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"Just Trying to Relax": Masculinity, Masculinizing Practices, and Strip Club Regulars Author(s): Katherine Frank Reviewed work

(s): Source: The Journal of Sex Research, Vol. 40, No. 1, Gender and Sexuality (Feb., 2003), pp. 6175 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3813771 . Accessed: 12/11/2012 16:39
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168.returning againandagainto venueswherecontact sexualrelease and areprohibited for whomvoyeurism conversation and and arethe eroticized practices.Masclalinizing Practices. take McElroy. marketed andvisited to by heterosexual men." commodified most sexual productions. despitethefactthatmenexperience somestigma This research was assisted by a fellowship from the Sexuality Research Fellowship Programof the Social Science ResearchCouncil with funds provided by the Ford Foundation. Granted. article This focuseson regular malecustomers' statedmotives visiting for stripclubsandexamines thosevisitsas touristic masculinizing and practices. 1993). Number 1.and Strip Club Regulars KatherineFrank Collegeof the Atlantic.Segal. gender.something for which there is no comparable practicefor women. inherently exist to reproduce maleprivilege has beenchallenged texts thathighlight agencyof sex by the workers the "sexnegative" and cultural contextin which such transactions place (Bell. and as wellas in relation theireveryday to livesandrelationships. manymendeclare thatsex workers havetheupper handin commodified sexual transactions. of course. Rather thanfulfillinga universal masculine needfor domination a biologicalmaleneedfor sexual or release. [Editor's note: TamaraS.] Address correspondence to Katherine Frank. thatthesevisitsbecomemeaningful and in relationto theireverydaylives and relationships and theirown personaland emotional experiences gender of andsexuality.Maine University Wisconsin-Madison of Thisarticleexplores customers 'understandings theirvisitsto heterosexual clubsandthewaysin whichthosevisof strip its become meaningful themin relation cultural to to discourses around masculinity. Bryan.52. and SuzanneFrayserreviewed this paperanonymously and subsequentlyagreedto be identifiedin the authornote. Madison. Yet the idea thatstripclubs.Further.WI 53706.or the sex industry more generally. youthfulness. sexuality.Bar Harbor. this stigmais relatively small when comparedwith that experiencedby the womenwhoworkin theclubs. commodification. Although is a mistake assertthattransactions strip it to in clubs areunrelated social structures inequality. Most strip clubs are owned and operatedby men. is to of it clearlynecessary explore experiences subjectivto the and ity of men in relation powerandcommodified to sexualized services in more detail (Cornwall& Lindisfarne. Whatexactlyis the appealof modern stripclubs in this particular voyeuristic formfor certaingroupsof late 20th-century heterosexually identifiedAmerican men? Oneassumption the literature beenthatmenare in has motivated use the sex industry of a desireto mainto out tain sexual masteryand power over women (Edwards. and many also have rules prohibitingwomen from entering unless escorted by a male. growing and formof entertainment the contemporary in UnitedStatesand are primarily.Men may do businessin stripclubs on corporate expense. fromstripclubsto pornography erotic to massages.1997."Just lkying to Relax":Masclllinity. Althoughcustomers' motivations are 61 The Journal of Sex Research Volume 40.Thefocushereis on thoseregular male customers who visit stripclubs often enoughto considerthis a significantpersonalpractice. 1997).And finally. consumption.takingup issuesof visibility. understanding yet whysomemen frequent thesevenuescan inform moregenerally us aboutthelinksbetween sexuality.stripclubs providea kind of intermediate space (notworkandnothome.profitable. 1990). with Although euphemistically called"adult entertainment.I thankseveral anonymousreviewers and Charlene Muehlenhardfor comments on this article. February 2003: pp. there are also often large discrepancies betweenthe earningpowerof male customers femaledancers and (eventhoughdancers may do quite well compared with women workingin other serviceindustry jobs). sexuality.leisure. leisure. LorraineBayardde Volo. andconsumption. themarand ketplace.edu.although related both)in which to mencanexperience bodiesandidentities particular their in pleasurable ways. sexuality.wisc. everymanfinds Not stripclubspleasurable. powerin themen's and performances desirein of theclubs. and Strip clubsarea visible. enjoyvisitingstripclubs. 61-75 This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. Not all American men. 12 Nov 2012 16:39:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Nagle. 1994. precluding some women from becomingcustomers even if they so desire. e-mail: kfrank@ ssc. Department of Sociology.63 on Mon. as a resultof being customers. virility. also explores It gender. stripclubs as they now exist are indeed intertwined maleprivilege.Customers oftenhave also particular advantages dancers termsof educationover in al and social capital. University of Wisconsin. My primary argument thatthecustomers' is understandingsof theirvisitsto strip clubsaredeeplyintertwined with culturaldiscoursesaboutmasculinity. veryfew menunderstand visits and their to stripclubs or theiruse of othervenuesin termsof an exercise of personalpower or a desire for dominance. thoughnot exclusively. Further.are still aimedat male consumers. 1180 ObservatoryDrive. 1995.Chapkis. 1994.

