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THE MALE GAZE
Have known a few strippers in my time and am currently developing a friendship with a woman who was a bikini dancer at a club. At least I think I am. It makes sense to suceed at this profession you have to be able to attract the attention and approval of men so they will give you money. How does that not bleed into the rest of your life? I have heard from these women: "I like men to buy me things." "I try to stay sexually attractive to men." "I have a hard time saying no to men." That last one especially makes my skin crawl. How can you act or think like this and have healthy relationships with men or have any kind of healthy self-image? After 40+ yrs. this has caused me to question my use of porn more than anything else. Even amateur and camgirls (kind of a modern version of stripping). I am definitely not anti-sex or against images of sexuality. Trying to be in shape or physically healthy is different than being mostly focused on sexual attractiveness to men. I am just looking for a healthier heterosexuality.

kmdskit3 8 Jan 18

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3

Living in what used to be the capitol of the sex industry, I can tell you one thing is for certain...don't ever stereotype someone working in that field. Sure, some if not many do come from broken homes or sexually abused backgrounds, but not all. A lot of them do it because they have the looks, and they can't run an Excel spreadsheet. Others just because they like the adventure.

Not stereotyping but am noticing a pattern and am just not sure how anyone could compartmentalize their life enough to avoid the emotional corrosiveness of this kind of work. And I am not judging them but I do think it's important to figure out or evaluate where anyone is coming from.

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Women are conditioned from childhood to be nice, to not fight, to smile, to share, and to make themselves as pretty as possible. This is our social CONDITIONING, not inbred traits, and just like male conditioning, it is very hard to shake. In the sexual realm, this can translate into rather dishonest and unsavoury behaviors. A girl doesn't want to tell her boyfriend that he's rough, or clumsy, and she may very well pretend she likes what she's getting, even though she doesn't. I grew up thinking of myself as sexually advanced and liberated, especially compared to my mother. Yet for the first 10 years of my sex life, I never had an orgasm; never even knew what I liked. My childhood conditioning kept me from even being very interested in my own sexual satisfaction; being desired, and wanted, seemed more important at the time. My boyfriend expected fellatio, but did not reciprocate. The few porn films which I saw as a young woman seemed awful to me (Behind the Green Door, Deep Throat and Last Tango in Paris were some of them), yet my boyfriend liked them, and considered them edgy and arousing. I obtained birth control early, in the form of the pill; my father disowned me for doing this (being sexually active outside the married state), yet my boyfriend was praised and encouraged for being sexual by both of his parents. What a double standard! Why was I even dating this guy, you might ask. Believe it or not, he was the "catch" of the neighbourhood, and my social status was enhanced just by being his girlfriend.
These memories are as close as I can come to the mindset of your new <friend>, who wants men to buy her things, and can't say no. It's taken me decades to develop a healthy sexual expression, and even now, dating in my 60's, the double standard continues to haunt me. I've been very disappointed in my last few lovers (all men), but what do I say to them? That I expect a man in his 60's to know how to kiss? That reciprocity would be nice? I do pay my own way, always, but the men I know expect gold stars just for showing up.

Thanks. It helps me a great deal to get these reinforcements of what I should always know. I need to more easily recognize when I need to keep my distance from someone who hasn't gotten as far as you and in many ways actively resists that kind of honest self-reflection. I have to acknowledge my own loneliness and neediness are affecting my perceptions though.

2

I'm sex-positive and anti-shame but totally over porn. Generally I say let consenting grownfolks do what they want as long as no one gets hurt, but...

Some folks are not going to get someone to go to bed with them without paying. Most of those folks will survive; some will go on a beheading rampage. Okay. Legalize prostitution and tax and regulate the hell out of it. Treat it like a noble, sacred calling to provide intimate companionship for those who otherwise would be deprived. If young fit business studs just prefer paid sex, fine. The money goes to victims of sex abuse/assault, orphans, whatever.

As for stripping, I think it could be treated mostly the same way but I think it's currently a legal substitute for prostitution: if the latter were legal, I think demand for the former would go down.

I don't like telling adults they can't do things but I also don't like the idea of reinforcing unhealthy ideas and behaviors. Sexual frustration can mess with your head, and some of the ways of dealing with it (e.g. porn, stripping) can mess with it worse. This is to say nothing of those providing the services!

