Burlesque dancing...?

(195 Posts)
whatdoesittake48 Mon 21-Oct-13 08:19:17

In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I have signed up to do one of these courses. But I am already torn about what this means as a feminist.

I like the idea of doing something out of my comfort zone and having fun while doing it. But I am anti-porn, see striptease as demeaning for women and do not think that women should be expected to perform for men....

Unless it is their husband/partner and they absolutely are keen themselves.

My husband is very keen for me to give this a go - but in no way did he push the idea. I searched it out. What does this say about my principles and am I over thinking this.

I hate all this empowerment bullshit - stripping for men is not about empowerment. But is it different when it is for the man you love. Isn't that just carrying on the image that men love to see women doing this kind of thing. Do the men think their wives look powerful and sexy or do they think she is doing something for me because I am the "special" one and more important.

Aaargh! I really want to do this because I think it will be a great female bonding thing - but not sure if I want to bring it home to my husband. I will feel deeply uncomfortable with the idea of putting on a show...

TheDoctrineOfSpike Mon 21-Oct-13 08:27:26

If you don't want to show your husband afterwards, don't. That doesn't have to be a political position, that's just sensible - don't do things sexually that make you unconfortable to please someone else.

whatdoesittake48 Mon 21-Oct-13 08:55:39

I suppose that is the part I am torn about - I like the idea of being sexually strong, but still have problems with the whole idea of the striptease as a form of sexual expression. Obviously I wouldn't do anything I wasn't comfortable with. But I wonder about my reasons for not feeling comfortable.

SoWhatSoWhatSoWhat Mon 21-Oct-13 09:08:39

Aargh! Burlesque - the great con trick played on women to get them to get their kit off while telling them it's empowering, sexy etc.

It's about as sexy as stripping on a Sunday lunchtime in a run down pub full of dirty old men - just substitute that for 'alternative' men in slightly more salubrious surroundings. Just stand in the audience and listen to the punters. The comments on the women's bodies are the same; leery, critical, unpleasant. If it's so much fun/empowering, why are there only a very few men's burlesque groups. I must admit I like some of the pretty basques etc, but no way would I want to put on a show wearing them for a load of drunken men I don't know.

I realise you're not planning to do it publicly but perhaps just for your DH, which could have its points (as long as he's not wielding a camera - just in case). I'm not sure about the female bonding bit however - how 'empowered' are the other women you'll meet on course like this likely to be? If it's dance you fancy, there are plenty of courses in more 'arty' types out there, rather than something sexually exploitative. What about belly dancing! A bit sexy and it's an ancient effnic art form innit - and you get to keep your top on.

Your initial feelings, suspicions and doubts are bang on the money - don't get taken in by the hype of this current 'fashion'. Which may be coming to a end anyway - the burlesque club night in my town has had to close down due to falling ticket sales, and its spot at our local music & arts festival has gone because of doubts like yours/mine, and the performance standards were dreadful anyway. (Think a Very Bad can-can line, with no-one kicking at the same time and everyone falling over at the wrong moment.)

ScaryFucker Mon 21-Oct-13 09:15:35

I don't get why you are doing it if it makes you feel so uncomfortable.

2tired4internets Mon 21-Oct-13 09:22:59

What Scary said.
It's not possible to convey strenght and your own sexuality by doing something that makes you uncomfortable isn't?

ScaryFucker Mon 21-Oct-13 09:30:32

Burlesque is stripping for fat birds with glasses. You know the cliches, right? For once I agree with them. I don't see how doing stuff like this will enhance your self respect in any shape or form. Personally, I would feel I was compromising myself in the name of "empowerfulising"

What goes on in the bedroom between my h and me is private, between us two. I can't imagine having those giggly conversations with other women as you all practice your moves together. "Ooh I bet my Nigel will looooove this one....." Etc.


curlew Mon 21-Oct-13 09:32:31

Can't you just go to badminton instead?

A MNer once described Burlesque as "stripping for fat middle-class Goths".

She was right.

curlew Mon 21-Oct-13 09:36:20

Or "stripping with A levels"

Seriously, OP don't do it. Your instincts are spot on.

LeGavrOrf Mon 21-Oct-13 09:36:26

I just came on to say that bunny. That's a brilliant summary.

2tired4internets Mon 21-Oct-13 09:41:51

"Can't you just go to badminton instead?"

expatinscotland Mon 21-Oct-13 09:46:28

It is stripping. If you want to do it, call it by its real name.

Grennie Mon 21-Oct-13 09:53:42

I think teaching women to do stripping aka burlesque for their partners, is bringing in patriarchial ideas of what is "sexy". So even between partners, I am not keen on it. I think sex between two people who love each other should be about loving each others bodies. The patriarchial idea of "sexy" is about treating each other as sex objects, which is about as far from loving sex as I think you can get.

2tired4internets Mon 21-Oct-13 10:11:07

There is an idea that women should express our sexuality by doing things like stripping for men and wearing small amounts of clothing and so on.
But it's not really expressing our sexuality unless wey're into that sort of thing right?

I express my sexuality by doing things like flirting and actually having sex.

NeoFaust Mon 21-Oct-13 10:11:40

One could argue that the ability to make a normal, average man feel like the luckiest guy on earth is a pretty big super(em)power, even if (merely) an altruistic one.

But if you want to do things that empower you purely for your own benefit, then studying something that is designed to be shared may not be the best choice.

Grennie Mon 21-Oct-13 10:13:25

Really power isn't about turning men on. If it was, men would be wanting to do it. Instead this kind of "power" is a sop to women to make them think they have power.

2tired4internets Mon 21-Oct-13 10:13:29

Stripping is about empowering men then isn't it? Empowering them and making them feel happy and lucky.

Burlesque is supposed to be fun. A lot of burlesque performers put on acts and shows that are satirical, thoughtful, intelligent and surprising, if not always erotic. However, along with anything else, especially anything sex related, people should only have to do what they want to do. If you don't fancy the idea, don't do it.

BuffytheAppleBobber Mon 21-Oct-13 10:19:36

power isn't about turning men on. If it was, men would be wanting to do it.

Well quite.

NeoFaust Mon 21-Oct-13 10:35:41

Turning a man on puts him under your power (in a society where a woman has the power of refusal, anyway). If you are dancing in front of him, but teasing him without letting him touch, you have the control.

ScaryFucker Mon 21-Oct-13 10:36:25

Control of what ?

ScaryFucker Mon 21-Oct-13 10:39:45

Control over what ??

I want control over all parts of my life. Control over being able to walk down the street without being attacked, have a job where I am paid the same as men, see proper consequences for DV blah blah blah

If doing snake hips behind a feather with my tits out would accomplish that, bring it on. Otherwise, teasing your partner's erection is just something you do if you feel like it or you don't. And you don't have to compromise your feminist principles to do that, it's a piece of piss.

MurderOfBanshees Mon 21-Oct-13 10:42:59

I enjoy Burlesque, and have been quite involved with it in the past.

I don't care about it being empowering etc. I find it fun and enjoyable.

It's not necessarily feminist, though (in the hands of some performers) it has the potential to be. And some burlesque can be incredibly clever and satirical.

Some of it obviously is just stripping, but on the whole it does encompass a wide range of skills and talents. Burlesque nights are also not usually about arousal, and most I've been to will not hesitate to remove people who think it is about that. Burlesque is also not necessarily stripping.

ScaryFucker Mon 21-Oct-13 10:44:24

Hello, MOB smile

LaRegina Mon 21-Oct-13 10:49:56

NeoFaust WTAF? shock

CuttedUpPear Mon 21-Oct-13 10:54:18

Control of what, Neofaust?
And what would one do with this 'control'?

MadBannersAndCopPorn Mon 21-Oct-13 10:56:17

Degrading other women by judging them based on looks could be seen as un-feminist i.e. fat, goths. If I were to go to burlesque lessons I doubt I would show my dp my moves when I came home. It would be about dressing up and learning a new skill whilst having a giggle with all sorts of women fat, middle class, gothic or otherwise.

SoWhatSoWhatSoWhat Mon 21-Oct-13 11:00:42

Perhaps I'd be less against the idea of being a Burlesque performer if I could pick out the male audience member I most fancied and take him home afterwards.

But it doesn't work like that for women, does it? By actually having sex with him, you'd be losing 'control'. And, after a short time, get a 'reputation'. And get called all sorts of nasty names, by men and women.

If you're a burlesque performer, all that effort getting dressed up, fluffing about while 'keeping control' then not being able to carry it through afterwards must leave you feeling pretty frustrated.

Grennie Mon 21-Oct-13 11:06:24

Yes the only "control" you have is to grant or withhold sex with a man who is turned on. That is not real control or power. And actually just reinforces the idea that women are primarily sex objects.

AutumnMadness Mon 21-Oct-13 11:06:55

I would say that you can present a naked body publicly in different ways and assign different meanings to it. Stripping for titillation of men is not empowering and frankly creepy. Using a body to communicate joy, inspiration, beauty and strength is different. I don't know much about burlesque beyond seeing some performances. Some I found frankly crap others were inspiring. But I do believe that it is not the easiest form of dance as getting your kit of in a meaningful way is not an easy thing. The body has to go with brains.