with follow-upinterviews severalweeks later.and the interviewees andcustomers the clubswerejust as oftenfromother in partsof the country nativeto the city or region. Thereare adultentertainment clubs in the UnitedStatesthatoffer lap dancing(or '4friction" dancing).Twenty-sevenwere White Americans.but these served a differentcustomerbase. all of the men thatI interviewed werecustomers the stripclubsin whichI of worked. On the otherhand.Interviews usuallylastedfrom2 to 4 hours.Eachvenueoffered stageperformances the dancers.52.168. Devereux.Whileworkingin Laurelton. The intervieweesrangedin age from 28 to 57. spokewith hunI dredsof male customers aboutmy research almost and alwaysapproached customers potential those as interviewees.a traditional anthropological fieldwork technique. In addition conducting to participant observation. by alongwiththe opportunityto purchase "private" table dances.g. The taped interviewsessions with the interviewees were conducted theirworkplaces at restaurants at or or coffee shops. ings. which I referto as "Laurelton.andthusconversation becamea (public) servicein and of itself. The interviewees have beengivenpseudonyms.The data for this paperwere gatheredthroughparticipant observation. in and andthereis an expansive literature discussesthebenthat efits andlimitations the method.I do notthinkthatthecustomer concerns.Tabledances were offeredto the customers theirseats. and interviewedcustomersfrequentingclubs in otherparts of the U.Exceptfortwo menwho were employeesof the stripclubs. who may even weara condom underneath clothes.andpractices discussed hereareessentially Southern. Laurelton's population was also diverse in terms of geographical background. 1967.Forthe purposes this research." a participant As observer. for example.many customers drawnto the idea of varietyand are willare ing to interactwith any dancerthey find friendlyand attractive. theirquoteshavebeenedited and for repetitive verbaltics and for length. gender. and understanding of the complex interactions between researchersand the communitiesthey study (e. of interpretation findof . I was immediately forthcoming aboutmy researchpurposeswheneverpossible and providedthe customers with my real name (in additionto my stage name)and information abouthow to contactme for an interview. Also. Myerhoff. masculinity. and theirvisits arenot necessarily experienced exercisesin as acquiring wielding or power. Understanding customers' the subjective interpretations thesepractices informus of can moregenerally aboutthe links amongsexuality. Bourgois. All identifiedas heterosexual as somewhere the midand in dle socioeconomicclass and had at least some college education. commodification. interviewees considered a dif(The also it ferentform of entertainment. a practice involvesvaryingamounts contact that of betweenthe dancer the patron can leadto sexual and and releasefor the customer. That is.colI lectedqualitative interview data.Customers were not allowedto toucheitherthe dancers theirown genior tals. the individualized interactions that took placebecameanimportant of theexperience. as thus. on a raised at platform tableor whilestanding the ground or on between the men's knees. METHODS My ethnographic material drawnfromover 7 yearsof is research the adultentertainment on industry the conin temporary United States. in-depth interviews 30 malecustomers with of stripclubs in a large Southern city.As thedancers circulated amongthecustomers sell to table dances. dancingwas considered different lap a formof entertainment.S.my sampleis somewhat biasedin favorof thosemen who chose to interact with me. on tellingme theirreasonsfor visitingtheclubsanddiscussing theiropinions about adult entertainment. as customers were one of the maintopics of conversation amongdancers the dressing in rooms.Shortpausesin theiranswers havenotbeenindicated here. . and therewere laws and attitudes reflectiveof the Bible Belt thatinfluencedregulations surrounding clubsandthemeanings the of thecustomers' visits.These privatedancesinvolveda more individualized interaction betweenthe dancersand their customers. 