Are strippers the ultimate feminists?

In case you didn’t already know, the 8th March is International Women’s Day: the only designated day where society is encouraged to celebrate and appreciate women. The other 364 days? It’s optional, I guess…

In case you didn’t already know, today, the 8th March, is International Women’s Day: the only designated day where society is encouraged to celebrate and appreciate women. The other 364 days? It’s optional, I guess.

As a result of it being International Women’s Day, the debating society organised a debate in The Cube on whether strippers are the the ultimate feminists (it’s important to state now that the debate teams didn’t necessarily believe their arguments).

Ignoring the fact that on a day supposedly involving gender equality, a clear divide was present where one team consisted entirely of women (the proposition) and the other consisted entirely of men (the opposition), the debate was enjoyable to watch, not least due to some of the very skilled and confident public speakers the debating society is lucky to have.

The proposition came out fighting, controversially arguing that:

the institution of marriage was established by men, so that men could monopolise women’s sexual and reproductive capacities.

They went on to contend that by breaking down the institution of marriage, strippers are showing that men no longer have monopoly over women’s sexual capacity.

Other elements of the proposition’s argument involved the fact that men are dependent on women to fulfil their sexual needs; that strippers are astutely controlling men by exploiting this male ‘weakness’ through business (which surely undermines a strive for equality?); that stripping is a form of art which encompasses appreciation of the female form, and that stripping is the ultimate expression of a woman’s femininity because it is taking what mother nature gave them, and using it to further the feminist cause (as one audience member rightly pointed out, presumably this mother nature argument doesn’t cover boob jobs and tummy tucks).

The opposition did a good job of rebutting the proposition’s arguments, although some predictably fell into the trap of forming their arguments around a somewhat chauvinistic core in order to win some laughs (most of which actually came from the team themselves when someone used the word ‘dogging’).

To sum up the opposition’s argument: strippers are exploited by men, as they need the money that men provide in order to sustain their dependencies; it is not liberating, but rather degrading for women to dance naked at the beck and call of men for money; and the feminist cause of gender equality is in no way supported or promoted by women taking their clothes off.

Following the discussion between the two teams the debate was opened up to the floor where audience members could ask questions and rebut the team’s arguments.

At one point, an audience member (I think from FemSoc) argued that condoning stripping therefore condones the ‘hypersexualisation’ of society for future generations, and went on to state a statistic that:

63% of young girls aspire to be glamour models or lap-dancers.

Now, a passion of mine is discrediting instances where science, or statistics have been misrepresented (I don’t get out much). Those of you who follow Ben Goldacre & co will be familiar with often-outrageous examples of this.

This statistic has been a favourite of the media since 2005, when the survey that created it was conducted by a now-obsolete ‘mobile-entertainment’ provider.

The survey was conducted on 1,000 girls aged 15-19. They were asked if they would rather be like JK Rowling, Anita Roddick, Germaine Greer, Jordan, or Abi Titmuss.

Only 7% of girls said they wanted to be like Jordan, which doesn’t tie-in with the fact that 63% supposedly want to be a glamour model.

The answer of course is that the majority of girls had no idea who figures such as Germaine Greer, Anita Roddick, and perhaps even JK Rowling were. It is extremely likely that Titmuss won votes because of her celebrity status. The two stand-out names for 15-19 year olds are clearly going to be Jordan and Abi Titmuss.

Had the survey included non-glamour names covering areas such as TV, sport, music, and film, then there wouldn’t be much of an issue of free choice, but as it was the survey structure heavily biased the girl’s choices, and was ultimately flawed.

This implication that the girls desired a celebrity lifestyle is supported by the fact that 89% of the girls stated they wanted a job where they could have celebrity status, compared to only 11% that didn’t.

The flaws in this survey highlight the fact that perhaps we don’t yet know enough about the effects of the sex industry on society, and we should be less reliant on the media, which often promote misleading information to the general public.

With that in mind, it would perhaps have been nice to see more independently researched facts, figures, and statistics backing up the arguments heard by both debate teams today, rather than a single, conceivably misleading one from the audience.

My view is that strippers are purely and only objectifying themselves through stripping and that their actions heavily reinforce dated views that women are nothing but sexual property.

As another audience member pointed out, the majority of strippers are only able to perform their job because of the fact that they conform to society’s image of what beauty is. Whilst they make money from this, they are at the same time marginalising other women that cannot or will not conform to this image. This point relates back to the first, in that by conforming to this view, strippers are reinforcing the idea that women should be judged on appearance alone.

Stripping intrinsically undermines what it means to be a feminist, stripping will not promote the feminist cause, and therefore stripping does not empower women to be the ultimate feminists.

Hopefully people will recognise this fact in time for next year’s International Women’s Day, when who-knows, and I’m just throwing this out there, maybe Women will enjoy a level of equality where they can freely walk into SUSU shop and buy a Yorkie bar without fear of domineering male repression.

Hang on….Yorkie’s aren’t Nestle are they?