TL;DR: if everyone got laid who wanted to, I think everyone would be a lot happier, some violence would decrease, and demand for porn and strippers would decrease.

If young fit business studs just prefer paid sex, fine. The money goes to victims of sex abuse/assault, orphans, whatever

How about the money going to the people who get fucked to provide that service? Let prostitutes work if they want to.

@hlfsousa I meant the tax money. The money that's collected over and above the wage. It won't be cheap!

Agree with you about legalizing prostitution, but not pimping, and I try to be sex positive but, how does monetizing sex, or the 'promise' of sex, affect anyone, usually women, who does that for a living. We live in a profoundly misogynistic world and the sex industry reflects that at it's most raw. I guess I'm more concerned with the emotional corrosiveness in all this.

@kmdskit3 that's why I think a cultural attitude shift is in order, don't think it would work without it, but I have no idea how to make it happen... Come up with some other language besides "prostitution", "whore", etc. and treat the sex workers with the utmost of respect because they are doing something incredibly important, "sacred" if you will. Not sure if such a shift is possible starting from the culture we've got... Emotional corrosiveness is spot on, and that's precisely my trepidation as well. If sex were treated as tantamount to a sacrament (as I feel it is) we wouldn't have to worry about the daddy issues. I'm not sure what the prescription for it is...

Like your last comments a lot! @stinkeye_a

@kmdskit3 I am thinking of my dear "40year old virgin" friend whose only sexual contact, thus far (as far as I know) has been cam-girls. This is not likely to change unless he makes some major changes in his life--those being exactly the ones you'd expect. He's a good guy and I like him very much as a friend. If there weren't a whole lot of baggage that inevitably comes along for the ride--and if he wasn't already in love with me--i would have boinked him already. Just because I care. But the worms from that can would never be completely cleaned up. This is the kind of person who I feel deserves a caring sex professional--and no shame, for either party.

I can definitely see your point! @stinkeye_a Sounds like your friend is either stuck or maybe addicted to porn. Good luck with that!

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Good for you. I did an anthropological study in college on strippers working in the Combat Zone of Boston. You'd be amazed how many are trying to pay for college but the stigma is so great that it sometimes leads to drug use, addiction to more serious drugs like cocaine and heroin and even suicide. The girls have quotas to get customers to purchase drinks and champagne at overinflated prices. Some are trying to get off the street and supporting young children. It's amazing what happens in these girls lives.

I kind of new this before but it's only recently that it's truly sunk in. I wish I'd done this earlier.

1

I'm not certain that I possess enough knowledge to speak to this specific issue. While I'm of the belief that healthy childhood relationship with parental and other adult authority figures is of immense help to laying the foundation for socially appropriate adult-to-adult behaviors later in life, that's about as far as I'm willing to go. I'm hesitant to say that all or even most women who do this have abuse in their backgrounds.

If I were in your shoes, I'd try hard to withhold judgment as long as possible, but also try to keep my eyes open and my guard up if the friendship seems to move towards a level deeper than the platonic. I'd look for things like: a history of few long-term relationships with men (I'm distinguishing this from promiscuity, which may just be enjoying sex), a history of infidelity when in supposedly monogamous relationships, frequent projection on others of a lack of veracity or other traits associated with moral integrity, inability to control drug or alcohol use, constancy of creating or agitating interpersonal drama over petty matters, poor financial decisions, and most of all, self-respect issues.

Again, I'm not saying that's going to be the case with every woman who decides to show what she's got in exchange for money, and certainly not with your new friend. I hear the other voices on this thread cautioning that yes, there really are some women who just do it for the money and don't take the work or the culture associated with it home with them. So it's likely a prejudice on my part, but I'd suspect those sorts of traits to be more frequent within this group of people than in others, and those kinds of toxic behaviors suggest that this person may not be a good choice to be a close friend or a romantic partner.

Yeah, I am trying to keep my eyes wide open with her and to be absolutely willing to walk away at any time. Pretty sure there wasn't going to be anything physical but have put that barrier up for my own emotional health at least.

@kmdskit3 Something tells me the problem is not her, the work, or the lifestyle...it is you.

We're the same age, so I'm not really certain what you're struggling with here that you should have already put behind you in your 30's or 40's. That's not a judgment call, just an observation of your description and hesitancy to just "get to it".