1995. 1991. As an ethnographic research method.62 Masculinity StripClubRegulars and indeed related existing to powerstructures inequalities.The interviews werestructured open-ended with questions and often becameconversational I responded the men's as to questionsaboutdancingas well. through series and a of multiple. part Dancers also sat withcustomers betweentheirsets andtheirtable dances. in. Men who did interviewsdifferedfrom othercustomersby. Dancerswere alsorequired keepatleast1 footof spacebetween to themselves andthe customers during dances. Further. andthemarketplace. This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. there were a few topless clubsin townthatdidnot servealcoholandpermitted lap dancing.placing more value on higher education research havingthe free time andinterand or est to participate. Brown. his of however. participant observationhas a longhistory anthropology otherfields. 12 Nov 2012 16:39:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .63 on Mon.." in field sites were selectedthatrepresented different positionson this socialhierarchy: fromthe highestranked clubsin the city to morestereotypical "dive" bars. Becausecontemporary strip clubs are highly stratified termsof "classiness.two wereAfrican Americans. other forms of bodily contactwere prohibited. I can also be reasonably certainthat my customersand t zese lntervlewees werenot unique. one was a WhiteBritishcitand izen who frequently traveled the UnitedStateson busito ness. beliefs.) ThoughLaurelton was a Southern city. Manymendeclined do formal to interviews but commented my research.Some follow-upinterviews wereconducted overe-mailor by telephoneif the respondents werenot nativeto the city. although but dancers coulddisrobe completely andplace theirhandson the customers' shoulders. workedat five I Laurelton stripclubs intermittently a periodof 14 over monthsas a nudeentertainer. given thattherewere far too many customersin the clubs for me to approach every one. sexualiand ty.I havealsoworked observed in.

Beingpersonally involvedin multiple interactions in the clubs with bothcustomers otheremployeesgave and me insight into the context and meaningof customer behaviors. Second whether visit stripclubsin groups aloneinfluences men or both the conversation the physicaldynamicsof the and interaction.Most menthatI spokewith. Thus. as Manyof the men madecomments like.ratherthan on infrequent visitors or bachelor party-goers.even in the formof masturbation a latertime. These same men. Men in groups.it wouldhave beenimpossible themto do so if one accepts possifor the bility of unconscious motivation I can say with confidence thatI do know whatmen were willingto pay for eachnight. Stevensaid.52.the customers differ somewhatin clubs that allow lap dancingand sexual release. BecauseI was studying educatedS middle-class men.I was also involvedin transactions Laurelton in whereI was seen as only a dancer (situations wherethecustomer not want did conversation did not believethatI was a researcher.Though neither theseinteractions of shouldbe takenas moreauthentic the other.168. interviewsfocused on regularcusthe tomers.Further.for example. or that This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. .63 on Mon. Because their personalnarrative accounts oftendiffered fromthe groupinteractions I observedS that both of these methodologieswere valuable. and in my experience. 12 Nov 2012 16:39:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Given thattheinterviewees oftensaidtheyhaddifficulty also discussingpersonalissues with othermen. noiseof theclubandthephysical the proximity of theparticipants suchthattheirconversations are wouldnot be accessibleto a mereobserver. conthan the trastwas slgmficant. one man thatI interviewed not said that he went to the clubs specificallyfor sexual release. I was ofteninterviewing froman inferior positionin terms of gender. thesesamemenprofessed love for theirwives and a greatdeal of satisfaction with their outsideintimate lives.As of Joe said. Because I could never interviewan entire groupof menat