movies and leaving after the previews.

  10. wellokaythen says:

    I’d like to look at this from a very different angle. How about we talk about the fact that this unhappy guy is going to the club just because that’s where the bachelor party was? That sounds like there’s something fundamentally not working here. If going to a strip club makes me deeply uncomfortable, then I would strongly consider not going to that bachelor party. I realize the article is by a stripper who wants to keep business coming in and wants you to be comfortable, but I can imagine another suggestion: if you don’t want to see strippers, don’t go to a strip club. Perhaps we men need to talk about what the bachelor party is supposed to mean, and why we do things we don’t like just to fit in with a certain crowd of people. This seems to be an issue about peer pressure as much as the nature of sex work.

    Besides, not everyone enjoys himself the same way. Of course strippers have to learn quickly how to be good readers of body language. But, don’t assume that just because he’s not smiling that he’s not enjoying himself. Don’t assume that everyone who enjoys a lap dance behaves exactly the same way. He may have something of a poker face because he’s enjoying the lap dance and concentrating on something else. I’ve actually never gotten a lap dance, but I imagine I would have to keep reminding myself what the rules are what I get to do during it. It might take concentration for me to express all my enjoyment only through the expression on my face….

    • I know a lot of guys where going to see strippers are just not their thing let alone lap dances. Roller coasters are just not my thing and it doesn’t matter how many times I hop on one out of social obligation it will never suddenly become my thing. I’m not going to enthusiastically hop on and get all giddy about it but may get on with minimal complaint and pretend to be interested.

      I know for the ladies I’ve been around for bachelorette parties the half naked man thing was their thing. It’s not my thing but as a group I was outvoted pretty much every time and half naked men where the thing of the evening. I may be wrong but I imagine maybe that’s how the bachelor party options are decided upon. I know bunches of men who didn’t step foot in a strip club for their party but their friend groups tend to not be into them in general so they probably made a decision away from that.

      I don’t like the notion that the man is just supposed to sit back and enjoy a lap dance. There could be any number of reasons why a man doesn’t enjoy a lap dance. I know some who were raped by women who really don’t enjoy the power differential with the stripper in that situation. I know some who were molested who aren’t ok with the lack of power in that situation. I know some men who just feel very uncomfortable because they’re married or have girlfriends and while looking is ok that level of contact is not. It would be great if all men enjoyed a lap dance or everyone in the party agreed that it was good idea but at the end of the day some men are simply at those clubs out of social obligation and nothing more. And they have the right not be forced to enjoy a lap dance.

      • And some men may not like the idea that they are paying a woman to fake that kind of interest in them. I think that makes some people uncomfortable, it’s not right or wrong to feel that way about it.

        It’s one reason I don’t like getting massages — I’m paying a stranger to get all up close and personal with my body, albeit in a non-sexual way in that case, but it still makes me feel weird. I feel kind of the same way about having my teeth cleaned and other things of that nature.

        • “And some men may not like the idea that they are paying a woman to fake that kind of interest in them. I think that makes some people uncomfortable, it’s not right or wrong to feel that way about it.”

          I kind of get that, Sarah. I don’t like it when waiters and waitresses or customer service people are too nice to me, because it always seems fake and to get a better tip and for pay. They don’t really care how my day is going and although they might like my blouse–I doubt they would have mentioned it if money wasn’t on the line. It’s obviously not a sexual thing, but it’s just not for all people. Some people love it, others don’t. Neither is wrong.

          • yeah I hate the fake niceness! Pretending to like me because I’m your customer is patronizing to ME because I know it’s fake. Just be professional and polite and I’mm be fine. No need to pretend you are interested in how my day is going.

        • wellokaythen says:

          Another possibility — he might be interested in a lap dance but be turned off by the options available. With all due respect to the hardworking women doing their jobs, maybe it’s you and not him…..

  11. I may be nothing more than some random commentator on the net to be passed over and forgotten, but all the same reading this has made my my day all the happier. Good luck. Thank you.

  12. To those commenting on the sex trafficking, I direct you to this paragraph in the article: “Mind you, it does happen. But combating abuses in the industry requires something completely different than pitying looks. It requires organization and a stance against a society that refuses to see sex work as a legitimate thing, and the people within that industry as workers who deserve rights like anyone else who has a job.”

