Gender Paradoxes in Strip Clubs

An interview with Kim Price-Glynn about her new book, Strip Club: Gender, Power, and Sex Work (Intersections)

Strip Club takes a different approach to studying sex work. “Most of the previous research on stripping focuses on the voices and experiences of individual strippers and patrons. In contrast, my research looks at the club’s multiple layers, including its hierarchy, rules, practices, and the entire cast of characters – from management to patrons,” she says.

“I had hoped to find that women in the sex industry did sometimes stick together to fight for better working conditions. But here, time and again, what proved more true was that acts of solidarity were the exception rather than the rule.”

The strippers were often infantilized by the men working at the club. “The strippers’ behavior was constantly monitored to ensure they didn’t break any rules and they were often accused of whining about their work. Male coworkers often referred to their own jobs as ‘babysitting’ the strippers,” Price-Glynn says.

Yet the strippers contributed more than just entertainment — they spent a considerable amount of time consoling and counseling the men in the audience.

“The men were trying on different forms of masculinity. The strippers provided a lot of care and emotional support to many of the men. Other patrons spent their time in the club socializing with friends or club regulars. Men also came to the club to act aggressively towards the strippers, ” she says. “There were not mutually exclusive groups,” Price-Glynn says.