Audacity Chutzpah, Aurora Galore, burlesque, comedy, feminism, Julie Atlas Muz, Kiki Kaboom, stripping, Wau Wau Sisters
This morning I woke up to a video from the Huffington Post claiming to be “hilarious” and “feminist burlesque”. I thought, how fabulous and clicked gleefully on the video. Imagine my disappointment when it turned out to be an average comedian taking a cheap shot at an art form at which many of my (feminist) friends excel so wonderfully. I’m not posting it here, but you can easily look it up. I adore burlesque, it was a scene that made me feel so welcome when I was just an opera singer seeking to send up opera by mixing it with striptease. Now, having evolved, I frequently host shows with some of the best strippers, ecdysiasts and showgirls that the business has to offer. Women so at home, so comfortable with their bodies and their sexualities that nakedness and nudity is not even slightly taboo. What could be more feminist than that?
So, Nadia Kamil, let’s look in detail at your ‘feminist burlesque’ for a second, shall we? Let me first explain the meaning of burlesque to you, since when you created your ‘routine’ you obviously didn’t seek to explore the rich history of the art form which you feel is ‘shaming’. Burlesque at its very purest means to send up, to take the piss out of something, to make people look at role models or people deemed important and laugh at them. Very much like your stand up comedy. Although, being a women, you wouldn’t know about funny, would you? Whoops, a hack cliché slipped in there, how silly of me. Not something you’d expect from someone with a degree…but more of that later. So, by sending up a burlesque routine, you are almost the pure distillation of burlesque itself. Well done you.
You start with your explanation of how someone’s routine made you feel icky. Was it her comedy? Was it her comfort with her own body? That a woman can be both sexy and funny? That must have stung you a bit, as many female comedians struggle with being sexy and funny. Lucky that in the burlesque world, that isn’t an issue we struggle with, it’s so liberated over on the dark side. I draw your attention to the fabulous Kiki Kaboom if you need an example. Hilarious. Sexy. Liberated.
Then you go on to give away her punchline. Just like that. So the gag that she so carefully sets up over the five or so minutes of her act, you give away. Just. Like. That. Intrinsically, that laugh that you got when you revealed her reveal. That was hers. You are basically a joke thief.
Then, taking off your glasses, so we “can’t see your shame”, you start your routine. Using The Stripper. A piece that has been used to parody stripping routines since it was written. How original of you. How funny. How multi-layered. I say routine, but that would imply some level of choreography or skill. Do you know how long and hard burlesquers work to make what they do look effortless? Hours and hours and hours of rehearsal and self discipline. Hours of watching the greats from the forties and fifties, the mothers of our craft, watching them to discern how they get each bump and grind absolutely perfect. Studying hand positions and leg angles so that it shows our feminine curves off to the most perfect advantage. The hours spent gluing crystals (and the accompanying E-6000 headache that goes with it) to costumes, the bleeding hands and blisters from fans (like the amazing twerking Aurora Galore who frequently cuts her fingers to ribbons, she goes so hard with those fans!) and pointe shoes, the bad backs and necks from hauling heavy costumes from one end of town to the other, (for burlesquers, like comedians, also do a double – or sometimes even a triple)
If you had done a little research into the art form you were parodying, you’d know that 90% of our audiences are female or couples. It’s very hard to do a sleazy show designed to titillate men when the majority of the audience are women (with degrees – that’s important, apparently). That must mean that burlesque is for girls? No, surely not? Women with degrees, watching other women with degrees, bump, grind and sparkle? Could there be anything more feminist in the world? Stand up comedy perhaps? Ha. Don’t make me laugh.
Then your reveal, it’s ok for me to reveal your reveal isn’t it? You have hack feminist statements. The obvious ones. Equal pay? Hilariously, burlesque and variety are probably the only professions where women command equal (if not more) money than the boys and frequently top the bill above the men. It is the only profession that is almost solely produced, promoted, paid for and performed by women. Women, paying women, to perform for women.
No mention of the more monstrous feminist issues. FGM, forced marriage, corporal punishments and gang rapes in Africa and India among many others. Surely, a more satisfying pay off would have been to shock your audience as well as making them laugh? After all, many burlesquers succeed incredibly at this. There is nothing more satisfying than shocking and bewitching your audience all at once.