I do know something about belly dance, however. It is in a somewhat similar but not nearly as contentious position as burlesque. And there is a world of difference between this:


and this:


MurderOfBanshees Mon 21-Oct-13 11:08:57

Burlesque's history is quite interesting, as it started off as satire (that's what Burlesque actually means) then evolved into mostly stripping purely for titillation/arousal, then got discarded in favour of what we now think of as stripping (lap dancing, pole dancing etc). Then vanished for ages. Then was brought back by people who wanted to make a point about women being expected to look a standard way - skinny, fake boobs etc - and the actual stripping side of Burlesque was very much secondary to the satire/dancing/comedy side. Then of course it got quite mainstream and the satire and all of that got taken out again, so it became just stripping again. Obviously there are some who've carried on with the comedy/clever side, but they've been diluted quite heavily by the huge influx of women in their underwear grinding.

Suspect it'll vanish from mainstream view again, and then repeat.

FWIW I have seen some truly brilliant performances from Burlesquers that contain little to no stripping, whether it's absolutely beautiful and technically amazing dancing, to fantastic comedy, to clever satire, to those making a feminist point through a combination of the above. Have also seen a lot more male performers getting involved.

Grennie Mon 21-Oct-13 11:11:13

Being naked is not the issue. I went to Michigan Womens Festival were some women walk around naked and there are quite a lot of topless women. It felt perfectly fine and not at all creepy. But those women were not walking around to be sexually titillating. They were walking around naked because they were hot, because they wanted to feel the sun and wind on their body, etc.

Grennie Mon 21-Oct-13 11:13:58

"Then was brought back by people who wanted to make a point about women being expected to look a standard way - skinny, fake boobs etc -"

The only point this makes is that fat women, women with small breasts, etc, can be sexually objectified too. Not the kind of point I am interested in supporting.

MurderOfBanshees Mon 21-Oct-13 11:16:50

SoWhat Guess it depends what you are hoping to achieve, most performers I know do Burlesque for the sheer love of getting up on stage and being entertaining. It's not sexual for anyone I know.

MurderOfBanshees Mon 21-Oct-13 11:18:10

Grennie And that's fair enough, was just explaining the reasoning behind it.

AngryFrank Mon 21-Oct-13 11:19:38

Now correct me if i am wrong, but isn't Burlesque normally performed to a predominately female audience? I didn't think many blokes were into it.

Grennie Mon 21-Oct-13 11:20:15

Ok Murder. But of course burlesque is sexual for much of the audience watching it.

MurderOfBanshees Mon 21-Oct-13 11:20:46

Angry IME yes, in all the shows I've been to the audience has been heavily female, usually only token men in the audience (usually dragged there by a partner)

MurderOfBanshees Mon 21-Oct-13 11:22:48

I don't know that it is sexual for much of the audience, obviously I cannot speak for the whole audience, but from the people I know who go to Burlesque shows it is not a sexual thing.

AutumnMadness Mon 21-Oct-13 11:24:42

Grennie, you are assuming that the purpose of burlesque is always sexual titillation. But is it always so?

And I feel that we do not need proof that fat women with small boobs can be sexually objectified. They already are and it's rather commonplace. It's just a slightly different form of objectification. They are perceived as negative sexual objects, not worth of a fuck.

2tired4internets Mon 21-Oct-13 11:26:48

Thanks to this thread I had a lightbulb moment. When people say that stripping (note I'm not talking about satirical burlesque here) empowers women, they actually mean empowers men.
The male viewer gets to experience the pleasant feeling of being catered to and turned on, all while comfortably sitting there wearing clothes and not participating. Stripping = male empowerment.

Grennie Mon 21-Oct-13 11:27:26

Promoting the idea of fat women as positive sexual objects worth the fuck, is hardly liberating.

I have been to 1 burlesque show, the majority of the audience were lesbians. And I know some were there to be sexually titillated. Maybe it is a more acceptable form of stripping for lesbians and Het women to attend? And plenty of Het women get turned on by other women.

AutumnMadness Mon 21-Oct-13 11:37:20

Grennie, judging something solely on the basis of how it is perceived (by some) and to the exclusion of how it was intended makes me uncomfortable.

MissHC Mon 21-Oct-13 11:39:30

I love watching burlesque. The ones we've been to (yes, I booked the tickets and dragged DP along) have been more about the music, performance and humour than about stripping.

I have also seen some strippers (both female and male) before and I find there's quite a big difference between them. I find stripping (no matter which gender) very uncomfortable to watch.

The one male stripper I enjoyed was a guy who did a whole performance with flames and hung in the air on ropes - but again, that was mainly an amazing acrobatic performance rather than just stripping. DP was with me and he said it was fantastic to watch.

DP's been on quite a few stag do's with the obligatory strippers involved, and he finds it boring (and I actually believe him). Only ones he says he enjoys are ones that actually DO something - e.g. very good pole dancing (which, if done properly, is a rather difficult sport to master).

Anyway, I don't find "proper" burlesque degrading to women. Stripping, yes, but I find that degrading no matter what gender you are. However OP, if you're not comfortable with it, just don't do it.

Cybercat Mon 21-Oct-13 11:40:52

I have done a burlesque course purely for fun and DH and I go to local burlesque nights. Yes there are occasional acts where it is clear that the performer wants to be seen as sexy but to be honest the majority of them have been pure comedy. The audience at my local is predominantly female with some couples (hetero & lesbian) and varying numbers of transvestites. It is the most accepting place, it doesnt matter who you are and as well as the usual comedy acts there is a good mix of other
stuff such as hula and sword balancing. True burlesque is very different to the seedy type that low rate clubs offer. Although there are less of them there are a number of boylesque performers now - youtube Flixx Demontrant to see his brilliant Frog Prince act.

Cybercat Mon 21-Oct-13 11:40:53

I have done a burlesque course purely for fun and DH and I go to local burlesque nights. Yes there are occasional acts where it is clear that the performer wants to be seen as sexy but to be honest the majority of them have been pure comedy. The audience at my local is predominantly female with some couples (hetero & lesbian) and varying numbers of transvestites. It is the most accepting place, it doesnt matter who you are and as well as the usual comedy acts there is a good mix of other
stuff such as hula and sword balancing. True burlesque is very different to the seedy type that low rate clubs offer. Although there are less of them there are a number of boylesque performers now - youtube Flixx Demontrant to see his brilliant Frog Prince act.

Cybercat Mon 21-Oct-13 11:43:53

Apologies for the double post.

Biggedybiggedybongsoitis Mon 21-Oct-13 12:40:24

Do it, then blame the patriarchy. Win-win.

Grennie Mon 21-Oct-13 12:42:17

OP can do whatever she wants Biggedy.

Biggedybiggedybongsoitis Mon 21-Oct-13 12:43:58

That's what I said smile

ScaryFucker Mon 21-Oct-13 12:51:53

OP, asked our opinion though, Biggedy. Should we have just said "do what you want". ? She knows she can, but wanted some discussion about her mixed feelings about it.

Imagine if all of MN simply consisted of "do what you want". You are a Feminist so you can do what you want...etc. It would be a really dull place, wouldn't it.

Do bellydance instead. All the female-bonding and strong women-only environment, and it makes you actually feel sexy.

Grennie Mon 21-Oct-13 13:02:38

Yes scary - almost every thread on MN would only have 1 or 2 comments grin

Biggedybiggedybongsoitis Mon 21-Oct-13 13:02:56

Agreed, she did ask. And she has had a myriad of responses, which is good. As a related issue, would opinions be different if the OP's partner was a woman?

Grennie Mon 21-Oct-13 13:05:18

No. Porn is exploitative whether it is men or women watching it.

SoWhatSoWhatSoWhat Mon 21-Oct-13 13:07:50

So burlesque performers aren't thinking about sex. Sounds like women mentally writing their shopping lists while having half hearted having sex with their partners.

I saw my first burlesque show in Lost Vagueness at Glastonbury Festival actually. So not a seedy stripclub. Mixed audience. I found it more interesting to stand at the side so I could watch the faces of the audience at the same time. The hungry and leering expressions on the faces of the men present as the stripper was about to remove her knickers are not something I want to see again in a hurry.

Similarly at our local music & arts festival. The marquee was packed out with blokes. There was a bit more space after I left following the Collapsing Can-Can. I couldn't bear to hear the sneering comments.

If I'd spent a lot of money on outfits, done a lot of practice on my routine and was trying to make a living out of this on the festival circuit, I'd post on websites saying how lovely, satirical and not just about stripping it is as well.

Biggedybiggedybongsoitis Mon 21-Oct-13 13:12:32

Is performing only for your partner porn, though? In which case, we are all making porn.

slug Mon 21-Oct-13 13:15:52

I'm puzzled by the argument that Burlesque is comedy/dance/acrobatics etc. If this is really the case, then why do they feel compelled to do it in a corset and stockings?

Surely you can have fully clothed entertainment and call it comedy, dancing etc without the implied titillation of calling it Burlesque?

AutumnMadness Mon 21-Oct-13 13:40:55

slug, as I already said before, I don't know much about burlesque, so I am theorising on rather shaky grounds. But nonetheless this is an interesting discussion for me as I am myself engaged in dance that is often regarded as for sexual titillation only (belly dance).

I would not say that burlesque is just about comedy and acrobatics. I think that the naked body and the process of disrobing is actually quite central to it. But to me all depends on how you present and perceive the naked body. What does a public female naked body mean?

I am not comfortable with the argument that a public female naked body is only and always about sexual pleasure of men. For starters, women do not have to be naked to be sexually objectified. Any woman who walked past a building site knows that. How many average blokes, when made to watch Swan Lake, would just leer other the thighs of the classical ballet dancers? So how much of the problem is with the dancer's nakedness and how much of it is that many in the audience are sexist pigs?

MurderOfBanshees Mon 21-Oct-13 14:18:59

"So burlesque performers aren't thinking about sex. Sounds like women mentally writing their shopping lists while having half hearted having sex with their partners."

Not really.

