What is the main thesis of this film?
The film is trying to prove the point that exotic dancers are not simply all “whores” and deserve to be thumbed down by the public. What most people don’t realize is that the job as a stripper or a dancer is simply a job, an occupation where a human body is of monetary value, and this has been explained by Wesely, Exotic dancers: “Where am I going to Stop?” (as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010). Stripping or dancing is regarded as a role and this role usually does not affect the dancers’ conventional identities, though, they do struggle to keep their identity intact from the stigma. Unfortunately, this stigma of selling their bodies is affecting their human rights and they do not deserve this kind of treatment, which is why the film has spent most of its time showing viewers the dancers’ process of creating a union and gaining workers’ basic rights.
What were the main arguments in support of the thesis?
The profession of dancing behind a glass where customers are paying by the minute is called being an exotic dancer. The key word here is “profession” and “dancer”. But because of their nature of work, the women in the film (and the rest of dancers in our world) are being stigmatized as “sluts” and “whores” simply because they’re getting paid to show their body. Consequently, this stigma and deviant profession has created a horrible working condition that dehumanizes these dancers. They do not have sick days. If they are late to work, their position gets bumped down and will get paid less. Also, people of color are being discriminated and are being put at less favorable shifts because of their skin color. This kind of discrimination also extends beyond skin color as a woman’s hair color or body size are also being weighted. Furthermore, a lot of women depend on this kind of work to feed their children and do not want to lose their job because of discrimination or retaliation (acting “human” and asking for rights).
The point that most people seem to miss is that dancing is an occupation so asking for human rights and to be respected is natural. However, the public stigmatize these workers and will further push them somewhere in a dark corner where we can just close our eyes and pretend they do not exist. Fortunately, there are images such as these to encourage people to separate the role of their job from their real identity as a whole human. They have lives too; some are mothers, daughters, and some are brothers.
How does the thesis of this film relate to the course?
It’s very obvious that exotic dancers are deviant because the nature of their work is considered deviant by the majority. Our naked bodies are sacred and should only be shown to our loved ones. This kind of reminds me of what we have discussed in class regarding non-monogamy: is it possible to have sex without love? I’m sure we can strip down and dance around naked without having any emotional connections with the customers.
Additionally, we should not be sexualizing our body for money because it reminds of another occupation: prostitution. Prostitution is even more stigmatized and deviant beyond our imagination. Having to read Listening to Olivia, the stigma and hardships prostitutes have to go through has permanently damaged my consciousness. Their stories is not something we hear every day since most people don’t even want to know what’s going on in the underworld.
Which arguments/points did you find the most convincing?
I find the part where dancers (or other women) are marching on the streets demanding for working rights very convincing. Exotic dancing is a job, therefore, basic work rights (or human rights at the least) should be appointed. No one should be de-humanized simply because they decide to dance around naked for money. Also, the scenes where the dancers are in a room discussing what they should bargain with their employer is really nice. It really shows us the idea of feminism, where women band together and work towards a goal for equality. This image and notion is not understood and seen by everyone because feminism is still being viewed negatively as “those crazy women”.
Which arguments/points did you find the least convincing?
I’m having a hard time with one point shown in the film. I’m not sure whether I agree with it or not, but it’s inevitable that the average people (or men) favor blond hair, white skin, and big breasts or buttocks. Most companies have a target consumer population and will create products that will cater to their needs, kind of like how dancers are being selected for favorable dancing shifts. But, to be discriminate and refuse someone work because of their natural characteristics is wrong. Unfortunately, companies can always find ways to dodge this complicated issue. If this sounds incoherent, I believe it’s because I’m not sure where I stand on this point.
Choose one argument, point or question that most stands out for you. How would you study this point? Briefly design a research study around that point.
I would like to compare if there are any changes in the stigmatization of sex workers, based on their nature of work (dancer, strippers, and prostitutes). Both male and female will be studied, men are too often forgotten when it comes to sex work and rape. Are dancers viewed as more acceptable nowadays compared to before? I would have to gather data from previous studies and conduct my own to analyze recent data. It would also be interesting to see if sex workers are now more open about their role in their jobs, like telling friends about their occupation.
Thio, Alex, Thomas C. Calhoun, and Addrain Conyers. 2010. Readings in Deviant Behavior. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.