    When sex workers are given the same status, rights and protections as any other worker in any other industry, more resources can be put towards preventing sex trafficking and other crimes. So if sex trafficking at strip clubs bothers you, don’t just say “Avoid the strip clubs.” Advocate for the rights and safety of those who choose to work there.

  13. Why the removal of comments about sex trafficking? Disappointed that such a major issue is being censored here.

    • Are there any places where there is very little sex-trafficking going on? Also do you have any stats on Australia?

  14. Sex trafficking and underage girls in the sex industry/strip clubs is a HUGE, HUGE issue. In fact, sadly it’s the fastest growing global issue, thanks to johns and strip club patrons. It’s a major problem right here in AMERICA. Atlantic City, Detroit, NYC, are all major sex trafficking hubs. If you have a heart and decency, educate yourself and stay out of strip clubs, people. It’s not worth it. Not even for bachelor parties.
    New Jersey is crossroads in sordid work of human trafficking:

    New Jersey a hub for human trafficking and sex trade:

    Gallagher’s strip club caught up in human trafficking operation:

    Sex slaves, human trafficking … in America? :

    Human trafficking, drug activity at Treasures strip club, alleged by prosecutors:

    National Statistics

    • I often encounter similar comments about crimes and abuses in the sex industry, but they always just stop dead at presenting the stats. No recommended actions for customers to take, no constructive ideas for solving the problem, just “This Is Bad.”

      Well, what can we do with that information? Where’s the hotline to call if you find out your sex worker is being abused or might be underage? Where’s the certification and rating system to ensure that you’re patronizing only reputable agencies? Where’s the link to “adults only escorts, guaranteed voluntary”?

      Too often, it sounds like those presenting the statistics on the exploitation of minors are hoping that the entire industry will just go away. How about something more productive and concrete for a change?

      • I would throw this back on the sex workers to a point. If making the industry more user friendly, less stigmatized etc. where is their positive press. When I go to female based strip clubs I poll all sorts of ladies I know about where the reputable ones that treat their employees right are. That’s a lot of work for me to go through to find one that doesn’t take all the money from the ladies at the end of the night let alone any other abuses. Makes me less likely to go to them in general. I don’t want the industry shut down.

        What I want is for the sex workers who are there willingly and who recognize the flaws in the industry to step up, organize themselves, and present me (the consumer) with the good options. Give me a website where I can find the reputable places, show me a sticker on the door signaling that it’s a certified (or whatever) place.

        The statistics and reality are there. For many of us the easiest answer is not hand over our money to people will victimize other people because we can’t differentiate the good from the bad because they look exactly the same.

        It’s like any other industry. If the workers want to be taken seriously and their job taken serious then they must first take themselves seriously and take some ownership of their job and the goods and bads with it. Until then there’s not a whole the general public can do to help.

  15. I went to a bachelorette party with male strippers. It just wasn’t my thing and I was not remotely excited to be there. I was there for the friend celebrating not because I wanted to have someone’s crotch wiggled in my face. I would be there are quite a few guys that go to the strip club bachelor party out of obligation to their friends not because they want to be there.

    I support a woman’s right to work where ever she wants to but I don’t support the notion that people should come excited to use her choice to their advantage. Some people just aren’t all that into it. And that’s ok.

    I too get hung up on the human trafficking issue since that has been a problem in the local clubs here. I also get really hung up on the under age girl issue (another problem at the clubs around here). I’m also not into supporting ladies continue on the downward spiral in their drug addiction (another problem here in the clubs). I fully support adult women make the choice to go into this as a job and that’s fine but all those thoughts cross my mind going into a strip club with females as the main act. It’s a sad but real reality in the sex industry. I can ignore and pretend it’s all good but it’s not. And if I hadn’t worked with so many ladies first hand who had those issues I probably wouldn’t give that any thought when considering strip clubs. So no, while I enjoy sexuality, I don’t usually enjoy the club experience.