"I'm puzzled by the argument that Burlesque is comedy/dance/acrobatics etc. If this is really the case, then why do they feel compelled to do it in a corset and stockings?"

Well Burlesque, the word, means satire/parody. So it has it's roots in comedy. And not all Burlesque is done in corset and stockings. Some is obviously, and you have to remember that modern Burlesque has a lot of crossover with the vintage scene, so you are more likely to get women wearing seamed stockings/girdles etc.

whatdoesittake48 Mon 21-Oct-13 14:31:22

Apologies for not coming back to this thread sooner - it really has moved on.

Many thanks to the people who have pointed out that I am capable of making up my own mind (at 40yrs I should be able to do this...)and i certainly will.

Oh and I am neither fat nor bespectacled smile but I am a clever gothy type....(or the eighties equivalent!)

On balance, I think I would like to go along and see what all the fuss is about. I might enjoy it - I might not. I don't have to go the second week. But when it comes to showing the moves to my H, I doubt that will happen. I just feel that him wanting to see the dance moves is objectifying in some way. it makes me uncomfortable.

However if I come home and feel great about myself and keen to show him, that is something quite different. I just don't want his expectation to be that this class is about his needs. I actually doubt he feels that way - but it is something I want to make clear.

The thing is that if people know I have done a class like this am I still able to complain about stripping in general. Won't my principles be thrown back in my face?

However, worrying about what other people think is not something I usually do.

Biggedybiggedybongsoitis Mon 21-Oct-13 14:43:16

We are all full of contradictions, whatdoes. Follow your instincts.

laverneandshirl Mon 21-Oct-13 14:51:01

Playing devil's advocate and psychotherapist here, I'm confused about why someone self aware enough to be a feminist would do this. Deep down are you doing this to prove to yourself that you're still a sexual being at 40? Reclaiming your youthful powers of attraction before you get too old etc?

Stripping is stripping is stripping. Burlesque is about being coy and coquettish and knowing that you are doing something 'shameful' in order to get a man stoked up on the fact that you are doing the things that good girls aren't supposed to.

I'm with badminton or a nice game of squash smile

Cybercat Mon 21-Oct-13 14:54:57

I can assure you that I did not come home after class and show my husband the moves I'd learned! There was one time I tried to show him my 'tasselling' skills but I was laughing too much and he was more interested in ebay! One of our local performers has a big interest in history/Jack the Ripper and her acts often involve prosthetic limbs and fake blood - more gorelesque than burlesque!

whatdoesittake if you do a class you will be in a female only environment and under no pressure to remove anything so yes you can still complain about stripping. Even if you choose to do a bit of bra removing you can double up so you reveal nothing at all.

whatdoesittake48 Mon 21-Oct-13 15:01:57

yep, it is confusing isn't it? My initial thought was that I wanted to do something which would be fun and a laugh and somewhere to meet people - these opportunities are in short supply where I am.

I know I am sexually attractive....I am one of those women who actually still feel it even at 40. My H makes it very clear he fancies me rotten. Plus I feel it from men in general (not always welcome...).

So this isn't about proving anything in that respect. But i think it might be more about stepping outside of my comfort zone. A "normal" dance class would be too easy. perhaps I simply want to push the boundaries of what I find acceptable and explore how it makes me feel.

Chances are I will have a giggle along with a bunch of other women who also feel totally weirded out by it. And that is OK too.

I don't really like badminton smile

HeadsDownThumbsUp Mon 21-Oct-13 15:10:33

"The thing is that if people know I have done a class like this am I still able to complain about stripping in general. Won't my principles be thrown back in my face?"

Yes they will. And you would be a hypocrite to complain about stripping in general.

Who are you to say that taking off your clothes is unacceptable if you're wearing perspex heels and have backcombed your hair, but feminist fun if you're removing vintage lace.

Sorry, but it just seems like class hate to me. Be consistent.

SoWhatSoWhatSoWhat Mon 21-Oct-13 15:31:26

Perhaps Laurie Penny, burlesque-performer-turned-screaming-feminist can help us:


If there's not a lot doing round your way and you need some form of diversion, perhaps actually doing a class would be interesting so you can see what it's like and how it makes you feel. Then, like Laurie Penny, you'll be able to give people your take on it with the Voice of Experience.

slug Mon 21-Oct-13 15:54:31

What's a "screaming" feminist? Is it a woman who refuses to sit nicely and play with her gloves when being told how to behave?

SoWhatSoWhatSoWhat Mon 21-Oct-13 15:56:35

.. and liven up the next issue of your local Parish Magazine with an article on "My Burlesque Hell" (or whatever)!

curlew Mon 21-Oct-13 15:58:29

A "screaming feminist"on moment is the same as a "radical feminist"on Mumsnet. What would, anywhere else, be called a "feminist".

curlew Mon 21-Oct-13 15:58:55

Sorry, moment should read Mumsnet.

BuffytheAppleBobber Mon 21-Oct-13 16:01:54

Yes they will. And you would be a hypocrite to complain about stripping in general

I don't agree. What about ex-strippers, sex workers, porn stars etc who've had very personal experiences with the sex industry and come to the conclusion that it's exploitative? Are they hypocrites too?

Feminists can't win really grin. Comment on the sex industry with no personal experience of having worked in it: stuck up, busybody know-nothings. Get some related experience and still critique it: hypocrites.

I wonder why that would be confused

TheHeadlessLadyofCannock Mon 21-Oct-13 16:04:07

Murder, I'm finding your comments and insight very interesting. Could you recommend any good burlesque nights, in London if possible? Or any online clips I could watch?

I'm very torn on this issue and genuinely don't know what I think about it, largely I think because I don't know much about it beyond being aware of Dita Von Teese.

HeadsDownThumbsUp Mon 21-Oct-13 16:07:47

Sorry Buffy, I've been unclear. I don't think there's anything wrong with criticising stripping or the sex industry, whether or not you have personal experience of it.

I just don't see how the OP could take up burlesque as a hobby and not expected to be called out for hypocrisy if she also wants to continue to "complain about stripping in general"? If she acts against her principles, then why be surprised if those same principles are "thrown back" in her face?

There isn't actually anything wrong with wanting to display yourself sexually. And, for all the sneering, some women do actually find doing something like this enjoyable and, yes, a bit empowering. If you have grown up surrounded by superstitious misogyny and taught that the female body is shameful and disgusting, for instance, baring yours to an audience and having it appreciated can make you feel good. If you have been told you are undesirable, or (for instance) you have had radical surgery or an injury or something and you have a go at burlesque in a supportive environment, it can make you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. While this isn't true for everyone on every occasion, it's important to remember that you don't have to cover yourself up all the time to be a Proper Feminist.

Cybercat Mon 21-Oct-13 17:01:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheHeadlessLadyofCannock Mon 21-Oct-13 17:04:50


Cybercat Mon 21-Oct-13 17:05:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Cybercat Mon 21-Oct-13 17:06:59

Red Sarah

Apologies for cocking this up!

2tired4internets Mon 21-Oct-13 17:12:47

So does burlesque always involve stripping?

Cybercat Mon 21-Oct-13 17:18:03

Not always 2tired4internets but mostly - no more than you would see on a beach though!

Cybercat Mon 21-Oct-13 17:27:21

Actually, is it ok that I posted those llinks here? Should I ask for them to be removed?

2tired4internets Mon 21-Oct-13 17:37:38

No it's good that you linked to some videos, it shows us what Burlesque normally looks like.

Grennie Mon 21-Oct-13 18:15:41

Just watched the Red Sarah video. Hardly hilarious. A woman posing as a "prude" and then stripping to loud music!! It is a very old trope in strip shows.

Yes burlesque does also involve total stripping, as well as partial stripping.

Grennie Mon 21-Oct-13 18:16:57

SGB - Going somewhere like Michigan Women's Festival and being naked amongst women of different ages, sizes, having had masectomies, etc - that is a way to feel comfortable in your own skin.

2tired4internets Mon 21-Oct-13 18:42:52

That made me uncomfortable too Grennie. I kept thinking - would the performer be "allowed" to do a skit wearing the dress the whole time and walk out clothed? Or would that lead to disappointment and anger from the audience?

MurderOfBanshees Mon 21-Oct-13 18:47:07

"would the performer be "allowed" to do a skit wearing the dress the whole time and walk out clothed? Or would that lead to disappointment and anger from the audience?"

Yes, and a few do. And the audience cheer just as much.

Grennie Mon 21-Oct-13 18:50:31

Those links were posted of proper burlesque. I am not impressed. The idea of a woman dressing up as a sexually repressed character and then stripping, simply ties into mainstream ideas about women and sex.

whatdoesittake48 Mon 21-Oct-13 18:51:17

Isn't it less to do with the nakedness and more to do with the intention. You can be naked or near enough and be ignored in a sexual sense.but add a little dance in and it becomes something much more. The intention has to come from the performer and the watcher for the meaning behind it to become clear.

Whoever mentioned the parish mag article.....I don't think they would accept it.much to risque.

rosabud Mon 21-Oct-13 18:57:26

Watched the links - so it's stripping whilst wearing funny costumes?? Where does the dance bit come in?

Cybercat Mon 21-Oct-13 19:03:13

I guess we all look at things differently. I see where you are coming from grennie - hadnt really thought of it that way.

FloraFox Mon 21-Oct-13 19:30:22

I watched the links and wasn't impressed. None of them could dance, if their clothes weren't coming off, I can't imagine anyone would watch this.

SGB these sound like quite sad reasons to strip - seeking approval from others by making your body publicly available. The empowerment seems to come from being judged to be acceptable by patriarchal standards by which I mean both the standards of acceptable beauty and the concept of a woman's body as public property to be judged by others. What power is obtained by doing this?

