This seems to be the question of the year: are strippers being self empowered or exploited? Despite the argument that stripteasing “enables women to reserve roles and have power over men” since women are earning money from the “strip tease [becoming] a reversal of society’s conventional male/female roles” (Jefferys 153), strip teasing ultimately was originated to please men and strip clubs continuously exploit their workers.
To begin, Jefferys examines the economic exploits of women in the industry. Strip club industry profits would be significantly lower if the female workers received the payments they deserved; rather, the majority of the profits tend to go to the male managers and owners. The profit levels of the industry are even more enhanced since dancers often do not receive basic employee benefits such as sick leaves or superannuation. Additionally women are pressured to completely shave their pubic hair, acquire year-long tans and to undergo breast augmentation- all essentially to fit the mold of male desire.
The strip club presented in Live Nude Girls Unite! provided insight in to a strip club that was run by female management. Interestingly enough, however, workers were still being treated unfairly, for example not being given sick days and the woman who was fired which caused the strike among the workers. The documentary also showed how the new workers at the club were offered the choice of joining the union, and many times the new workers chose not to join for monetary reasons. This exemplifies the natural exploitation that occurs even in female run strip clubs, epitomizing the degradation of workers in the strip club industry.
In conclusion one may be able to say that the strip club industry is empowering – if subjecting to male dominance is considered self empowering.
Jefferys, Sheila. “Keeping Women Down and Out: The Strip Club Boom and the Reinforcement of Male Dominance.” Chicago Journals 34.1 (2008): 151-73. Print.