  16. Quadruple A says:

    Theoretically the guys in strip clubs should look just a little bit happier. Theoretically the woman should seem just a little bit more genuinely slutty or at least seem more sexual than the average person. But when I go to strip clubs I usually feel a cynical vibe that’s makes me to not want to come back.

  17. I totally respect your choice to be a stripper, but, honestly, personally I do feel kind of bad that the barrista at Starbucks has to serve me, pretend to enjoy it and pretend to be happy when I drop 50 cents in the tip jar. I hope she will eventually do better things with her life. I hope you will have something else to do when stripping runs out because I assume strippers have a short life span in the industry. You are paid for your sex appeal and that won’t last past what, 35?, and after that, the guys you’ve been dancing for won’t give you the time of day. To me, that seems kind of sad but I guess it is the same for models and actresses and anyone else whose job depends on their physical appearance.

    • This attitude is similarly irritating. It’s none of your business what I do afterwards. Have you ever thought that maybe the girl IS preparing for the future? Saving/studying/training/has another job. Maybe she is a family woman. Some men assume this attitude without even thinking the stripping might be the side thing. A means to an end e.g. saving for a house.

      However I don’t want to act like strippers’ choices are only valid if they are planning this stuff, I just think people should keep their nose out- just because it involves female bodies/sexuality they feel they have a say (surprise surprise!). Do you ask every person in a dead end job if they are planning for the future? What about people who pursue careers they don’t like, then wind up stressed and unhappy after decades of toil. Is that better than doing something you may have to leave by age 40 (assuming, I would guess incorrectly, that most dancers dance until this age)? Many people change fields completely before this age. Many women don’t return to work after starting a family. Why do you expect strippers to have a full life plan (which only concerns work)?

      Sorry to rant, many customers have taken this view. Your point about models is a good one. I can only attribute this to society treating female sexuality differently.

      I don’t like the 180 society has taken from expecting women to aim to marry well, to expecting them to be pursuing a [non-adult industry] career. I have only really experienced this attitude in force in the strip club, though there is some disappproval among people I know if a woman chooses to be a housewife and leave her career. People must remember life is about more than work, stripper or no.

      • I wonder if people ask that question to those in the army?

      • I worked in low wage, service jobs when I was young. I had retail jobs, I worked as a temp in offices, etc. I didn’t like the poor pay, the lack of respect, the absence of benefits and the crappy working conditions. I didn’t like being a servant to other people and being treated as such. I don’t think it is wrong of me to have a little empathy for people in those jobs from my position now as an older person with more money and options. (One thing I will say about stripping, it may pay better than making copies in the basement of a law firm.) I also hope that college athletes are planning for other career options in case they get injured or don’t get picked up for a career team. I think it’s weird that you are offended that a man in the club who apparently likes you as a person, instead of a pair of t!ts, hopes that you don’t end up in a bad place eventually.

        • But would you ask a sportsperson after having just met them and made a few lines of smalltalk? Maybe it grates on me more because it comes up very often, but it’s annoying because they just come right out and ask about it early on. It strikes me as rude (“oh hey i just met you but what’s your life plan in 20 years you can’t do this forever!?”). Assumptive (what, I’ll dance for another 18 years and then be in a pickle as, oops silly me! i spent all my money on shoes and bags). If I were a model and someone I didn’t really know asked this without prompt, I would be offended that they assumed I wouldn’t be successful enough to be very well off at the end of the career.

          If we are having a conversation which naturally leads to this sort of topic, and there is give and take, it is ok. I wouldn’t welcome ‘concern’ unless I’d indicated some sort of worry on my part.

          And I don’t care whether they care for me as a person or bewbs, I’m not making friends, the latter usually makes work more straightforward! 😀

          Anyway, great article, moral for me is don’t judge others [by their jobs]!

          • wellokaythen says:

            I can also imagine a woman in that situation being annoyed that some guy is taking up her time for free, when she could otherwise be with another customer and actually making money. That seems doubly obnoxious, to give you a lecture about your life without paying for your time.

            If he’s so concerned about exploiting a woman working there, if he’s really concerned about her financial future, then he can pay the cost of a lapdance and get a conversation instead. Funny how the concern for the stripper’s future stops short of opening the wallet…..