once (andI couldneverrecreate club the setting and interpersonal dynamicelsewhere)7 had to I observethe interaction men in groupsand interview of them singly.working In as a dancer recording own interactions essenand my was tial. "It'snot a place to go find somebodyif tryingto get sex! Youmightas well go someplace where youcanget sex.especially regulars.The factthatI was a womanmayhaveinfluenced interactions withthemaleinterviewees. . or Furtheralthough can certainly it be arguedthat the interviewees and other customerswere reluctant tell me thewholetruth to abouttheirmotivations and desiresin our conversations indeed.Spradley. however. addition my research in to in LaureltonS I worked andon for about6 yearsas a topoff less entertainer an upscaleclub in the Midwest.There's plentyof themaround. foreign or you7re men who thoughtthatsex was partof the deal being struck between dancers and customers. in Interactions between dancers their and customers semiare private. Further.Prus(1996)argued that participant observation affordsresearchers "withinvaluablevantage pointsfor appreciating certain aspectsof particular life-worlds" 19).Participant (p. WHY BECOME REMAIN MEN AND CUSTOMERS So why aresomemenloyalcustomers stripclubswhile of othersfindthemboringor arecontemptuous theirvery of existence?Significantly. their conversations with a male interviewer may not have been more truthful authentic."Those few men who did enterthe Laurelton clubs expectingsexual releaseusuallywerefromoutof thecountry wereunfaor miliarwiththevarious sectorsof thesex industry. and resources well as *om a socially as stigmatized position7 thiswas something manyof and that . Yet it is important remember I to to that was involvedin interactions eachof theinterviewees with beforeour formalinterviews thatI was perceived and by themas a dancer well as a researcher.This in was not an official field site. First.however. theinterviewees wereawareof andcommented upon. Singly.Frank 63 1978. and My methodology presented severaluniqueopportunities as well as certainlimitations. they of returned the sameclubs severaltimes a week."Thebottomline is if you wantto get laid.before and after the interviews. the realized that sexualactivitywas available othervenuesof the indusin tryandwereexplicitabout theirknowledge thisfact. thisrespect. or or whereI didnothavetimeto revealthisinformation one for reasonor another).men in groupsoften spokederogatorily aboutmarriage relaand tionships. but my experiences there informmy intelpretations analysis. Theyalso may havehighlighted cerebral the rather thesexualaspects than of theirvisits becauseof how they wantedto represent themselves me." Similarly. FurtherS as many groupoccasionswere bachelor parties. 1980).Theclubsselectedwereall no-contact stripclubs. observation offered me theopportunity interact to continually a variety with of malecustomers the actualsettingthatI was studying. at Thismaybe becausethe Laureltorl industry large sex was andvariedS menwhowanted and sexualcontact release or had manyothervenuesto choosefromin the area. wererespectful individual in interaction.age.I know whereand how and when to get laid.I to oftenhadthechance interact themin multiple to with ways and on multiple occasions: as both a dancer and a researcher.thatis. "Icantell you thisbecauseyounre a dancer. themenmighthaveinterand acteddifferently with a male interviewer.'andclaimedthattheycouldbe morehonestwith someonewho understood interactions the clubsand the in for whomtheydid not needto censortheirbeliefs. Thoughrecognizing as a researcher me might have led some individuals change their behavioror to monitortheir responsesto my questions.This does not mean that sexual acts never occurredin the clubs however.Other limitations wererelated the specificito ty of the field sites.the men I interviewedwereregular customers the clubs.were muchmorelikely to speakin demeaning ways abouta dancer's bodyor to act as if the dancersdid not exist as individuals.PrusS 1996.for whom the visits were a significant personal practice. inexperienced. Regular customerslaughedat young.