I hope that this has given you an insight into our world, maybe you can understand why many of us are upset at your cheap joke. I’d hope that, if it doesn’t offend your feminist ideals too much, you would go and see some burlesque, see some of the best. There are heaps of feminist burlesque routines out there. Burlesquers who aren’t afraid to play with the idea of expected norms, or to appear both sexy and funny at the same time. Maybe look up the amazing Audacity Chutzpah and her ‘100 years of Women’s Liberation‘ or the utterly incredible Queen of Burlesque, Julie Atlas Muz or the amazingly gorgeous, liberated, confrontational and multi-talented Wau Wau Sisters. Hey, one of them even won a coveted Foster’s Comedy Panel Prize talking about rape. Did you Nadia? Try harder, lady, try harder.
So maybe you could stop bashing other women doing what other women gotta do, artistically or otherwise. Surely that is the very meat and bones of our modern feminism? And don’t give away the punchlines….!
Deer Park said:
BEAUTIFULLY said, I couldn’t agree with you more. I can’t believe someone could be so stupid as to call themselves a “feminist” whilst singlehandedly demonising a fantastic artform that empowers and inspires strong confident women.
Oh please! That old chestnut? Women getting their kit off is empowering? For whom exactly? It’s depressing to think that women have fallen for it and still peddle it.
phoebe kirk said:
Do you do it? No? Then who are you to tell anyone who feels empowered over their own body? Sit down.
Did you even read the article?
WRONG! Burlesque is neither feminist (unless you’re one of those “choice feminists” who believes anything a woman has the CHOICE to do is feminist. But I digress…) nor empowering (unless you find power in conforming to patriarchal and misogynistic ideals). The whole thing is actually nauseating. I don’t care how many degrees a woman has… Stripping for the entertainment of others is not magically empowering… Guess what ladies, it’s not your intelligence or your degrees on display… It’s your tits and ass. You wax nostalgic and worship early strippers for WHAT? Garnering women the right to degrade themselves for laughs, entertainment, titillation and cash. To keep themselves subordinate to men and our genders forever unequal? I’m supposed to respect that? I don’t think so. Those of us who care about gender equality and being respected for MORE than our parts don’t take too kindly to what you “ladies” do and how you portray our gender. That shouldn’t surprise you and you really have no right to be angry or upset. It’s a choice, remember?
phoebe kirk said:
I find this comment really disturbing Cyn. For a start highlighting the word “choice” as a negative, don’t you believe that anything a woman has the CHOICE to do with her body is a feminist right? Also, the level of misogyny you are showing to fellow women is shameful. If you truly feel that a women who does burlesque is degrading herself and other women, why wouldn’t you try to kindly help them towards your point of view. Instead you throw these words around, nauseating, degrade, subordinate and most disturbing at all that you have put inverted commas around the word ‘ladies’ really showing what you think of the women you are trying to educate. You call yourself a feminist? I don’t see much sisterly love here!
Phoebe – I’ve had this same tired conversation so many times before that I’ve realized women blinded by their own need for body acceptance or approval don’t want to hear that their hobby is detrimental to the fight for equality, no matter how true it is. I’ve done the gentle, loving, guiding bit and it’s gotten me nowhere but frustrated by the head-buried-in-the-sand attitude of these women. This is one sister who is fed up with her sisters bowing to the patriarchy and calling it empowerment! I have the right, the choice, to do all sorts of things. But if I excercise that right/choice to, let’s say… vote against women’s rights to contraception… that would be anti-feminist. Women have a right to strip and gyrate all they want but that doesn’t make it feminist… it does NOT get us any closer to gender equality, quite the opposite. Do what you want but don’t label it feminism when it’s not!
phoebe kirk said:
You seem like a very passionate and intelligent woman, however I fail to see how using a bullish approach to making people believe your point of view is any different than the patriarchy. All you’re doing is becoming an annoyance and not a proud representative of feminism, I actually read you’re blog and I enjoyed it. I think open discussion needs to be a debate, not a brawl, I proudly call myself a feminist and a burlesque dancer, which I know you will find an oxymoron in terms but on that we must agree to disagree.
