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Context, ritual, and gender: An ethnography of stripping

Kimberly B Price, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study is based on 14 months of ethnographic research in a New England strip club featuring female fully nude dancers and primarily male patrons. The male patrons, some of whom are marginalized (economically and socially) and some of whom are not, all come to collectively dominate women workers in the context of the club. The Lion's Den is designed for male patrons to act out and confirm their sense of masculinity and heterosexuality. Typically money, prestige, and power are correlated in jobs, however in the case of strip clubs they are not. In The Lion's Den though stripping is the central activity of strip clubs and the strippers I interviewed make on average $10,000 more annually than the male workers, they fall at the bottom of the work hierarchy in terms of their relative authority and status. In these exchanges there is a tension between strippers' and patrons' wants and needs. These exchanges occur in a context in which interactions are structured by the collective dominance of male patrons and male workers and a social organization of the work that devalues and demeans strippers. While strippers use a variety of coping mechanisms and resistance tactics an examination of these techniques shows the majority women are overwhelmingly unsuccessful in resolving the troubles of stripping work.

Subject Area

Social structure|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Price, Kimberly B, "Context, ritual, and gender: An ethnography of stripping" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3078713.