MurderOfBanshees Mon 21-Oct-13 19:41:22

Different performers do different acts, and they tend to specialise.

So you'll get some who mostly do comedy routines. Some who mostly do stripping. Some who mostly do dance - ballet is particularly popular. Some who mostly do circus type stuff.

Some will of course combine different areas.

You also tend to get different acts depending on where they are from. Generally UK acts lean towards comedy, US acts are more raunchy, French acts tend to be more dance focussed, etc.

I'm not trying to get anyone to like Burlesque btw. I'm not daft enough to even try. And I can see why you don't like it.

It's not Feminist in general, though some specific acts are and it has the potential to be more Feminist/political.

I'm just posting to explain why some of us like it, and to correct some of the misconceptions.

Will say that since it got so much press attention it has watered down the cleverer side of it, and you see much more simple stripping than you used to.

Oh btw, SoWhat, only just remembered this, but you wrote, "So burlesque performers aren't thinking about sex. Sounds like women mentally writing their shopping lists while having half hearted having sex with their partners"

This may interest you to know that one of the original strippers back in the 40s I believe, Gypsy Rose Lee, had an act that involved stripping while talking to the audience about how while she was on stage all she was thinking about was stuff like buying groceries.

Same performer also had an act where she didn't strip, or the most she took off was a singular glove.

So while she was a part of an industry that at the time was all about titillation, she was also making digs at it.

Cybercat Mon 21-Oct-13 20:33:32

murderofbanshees has expressed herself far better than I. I regret posting those links as I feel it is unfair for me to have posted those for discussion without the performers knowledge or consent. I have reported my posts in the hope of having them deleted. I do see the arguments here but for me it is purely entertainment and I see nothing seedy or smutty about it.

AutumnMadness Mon 21-Oct-13 21:23:58

Cybercat, don't feel bad about posting the links. I guess there can be an abyss between two people's perception of the same thing. I watched the Red Sarah act and my impressions were completely different from the others here. I did not see a woman representing a sexually repressed individual. On the contrary, to me she was making fun of a bloke who was totally full of himself, with a massive inflated ego and unshakable belief in his own sex-godliness. And the silly (and I believe it was deliberately silly) fire tits thing in the end was the inflated male ego going tits up, literally and figuratively.

Flora: you seem to e saying that no one should want to be found sexually desirable by other people (unless it's in the context of a Proper Loving Relationship). One of the things about burlesque is that it's supposed to be as much fun for the performer as it is for the audience.

I think some of you are perhaps arguing from a separatist standpoint ie that to want to appeal sexually to men at all is antifeminist.

FloraFox Mon 21-Oct-13 21:49:06

SGB I'm not saying that at all. There's a massive space between stripping off in front of random strangers to seek their approval of your body and only wanting to be found desirable in the context of a Proper Loving Relationship. It's also a huge leap, and hugely dismissive, to say this is a separatist standpoint.

You said stripping can be empowering for the performer. I don't see what the power is.

BuffytheAppleBobber Mon 21-Oct-13 21:55:42

I can quite see how it would be a heady sensation: a whole room appreciating you and your performance. And seeming to want you sexually.

It's only when you analyse it from a feminist perspective that the feeling becomes a bit tarnished, for me. It's like it's a coin with two sides.

I can compare it to shaving legs. It feels good when it's done, it's a personal choice to do it, but it's also a little concession to patriarchal values as well grin

2tired4internets Mon 21-Oct-13 22:01:24

AutumnMadness , I think both me and Grennie meant the 'Victoria's Secret' video.

perplexedpirate Mon 21-Oct-13 22:03:50

I do it, I love it.
I don't strip, and the routines I've done so far are more cutesy-pin-uppy than anything else.
That doesn't mean I won't strip or do sexier stuff in the future, I might, if I fancy it.
At no point have I ever felt that I was anything less than 100% comfortable (not physically, but I'm getting bendier!).

MurderOfBanshees Mon 21-Oct-13 23:21:59

"And seeming to want you sexually."

IME it usually doesn't seem that way.

IHaveA Mon 21-Oct-13 23:25:59

I think its tacky although not half as bad as pole dancing classes.

Belly dancing is ok but BADMINTON rules!

IHaveA Mon 21-Oct-13 23:31:52

Oops, I should add that although I find it tacky I don't care if people choose to do it. I guess its a bit like fake tan and fake eyelashes - they are just not my scene but I don't think anything of people who want to have them.

perplexedpirate Tue 22-Oct-13 06:42:25

Oh dear, I've done pole dancing too, though not publicly.
I should point out that I am staunchly feminist, and firstly identified as such at a very early age.
I like dancing. I like the way I look in feathers and fishnets and corsetry. I like it when we master a tricky bit of choreography. I like the acting and the music and the friends I've made through it.
I don't like it when people use phrases like 'fat', 'nerdy' and 'goth' to describe a group of women who share a hobby.
I think that's childish, offensive, and not really in spirit of 'the sisterhood'.

redhotannie Tue 22-Oct-13 13:26:25

Here's something to consider:

To me, burlesque is very creative striptease - sometimes sexy, sometimes funny, but always very theatrical.

But you don't have to be SEXY in burlesque, and if you are sexy, it's on your own terms. Burlesque doesn't even have to include strip tease (although it mostly does).

When we talk about "Strippers," we talk about a sexuality that address what someone else finds sexy - it's a service/transaction - you are there to address the sexual needs of others. As women, we are inundated with information about how to do things that other people find sexy. It's very easy to make a list of things that make our partners "tick," no?

But, burlesque - to me, at least - is about what makes ME feel sexy - and that's a whole 'nother ball game. We're NEVER taught about that, and I think it's much more complex for women, because if you are feminist, you have a whole of extra considerations (for example, not wanting to play into the "male gaze").

What makes me feel sexy? Taking fresh, warm, clean sheets out of the dryer and holding one against my skin (no hair/no makeup) FEELS sexy to me. I could have my hair/makeup done, my stockings on, be sitting at a bar with martini - no one else around - and feel like "I OWN THIS WORLD!" - and that FEELS sexy to me.

But yes, it's body positive, and that means you'll find people on stage you don't feel are sexy. Yes, it varies in quality, so sometimes it might seem like amateur-hour. And yes, sometimes it even veers into non-feminist/male-gaze oriented shows where everyone is decidely "sexy" by what I think should be deemed "male standards."

Burlesque is a wide open playing field, dominated by women, and your definition of what burlesque is can vary greatly depending on what you want it to be. However, in my opinion, the perks of being involved in a community of like-minded women who are striving to create a bigger definition of "sexy" that includes what WE find sexy is worth the fragments of sloppiness/mis-steps that come with us trying to find our feminist voice and own a bigger piece of our environment.

I love this thread, and thank you so much for sharing your feelings and ideas! Very brave! smile

whatdoesittake48 Tue 22-Oct-13 15:19:31

Redhot - what a great post. Thank you.

FloraFox Tue 22-Oct-13 17:40:13

If burlesque is all about discovering what makes YOU feel sexy, why does it take the form of what is simply more old-fashioned / retro stripping, which is very much for the male gaze?

What does warm clean sheets have to do with burlesque?

"I could have my hair/makeup done, my stockings on, be sitting at a bar with martini - no one else around - and feel like "I OWN THIS WORLD!" - and that FEELS sexy to me."

Why does that make you feel like you OWN THIS WORLD? Especially since you don't and no amount of sitting in a bar with stockings on will lead to this.

Sorry, I just don't see how presenting your body to be judged by others, whether men or women, (cf. the nudity at the Michigan Women's Festival) and emulating a performance that was most decidedly designed for the male gaze is trying to find a feminist voice.

HerrenaHarridan Tue 22-Oct-13 18:07:39

It's people spouting off like this that makes feminist a dirty word.

I find it so damn frustrating. Women repressing other women in the name of feminism.

Go if you want to op. if you enjoy it keep going if you don't leave immediately.

If you think you will enjoy performing it for you husband and he will enjoy to watch them it is between two consenting adults is no no bugger else's business.

If the thought of performing it for you partner leaves you cold or weirded out, don't.

Please don't feel like you can't go because feminists will be disappointed in you. hmm

2tired4internets Tue 22-Oct-13 18:16:07

OP wanted to discuss this from a feminist point of view though confused

AutumnMadness Tue 22-Oct-13 18:38:13

I definitely sympathise with the critical view of the performance that was originally designed "for the male gaze" and as a device that would sexually objectify women as a class. At the same time, I am still not finding the answers to the question about whether all female public nakedness is inherently oppressive. What exactly is the qualitative difference between burlesque and Michigan Women's Festival? There were no leering men at the Michigan Women's Festival? What if there were? I bet there were a few. Does their sexism make the nudity oppressive to women? Is it the attitude of the audience that decides what is oppressive and what is not?

Also, as a dancer, I can say that if anybody thinks that there is dance where your body is not judged by others, naked or not, they are kidding themselves. Dance (and acting) is a bodily experience. You are there, on the stage, in front of the camera, in your body. It's not your book, not your painting, not your sculpture or even your voice. It's your body. And people are looking at it. Does it make all bodily performance oppressive?

Belly dance seems to be regarded on this thread as acceptable from a feminist perspective. Why is that? Is it really different from burlesque in its origin? Belly dance, in the countries of origin (Egypt, Turkey, etc) goes hand in hand with prostitution. The story about belly dance being done "by the women and for the women" is largely fairy tale. It's done by near-naked women for the men (reference - Egyptian films from the 40s and 50s). Does this make today's many strands of belly dance (e.g. tribal fusion) all oppressive to women? Why cannot the same analysis be applied to burlesque, especially considering that it also seems to have many strands varying in "strippiness". Is burlesque more oppressive than belly dance because it includes naked tits as opposed to largely naked ones? Where do we draw the line?