I most definitely disagree with you, but I’m ok with that 😉
phoebe kirk said:
We are in perfect agreement of our disagreement, let’s get a pint and disagree some more
Perhaps you’d like to explain how shaming women and ridiculing women who do this is empowering?
Sarah Beth said:
I’m so happy I found your reply after I watched that video and got so uptight and frustrated. You describe how I- and many other friends I know- feel and I’m so glad someone took the time to stand up for Burlesque and any other art form that we may decide to be a part of. Well said m’dear, well said.
I’m not denouncing your art, or your integrity as a performer, but I think that you are taking this comedian’s sketch way too personally. She was offended by someone pretending to be Margaret Thatcher in a burlesque performance, that was part of the basis of her sketch. Equal pay, although as you state for performers is one where females have a higher rate, is unfortunately not prevalent throughout the (privileged or unpriveleged) salaried world. If performing is the only world where that is equal, then that speaks for itself. There are gang rapes in every country and she did (to be fair) make a statement that needs to be repeated universally “rape is 100% the fault of the rapist” – I don’t believe she had enough body space to refer to specific countries. Let’s not take this personally – we don’t need to be in conflict with each other – there’s enough of that already. How lucky we are to have the choice to spend “hours spent gluing crystals (and the accompanying E-6000 headache that goes with it) to costumes”.
Lili La Scala said:
Thank you for taking the time to comment and of course I’m thrilled to have the freedoms to crystal to my heart’s content. Actually, I don’t think I took it too personally though. That performer is a friend of mine, someone whose work I like and respect. Someone who steps outside of the well trodden, sparkly burlesque path and does something different and challenging. This comedian bitched about her behind her back after she had left the gig. She said that the performer made her feel icky. That’s a nasty thing to say. Especially if you are going to post that vid on YouTube. Imagine how the performer in question felt. There’s a great saying, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Well, I stand for my friends and my art.
Art, lol!! People will call anything art.
Burlesquers make me feel icky too… sometimes the truth hurts.
Lili La Scala said:
I think you are just trolling, so I’ll be brief. Women in their nude form make you feel icky. I feel sorry for you, they make me feel awesome.
Because anyone who doesn’t agree with you must be trolling, Lili? Don’t twist my words; Women in their nude form do not make me feel icky. BURLESQUERS make me feel icky. Women who strip for the entertainment of others make me feel icky. Women who need others to validate their bodies with applause make me feel icky. Women who make our gender look weak and silly and who reinforce the notion that women’s bodies are meant for sexual entertainment make me feel icky. Are we clear now?
You’re doing the Lorde’s work on this thread, Cyn, especially where you explain your position without irritation. Keep it up. I can’t be the only one who agrees wholeheartedly.
Here, here Nicola! I 100% agree with your comment.
Devilyn Foxx said:
absolutely awesome. loved it
I think that if you’re doing a burlesque performance of Margaret Thatcher, you might as well do one of Jimmy Saville at the same time – both damaged individuals with no respect for humanity. I don’t get the impression from the comedienne that she “bitched” about the preformers performance – it was more about the content i.e. Margaret Thatcher? Whipping the Labour party? Really?
How dare she do what she wants to do! We should scorn her and look down upon her because she doesn’t hold our ideals.
Doug, I’m going to assume you’re being sarcastic as that’s exactly what nadia was mocking.
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Well said, I couldn’t believe that a “feminist” would take such cheap shots at burlesquers. I’ve been a massive fan of burlesque for ages and ever since I started sewing, I’ve loved it even more being able to make stuff for performers and I was upset that she decided to mock burlesque, so I can only imagine how angry everyone else was. Well said, hope she gets the point.
Kate Smurthwaite said:
Sorry but I find this article rather unfair. Firstly you make it sound like every burlesque performer is an artistic genius. There’s no doubt there are some talented women (and men) in burlesque. But there are also some rubbish one, some clunky ones that can’t dance and don’t seem to have anything very interesting to say. And there are a lot of very same-y burlesque acts too. Pretty model-types who take a glove off for five minutes and chuck a bit of glitter about for no apparent reason. No performance genre exists without shaky new acts, boring ideas and artistic flops. Burlesque isn’t some magic exception.