12 Nov 2012 16:39:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . and friendly and of Ross claimedthathe was "anappreciator femalebeauty in all forms. to theirfantasizing be excitingand and experiences found out menpointed that Some quitetransgressive. New YorkCity. as to pointed entertainment theirmainmotivefor visiting theclubs. to important customersseeking a place where. fact.Thisis also not to say fromdancers with dancerswere not sexualin certain thatinteractions tabledancesas "sexual" somemen did describe respects. 1990. go out and have fun in a big bar kind of thing. .' a limited (1990)."It's a business. Thesightsgazeduponarechosenbecause with workandhome andbecause contrasts" "distinctive daydreaming especiallythrough is "there an anticipation. rootedin the complexweb of relationships to according Urry practices.Whether of bodiesis an expression natural their theyunderstood desireto lookatwomenin this ornot there however. even for the most Therearemanywaysto potenof scopophilic customers. My sex life's always been good so it's that'smore exciting to me.viewingpornography. "amancouldbe a man" 22). definitely and to speak. ing to able-bodiedmen. it's public . p. .not in mixedsex groups.52. And what can I say? You know P . as opposed to the That'spuresex whereasthe and lingene [parlors] the prostitution.whatis oftenbeingsoldis a gendered and of combination leisure. .This may seem obvious.for example." least initially. accepting.for example. of and routines practices everywithestablished breaking to engagewitha set of daylife andallowingone's senses and with that stimuli contrasts theeveryday themundane" theyoffer (p. Touristic work. relax" I (William).Thesevisits. as format a resultof biologicalinfluences. So other'slike a little bit of sex tease with .simulastagesexualdisplays(publicnudity. tiallyview nakedwomen:peeping. there's a differencethere.andit is thisfocuson lookingin a pubclubfrommany the that lic atmosphere differentiates strip Some men initially other forms of adultentertainment. of andfantasy. (Brian) than Yetwhyvisit a stripclubrather someotherentertainmentvenue?As stripclubshavecome underfire in conthe acrossthe country. the entertainment or whose services(in the formof conversation dancing) price. onappearances.and "away. the desireto visit stripclubsis morethan a desire to see women's bodies. peoplecanjust comein andlet theirhairdown. claim that communities servative is stripclubsarea formof entertainment oftenone thatis thansexthat usedto maintain leisureis beingsoldrather In ual contact. Sex And they'revery appealandbeautifulwomen arevery appealing. (Jim) Stripclubs attractme because I love the feminine form. tended explainthatstripclubswererelaxcomplexes and ing because they were entertainment connoterelaxation leisurespaces:sites thatby definition Several men and escape as opposed to responsibility. the presents opportunity Goingto stripclubsobviously to lookat women.Micksaid. .It is alsoa kind for canbe purchased anagreed-upon aloneor pursue that of entertainment menoverwhelmingly despite Further. of standings leisurepractice and for Sevrching EscapeFrom Work Home to men Initially.63 on Mon. sex sells.get my mindoff of work.so Where moreof a relax"It's (Herb)." of "involvethe notionof 'departure. Even when a cus- This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192.64 and Masculinity StripClubRegulars sexual intimacies some men did not desire to purchase outsideof the clubs. however. a theirvisitsto stripclubsby claiming desireto explained see women'sbodies: of I'm drawnby the attraction sexuality.(b) a relative for (c) as of "safety" well as "excitement. well as to underal prominent moregenerally. I have a weaknessfor beautifulwomen.it is. the male customers will be attended to by women who are young.ordeveloping medical reading with them.and(d) and bothpersonal sexualacceptance the without pressure encounter of thepleasure a sexualized overlap thesecategories Although performance. usually attractive. . service. . 3). heardthis off-hand anything" ing thingthan so response manytimesthatI beganto focus on why the The that men thought going to a stripclub was relaxing. farthe mostprevalent usuallythe first for of given)spokenmotivation the interviewees visiting NearlyeverymanthatI stripclubswas a desireto "relax." an opportunity fromwomen. a mindfuck can be betterthanan actualone. or physiques.168.""Whowouldn'tlike to drinkbeer and Alex around?" asked. you know. then. they're like going to a game arcade. withothermen.creator thefamous Bildstein (p." "I in spokewithgavethisresponse someformor another: go thereto relaxandhavea goodtime. were always elementsother than the visual that were to important customers. . It's just a fact. (a) clubprovided a categories: strip fell reasons intoseveral degree an escapefrombothworkandhome. as Jay clubin Scores strip of (1996). scale eitheron a different pleasures. . relationships intimate texts. intense or involving differentsenses from those customarily (Urry. as of discourses masculinity. the following as thesethemesareexplored theyrelateto seversections.putit. In the clubs. visiting a strip club is significantly attendinga play or going to the cinema. 2). sometimes a physical than morepowerful was the fantasy sometimes of percent sexualiAs encounter: Jackputit.mustalso be kind of experience seen as a desireto have a particular amonghome." (and by Instead. just Afterall. "Ninety-nine ty is in yourhead. .You know. real entertainment. maychallengemainstream middle-classdefinitionsof femininity.one will rarely stripclub that in a encounter performer a conventional who does not have malecustomers catersto heterosexual femalegenitals.After differentfrom all.Some watchnakedwomenrunning of thesemen believedthatthe desireto look at women's malebiology. etc. It does all those things"(Tim). encountered" that My intervieweescorroborated these sites/sights are at "out of the ordinary.entertainment. . of physical they also highlightparticular and are not exhaustive? In the themesthatranthrough interviews.) tionsof sexualthrusting. the factthatsomedancers' directgazes.