FloraFox Tue 22-Oct-13 18:49:00

"if you think you will enjoy performing it for you husband and he will enjoy to watch"

I'm not surprised you're damn frustrated if you don't read the OP but just spout off based on your own assumptions.

2tired4internets Tue 22-Oct-13 18:55:45

AtumnMadness, my oriental dance teacher told me that the origin of belly dance is traditional folk dances and that it became what it is today because of orientalism and the idea of sexy harem girls, and the concept of sexy bellydancing was then brought back to the Middle East.

FloraFox Tue 22-Oct-13 18:59:52

Autumn Michigan Women's Festival is a women-only event, there are no men at all so no male gaze.

FWIW, I don't think there is much difference between burlesque and belly dancing. However, since belly dancing has no cultural history in the UK, the connections with prostitution are not ingrained here. Belly dancing was the fashionable sexy-empowerfulising dance before burlesque took off and that raises its own concerns about appropriating women's experiences from other cultures for sexy-fun. What's next? Geishas?

I don't think it's that hard to draw the line. If the performance is or originates from (in recent memory, culturally) a highly gendered experience where women perform for the male gaze, it's likely to be problematic from a feminist perspective.

Grennie Tue 22-Oct-13 19:06:32

I think with Michigan Women's Festival it is a mixture of it being women only, and that the type of women attracted to the festival are not the kind to judge. Most women wear clothes. But there were very fat older women naked, and young slim women naked. And there was no obvious judgements being made.

It would have felt very different if there were any men there I suspect.

2tired4internets Tue 22-Oct-13 19:28:49

I don't think modern belly dancing is the exact same things as burlesque since it doesn't involve stripping. But I've heard here on this thread that burlesque doesn't always involve stripping either. Now that we've seen what the normal stripper version looks like, it would be very interesting to see a good example of satirical/subversive/clothed burlesque, if someone would like to share a clip!

MurderOfBanshees Tue 22-Oct-13 19:42:41

"I think with Michigan Women's Festival it is a mixture of it being women only, and that the type of women attracted to the festival are not the kind to judge. [...] And there was no obvious judgements being made."

This is how the vast majority of Burlesque events that I've been to have been.

2tired I will see what I can find, I know some of my favourite performers don't have whole clips online though - preferring the audience to get a surprise. Am bit busy for the next couple of hours, but will try and do it later tonight.

Grennie Tue 22-Oct-13 19:45:38

No women are the festival are not "performing". It is totally different.

I think it's also worth considering the whole concept of performing for an audience. That's something that a lot of people would really hate to do - and I don't mean exclusively performances with a sexual element. Lots of people dislike (for example) karaoke ie they might go along to a karaoke night and applaud their mates but would bolt at the suggestion they take the mic themselves. Being asked to speak in public is, apparently, something that a lot of people are terrified of. Yet other people love performing and/or are very keen to be famous. This isn't inherently bad.

And some people seem to have a deep level of resentment at the idea of anyone performing for an audience - the 'What makes you think you're so special' mindset: again, people who have grown up hearing that might find burlesque in particular to be empowering in that it makes them feel good to shatter a taboo.

FloraFox Tue 22-Oct-13 21:47:31

SGB I'm not sure if you are implying that feminists are these "some people" who resent the idea of anyone performing for an audience. In case you are, I'd like to be clear that I don't resent the idea of performance, this is about performance of female sexuality tailored to the male gaze.

If empowerment comes from shattering a taboo, what is the power element and what is the taboo?

If it is just the concept of going against a "what makes you think you are so special?" mindset, why does presenting your body in public in a manner associated with male judgement and male gaze smash this? Especially if, as others have suggested, burlesque is body positive i.e. you don't have to be "so special"? It would seem to me that it only promotes the sense of self of the person performing if they are showing themselves that, despite years of feeling bad about themselves for not meeting the standards expected in patriarchal society, it turns out that they do meet those standards after all. A bit like a Hollywood movie of underdog coming up good.

curlew Tue 22-Oct-13 21:52:39

SGB-forgive me if I'm wrong- but do you have a financial interest in this area?

MurderOfBanshees Tue 22-Oct-13 22:12:58

Grennie I meant in terms of the atmosphere being non-judgemental

TheDoctrineOfSpike Tue 22-Oct-13 22:26:06

Flora, I'm not sure that's right.

If you have confidence in something (public speaking, telling jokes, dancing, whatever), then showing off that skill can be exhilarating.

I don't think it necessarily starts from seeking validation.

FloraFox Tue 22-Oct-13 22:31:50

spike I agree with that. I'm not against performance nor the thrill of performing. The difference as I see it is that public speaking, telling jokes, dancing etc. are judgements based on a skill or a talent. Burlesque is either a replication of women being judged for their bodies conforming to a conventional standard or, if it is "body positive" then anyone getting up on stage and twirling their boobs gets applauded.

I don't think everyone's experience necessarily starts from seeking validation but I was responding to SGB's point about empowerment which seemed to me to be about validation. I'm still not seeing what the power is.

TheDoctrineOfSpike Tue 22-Oct-13 22:34:51

I'm not sure about empowerment, but there is a power to being the one in the spotlight with a receptive audience, isn't there?

I suppose what's not clear is the "respectfulness" of the audience vs that at a concert or something.

FloraFox Tue 22-Oct-13 22:54:22

spike I'm not trying to be obtuse but what is the power? I agree that applause or appreciation feels nice but I don't get what the power is.

perplexedpirate Tue 22-Oct-13 22:59:54

Why does it have to be about empowerment?
I'm empowered in many areas of my life, can't I just have a bit of a dance of the weekend?

HerrenaHarridan Tue 22-Oct-13 23:02:27

Flora fox. Considering the next line was "if you don't, don't." I hardly think your in a position to suggest I read properly.

I am so beyond sick of people who call themselves feminists refusing to accept that other women (who may or may not identify as feminists) may genuinely enjoy sexual practises that they do not.
Its fucking ludicrous, any woman who wants to wear sexy clothes, engage in sexual dancing or shock horror wants to be filmed having sex must be damaged by society to feel that way.

No ifs, no buts, no diversity.

Fwiw, no activity I engage in is for the titillation of men. I LOVE burlesque, strip teases, power play, sexy tight revealing clothes, killer heels, not too fussed about make up oddly enough but its never about men, I'm gay.

Generally I don't discuss this with the other women I know who call themselves feminists as it turns into a frustrated argument where they stick unswervingly to the argument that I am damaged by society hmm

If just one if you can come away from this with the seed planted in your mind that not all women who enjoy some of these practises (that are usually massively commercialised and turned into something else completely) are damaged and should be ashamed of how they feel then this outpouring will have been worth it.

MurderOfBanshees Tue 22-Oct-13 23:07:13

"The difference as I see it is that public speaking, telling jokes, dancing etc. are judgements based on a skill or a talent."

And a lot (even if not all) of Burlesque acts use skills and talent. Whether it's dancing, choreography, comedy, singing, costume design, even prop/set design.

TheDoctrineOfSpike Tue 22-Oct-13 23:12:44


The power comes from knowing you have the audience's attention and being able to take them with you. So...an impromptu joke in a public speech makes the audience more likely to take in your next point. A personal story about why you wrote the song that way before you play it makes the audience more connected.

In the words of Susan Sarandon, you own the room. And that's the sense of power.

AutumnMadness Tue 22-Oct-13 23:13:12

Flora, I think there is more skill to twirling one's boobs than may be commonly suspected. But even this is beside the point. Why is twirling boobs different from twirling legs? And, as I said before, any dancer is judged on their body. The body is part of the dance. Knowing how to use it and present it is integral to the dance.

As I said before, I really do generally agree that much of burlesque is in some degree degrading for women. But I have seen performances which for me were not, including one posted on this thread. And I am having real difficulty relating to the position which is basically "some practice that degraded women in the past and now, no matter how much it is changed and re-conceptualised by both practitioners and observers, it will always be degrading". This position effectively denies the performers and the audience subjectivities that, while definitely not "free", may be informed by notions different from ours.

What is missing for me in this thread (and unfortunately I do not have expertise here) is the discussion of the politics of the naked female body. What makes it so special? Can it ever be used as a symbolic and communicative device as the clothed body? Can it communicate something of its own that is not a "degraded woman"?

I am not interested in the "look I've got tits!" dance. I am not even interested in empowerment. Why does everything have to be bloody empowering? But I am interested in the body and its movement and what it can communicate.

WhentheRed Tue 22-Oct-13 23:14:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AutumnMadness Tue 22-Oct-13 23:17:20

And I feel Herrena also has a point. Why is being publicly sexual always degrading to women?

TheDoctrineOfSpike Tue 22-Oct-13 23:18:55

Thanks for your second and third paragraphs, Autumn, I wanted to express that earlier but couldn't get it down.

AutumnMadness Tue 22-Oct-13 23:19:30

WhentheRed, what do you mean by "support"? Applause from the sisterhood or just membership in the sisterhood? It's all a bit "walk of shame", to be honest.

HerrenaHarridan Tue 22-Oct-13 23:27:11


Comments like that are the reason my post was so ragey unlike autumn eloquent post.

Who the actual fuck are you to decide who "the sisterhood" hmm can give support to.
This makes me angry on do many levels that I struggle to express myself and worse... It's not just you who has such abhorrent opinions.