Secondly you criticise Nadia for “failing” to focus on “more important” issues like FGM. But you say “what could be more feminist than women performing for women?”. The answer of course is “combatting FGM”, you have provided it yourself. Another answer might me “promoting the message that a woman’s value is not about what she looks like”. You rave about the hours spent perfecting the line of the curve or the way the body is displayed. Then you criticise Nadia for being proud of having a degree. Speaking on behalf of the lumpy and lopsided but university educated (we may start a union) I prefer Nadia’s priorities.
And isn’t it petty to attack Nadia for not winning an award? Nor did you. Nor did I. (Actually I did win a smaller award but I don’t like to go on about it…!) She sold a lot of tickets, she got great reviews, many people obviously loved her show.
Then after claiming to be a feminist you make “jokes” about women being bad at comedy? Not cool. My gender, race, sexuality, etc do not affect my ability to do my job. Bigotry is bigotry. It’s not funny. I know (hope) you wouldn’t make a racist joke, so don’t do a sexist one. Especially if you’re calling yourself a feminist.
Finally I should add that I do have a vested interest. I’ve not seen your act, but I’ve seen Aurora and Audacity and yes, you’re right, they’re very talented, and lovely women who I consider friends. But that doesn’t mean that the underlying messages of their work or the wider genre are exempt from debate and discussion and even satirisation. I’ve also seen Nadia (once, I don’t know her well) doing this specific routine. It was really funny and really well done.
Thank-you for such a well written and thought-out response.
Yeah, because being (semi) naked in front of a crowd and okay with it is the height of femininity. I think it is you lot that don’t get it.
I think the point is that there is no “height of femininity”, except the one that is externally imposed, and that having fun naked without worrying about hitting that “height” is exactly the point.
Women using their own decision making skills and morality to take their clothes off? That’s the most feminist thing we can do. Our bodies, our choices. And if Nadia Kamil did anything it’s get people talking about feminist issues which is ace.
Actually, Lily, it’s not the most feminist thing we can do… that’s just about the dumbest thing I’ve ever read! If you are using your body in a way that hinders gender equality… which burlesque does… then it isn’t feminist. You need to educate yourself on feminism before you spout nonsense like this, seriously.
Lili La Scala said:
I haven’t commented back before as I think the discussion is a really good and positive thing. However, you seem to be so negative about women and what they choose to do with their bodies. Maybe it is you who needs to educate yourself on feminism?
I’m very well educated on feminism, thank you. We women have many choices available to us and I don’t believe I’m required to agree with the choices every woman makes. Nor do I believe every choice we make needs to be a feminist choice. I do, however, feel that we need to take responsibility for those choices and I believe we have the right to hold each other somewhat accountable for the effects those choices have on the rest of us. You have every right to strip for strangers if that floats your boat. But don’t try to label it “feminist” (something that will help bring us closer to gender equality… pretty much the opposite of burlesque) when it’s not. And don’t go getting your g-string in a bunch when you’re called on that.
OK, so being ‘(semi) naked in front of a crowd and okay with it’ might not be the ‘height of femininity’ but does it have to be the opposite? Do we still have to equate nakedness and sexiness with sexism? I absolutely consider myself a feminist, but I feel that sometimes in trying to avoid discriminating against women people forget that sex plays an important part in our lives, and that it’s something most of us enjoy. If someone is comfortable enough with his/her body to want to get naked in front of a crowd (who, hopefully, are happy to see it!), whether or not a sexual tone is intended, I don’t see why this has to automatically contradict feminist values. Sure, there is a lot of distasteful stuff out there, and the unfortunate fact that we still live in a sexist society means that sex and nakedness in art can always be twisted into something worse by misogynistic eyes and minds.
But the idea that women who openly express their sexuality and are happy to show off their bodies while calling themselves feminists have somehow missed the point upsets me. Similarly, the comment above about women ‘falling for’ the idea that nakedness is empowering suggests to me that many so-called feminists continue to see women only as victims of male desires, rather than equally sexual creatures.