singularly in groups. At the same time.specific social niceties."explainingthathe workedso muchhe could neverfind the time to meet womenoutsideof the clubs andmovethrough expectedstepsof courtship. and far less apologetic. regulars.."Herbusually cameto the clubon his way homefromwork. "agoodplaceto stopfora beer.Matthew Steven.masculine" activities formsof consumption and oftenfrowned uponin otherspheres.52. elaborateplans. Stripclubs also providean environment where men. as intriguing such conversations even and ongoingfriendships the dancers.you got your shooters. that Evena simpleconversation a womanin a singles with bar or at another locationhad its own set of rules and expectations that were sometimesexperienced these by menas stressful: I don't go to a stripclub to pick up a woman.rouand tine"aftertime andhow theybeganto desireothertypes of interactions. example. women ask to be lookedat naked. you leaveit all behindandthatstaysthereandyou go home. Thereareotherways thatstripclubsoffera distinctive space. smokingcigars. Further although intimate relationships betweenindividuals may be covertlyfacilitated with moneyin everyday realms. p.sometimes with friends from the office and other times alone.tense. You don't have to stay. you know. and spokeabouthow this displaybecame'4boring" C. say.168. relationships formedin stripclubstakethis institutionalization step further..such as drinking.This is a way to go be with women.In all of thesecases.Romantic propscan be used to set a scene or to individualize an interaction arenotnecessary movetheencounter but to to a sexualizedlevel (involvingnudity. is immediate. everyday relationshipswith women were often seen as a source of pressure expectations.Andwhenyou'rereadyto go.You leave when you want. or mutual exchanges of personal information.andthe significance thispossibiliof ty cannotbe underestimated." vulgar.(Roger) For me the club situationis almost a way to relaxfrom the tension of a sexual relationship with a woman. and Indeed." Phillip calledhis interactions dancers with "relationships conof venience.you got your good-looking girls you got yourmusic. If '. however. insidetheclubsthisfacilitation blatant. courseS For of the experience just lookingat undressed of womeneventually becomesalmostordinary ("almost" ordinary becauseeven for the regulars factthatwomenweredisplaying the their bodiesmeantthatthis was a very different environment fromworkandhome).Thus." was still an essentialpart it of theencounters theclubs serving a visualreminder in as of thesesocialinversions. It's a hig stress relieverfor me.and Kenneth referredto the '... andevenbeing.you got yoursmokes. have a good time. he thoughtthat this was importantto many men: This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192...Forthese customers.HerbwasmarI a riedto a "very conservative' woman whodidnotsmokeor drinkS pleasures he couldthusnotindulgein at home.war betweenthe sexes.he knewexactlyhow to proceed obtainthe kind to of encounter he desired. 289). a thereis no longerneed for pretenses.routine.But if you go to [the club] youSregoing there and y'all are entertainers." or Beck.can engagein traditionally or '.thoughtthattherewas a "chasm" between contemporary andwomenin termsof understanding men and expectations.Youcan smokea cigar if you want. Womendo the approaching ratherthanmen and thus face the possibilityof rejection. aggressive. (Matthew) I want to have fun and be relaxed and cut up and laugh and." behavioral The structures of everyday areinverted manycustomers life for insidethe clubs. is doingso in anatmosphere for he in whichhe simultaneously theprivilege askingher has of to removeherdress." formof releaseforhim.'personal" time that was pleasurablebecause it allowed him to engagein activitiesthat were inappropriate the other in spheres his life. usuallyprivate and performances sexof ual desire or sexual displayare suddenlymade public. manymenthatI spoke withdescribed relations betweenwomenandmenin general as being "strained""confused. talk to women. even see themnakedandnot have to worly aboutplaying the social game thatis involved if you are tryingto pick somebodyup.Frank 65 tomer paysa woman sit withhimandasksherto remain to fullyclothed."Yougot your cold beer.rowdy." Over half of the men that I interviewed specificallysaid thatthey foundthe clubs relaxing becausethey providedan escape from the rules of conductand the social games involvedin enteringinto interactions with otherwomenin an unregulated setting. then I