I repeat my first line. It's bullshit like that that's makes feminist a dirty word.

2tired4internets Tue 22-Oct-13 23:32:20

Do you think feminism is a dirty word Herrena?
I don't think it is, despite knowing that there are feminists out there who I disagree with.

Certainly there are plenty of feminists who do not take a pro-censorship, cover-yourself-up position.

As to the 'some people dislike performing and performers' post I made earlier, I wasn't referring only to feminists. Some people (including a percentage of men, women, transpeople of any and every political/philosophical viewpoint) seem to operate from a base level along the lines of:anything that is enjoyable is suspect. Anything that some people enjoy and others dislike is wrong. We are not here to have fun, we are here to work and strive and keep our minds on higher things.

ScaryFucker Tue 22-Oct-13 23:48:26

What 2tired just said

I also don't subscribe to the ideology that "if women are doing/saying it, it (whatever it may be) is inherently feminist"

no, it ain't

WhentheRed Tue 22-Oct-13 23:54:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HerrenaHarridan Wed 23-Oct-13 00:00:25

No I do not think it needs to be a dirty word. If it was relevant I would refer to myself as a feminist.

However less than 24% of uk women and less than 19% of US women will. Why is that?

I am a feminist, I have provided sisterly support in a thousand million ways.

If some up themselves knobends want to have a description of feminist that has no room for me then fine.

Fortunately I am not the type of person who feels obliged to conform to fit in their clique.
It does make me bloody mad though. It gives fruit to the idea that we are all raging harpies.

We are our own worst enemy. Time and again women have ripped 'the sisterhood' apart by refusing to accept that their is more than one way of thinking. In the sixties it was abortion, today it is porn.

It make me sad too. I am happy to accept that some people are not only left cold but actively repulsed by a woman dolled up to the nines with killer heels and a basque, who is strutting her stuff and feeling great but it gives me the utter rage when these people declare it unfeminist and withdraw support of 'the sisterhood' like it was ever theirs to give.

ScaryFucker Wed 23-Oct-13 00:06:21

What do you suggest then, HH

All women should agree with all women all of the time or else they are Knobends and their own worst enemy ? That seems to be what you are saying.

FloraFox Wed 23-Oct-13 00:12:17

Doctrine I can see that on a "feels good" level but I can't square that with any feminist sense of empowerment.

I also don't think we can take activities like stripping and magically strip them of their power and their effect on the position of women as a class in society just because we enjoy them or like them.

"Why is being publicly sexual always degrading to women?" Because patriarchal society treats a woman's body as either the private property of a single man or the public property of all men. Being exposed in public is degrading to the woman who is the property of one man (the madonna) because she must keep herself for her man or it is a demonstration being the public property of all men (the stripper or whore). These issues are not without consequence to women as a class and I don't believe we can individually choose our way out of them, however much we wish we could.

The existence of burlesque and its support from some feminists also supports stripping generally. Men who want to view women as the sex class or objectify women (whether its by going to strippers or otherwise) will say, quite rightly, that there's no difference between women doing burlesque and women stripping in lap dancing clubs. They are entitled to continue their consumption and there is no harm in the increasing pornification of society and culture generally cos, after all, feminists do it too. We still live in a patriarchal culture and I don't see that trying to co-opt the means of oppression will work if we want to change that.

HerrenaHarridan Wed 23-Oct-13 00:18:41

Sure hmm every one should just agree with me, that's exactly what I said angry

No I think that's its perfectly acceptable for someone to be anti porn (because 95% of porn is horrific) however to me it is not acceptable for someone who is anti porn to say to another woman who would consider herself a feminist but enjoys the 2% of porn (that is not horrific and is to her taste)you can't be a feminist because feminists are anti porn.

Yes I have heard this, no not just once.

I repeat I'm perfectly happy to accept that burlesque doesn't do it for you, that you have been put off it by the amount of it that is derogatory to women. I'm not prepared to accept someone saying burlesque is not compatible with feminism.

I generally don't watch movies, they almost always offend my feminist sensibilities. It does not follow that anything recorded as a film is unfeminist or that anyone who watches or enjoys films should not call themselves a feminist.

I am not trying to write a definition of feminism that leaves anyone out but I am having a fucking temper tantrum because I am beyond sick of people trying to do that to others (including me)

FloraFox Wed 23-Oct-13 00:24:12

HH it sounds like you are refusing to accept that some women do not think burlesque, porn etc. are good for feminism or women generally. Anyone who says that is not only a raging harpy and giving feminism a bad name according to you, they're also to blame for tearing apart feminism cos you don't agree. hmm

No-one said they were "repulsed by a woman dolled up to the nines with killer heels and a basque".

WhentheRed Wed 23-Oct-13 00:50:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheDoctrineOfSpike Wed 23-Oct-13 07:13:19

Flora, I don't think it's empowering, in a feminist sense or any other. Sarah Millican and Jimmy Carr may both feel that sense of power but I don't think either is empowered.

I do see the point about the context of stripping. What I was trying to get at with the respectfulness of the audience was whether the audience saw it as a performance (like dance).

Belly dancing and can can dancing, say, are somewhere in the spectrum between ballet and stripping. Is burlesque more stripping than dance or more dance than stripping?

WhentheRed Wed 23-Oct-13 07:47:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Now I think that a percentage, if not the majority, of female burlesque performers (and there are quite a lot of male ones, as well) perform burlesque partly because of this idea that a woman's naked body belongs either to her male owner or any man who happens to see it. For some women, a performance which involves taking your clothes off is a deliberate challenge to this mindset and a statement that her body belongs to her and she can show it or conceal it as she sees fit.

Also: whether you cover your body or display it, there's an extent to which you 'can't win' - either with the patriarchy or with feminism. If a woman were to post that she finds wearing the niquab and jilbab empowering as, in her opinion, it stops men gazing at her, the same criticisms would surely apply: that other women are obliged to wear these things and oppressed by having to do so, and that she must be deluded or wrong to find them empoweriing.

Sausageeggbacon Wed 23-Oct-13 12:00:59

This women as a class issue had me laughing, seems that some people feel that they can define that class and what is right and wrong for that class based on their opinion. Dancing of any sort is inherently sexual and Judith Hanna has written some wonderful things about the power of dance. But is seems that even though there are a percentage of women who enjoy dance, burlesque and striptease these can't be feminists as they are not supporting women as a class. And then people complain that not enough women identify as feminists. Any surprise some of us feel feminist and are involved in what most people would see as feminist ideals but feel alienated? I am involved in trying to stop FGM in africa and supporting women in the third world to earn more of a family supporting wage through fair trade. But doesn't matter as my beliefs on the dance thing is wrong in some people's opinions so I am not a feminist.

MrsClown Wed 23-Oct-13 12:04:48

I must admit I didnt know alot about Burlesque so decided to watch a performance at my local tattoo festival (on the computer - thank God I didnt actually go!). The woman concerned stripped down to a g string. I dont see the difference with any other kind of stripping. I am now positive it is exactly the same but women have been pursuaded it is more empowering - why I dont get it. There were still men with their tongues hanging out sat around the stage. It amazes me how women can been pursuaded to do anything!

BuffytheAppleBobber Wed 23-Oct-13 12:09:43

Just wanted to say thanks for a really fascinating discussion. I am really interested in your idea SGB of women sticking two fingers up to patriarchal ideas of what women's bodies mean by stripping. I'm not sure what I think...

I wonder about the different significance of the women's knowledge of what she is doing and why she is doing it, versus the assumed knowledge of the audience, who might be unconsciously assuming that she's doing it because she wants that feeling of power because men think she's sexy. I don't know if I am expressing myself very well... Maybe the difference is the intention versus the outcome? If the intention if feminist, does it matter if the consequence is that women's position as the ones who are there to be looked at by men is reinforced.

Sausage I've not seen anyone on this thread say you can't be a feminist, they've just said that they do not believe that stripping, however artistically done, is a feminist choice to make. I see a difference between those two positions, but perhaps to you they mean the same thing?

Grennie Wed 23-Oct-13 12:11:42

I agree MrsClown.

Sausage - It does not mean you are not a feminist. Feminists think different things. But I disagree with you that burlesque and striptease are meaningless. Women are treated and viewed as the sex class. Striptease and burlesque are just another way that is reinforced.

HerrenaHarridan Wed 23-Oct-13 12:43:16

Yes that's what I said, right after "I think it's perfectly acceptable for someone to be anti porn" hmm

I think it's perfectly acceptable for people to hold any view that they have actually thought about. I just don't think it's acceptable for them to refuse to accept that other people can hold different opinions and still be a feminist.

"I don't believe we can individually choose our way out of this, however much we might want to"

This is exactly what I am talking about.

HerrenaHarridan Wed 23-Oct-13 12:53:19

I really relate to SGBs point about either extreme.
Don't you see the irony in telling women how it is acceptably feminist to behave, think and dress

I think that in my anger I have not been expressing myself very well.

I absolutely support your right to be anti-porn, anti stripping and anti burlesque.
I support your right to wear clothes that make you feel sexy or clothes that cover you up.
I wholeheartedly support your right to shave or not shave, to wear make up or not or to wear killer heels or combat boots.
You lose my support at the point that you decide that to do, think or feel the opposite of what you think is unfeminist/not supported by the sisterhood/ not comparable with feminism

Grennie Wed 23-Oct-13 13:01:56

Any woman can behave, think, dress as she wants. Totally up to her.

But feminism is about analysing how patriarchy affects us all. And that includes wearing make up, high heels, stripping and porn.

