Prostitutes, call girls and erotic dancers have long held jobs associated with the sleazier side of life. Until the most recent developments in feminist theory, these women have always been held responsible, by both women and men, for sabotaging the feminist cause. But the battle has lately been refined to the appropraite use and misuse of sexual power.
Many women in these positions now use feminism as a defense for what they do. They claim that true feminism does not require abstainance from those activities which perpetuate a stereotype through the objectification of women. Rather, it supercedes all of those restrictions and encourages women to just do what they want, what they need, what feels good.
The new angle on talk shows is to feature erotic dancers and prostitutes, not disguised and humiliated, but dressed in their usual clothing and discussing how much they love what they do. They are usually met by strong opposition from the women in the audience who feel their own status demeaned by pornography, topless bars, etc. And of course the other significant complaint is that their husbands and boyfriends wouldn't be cheating so much if it weren't being offered so much.
The featured guests usually do a pretty good job of defending themselves. They claim that feminism should liberate rather than restrict, and that no one is responsible for the philanderings of men except for the men themselves.
And then for some reason, perhaps because they haven't thoroughly examined their own thinking, they claim that being a prostitute, or porn star, or topless dancer isn't "bad" because if they weren't doing it, somebody else would be.
This is where a lot of the feminist theory falls apart. Feminism is supposed to release women from the age- old restrictions of what they have to be, and instead allow them to seek out their personal strengths and interests to develop into who they want to be.
The general complaint about dan-cers, prostitutes and the like is that because of their "sleazy" practices, women as a whole are stripped of their individual value and instead classified under a stereotype. If being a dancer or call girl depends not at all on who a woman is, but requires only the presence of one's body, then we have in fact found ourselves as nameless, faceless bodies responding as the supply to the male demand.
This doesn't mean that women should stop doing any of these things, but just be clear on why. Do it because you really enjoy it or because you make the money you need to secure the life-style you want. But don't claim that you're doing it for feminism. Feminism simply means doing it for yourself.
Stefanie Boyd is a geosciences junior, although she may be changing her major after her next Physics exam.
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