  18. This was wonderful. Thank you for opening my mind.

  19. Wahahahaha. The man has power when he’s PAYING to receive a lapdance? HAhahahahah best thing I’ve read all day. How clueless can some people be?

    The only issue I have going into a strip club is wondering if the sex trafficking I hear about goes on at that club. If I know the workers are fully safe, there of their own free will then I can enjoy it but I have this fear that they may have been coerced or forced into the job somehow. Am I listening too much to the propaganda from anti-sex worker activists or should I be mindful of this stuff? Is there a way to find out a place is 100% legit and no exploitation is going on?

    • Archy, what? How does the man with money not have any power? And of course you should be mindful of this stuff. The dancers are human beings and if they are truly there of their own free will, go for it. But if not, that’s not cool in any way.

      • The lapdancer provides a service for money, a very desired service that many people can get in relationships, the power largely swings into the lapdancers favour. His power is limited to the cash he has, he’s still having to pay for the service. What power does someone have in having to pay for a service? He is basically buying/renting time, affection, etc from the lapdancer.

        • I suppose it all depends on if you view people having money to buy services that they desire as having power. If the lapdancer is in a respected work position (gets benefits, is treated well by society rather than shunned, is safe, is not coerced, is not using the work as a last resort), then perhaps she has more power over him.
          If you go to get your hair cut, you pay someone to cut your hair. You choose who you want to work for you, you give them instructions on how you want your hair. If they don’t do a good job, you complain to their boss and can even refuse to pay. The hairdresser is generally the one being employed, unless they are a famous hairdresser and are choosing clients.
          What I find really interesting is that there are schools of thought that say the purchaser has the power, and then there are schools of thought that says the one with the most desire (needing to fulfill it) has the least power.
          This is a huge division in the discussion.
          Many of the former school of thought would say purchasing a person to provide sexual services is problematic to begin with and creates alienation between customer and worker, and demeans the sexual act itself. I’m not sure that’s true, but unless you can be certain that person is there of their own free will and happy about it (as much as anyone is at a job-not trafficked, using the money to support a habit, has other options for work and support), then I see there being a huge power differential with the power being weighted towards those with the money that the dancer needs for her needs.
          I don’t suppose anyone here would agree.
          I think that it’s a power exchange that is fraught and extremely difficult for both parties, socially, economically, culturally and probably emotionally.

          • Quadruple A says:

            What I felt that made me feel uncomfortable about being in a strip club was that my sexuality and desire were being honored, instead it felt more as if I was a means to an end. . I felt “objectified” and I know that is the reverse of I’m supposed to feel. Society does not place a great deal of honor and value on male sexuality it isn’t surprising that a strip club would be like that even though its wrong. I think if they felt comfortable with what they are doing they wouldn’t feel the need to “objectify” me in an act of reverse objectification. So its as if they are saying look your objectifying me so I get to objectify you. I don’t see any reason why there needs to be a “power” exchange that is any different than any other form of exchange. I think that the “power exchange” aspect derives from the belief that male sexuality is dirty. And then people wander why not every guy is comfortable with a lap dance.

            • Thanks for this. It’s an exchange of sex and money, and as such I’m not sure anyone gets honored nor is anyone’s sexuality treated as “clean” and wholesome. The women (if they are women) who provide the sex work are often treated very badly by other members of society (ie “would you want your daughter to be a stripper!!!???”) and yes, the men are made to feel bad as well.

              That’s not even beginning to touch on club ownership, money issues, and subsequent corruption that can (but does not always) happen.

              • Quadruple A says:

                I would not necessarily be against my daughter being a stripper. Why should that be anything less than an honorable profession? I had a friend tell me about how a stripper allowed him to touch her breasts. It was obvious that it really meant a lot for him. Another friend told me about his experience with an hour long private dance- and how now he thinks he is in love with her. I told him that strippers often toy with with their clients but he simply would not believe me. Obviously she meant more to him than he meant anything to her. Just because society does not always treat strippers with respect doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t- but respect goes both ways. We should not pretend that strippers don’t provide meaningful experiences for men because it is obvious that they do and treating men like they don’t have meaningful needs and desire which are met in strip clubs is immoral and based on harmful prejudices which degrade men and undermine their dignity in observable and profound ways.

