The videos of British pop star Dua Lipa dancing and giving money to artists in a strip club in Los Angeles have brought the singer to the center of a debate: can a feminist go to a common room?
Some commentators criticized the singer, labeling her as a bad feminist. But many others hurried to defend it, noting that the male artists present were not subjected to the same control.
“Imagine trying to wipe out a woman to go to a strip club and support other women,” wrote a Twitter user. “I don’t see that you delete all men for this.”
Women are no strangers to strip clubs in the United States. A quick online search for “bachelorette parties” returns numerous pre-wedding packages, customized for women, where an evening in a strip club is the main event. Nick Triantis, the owner of the Camelot strip club in Washington DC, said the BBC women had been coming to his club since it opened in 1980.
“I don’t even understand what the angle is,” said Triantis, adding that women in strip clubs were “nothing new.”
So why did the video of Dua Lipa cause a reaction? Catlyn Ladd, an author and professor of women’s studies in Colorado, and a former stripper herself, told the BBC that the industry is double-edged.
“Sex work can be incredibly exploitative and it can also empower,” he said. “Whether the exploitation depends on the exact environment and the exact personalities of the people involved.”
Ladd has worked as a stripper for more than five years since the late 1990s, using income to help support herself while graduating from the University of Colorado in Boulder.
She said she experienced cruelty and condescension, but she also met her husband over 20 years old while dancing. From time to time she has returned to strip clubs as a patron since she stopped dancing, she said, often as a “safety blanket” for other friends.
As for the dancers in the Dua Lipa video, she said she thought “they were probably really having a good night.” “It’s good for them,” he added.
The unease of seeing women as clients in strip clubs was legitimate, said Bernadette Barton, professor of gender studies and author of two books that examine the experience of exotic dancers, due to the structural imbalance that works against women in those ‘environment.
“Stripping clubs are patriarchal organizations,” he said. “Men are dressed and women are naked.”
So is it feminist for women to go to a strip club? “Not particularly,” said Barton, “but it’s not for me to say.” And there was a disparity in the reaction to the Dua Lipa video, she also said: the male celebrities who were with the pop star dodged the criticism altogether.
“I’d rather be critical of strip club culture,” said Barton.
Barton wrote two books on the world of stripping: the first in 2006 and the second in 2017. He said that the biggest change he observed between the two was an increase in female customers.
He said some managers reported during the search for his second book that women represented up to 45% of their customers – a figure who said it was much higher than anyone else he had heard during an interview with people in the industry. for his first book.
And as far as ballerinas are concerned, female clients have often been a welcome change, said Antonia Crane, activist, professor and dancer who has recorded more than 10,000 hours as a stripper in a 25-year career.
“We love women who join strip clubs, it’s fun,” said Crane. “Stripping is women’s work. The only terrible thing about stripping and the sex industry in general is unfair work practices,” he said – citing poor wages, exploitation and sexual assault.
Claiming that the job was “so important,” said Crane. And, he added, it’s not difficult to do.
“The number one rule is to pay for it,” he said. “Have fun and be nice.”