would know thatthose girls thereare looking to have some kindof relationship beyond what's going to go on just at the bar. or Phillipsaid thatin the stripclubshe 4'sometimes actedlike an asshole because could.).You don't have to get to know the person (Jim) Although Ross claimed that he did not enjoy the impersonal aspect of the encounters in the clubs himself.." '.You know if I just went out to a singles bar. 12 Nov 2012 16:39:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Eitherway his time in the club was describedas .for example. the the In clubs.63 on Mon.what this kept the regulars returning the variousclubs was the to opportunity interact to withwomenwhomtheywouldnot generally meetin theireveryday lives andto cultivate the relationships they developedwith particular that dancers andclubemployees. for example.whether they are seen as transgressive becauseof the exhibition nude bodiesor experienced but one of as moredestination a man'sdailygeographic on trajectories. that At the club. with Severalotherregularsalso discussed process. althoughthe significanceof the dancers' nuditywas oftenminimized the by men andwas described the regulars something by as that eventually became'. of Another reasonthatthe distinctiveness fromworkand home was experiencedas relaxingwas relatedto the kinds of relationshipsthat could be developed with womenin the clubs.etc.eroticconversation the sharingof fantasies.dating the institutionalization romantic is of encounters withoutthe goal of commitment" (Illouz 1997. the encounterswere to some extent "predictable.

These selves."andwho still wanted interact to withmenin "more traditional" ways."everybody knowswhattherulesare. said he that he enjoyedthe "femalepresencewithoutpressure" himself.Kenneth. Certainly. you can see a girl runaround naked.orLevine.andI think and thata lot of men have a hardtime dealingwith that.and idealized masculinity. and the condemnation the sex industry. 1997). Arguably. like Gary. no big deal. club and the becameanidealspacefor somemento accessa fantasy of freedom."Rogersaid that in the clubs.63 on Mon.Have her come over.afterall.Thissentiment frequently was corroborated othercustomers I interacted in theclubs by that with whosaidthatmenhadto continually on guard" "be against offendingwomen. than or The rapidincreasein the numberof strip clubs across the UnitedStatesin the mid-1980s.168. or a man mighthave multipleselves." Thisimplies thatthereareotherspaceswheretherulesarenot so transparent. commitments. This is not to say thatsomehow moreauthentic wasbeingexpressed a self in the stripclubthanin the workplace at home. of paid date rape. The home. Thehome. deviation stillbe takenas evidence or may of a nonheterosexual orientation (despitethe existenceof masculinitiessuch as those discussedby Halberstam. severalof the abovecommentscouldbe analyzed part a backlash as of against feminism. confusion aboutgender roles("what is to be a it man")maybe disturbing somemenbecausesuchconto fusion.amongthese interviewees for many and othermen that I interacted with. no fuss.however.explicitly stated desireto interact womenwhowerenot"fema with inist.then..you wantto see a girl.. where mendo notunderstand exactlywhatis going to get theminto trouble. expressed workandmarfor are in riage. I see a lot of people that way.But emotionally. pay her to do a dance or two or three and walk away and not even ask her her name. interviewee to One pointed outthatin theworkplace felt nervous he about givingcompliments womenfor fearthattheywouldaccusehimof to sexualharassment. she wants me to be strongbut she doesn't want me to be overbearing. Phillipsaidthatclubvisits"letfrustration out":"With of this sexualharassment going all stuff around thesedays. Joe summarized succinctly: this My wife expects me to be strong emotionally... quote unquote. Here I do not wish to defend male inabilityto respect women's demandsfor comfortable working environments. Certain self-representations. Eric.andalmostall were adamant they did that not wantto changethe structure theirprivate of lives. In a context as of contradictory changingexpectations.1998).physically.66 Masculinity and Strip Club Regulars What do the men get out of it? Actually. so to speak. I wouldn't say that openly in public but I'm definitely confused aboutwhat it is to be a man.change. man might or a findit relaxing be in anenvironment as a strip to such club.andformanymenit is theseself-representations that are first invokedto identify themselves.Other mencomplained theywereexpected be that to strongand assertive. Boy .1977)wherethemen could simplyrelaxandbe themselves.nearlyall of the menI interviewed identified middleclass. Rather.bringing in their own incomeandinsisting theybe allowedto takeanactive that partin planning couple'sfuture.both at home and in theirworkplaces. 