Strippers with PhD: The mind behind the booty

Strippers: not your usual worker

Jobs simply mean the time we invest in making money for covering our needs. For most of us anyway. How many people you would here saying “I love my job!”? And how many of us go back home to moan and bicker about a day of waged slavery? Strippers don’t complain. Simply because there is not much time for complaining when you have 3-4 hours to make enough money for the whole week. Or maybe they do complain if the club is half empty and the punters don’t tip. But based on our experience, you rarely hear a stripped say “oh I got so wrecked at work today”.

Creatures of the night

This has mainly to do with the fact that strippers are night workers. Things move differently during the night. They are surrounded by people that pay for their company. Not many office workers could say the same. The 9-5 lifestyle means that after 5 pm workers tend to take care of the load of the day. Most will find comfort in front of the TV or computer screens. The interactionsbetween people are limited to socially accepted standards. And they are a bit repetitive. In a strip-club nothing is predictable. Surely there is a routine, but the routine simply means that you never know what can happen next. There is boredom in the office, but behind busy bars and neon-lit streets, there is fascination.

All roads lead to the pole

Strippers that tend to stick to the profession have a passion for dancing. Striptease may often be perceived as being one for people without better career prospects. A recent study from the University of Leeds has shown that at least one in four women working as lap dancers or strippers in Britain holds at least a university Bachelor’s degree. Women aspiring to become actresses, models and artists “use exotic dancing as a career strategy which fitted alongside their other work, training or studies”, according to the British Independent newspaper. In Ireland, we haven’t seen any official research as yet, but the profession is full of undergraduate students. After finishing their degrees, many stay as the money is good, better than their entry-level salary.

There are professions that simply do not offer any career prospect immediately after finishing a degree. Archaeology, philosophy and maths graduates, can look forward to long unpaid internships before they land a job in their chosen fields. Some simply have to continue their education with Masters and a Doctorate before they are accepted in the paid ranks of the profession. While family fortune can fund such long academic journeys, for most common mortals, it is a matter of finding extra income. Striptease doesn’t offer a lot more money than a banking job. But it does offer a much higher rate per hour. A good weekend can easily yield as much as one would get in a week in a bar or hotel job.

Confidence is key for all strippers

Not only that, but a clear majority of those working as dancers thoroughly enjoy their work – not least because they can earn up to £48,000 (€58,300) a year – with many reporting to have chosen the work because it was easy to manage with their regular working hours. For many strip- tease is a side income. Like the case of a kindergarten teacher that entered a stripper competition and beat the rest to dust

Money Talks – Strippers never walk

In her comfortable university office, Dr Teela Sanders, who led the research in Leeds, said that young dancers “do not buy the line that they are being exploited because they are the ones making the money out of a three-minute dance and a bit of a chat.”

Sanders admitted she was surprised at what she termed an “endless supply of women” apparently queueing up to join the profession.

“These women are incredibly body confident. I think there is something of a generational cultural difference,” she said. And it makes sense. As apps like onlyfans are taking the feminine world by surprise, the profession of the exotic dancers seems pretty tame. 

Knowledge does fade – Attitude doesn’t

From my time with strippers, I kinda know the one who will stay long term. They don’t see themselves as strippers, just as workers, dancers. The nudity part is something they don’t spend much time thinking about. Their attitude is: ” go out, hustle get the money, next”. There is no space to think of implications, taboos and the rest of the philosophical bits. And attitude stays. Even if they quit striptease, the hustler mood will stay.

What about feminism

Things have changed since the 60s. Women don’t wait for “friends in high places” to fight their cause. While second-wave radical feminists had largely regarded striptease as a gateway to porn, sexual violence, exploitation, and objectification, writers such as the late Ellen Willis and Susie Bright, and scholars including Gayle Rubin, argued that adult performances empower women. Certain regulations on strippers and strip clubs had eased. The expansion of gentlemen’s clubs in the ‘90s saw a flurry of court cases debating protections for nude dancers. At the same time, strippers have demanded, with some success, to be employees. In 2013, for example, strippers won a class action suit against Rick’s Cabaret, a publicly-traded company, and they were no longer cast as independent contractors or required to pay clubs a fee to perform. So strippers are more liberated than their underpaid colleagues in Law firms and business management positions.

Whatever you might think of striptease, the industry is home to such a plethora of characters and circumstances, that the one size fits all approach is a waste of time. I f you really want to understand strippers, simply leave them alone and enjoy the shop. Oh, and tip them. Always tip them

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