                • You misunderstand me. I do indeed believe that sex workers can and do honorable and respectful work. But society at large does not and thus creates systems which are less than healthy. And because of that both men and women’s sexuality gets demonized.

                  • Quadruple A says:

                    In a sense saying that society at large does not respect sex workers obscures is not the full truth because it is part of that unconscious belief that we should not acknowledge the meaningfulness of sex work for men.

                    At the same time we feel that we should be conscious of the way female sex workers are denigrated. But the absurdity of this is that it obscures an unconscious belief that it more important to be aware of how female sexuality is denigrated more than male sexuality.

                    Where does this peculiar irony come from? I think it comes from the unconscious belief that men need women to complete them. We refuse to see male sexuality because we believe that female sexuality more abused, more denigrated, and thus all the more important to acknowledge and defend. That doesn’t mean that female sexuality isn’t denigrated but it does mean that we seem to acknowledge one genders denigration more than the other.

                  • It sounds to me like the role a Gueixa has for japanese men.

                    It is a business, but in the last decades western culture tries to input a romantic view in sex with love, and everything that is against this view nowaday is demonized in every level in our society, and a male guilty naturally comes, because it is against our primitive nature.

                    I am also not feel comfortable with hiring a woman to satisfy my sexual desires. Decades of been trained that is wrong to use a woman as a sexual object is hard to take it alway – think of it, and it is not a mental command that will change it, it is a cultural paradigm right now in western countries.

                    • Is hiring a prostitute or paying for a lapdance really turning her into a sexual object, or is it 2 humans making a transaction? Did I objectify the woman who cut my hair the other day or the electrician who fixed the house’s electrics? One could say his only worth to me was fixing stuff, but I still see them all as human and not objects.

          • Difference is a hairdresser doesn’t have a bouncer. There have been times where a stripper has inserted objects into men against their consent, groped them n far more but if the customer tried that, bam see ya later and they can leave with a few bruises (though it shouldn’t be happening anymore, I heard of plenty of bouncers who’d beat the shit out of gropers).

            Sexuality is a HUGE amount of power, and getting men to actually pay for sexuality is a huge amount of power in itself. To me having power would mean you don’t need to spend money to get a lapdance, otherwise you’re simply like everyone else. Having shitloads of money gives power in other areas, but in the stripclub? I just don’t see it.

            • I won’t argue with you. I see this very differently and it’s the kind of conversation that actually (in my opinion) requires being in person to ask and clarify and etc.

              Ultimately, I see purchasing another person’s body for sexual gratification as an act of power over that person. If the strippers were unionized, had health insurance, were seen culturally as respected members of society (ie you’d be happy if your daughter or son grew up to be a sex worker/stripper and it was encouraged) instead of being a potential last resort for money job, then perhaps I’d see exchange of money for sex as more noble.

              As it stands today, culturally, it is not that scenario and as such, sex workers don’t often have the safety or respect to be treated well in the work place, access to police should there be problems and yes, they may as well treat their customers very badly.

              All in all, I see it as a particularly fraught situation.

              You may be viewing sexual and monetary power as the same thing. I’m not.

              • Actually, I do think that the exchange can work well, just that it doesn’t currently. Until all workers have the safety and autonomy that they deserve we’ll have problems.

              • But is there not also power in being able to use your body to gain financially? This is something that is heavily female dominated, women can use their body, their sexuality in order to bring in money. There is power in that. A man is buying the service because he can’t get the service through any other means with that particular woman, the extreme of this is prostitution where most commonly it’s a man paying a woman where she wouldn’t sleep with him via other methods such as dating.

                Is it that hard to understand that having the ability to make money just by being naked is a potential privilege even? Very few men can be paid for getting their clothes off, far more women can do it. The market of potential male customers is much larger, there is a lot of financial gain to be made from that. If you look at mining towns in Australia you’ll see fly in fly out strippers who make quite A LOT of money because they successfully use their sexuality with men who have been away from cities (and away from women mostly since there are very few women there), they’re cashed up, haven’t seen a woman in ages and many spend quite big just to see a nude woman. The amount of money they can make is far greater than most other jobs, the hourly rate is much higher than most other people could get.