Burlesque danders are not feminists! “Feminist stripper” is an oxymoron.
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I think you have taken this a bit too personally. I work with comedians every day and I am a dancer and know that some times it just comes down to the wrong show. The burlesque performer was performing at a comedy show, its not always the right crowd for a burlesque performance. I love burlesque, I think its a fantastic art form but again just not right for the environment.
Lili La Scala said:
I think I objected most to the word ‘icky’ used in conjunction with a) a friend of mine and b) the female form. Also, as explained above, she gave away her punchline. I’m also an exceptionally passionate person and loyal friend. I won’t apologise for that.
All burlesque is today is bunch of strippers backing out of the business. Insecure 8’s or lower with daddy issues. Bi and bi curious females who love to tease or please lesbians. No matter what artsy spin you put on it, they’re taking off they’re clothes for money. Don’t pretend that it’s some grand artful expression. It’s just a way women can go look at women take their clothes off without having to be accompanied by a man.
Lili La Scala said:
You are right. We are basically all lesbians. For me, I’m more about the art and the tease, but boobs are awesome too.
big & plastic said:
so why is women watching other women get undressed anti feminist?
Firstly, mad respect to burlesque performers and dancers of all stripes. It is certainly an art form, physically it’s hard work; I’ve seen many top-notch productions as well as underwhelming newbie attempts galore, and I’ve taken classes myself. (I can dance like an underwhelming newbie, and I’ve gotta admit, it’s fun!)
My 55-yr-old mother and one of my oldest best friends are burlesque performers. They both have whole rooms filled with sewing machines, materials, glittery costumes and props, and they both get tons of personal satisfaction and empowerment out of what they do. Good for them, I’m happy for them that they are ‘taking back’ their bodies. Also, they and most of the women they perform with do not have what our western culture considers ideal body types, or even the burlesque-popular ‘pinup’ look. In some cases these are western-culture-battered, overfed, stretchmarked, time-tested bodies. For their audiences to see the female figure in its various ages and variations is hugely helpful to challenging our prevalent cultural notions of female beauty. These everyday women dancing is sort of like Lena Dunham always being half-naked on ‘Girls’; it’s eye-opening for audiences to see an ‘imperfect’ woman ‘flaunting’ her body, slightly normalizing that body type in our psyches. There is feminism in that. It is creating change in perceptions. This is valuable for feminism and for humans in general.
That said, burlesque shows are still sexualizing the female body. It’s cool because it’s taking the sexualization back from the ad and fashion monsters who commodify the sexual female body and inherently oppress real life natural women. But I can see why some would say that burlesque isn’t game-changing enough to call it a feminist practice, because it’s using the same tools – glitter, makeup, elaborate costumes, high heels. And it’s still women taking their clothes off. Yes, there is a range of performance from feminist/funny ala Kiki Kaboom, to newbies wildly jerking their arms trying to twirl their tassels. To the person who is not inclined, too busy, or too uneducated, to question what they see/consume, there is not that much difference between this and stripping. Especially the male average person, who is generally conditioned to view the female body as an object. While I’m happy that my mom and my friend are having fun and feeling great, I can’t help but wonder what awesome things they could get up to in that time that they’re gluing countless crystals, stringing bead after bead… maybe they could be learning something new about how to change the world, volunteering in the community, educating, travelling and seeing how others live, etc.
Regardless of the feminist factor, if burlesque performers and female comedians and women with degrees and girls around the world have any hope, it’s sticking together, supporting one another, looking with love and kindness before criticism and fear. United we stand, divided we fall. Let’s not divide ourselves over what is feminist and what is not. Regardless of how funny that comedian is, or how talented you are, please just fight fair. Being sarcastic and catty doesn’t help. Learn to think/write in an objective, supportive manner, and you’ll be a productive member of society making valuable use of your spotlight 🙂
Lili La Scala said:
Oh, but sarcastic and catty is so much fun! 😉 I’ll try harder next time, although I may enjoy it less. x
Lili La Scala said:
And thank you for taking the time to write such an informed and well thought out response. I’m just pleased that this has caused some debate amongst feminists and others. I’m all for women, in all our glorious forms.
