Good article, Elle. Thought-provoking and many good points to be sure. I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for writing.
This passage though: “Many people believe that strippers and exotic dancers are sexually objectified, but if we ask the question, “Who has the agency and the power?” it is clearly the woman on stage. She has chosen to be there and is interfacing with her sexual side under her terms.”
Not so much. Because, in line with the term “choice feminism” which implies that anything a woman does is inherently feminist simply because she chose it, how exactly does one define and differentiate “choice” here?
Yes, the woman has, in the simplest sense, chosen to be on stage, dancing under the gaze of men and ultimately, to make her money off that gaze and desire (because without it, there wouldn’t be a market for what she is doing).
But merely because she donned the duds and climbed up on stage, this doesn’t offer us any deeper insight into what that choice really means. Some 90% of the women who work in the sex industry are victims of sexual abuse and incest. Plenty of women who work in the sex industry struggle with drug addiction. Thus, is it still a choice and is she still the one with the power if she is doing it to fuel and support her drug habit? Or, if it’s because this type of thing is all she’s ever known? That leveraging sex and her body as her primary commodity are what she’s learned is her primary value within our culture, as well as maybe the dysfunctional family culture in which she’s grown up?
Thus, “choice” is not as clean-cut as the word implies. And as a result, true empowerment is far more difficult to parse out than your article admits.