I don't care if a feminist wears make up for example. I do care how the whole make up industry makes women feel negatively about themselves.

ScaryFucker Wed 23-Oct-13 13:16:37

Your argument is too simplistic and too individualist, IMO, HH

Listen to what grennie is saying

BuffytheAppleBobber Wed 23-Oct-13 13:22:42

I also support the right of women to make their own choices and not be judged for them. If only that were actually possible smile

However I do not think that any of us ever make choices that are free from cultural influence, and further I think that our individual choices contribute to culture in turn; this might be by conforming to it or by challenging it.

My instinct is that whenever women make choices that appear to reinforce patriarchal ideas about "a woman's place", that regardless of the individual's intention when making those choices, we would be kidding ourselves if we thought that there were no consequences.

What I expressly do not mean is that women who, to take another example of "a woman's place", put their financial independence on hold to stay home and raise children are not or can not be feminists. What I think is that it's helpful to analyse the consequences of all those individual choices for the way society views women.

To put it another way, not every choice that a woman makes is a deliberate, politically motivated feminist act. Some choices are, some are made for a plethora of other possible reasons.

So, in summary, pointing out that one choice that a woman has made is, in the opinion of another woman, not feminist; doesn't mean that the second woman is saying that the first cannot be a feminist, because of that once choice.


HerrenaHarridan Wed 23-Oct-13 13:26:10

Too individualist shock fuck me sideways, heaven forbid any woman dare be an individual as opposed to a conforming member of the feminist collective?!?

IMO you need to think very carefully about the exclusionist attitude that you express.

curlew Wed 23-Oct-13 13:27:23

"You lose my support at the point that you decide that to do, think or feel the opposite of what you think is unfeminist/not supported by the sisterhood/ not comparable with feminism"

The really important thing to remember is that just because a woman makes a choice doesn't make it a feminist choice. Women are just as capable of being anti feminist as men are.

Women are, obviously, perfectly at liberty to make anti feminist choices. But they can't then call themselves feminists.

Grennie Wed 23-Oct-13 13:31:52

Harridan - Feminism is a political philosophy. If you don't agree with it, fine. But it is pretty rude to come on here and tell us that all feminists are doing it wrong.

BuffytheAppleBobber Wed 23-Oct-13 13:32:48

I think that everybody, every single feminist, makes unfeminist choices sometimes.

At the moment, I do not think it is possible to live life making only feminist choices (by which I mean choices that actively advance women's liberation from oppression).

I was a SAHM for 5 years. I still do most of the practical household planning. These were choices made not for political reasons, but for practical and emotional ones.

As a researcher, I am an epistemological sceptic. I do not believe in theory free knowledge, I think all ways to judge knowledge and truth a relative. But, as other wiser researchers have written before me, it's not possible to function as an epistemological sceptic while going about one's daily life.

I think that the same is true of feminism.

But, Grennie, what about the flip side - the patriarchal argument that women must be 'modest' and 'decent': keep themselves covered up, express no interest in sex and not seek to draw attention to themselves? I don't think a discussion of nudity/display of the body can exclude a discussion of the choice or obligation to hide the body and how that affects women.

The majority of human beings (Not all, of course; some have other concerns) will, from time to time, want sexual attention from others. You can be a brain surgeon or tennis champion most of the time but now and again you might like to dress up and show off in a sexual context. That doesn't make you any less of a medic or an athlete. The whole much-derided concept of 'choice' feminism has a certain amount to do with the idea that women being told to avoid certain things on the grounds that it gives The Patriarchy a bad impression of all women can sound like yet another obligation on women to put their own needs, wishes and feelings at the bottom of the list and to be unselfish (like some of the bucketheads suggesting that Miley Cyrus should have no hesitation about 'sacrificing her career' for the sake of All The Other Women).

SinisterSal Wed 23-Oct-13 13:39:46

I really don't see that Woman be Modest trope any more. The pressure is all the other side, be overtly sexual, be a Cool Girl, be Up For It etc etc. That has changed imo.

Perhaps one time burlesque etc was about reclaiming one own's sexuality. Now I think the rebellious thing to do would be proudly and overtly asexual.

Also, critiquing a practice on a thread that asks for views, is not kicking people out of the sisterhood, ffs. There is more to feminism than Do What Thou Wilt, we're not bloody satanists (seeing as how it's nearly halloween)

BuffytheAppleBobber Wed 23-Oct-13 13:40:31

SGB if you are a male brain surgeon or tennis champion, does our culture expect that dressing up and showing off includes wearing really uncomfortable and difficult to walk in shoes and revealing clothes? Dancing provocatively? I don't think it does expect this. Unless you happen to be gay, I guess...? Or into various scenes?

So while I agree that insisting women behave modestly at all times is just part of the same desire to control women, I just can't help thinking that the fact that women and men are conventionally expected to sexually 'show off' in very different ways is significant somehow.

What do you think?

SinisterSal: Really? Current debates about the niquab/jilbab/burqua completely passed you by?

Buffy: I know anecdote isn't data but ISTR that at least one male burlesque artist is a barrister when he's not leaping around with his willy out. However, some men do wear revealing clothes/pose/dance/strut their stuff when they want to attract lustful attention from women.

BuffytheAppleBobber Wed 23-Oct-13 14:27:58

SGB I am sure that some men do indeed dress themselves up in unconventional ways when performing or just when out and about being sexy.

I suppose what seems to me to be different about that is that they are actively being subversive of what's normally expected from men. And also, they can choose to shrug off this identity as a 'sexy object of lust' (for want of a better turn of phrase) whenever they want to and return to being men.

Whereas women who choose to do burlesque or dress up in a corset aren't being subversive, they are conforming to the trope 'woman as sexy object of male gaze' which I think we all agree is fairly prevalent. I'd even venture to say that they are conforming to this expectation even if they're doing burlesque as a personal rebellion.

What is a subversive identity that a woman can take on, but then leave behind like a male burlesque performer can when he goes into work in his suit? Like a transient identity rather than one that is permanent because of their gender? Maybe female racing driver? The female racing driver will be an extremely competent driver of cars and will understand things like engine performance. But when she isn't actually performing that role, car salespeople will probably make the same assumptions about her knowledge that they would about any other woman. Similarly, most people who saw a man in jeans or a suit wouldn't wolf whistle at him on the street as they might if he were wearing his burlesque outfit. Whereas people will assume the man knows a bit about cars and the woman is more likely to get whistled at, whatever they happen to be wearing, because that's part of their core identity as a man/woman that society automatically gives them.

Oh dear, I still worry that I am not making enough sense. blush

SinisterSal Wed 23-Oct-13 14:38:57

Niqab wearing isn't mainstream. That is rather the point.

FloraFox Wed 23-Oct-13 15:04:16

I don't think patriarchy did tell all women to cover up and be modest. The "girl you marry", yes but not the "girl you don't". Often this was not an individual choice to be the "girl you don't" but could result from some transgression eg having sex before marriage or worse, having a baby. To the point where a woman might end up in prostitution. I read that one in three women in London in Victorian times (the height of public modesty) was in prostitution.

Stripping or burlesque doesn't subvert patriarchal roles, it just changes the source of supply of the publicly available sex class from poverty or desperation to empowerfulised free choice wielding (often middle class, in the case of burlesque) women. That might feel like a personal act of subversion but it doesn't subvert patriarchy. Someone said on another thread (*Whenthered*?) that a male character said on a recent film that men won the war of the sexes when women started pole dancing for fitness.

perplexedpirate Wed 23-Oct-13 19:44:10

To clarify: I didn't invoke the 'spirit of the sisterhood' (kicks pentangle under the sofa).
I said it wasn't in the 'spirit of the sisterhood' to call a group of women childish and offensive names because they like dancing dressed in peculiar outfits.
I was referring to the posters who we're saying burlesque dancers were fat, goth, nerdy etc.
Fortunately, the rest of this discussion has been mostly well-reasoned and interesting.
I'll still dance though. And be a feminist.

For the sake of argument, would an actress playing a burlesque dancer still be regarded as making an unfeminist choice?

perplexedpirate Wed 23-Oct-13 19:44:36

Female actor I mean!!

coffeespoons Wed 23-Oct-13 20:38:52

When burlesque was first revived around near me a good few years back now it was bloody awesome. I went to see it, was never brave enough to do it. It was mostly women, feminist women too, all body types/sizes, creative storylines etc, non-leery but supportive audience of mostly women.

At some point it became a bit more mainstream. I stopped going because it was suddenly weird and objectifying and full of leery men and no creative storylines and women I knew didn't want to be part of it any more.

It's even more mainstream now.

Burlesque can be empowering, but I'd say a lot depends on whether it has the right kind of atmosphere and the right kind of audience. When it was just a group of us radicals in a back room it sure was.

coffeespoons Wed 23-Oct-13 20:40:52

And all you lot describing burlesque as 'stripping for fat birds' should take a look at yourselves! How is having a go at women for being fat feminism?

Grennie Wed 23-Oct-13 20:43:19

Not having a go at woman for being fat at all. But that seems to be the only "subversive" thing about burlesque i.e. that women are of different shapes, sizes, wearing glasses, etc.

And when you say empowering, what power are the performers getting from performing?

TheDoctrineOfSpike Wed 23-Oct-13 22:05:20

Who has described it as that on this thread, coffeespoons?

perplexedpirate Wed 23-Oct-13 22:27:43

ScaryFucker, comment no 6.
'Burlesque is stripping for fat birds, you know that, right?'.

perplexedpirate Wed 23-Oct-13 22:30:16

Bunnylebowski, comment 8.
'Burlesque is stripping for fat middle-class goths'.