Thank you for verbalising this…. am sick of people sending this vid to me….. and you’ve explained why… so perfectly! x
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My, how quick the tone police arrived… along with the slut shamers. I really wanted to like her routine because I thought the concept was clever (although you do make wonderful points about how cliched her statements are), but the preface offended me as both a dancer and a feminist. Women don’t need to be knocking each other down and spoiling one another’s hard work. That just sets feminism back. Also, I’ve noticed that the detractors never do their research into the history of burlesque. Women have been producing shows since the Victorian Era, and although there wasn’t stripping, they were definitely expressing their sexuality in a way that challenged social norms.
We’ve done our research. Just because we disagree does NOT mean we haven’t educated ourselves. This is an excellent article that explains exactly how I feel when debating burlesque with those who feel differently: http://feministcurrent.com/7962/responding-to-critiques-of-burlesque-cheat-sheet-crazy-making-edition/
big & plastic said:
megan murphy? she is your guide in all things feminist? lmas
I love Burlesque, I’ve been a Burlesque DJ for many years and have been in the scene for quite some time, and have been in a couple pieces myself. I really hate it when someone tries to get into Burlesque like it’s just some thing they can do. It’s not. My wife does a piece that has been equated to Feminist Burlesque that is actual burlesque, and whoever this woman is, she needs to stop doing what she’s doing. Also, Huffpost is full of BS.
My wife’s piece, if you’re interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeuuA_B22Sw
This article is ridiculous. Maybe you should stop bashing what other women gotta do, artistically and otherwise. Some people don’t like burlesque. I don’t.
phoebe kirk said:
“Maybe you should stop bashing what other women gotta do, artistically and otherwise” Erm, take your own advice maybe? Telling someone that the article they’ve written is ridiculous is just dismissive and the height of hypocrisy when coupled with the above sentence. If you don’t like it, that’s your choice, I don’t happen to like that comedian’s video. That’s what open discussion is all about. Let’s not be rude!
“Approximately 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year
Over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year
1 in 5 women (aged 16 – 59) has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.”
How many people saw the above statistics from the Rape Crisis website? Hardly any.
Nadia Kamil: 11,000 shares in 4 days just on Huff Post.
I THINK YOU MISSED THE POINT
big & plastic said:
none of which has anything to do with the subject being discussed! epic fail
Bella de Jac said:
Um, “that old chestnut” is simply saying women can do whatever they damn well please. If you don’t find it empowering, or even if you just aren’t into it, no stress sister, but don’t force your personal tastes onto others because that’s not only a really shitty thing to do, it also makes you just as bad as any guy who says “you can’t do that because it’s not ladylike/because women should be modest & chaste/because women should only take their clothes off in private”.
Bad feminism, assumes that what is ‘right’ is the narrow view of the beholder, and is as bad as the patriarchy. It’s worse in fact, because bad feminism thinks it knows best for women, it hides under the guise of supporting women’s rights, when really all it’s doing is shifting the goal posts around.
Get your head out of your ass and stop assuming you know what is best for ALL women EVERYWHERE.
And Lili, thank you for a lovely article.
phoebe kirk said:
Linda Seaborn said:
Hello Lili, thank you for this post, it has sparked off an interesting discussion. Firstly I’d like to acknowledge your loyalty to your friend. I can see how it could be hurtful to her being “objectified” into a prop in a comedy sketch. There is however, way more to this sketch than that, although for people personally affected I can see how that becomes the focus. I enjoyed it, apart from the use of your friend in the intro. While I am not a burlesque aficionado, and so can’t claim to understand it in depth, I understand that there is a lot of effort and time put in to doing it well. As someone who has spent a lot effort and time on many feminist campaigns (primarily around the way single mothers are treated, and domestic violence) I think I have a reasonably good grasp of feminism. I was happy with the issues that Nadia selected and the way she presented them. I eagerly took your advice and looked up ‘100 years of women’s liberation’. I liked the end when she asked the question “Liberated?”, but the lead up was not political enough for my tastes (and perhaps that is what a lot of the debate on this page is – different tastes?). It was a shallow parody of the actual campaigns and politics. Maybe the pros and cons debated on this page would be summed up by how we’d answer that question “Liberated?” I don’t think burlesque looks like my version of liberation, and I don’t think sky diving looks like fun either. I don’t feel the need to do them for those preferences to be valid. I agree it is bad judgement to use your friend in the intro for the sketch. I don’t agree with your criticism of parodying burlesque. It’s just a bit too much personalising of something that clearly speaks to an audience that is different to the one you are used to.
