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Philosophy and Strippers

October 24, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I recently read a note posted on Facebook…

…this brings up the statment that strippers have feelings too – which is true. They are human, but we, as society, don’t see them that way. We objectify them to a peice of merchandise like a television or a pencil. . . any thoughts?

My response to this is rather cynical, but without a lot of thought on the subject, I’d have to say it’s fairly solid in my mind.

We, as society, do not objectify strippers – at least not in the way noted above.

It is in fact the strippers who objectify themselves by performing such crude acts, such as selling their body. Their behaviour provides no other option for how “patrons” or other any other people would perceive them. Objects, in society, are bought, sold, and bartered with. For the stripper to reduce their own body to this level is their own doing. To objectify strippers is only to see them as they present themselves.

The problem arises when “patrons” begin to generalize this attitude over the general population of women as a whole. (I say women because there are most likely more female strippers than male strippers, which would tend to have a greater adverse effect on the women in society.)

From even this slight exploration of the topic, one can conclude that strip clubs may be morally impermissible (as if we didn’t already know this).

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Categories: Philosophy
  1. salamanderknight
    November 15, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    The title, or occupation of ‘stripper’ is an label we place on a certain class of people. By saying that ‘you are a stripper’ we are objectifying the person because in that statement we are ignoring that ‘you are a female stripper with two children to care for’ (cliche I know)

    This is the same as saying ‘you are a lawyer’. Even though you are making a comment about their use in society (objectifying) one tends to completely ignore the human being behind the title.

    Objectification does not start at buying or selling – It isnt even degrading, to call something what it is is only accurate. I agree with the quoted statement as it is not only the case for strippers. Even when you refer to your hand, you are seeing it as an object – how often do you perceive it to be truly part of yourself?

    I guess the entire point of those three paragraphs is to agree with you. I just have a problem with the idea of ‘reducing to the level of an object’

    I think you really need to say more about this before you start throwing around wild allegations of strip clubs and strippers being morally impermissible. Referring to my previous paragraphs, whats wrong with a person merely fulfilling their purpose? If you hire a lawyer you expect him to do his job.

    • RW
      November 15, 2009 at 7:07 pm

      That is an interesting view. I can’t say I disagree. However, I believe I was arguing in a slightly different direction of which I will try to clarify.

      The act of objectifying a individual associates certain connotations to fit our schema of the classification we have fit the individual into.

      To use your example of the lawyer: to call someone a lawyer, because that is there occupation, is completely fine. The issue arises with the certain features that we associate with lawyers in society. Some common associations would be: ‘lawyer –> schemer’ or ‘lawyer –> dishonest’.

      Not all associations are negative in themselves. For example if you are a mother: ‘mother –> caring’ and ‘mother –> loving’.

      These are just characteristics that are associated with people’s subjective conceptions of various groupings of people. I concede that the environment in which an individual experiences a certain person (like a lawyer) will influence their conception of ‘lawyer-ness’. Some may have positive experiences and some may have negative experiences – for whatever the reasons may be.

      When people experience strippers, it is most often in the same way: as a woman (or man) who will take off their clothing for sums of money (simply put). I’m going to assume that the majority of strippers are female, and I will point my argument in this direction.

      The problem is that, through this very narrow objectification of women, certain men who frequent establishments in which they are encouraged to form superficial attitudes toward women generalize this attitude into life apart from the strip-club. In a strip-club it is completely appropriate to treat women as objects – because that is how they are presenting themselves to you. But when this attitude and behaviour is generalized and influences interaction with “proper” women, it leads to sexism, harassment, and numerous other issues.

      This is why I lean towards the statement that strip-clubs and strippers are morally wrong.

      Another note:
      It is difficult to parallel this stripper example to an example of a lawyer, for a lawyer is doing a very specific job. A stripper is merely removing clothes – and all strippers perform this same task. The legal tasks, and gender, of lawyers varies more.
      Also, when a stripper is doing their job, all you experience is a nude individual. This is a very basic experience that, despite variation in strippers, remains fundamentally consistent. (Excluding all that “kinky” stuff.)

  2. salamanderknight
    November 16, 2009 at 2:01 am

    Alright then! I do see where I was arguing a different point and wasn’t quite hitting the same target. I think instead of objectifying a stripper leading to negative attitudes towards women in the real world it is instead the very existence of sexuality that causes this disharmonious attitude. Women and men are sexual beings, even in the most platonic relationship sexuality is still recognised because it is agreed not to act upon it.

    Instead of strippers being the source of sexual ideas, feelings and attitudes it is instead just part of what it is to be human. I am sure that strippers themselves recognise that their profession leads to being seen as purely a means to an end (sexual gratification). They rely on this to make money.

    Any man frequenting such establishments would obviously have a poor attitude towards women to begin with. (I’m not quite sure of how to feel towards casual strip club attendees) I guess its just another way to get a thrill these days.

    let me know what you think; i am still developing my argumentative style and pretty much everything I just wrote was stream of consciousness.

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