As a supporter of sexual freedom, I think that women should have the choice to explore and act on their sexuality and sexual desires in any way that they feel comfortable. To openly desire women sexually is thought of as a normal part of male behavior, but for women to express their own sexuality it is considered deviant and abnormal. Because of sexism and patriarchy, oppressed women are abused, degraded, used, and stigmatized. In order to truly have sexual freedom we must, as a whole, be free from sexism. By doing this we can diminish the stigma women receive and develop an appreciation for sex work and the individuals who choose to work in this industry. Social scientists have studied reasons why woman begin sex work and why they continue. Sex work is work that is within the sex industry. A sex worker refers to individuals in all areas of the sex industry including prostitutes, escorts, pornography models and actors, phone sex operators, and exotic dancers. The term “sex work” was invented in 1980 by sex worker activist Carol Leigh. The usage of the term “sex work” marks the beginning of a movement. It acknowledges the work done rather than being defined by status. Leigh states, “After many years of activism as a prostitute, struggling with increasing stigma and ostracism from within the mainstream feminist movement, I remember the term sex work and how it felt to, at last, have word for this work that is not a euphemism. Sex work has no shame and neither do I.” (Leigh) Much research depict these women as alcoholics and drug addicts, abused, being from broken homes, low self esteem and not possessing the skills or education to do anything else. Generally research suggests that women would only choose stripping because of desperation or poverty. Overtime social norms have broadened and more research has emerged on the women who work in the sex industry and their motivations for doing so. I would like to focus on exotic dancing for this paper. Dancing is a form of expression as well as an art form that has existed throughout history and in all cultures. Like any art form, dancing may be perceived differently by different people, and varies in different cultures, with age, education, and socioeconomic status and should not be judged. Exotic dancing is a type of dancing that is highly criticized and viewed as a deviant act. The body should be nothing to be ashamed about. Why is ballet not considered deviant? Money is exchanged to get through the doors, beautiful, thin, young women are dancing on stage, they wear body hugging outfits, makeup, and dance for the pleasure of the audience. Their bodies, talent, and ability to entertain the audience are why they are there and they are making money. The fact is that the exotic dancing itself is not the sin; it is the actions and culture that surround it that are. Stripping is legal, prostitution is illegal, and stripping is not prostitution. The dancers are paid and tipped to entertain and they are not engaging in sexual intercourse. People often judge what they do not understand, and a strong stereotype surrounds the girls and the world of stripping. Many women choose to strip dancing to pay for college or to support their families, and are happy with what they are doing and feel good about themselves. Women who enjoy what they are doing, have control over what they are doing and are not harming anyone should not be judged for the profession that they choose. There are many people out there who look at a girl on stage and characterize her based on stereotypes. They will think that she has “daddy issues” or that she must have been abused as a child, or that she has self esteem or self image problems and this is the only way that she can feel good about herself. There are women from all different backgrounds, cultures, religions, economic status, and social classes that have issues as the ones just mentioned. Some are teachers, janitors, lawyers, stay at home moms and many more...
Bibliography: Frank Katherine. 2006. “Keeping her off the Pole: Creating Sexual Value in a Secular Society.” In Flesh for Fantasy: Producing and Consuming Exotic Dance, with R. Danielle Egan and M. Lisa Johnson. Thunder’s Mouth Press.
Leigh, Carol. 1997. “Inventing Sex Work.” In Whores and Other Feminists, edited by Jill Nagel. New York: Routledge.
Barton, Bernadette. 2006. Stripped: Inside the Lives of Exotic Dancers. New York: New York University Press.
Queen, Carol. 1997. “Sex Radical Politics, Sex Positive Feminist Thought, and Whore Stigma.” In Whores and Other Feminists, edited by Jill Nagel. New York: Routledge.
Sprinkle, Annie. 1997. “We’ve Come A Long Way- And Were Exhausted!” In Whores and Other Feminists, edited by Jill Nagel. New York: Routledge.
Hartley, Nina. 1997. “In the Flesh: A Porn Stars Journey.” In Whores and Other Feminist, edited by Jill Nagel. New York: Routledge.
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