Kate Buffery said:
Yes burlesque empowers the women who participate. And I am sure it is liberating. But that liberation is at an expense – largely of other women. Whether done with humour or not – it is important to be straightforward about how it works.. Its about (amongst other things perhaps), sexual stimulation – and stripping is fundamentally about pretending sexual arousal. Doing so is the easiest way of getting arousal in others and therefore focus from others. Getting sexual focus is, in turn, one of the easiest ways of feeling empowered. But it is ultimately hollow and short lived where there is no intention of reciprocation which ultimately disempower the men at whom its is aimed and the women who would genuinely team up sexually with them. As with all art it is ‘artifice’ but it demands a reaction from audience members (literally).. I went to see a burlesque show at the King’s Head. The only funny lines came from the (male) master of ceremonies. The woman sitting next to me with her man, presumably having been sold a line that burlesque is ‘feminist’, was clearly very uncomfortable about the fact that the guy with whom she shared that most intimate commitment was being encouraged to focus, applaud and whistle at someone else for turning him on. And that person as a performer is taking not giving. I’m no prude. Sex is fab. Equality in sex is even better. But if your primary goal is to feel empowered you will fail to see (and fail to want to see) when it is at the expense of others.
phoebe kirk said:
I think you make some valid points, I would say though that most burlesque shows that I’ve attended and performed in have been mainly attended by women so our target market is other women, not men to ‘turn them on’ I think if you ask most dancers they would say the same. The terms, ‘hollow, short lived’ are fairly offensive, you probably don’t mean them to be but they are. Of course people will be uncomfortable, it’s not just down to women, oddly enough the majority of people I have known to feel uncomfortable have been men, go figure! I think I speak for a lot of dancers when I say we’re not out to change the world we just want a bit of respect.
Reblogged this on Kath’s Weblog.
Amy Forsch said:
I know Nadia. She’s an extremely intelligent young woman who clearly grasps the concept of performance in all its guises. I don’t know where she performed this but I have no doubt it was somewhere unfamiliar with the nuances of burlesque as an art form. As someone who is familiar with the history of the art form but also aware of the dominant modern perceptions of it (by both men and women) I find this an excellent start to a high-spirited discussion. Context is imperative in art.
Florence Smith said:
Reblogged this on Flo's Tinted Glasses and commented:
Brilliant post, give it a read. Definite go-to for my dissertation research.
The level of shaming and misogyny towards women who do burlesque here is unsurprising.
Basically the debate about about whether strip tease is empowering boils down to this..
“Burlesque and stripping are empowering”
“No, anything a woman does with her body that I dissaprove of isn’t empowering”
i’m a man. I’ve never been to a burlesque show. none of my male friends have ever been to a burlesque show. but nearly every woman I know has been to at least one show and they all say the same thing. they loved it. would love to try it. and best of all the only men at the show were gay, so in no way did they feel threatened or objectified. so i’m curious as to why so many radical feminists feel threatened by something that seems to be a safe, all female activity in a female space. any spelling or grammer mistakes, bleh i’m not a writer.
peter elsbury said:
Not funny but valid, now get with the real stuff, find a 3rd party and oppose the TTPA and all that
other stuff that threatens to enslave men and women equally
You’re spot on Lee,
I’m going to my first ever burlesque night with a lady that I met recently whom invited me as she enjoys the whole atmosphere of the evening. I am curious naturally. However like the vast majority of men it’s in your head as it is within a womans head. So maybe, just maybe. The people putting down burlesque, should look inside there own heads and ask?
“Is it me that makes it dirty, demeening and perverted ,” ?
I think it might be!
Keep it real guys, I’m 53 it does’nt faze me !