1

Well, it rather depends on the woman. Some, if not close to a majority might have issues of some kind because it does take a certain kind of person to be able to display their bodies in that sort of deviant way. (I use deviant here to reference the acts being out of the usual social norms, not as a judgment of morals.) I know some camgirls personally and only two out of five of them I would say have "issues". For those that strip live there may be more "issues" going on because they have to put their bodies the line more than a camgirl or amateur porn actress does.

Putting aside personal "issues" however, if we examine your title here of "The Male Gaze" while it is certainly something to be considered if a woman chooses to thrust herself into the Male Gaze then there is nothing wrong with that - especially if it is their job. In instances like this, I like to reference Erving Goffman and his Dramaturgical approach to understanding the way people interact - basically, we all put on a performance depending on what kind of situation we find ourselves in. These women are putting on a performance for the men watching and doing what they know will get them the most money in that job: Convincing the men they are telling the truth. If that means calling a guy "piggy" or mocking his dick size they'll do it and if that means saying "yes daddy" or admitting they are a slut that can't say no they'll do it too. No matter what they do there as an act it does not represent their true selves and in their own personal lives with family or friends, they are going to behave in a different manner.

@Nicsnort I don't know if you have read any of the other comments or my responses to them but I think they kind of address some of the things you said. We all adapt, to a certain degree, to whatever situation we're in and yet I would say there is a kind of core self that exists in every situation. And just like the performance analogy you use many actors get into character externally; the costumes they put on, the make-up, accent etc. Also many actors talk about how difficult it can be to get OUT of character sometimes. I try and use my imagination and put myself in the position of these women using their bodies in unbelievably intimate ways to appeal to men's need to control women so they can get paid. How can that kind of perspective, or acting, day after day, year after year, not be corrosive to your emotional health and affect how you see men? As marks to con money from? As pervy saps to hate? As necessary for your self esteem? The only other way I can imagine doing this would be to compartmentalize yourself to such a degree that you've become an unintegrated or disintegrated self. I also understand that some folks need to 'work' through sexual issues but what almost exclusively goes on is enabling and not a struggle for sexual and emotional health. I'm sure some women recover from this better than others but the word I keep coming back to is 'corrosive'. How can this not affect you? Maybe even eat away at that inner core self. I also know both of us have limited personal data. I probably have more than you just because I'm older but this seems to be a recurring pattern for me. When I hear some of those quotes from my original post almost invariably I know what 'kind' of woman I'm dealing with and it hasn't always been sex workers. Not a judgement but an evaluation so I can better interact with them for both our sakes. To be honest my original post was an attempt to figure out what to do with this realization and my own complicity in all this. Just like I won't shop at Walmart, as long as there's another option, ignore any kind of white supremacist behavior, buy anything at Hobby Lobby etc. I don't think I can take part in this anymore. Right now I am trying to figure out what I CAN take part in because I am definitely not against heterosex. I appreciate your thoughtful response.

Any job can be corrosive. How that corrosiveness affects a person is all dependent on the individual within that position and how they deal with it. You didn't really ask a question so all I was giving was my view on your statements. If, as you say here, you are concerned about these "kinds" of women might I point out that those "kinds" of people exist regardless of sex/gender? There are men who just want to use people of their own personal gain, there are those that desperately want to be and work towards being sexually attractive, and there are those that just can't say no. What you quote is just one version of all of these different kinds of attitudes, it merely expressed itself in a sexualized manner. You say you are trying to figure out what to do with this realization - if you do not feel like you can take part in the business any longer then do not and if you still want your masturbation material then try areas where there are no people involved directly (i.e.get into hentai and/or erotic lit.) or try burlesque shows, those are great.

1

When I was in the Navy was stationed in Guam. One of my friends was dating a stripper we went to dinner with them. Think that they are the dictionary epitome of the words crude.

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What's the difference between a stripper, porn star, cam girl etc. and a girl who otherwise seems "respectable" and isn't in a profession like that, but dates men for their money or because he has a great job or inheritance etc? What about a woman who has a job or career and a good upbringing, and makes a living, but won't date a man that doesn't make decent money?

Not saying anything about respectable or not but a lot of the other examples you gave sound to me like an unhealthy perspective on male/female relationships.

@kmdskit3 I'm just trying to open up the convo. I also think it's unhealthy.

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porn is a means to an end

0

The majority of these women, as well as camgirls will always be gold diggers to some extent.

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