Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Pimp Chic Rebuttal Part 2
I see Alisha's point about the fun and enjoyment that comes out of taking a cardio striptease class at the gym and I also agree about having a space for women to feel comfortable exploring their bodies in such a way (of course this could lead into a whole argument about gyms and body images - just look at the increasing number of 'women only' or 'men only' gyms or allocation of certain times and days at co-ed gyms). But anyway, the main problem that I have with striptease classes or pole dancing classes is the one that Alisha pointed out about socio-economic comparisons between middle class women stripping for fun and women who actually are having to make money out from it. And then this whole discussion almost becomes about semantics - for instance, look at how belly dancing classes are seen in a whole different light to strip teasing classes. Belly dancing traditionally was done in same sex groups (women dancing for women and men dancing for men) and 'co-ed' dances were supposed to only be done with one' s husband. When belly dancing was introduced to America in the beginning of the 20th century, it was considered pretty risque and not deemed to be something good girls did. That has all changed now. Belly dancing classes are now seen as more about cultural exploration and empowerment than about sexual flirtation.
I am not comparing the two types 'dance' but rather why you learn them. Most people don't take belly dancing classes because they are going to start performing in public and get paid for it, much in the same way that few women who take 'cardio striptease' are going to start auditioning at Stringfellows. It still bothers me slightly though because I think stripping classes can be misunderstood as a way of becoming the perfect women, with the perfect moves - even though I doubt if you ask a man what his 'perfect woman' is anyone would answer 'oh yeah, and she has to be able to do a really great strip tease'.
I have to admit that in the spectrum of sexist and degrading behavior that pimp chic covers, strip tease classes are not what is upsetting me the most. Frankly the only thing that worries me is when there are women in those classes that are training to be 'empowered' by becoming real strippers or pole dancers. And of course, this whole argument needs to be extended to discuss what 'empowerement' is supposed to mean. Arguments about 'empowerment' quickly become heated when one's notion of empowerment is another persons's oppression - which is where the whole pimp chic discussion started!