Book 23 of Year 2017 – “​Stripped” by​ Bernadette Barton

Official Title – Stripped: More Stories from Exotic Dancers

Genre – Non-Fiction

Book Length – ​252 pages

Reading Time – ​6.5 hours

Style/ Plot – ​This book tugged at all corners of my heart without intending to. I don’t think that was the author’s aim. Bernadette writes stories about exotic dancers/ strippers and the various reasons they tow this path.

She teaches a class on Sex Industry Perspectives and this book is a research on the allure of stripping amongst other things.

In these stories, women make decisions based on social economic situations to dance. There are tales of exhausting conditions they have to work in. There are also tales of competition and abuse.

I learned a lot from this book. There’s a world out there for women that’s different to the traditional route that I’ve known and lived (e.g. Go to uni, get a well paying job etc).

For some women, that’s not even an option, talk less of a possibility. They dance to take care of deadbeat husbands/ boyfriends/ men.

They dance to put food on the table for their families. They dance because they know no other option. They are vilified for this. Called unprintable names and treated like chattel.

For some women, they make a feminist decision to dance. They feel their sexuality is empowering and they choose to make a living off it.

For some, it provides healing from self esteem issues. Dancing gives them a confidence boost.

There are stories in the book that make me smile: those of generous customers who don’t expect sex as payment. There are stories that made me wince and grit my teeth: the ones who had abusive pimps or men who brutally abused them physically, sexually and emotionally.

Above all, dancers have the longings and yearning we all have: to be recognised as a person.

Favourite Quote – ​”Proudly displaying one’s naked body can be a potent act in a culture that repeatedly constrains and degrades women’s sexual selves.”

Rating – 4/5

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