                There are negatives involved like all industries, but when you can earn up to 5k apparently for a weeks work in those mining towns when the others there are earning about 1-2k a week for 12hour shift, 7days on + type work….that’s quite a huge difference in earning potential. To me that is power, having sexual power so high that people PAY to see you.

                • I’m not even sure how to respond to this. It is not any privilege that I want to know I can make money by selling my body, especially when it’s illegal to do so and especially when if I do so, and am known for it, I will be (likely) unable to get other employment because of said actions.

                  You make it sound like it’s all fun and games and wheee! 5K! And perhaps some of the ladies making the money are happy about it. And perhaps for some it’s soul killing and it’s just what they have at hand.

                  I don’t get it Archy. I really don’t.

                  It’s a privilege for me to be able to use my mind and my skills and be treated respectfully.
                  In current culture, in America at least, sex work is not considered a respectable line of work for anyone. It could be, but it isn’t. And the people are treated accordingly.

                  But men want to buy sex. Some women too. And thus people will find a way to sell and buy it, and I find the framing really problematic from a human perspective.

                  Of course. I find a lot of other work problematic as well.

                  • Who said you have to like all the privileges though? Men have privilege in accessibility to all areas of the armed forces, what’s the negative that comes with that? Pretty much the majority of conscripted people are/have been men.

                    Stripping isn’t illegal here, nor is prostitution. I don’t think prostitution is fun n games but I do think stripping is a job, and like all jobs there are positives n negatives. Less respect but high income, switch to the men’s jobs in that area and you have less money, no real difference in respect, much higher risk of injury or death (and probably violence too considering the drinking culture there).

                    I’m talking mainly of stripping though, maybe I didn’t explain it well enough. Strippers are making 5k a week, even in the cities I see reports of 5-800 a night and it’s a common method to pay for university apparently. Sex workers/prostitution is a different kettle of fish and I’m not sure what they get in the mining areas, I’d guess it’s far more than they can get where I live where the average income is 2-3x less.

                    We sell ourselves everyday at work though, our hands to craft stuff, our minds to communicate and design stuff/whatever, but selling our sexuality is seen as worse which makes me raise an eyebrow. There are jobs with a very high level of risk which I’d say are far worse for me as a job than prostitution, I think I’d rather be a male sex worker than a soldier especially front-line combat soldier. I guess it depends on what you find acceptable for yourself. Which is better, work in a coal mine underground with high level of risk, or sleep with people for money? For me I’d be leaning towards wanting to be an escort, underground mines scare the living shit out of me:P

                  • A miner is renting his body and mind same as a lap-dancer does, he adds the risk of dying horribly and makes much less for it. If society stopped denigrating sex workers maybe the job wouldn’t hold such a dangerous, to the dancer negative stigma.

                    • Hey, I’m a feminist and pro legalization of sex work. I’m not at all against it, only pointing out what’s going on in the US at this time, culturally etc. I think miners need unions respect and yes more money, etc and all that. In fact, there were reforms done in the past in the US to improve conditions, reforms that have been deteriorating over time. For instance kids were used for human labor and now are not. It’s not a socially or legally sanctioned thing to do.
                      In our (US) culture * at this time * using our bodies for sex is not a socially or legally sanctioned activity (whether or not it should be is not my point, though a great discussion) due to religion etc and so forth.
                      Some of this gets into economic theory that I don’t feel well read enough to remark upon, like are bodies all tools to be utilized for currency or is there something sacrosanct about labor or the human body.
                      There are indeed people who see sex labor as different than labor. Giving a penetrative sexual act to someone (including pretending that you enjoy it) you don’t know or don’t find appealing may or may not have a particularly intense impact on the mental state of the actor.
                      My only hope is that workers would be paid well, protected from harm, freely able to participate outside of coercion, and ultimately be able to receive benefit from their work. I’d love it if clients chose workers based on those parameters, but then I’m not naive enough to believe anyone goes that far for any worker currently, sex or not.

    • Anthony Deluca says:

      The vast, vast majority of strippers at a normal American strip club were not trafficked.


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