STRIPPING DOWN STRIPPING!

Here's an excerpt (below) from an interesting piece about the profession of stripping, called "My Life In a G-String: A Round Up of Stripper Memoirs," by Katie Roiphe.

Katie focuses on how so many of the so-called inside looks into the world of stripping via "memoirs" by strippers, all sound the same, but she doesn't offer any insight or analysis of what she is documenting, although some things are clearly implied. Denial, for one thing. And a masochistic/psychopathic character structure combination, often with an overlay of narcissism, and an underpinning of sexual abuse in childhood, be it overt or subtle. In other words, stripping is not about what it seems to be about, and it certainly isn't about sex or sensuality or economics.

Woah! What does that mean, PL?

Well, it means in simplest terms, that no one becomes a stripper "just for the money," and that stripping, contrary to what some of the memoirs suggest, is as far from being a "feminist act of empowerment" as being Vanna White turning letters on Wheel of Fortune once was. The world of stripping isn't even one of high level voyeurism or exhibitionism. Only the most immature and disconnected from their own sexuality would find pole dancing by women in thongs for money anything but tedious and boring, if not downright sad and pathetic.

I love sex. And the revealing of oneself is a very sensual part of the experience. Likewise, watching your partner in love,Eros and sex undress in front of you is hot. Sitting at a table at "Scores," with a bunch of indiscriminately horny men seeking to control and exploit the women who are seeking to control and exploit them, is not hot.

Anyway, here's Katie:

"Are all naked women pretty much the same? Reading stripper memoirs would lead one to think so. It is a surprisingly rigid genre, with a set of rules and conventions as strict as those of sonnets or villanelles. These memoirs vary in tone, from Ruth Fowler, in Girl, Undressed, who writes like Sylvia Plath without the talent (“The bruise of men’s kisses has stained our breasts like crushed berries, fading gently into the sickly olive of a memory”) or Diablo Cody, of Juno fame, in Candy Girl, who writes like a grown-up Eloise at the Plaza (“Bossy bottoms absolutely slay me”), but they do tend to follow a surprisingly predictable form. You would think the subject would have a certain voyeuristic frisson, but something about stripping lends itself to cliché and obviousness, to the literary equivalent of fake breasts and caked mascara and silver thongs.
"It is puzzling that such promising and prurient subject matter would lead to such flat books. This stylized form of sexuality seems to lend itself to cliché. In all of these memoirs, there is something false in the revelation and mechanical in the execution, that is—if we take the word of these bored and jaded ladies—something like stripping itself. Some of the writers, like Eaves, are smarter than others; some, like Cody, are more charismatic. But I think one could read memoirs about working in a diner that would be more various and diverse and interesting. (Think of Barbara Ehrenreich in Nickel and Dimed.) Perhaps, in our porn-saturated world, we are overly familiar with the interior of a strip club; there is not much in these books that we didn’t know or couldn’t imagine on our own. After indulging in these books, with all of their posing, their vacant mirror gazing, their empty dramatization, the reader may begin to feel like a business man on vacation who would prefer a little of the real thing."

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