I'm a big fan of sex work being safe and legal-- from phone sex to prostitution-- in part because well, it's going to happen anyway, in part because I think that sex itself is over-stigmatized and over-obsessed over in society, and in part because I'm a big fan of giving people autonomy in deciding what they want to do to make money and how they want to use their bodies. I know that women sometimes get forced into sex work, and that there is still human trafficking, and that some people want minors for their sex work. Those are all very bad things, but they are not what I am interested in talking about right now. The people I'm talking about here are the ones who enter into it freely, or at least as freely as someone entering into a job at Walmart or the Gap.
Specifically, I want to talk about the phenomenon of strippers, and how their audience/clients relate to them. On the surface, I totally get it. Hot girls who will get naked and dance around, titillating straight guys and maybe even grinding onto their fully clothed crotches? I mean, I guess that sort of sounds like fun. Except for the whole paying to get sexually frustrated with some of your best dude pals. But I do understand that it can provide good fantasy fodder, and give guys a sort of emotional high, and that it can be fun for them.
But how does someone watching distance themselves from the fact that these women are doing this purely for money? They're being hot and using you, and they probably don't think very highly of you or respect you. How does a guy forget that during the strip show? A lot of my guy friends say they aren't really into watching strippers-- that they've gone, and that it just hasn't been awesome, and that the girls haven't been super hot, and that they realize they're paying for overpriced watered down drinks and watching something that loses the appeal of novelty pretty fast. They might be lying, of course, since I'm a chick, but since they know I don't have anything against guys who go to strip clubs, the full motivation for the lie isn't quite there.
Part of me is annoyed that I can't understand the mental disconnect-- I mean, I can appreciate music and art when I know the performers are paid, so why do I feel like it would be so hard to appreciate strippers? I think it's, in part at least, because of my experiences of sex-- fun and joining and bonding and exciting and affirming. The idea of enjoying a sexual experience with someone who doesn't want you seems hard to understand. Isn't the pleasure of someone else a big part of the enjoyment of the experience? But again, why is sex work, in my mind, different from any other activity? Is it the idea that doing it for work diminishes the value of doing it for fun or with a partner? Musicians and actors do things for work that they also do for pleasure, after all.
So what is it that causes some men-- and some women-- to enjoy watching someone dance naked and provocatively, with no plot or emotional connect other than lust, when the dancer is not someone who is sexually interested in them?