TheDoctrineOfAnyFucker Wed 23-Oct-13 22:34:48

ScaryFucker's quote was immediately followed by 'you know all the cliches, right'.

TheDoctrineOfAnyFucker Wed 23-Oct-13 22:37:39

Coffeespoons, I think most posters are agreeing with this bit:

At some point it became a bit more mainstream. I stopped going because it was suddenly weird and objectifying and full of leery men and no creative storylines and women I knew didn't want to be part of it any more.

perplexedpirate Wed 23-Oct-13 22:37:47

And 'you know all the cliches, right?' was immediately followed by 'in this case I believe them'.

TheDoctrineOfAnyFucker Wed 23-Oct-13 22:40:37

True. But I don't think either of those posts were about castigating women for being fat but, just as Grennie said, if the subversive thing about burlesque is supposedly that it's for different kinds of body shapes, that's just a sop to the fact that it's really no different to stripping.

perplexedpirate Wed 23-Oct-13 22:46:33

The differences between burlesque and stripping have been pointed out time and again on this thread, so there's no point me repeating it all.
It's like comparing baking a fairy cake and a loaf, some similarities and cross over clearly, but ultimately a very different end 'product' (please note use of inverted commas).
It's like saying 'fairy cakes! Ha, they're just loaves for twats'.

TheDoctrineOfAnyFucker Wed 23-Oct-13 22:49:41

Sure, pp, I'm not re-arguing that point with you, just putting the posts quoted into the context that I think they were meant ie critical of burlesque not of fat women.

FloraFoxForAnyFucker Wed 23-Oct-13 22:55:19

coffeespoons I'd be interested in your take on how it is empowering.

coffeespoons Thu 24-Oct-13 10:13:44

All I know is when I used to go it was a majority woman space which had the same atmosphere as many woman-focussed 'safe spaces' do, like the women's centres and feminist places I have been to. Where I didn't hear judgement, criticism or objectifying comments on women's bodies. It was OK to look how you looked and your body wasn't what was important. Where I saw women be creative and intelligent and people appreciating women as people rather than objects. There were routines that made me think and often made feminist points. There was occasional nudity but often less than you might see down the pub. A lot less sexism than down the pub, too. It was kind of political dancing and it was open to everyone. It was completely different to burlesque now and completely different to stripping. It was generally an expression of subversive femme ideas and was part of the queer scene.

BuffytheAnyAppleFucker Thu 24-Oct-13 10:25:00

I am interested to know why women can't express themselves, be witty, make points etc, and use their body in performances to do this without taking off their clothes.

I am not opposed to public nudity itself, I am wondering what the removal of clothes element adds to the burlesque argument? I wonder this genuinely, not as a way to try and trip up pro burlesque posters.

BuffytheAnyAppleFucker Thu 24-Oct-13 10:26:30

I don't think I phrased my question very well.

What I mean is that women can perform in supportive environments. They can dance, be funny, do whatever. In costumes that they don't remove.

What is the significance of removing clothes? And how does that differ from the significance of removing clothes in stripping?

AutumnMadness Thu 24-Oct-13 11:44:09

Buffy, I am asking the same question, but only in reverse - what can undressing/nakedness on stage express? I don't know if the positive phrasing makes it any different.

So far, this thread came up with two major points:

1. Empowerment for women of "non-model" shapes. I get that to an extent. Being sexual and sexually desirable can be positive. For instance, sexual body confidence is important in intimate relationships. However, our social environment conditions our self-understanding, and women whose bodies do not conform to the "ideal" have very few cultural references that they can use to support their sense of worth. So I think that public sexual nudity can actually help such women. I don't think we can neatly separate the private from the public and say that it's perfectly easy for "non-model" women to have positive private sexuality alongside total public sexual invisibility. HOWEVER: How quickly do these noble undertakings are sabotaged by patriarchy? How quickly can a supportive gathering of women turn into a spectacle for leering men? How quickly do the switches flick in the brains from "this body is gloriously beautiful" to "I wouldn't mind bending her over"?

2. Women's takeover of their own bodies. In our present culture, public naked women are pretty much all sex objects, in a negative degrading way that takes the dignity away from the women. Can we change it? Can we carve out/create an understanding of public naked women outside patriarchy? This to me is very attractive but also seems near impossible. Parallels can be drawn with "Slut Walk". Or Femen. But Femen are just plain stupid in my opinion.

Personally, I would also like to look towards historical use of women's naked bodies in art (I don't want to say "nudes" as this makes women sound like inanimate objects). Was Titian for instance just porn for the rich, or was there something else? There are parallels here with the thread we had about the Warwick rowing team calendar.

I am asking more questions here than answering. But it is bloody hard to think outside patriarchy.

BuffytheAnyAppleFucker Thu 24-Oct-13 11:47:38

Sounds like we've got ourselves several worthwhile research questions there!

freyasnow Thu 24-Oct-13 12:31:54

There is a very widely held belief in society that the main way women feel sexy is by dressing up in tiny bits of underwear that accentuate particularly female body parts and then displaying them to other people (even if only their partner). It is a common trope that a woman would feel sexier and more liberated if she did this, and if she only loosened up a bit and bought some lingerie, she would feel sexy. There is an idea being presented on this thread that women aren't allowed to be sexual in public and burlesque is some sort of answer to this.

The issue then is that while a performative sexuality is authentic for some women, it is not for the majority of women. That doesn't mean the majority of women are less sexual in general, less sexual in public or less body positive. It just means their sexuality is different. For some women, being more sexual in public would actually mean looking at attractive men more, commenting on men's appearance, having men be very amiable and pleasing to them as individuals. Although I wouldn't personally go so far as to expect large numbers of men to take up stripping with other men while wearing vintage clothes and then come home to a. discuss it with me, b. do it as an actual public performance or c. act it out at home (pleasing, subserviant and homoerotic as the idea may well be), because there is a line you don't cross unless you are being very explicit that this is a consensual dynamic of objectification and subordination. The idea that you can pass off somebody doing something that is about others looking at their body in a context that they claim makes them feel somewhat uncomfortable and is about them 'pushing their boundaries' and they're debating it with their partner clearly has strong submissive elements. If lots of men were talking about doing this for no financial reward, it would absolutely be seen as such.

So my issues with it are:

1. Be honest that this is an activity that traditionally puts women in a subordinate role. Particularly be honest if you are then asking others to make judgements about it, because being judged, feeling shamed, feeling you are doing something wrong, naughty etc are part of the appeal of doing subordinate things for many people, and making others feel that way is part of sexuality for others (and I think we should be honest about that (not saying this is the OP, but certainly true of some posters in these kind of discussions).

2. Don't reinforce women's social, political and economic enforced subordination as somehow 'natural' by making out that this subordination is something women would enjoy and how most of them would express their sexuality if they would only push their boundaries. If you want to do it, that's fine, but don't project it on to women as a group or make generalisations about what a sexy woman is like.

3. Stop pushing it into increasingly public spaces. Burlesque dancers are not an oppressed minority. The idea that women's sexiness is about showing off their bodies in bits of lace is already the established norm. I'd rather my kids were not pushed into more exposure to this idea, so that they can develop their own more nuanced ideas about life. If it turns out that kind of act is appealing to them, that is their choice, but this really feels like pressure to conform to a norm.

4. The focus on the breasts (nipple tassels, swinging breasts around in a supposedly comical way) is very objectifying because there is already a very strong influence in society that women's breasts are primarily sexual and somehow a joke or an invitation. This is particularly irritating to me as a woman with large breasts which are simply part of my body and not primarily a sex aid for others to look at. If this isn't all about objectifying women's bodies in particular, why don't you attach tassels or bit of jewellery to your elbows and swing those around?

That being said, people who want to do it should do it, in a safe space with like minded individuals. I am sure it is a great way of making friends, and I don't like badminton either. If burlesque and badminton were the only two options for a hobby, I might well find burlesque the least terrible of the two.

Really interesting thread.
I haven't been to burlesque show for years but the last one I went to was v good, the acts included

A woman dressed in Puritan gear (think Miller: The Crucifix) coming on to ''The Stripper' music ( m.youtube.com/watch?v=twOUAUKurFw&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DtwOUAUKurFw) and gleefully removing her mob cap, apron, rolling up her sleeves and then flashing an ankle in a thick boot and wool sock.

A ballet routine with a woman in a raincoat and heels and black dress looking bored dancing mechanically round a lamp post, then dancing with a series of acrobatic pole tricks up and down the lamp post (pole dancing) whilst a man watched from shadows, then he offered her cash, she refused, they switch to fast tango, he offers more and more money, she eventually sells him the lamp post, he dances round it, fade to spotlight with him hanging upside down on pole, flowers thrown and wild applause from stage left.

A woman in blood stained nightie runs about screaming, writhing on floor in abandonment,then opens coffin, stakes a male vampire, takes off his clothes and puts them on herself, then pas de deux as he dies.

Followed by some fire eating and hoops/silks acrobatics and a comedy routine by a drag artist.

It didn't feel at all oppressive; it was thought provoking and entertaining.

BuffytheAnyAppleFucker Thu 24-Oct-13 15:55:59

That does sound pretty cool. And no corsets or stockings?

No, the fire eater was in sequinned bikini but obviously clothes would catch fire! She had lots of tattoos and was bald. The acrobats were in unitards.

Oh the lamp post woman took off raincoat and dress to pole dance in hot pants and bra. To be fair you can't pole dance in a dress: clothes make you fall off! You need bare skin to grip.

The tango they did was incredibly sexy. I thought the whole thing was fab. I wish I could remember the name of the group who put it on.

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