12 Nov 2012 16:39:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Manyof thementhatI spokewithdiscussed theirconfusionas to whatwas expectedof themas men in relationships with women. their justifiedthem)withina framework confusion frustraof and tionrather simplyone of privilege domination."She'snot takinga the backseatto decisions about careers moves. . Total distancing. Because the interactions a strip club in (through gendered the performances bothparties) of spoke to a male self-representation was not involvedwith that familyor workresponsibilities commitments.Rather. You can make as much or as little emotionalinvolvementas you want. I hate to even thinkof being able to thinklike thatbut you know." he said.She wants me to cry and be sensitive. menreceived great the a dealof enjoyment from theirfamilies.. and I expect spirituallytoo. Indeed.Timsaidthathe thought men that were undera good deal of "strain" becausetheirwives were also working nowadays. or self-representations. to be the leaderand the rock.the advantageof being able to walk away.You can go in there and shop for a piece of meat. but their female partnerswere at the same time interested Zachary. of Although is nota caseof simplecauseandeffect. . independence. Jasonmadenearlyidentical and comments.menneedsomewhere go wherethey to can say and act like they want. The transactionsthat occur in strip clubs should not This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. 1998.. No mess.52. example.In addition. was not necessarilya "haven" fromtheworkplace (Lasch.these changes and sentimentsmay be most intensein the middleclasses. was concurrent witha massiveincrease womenintothe workforce of and anupsurge attention to issuesof sexualharassment.was seen as a different sphere withits own set of obligations. Some men.I mean. wherehe does not necessarily have any role to perform exceptfor thatof a desiring male (though otherroles are available). am highlighting fact thatthese men I the experienced visitsto the clubs(andalso. Theseissuesarediscussed moredepthin the in nextsection.such this developments the discourses and surrounding shape them some of the ways thatthe men'svisits to the clubs were spokenaboutandunderstood. werealso oftenpremised responsibilities on and commitments. however.however. in greater communication emotional and expression.I'm confused as hell. Soonafterhe madethe abovestatement.Stripclubs offereda temporary respitefrom both changingdefinitionsof masculinityand requests fromwomenfor eitherinstrumental support reciprocal or emotional communication.Changing expectations about male economicprovidership emotional and communication in committed relationships may have contributed some to men'sexperiences stressandconfusion of about theirgender identities and roles (Levant & Brooks.and conflicts. however.in part. Interactions with women in the workplace were also oftenthought be constraining. thatareexperienced different in contexts.

and in canbe seenas an important of thatprocess. Connell(2000) definedmasculinizing practices practices aregoverned a gender as that by regime." or.you know. Wild.domestic working andthe socialstructure and life. xv)." "unfulfilling. wives or partners. muchmore or subtle. in as the case of fraternity initiations boot camp drillsthat or emphasize toughness physical and hierarchy. whether the men'salienfor ationas producers because aninability develop or of to intimaterelationships otherwomen. tounsticpractice A mightbe understood part as of a largerprocessthatmakes. 155). Yet.It wouldalsobe a mistake assert suchinteracto that tionsareonly compensatory. especially the genderedcombination of leisure. them link to larger-scale structures the gendered of order structures of powerrelations.Masculinizing practices be readily may apparent.fromsocialmores.pioneer'' pointing thathe alwaysvisitednewclubsin out Laurelton theiropening on nightandsoughtoutstripclubs whenever passedthrough new city. One customer.""escape. and even the men who in described theirjobs as "boring. and other everyday or ritualistic practices.few of themseemedprepared give uptheir to positionsin these otherrealmsto pursuesuch desires.reflected the balance in betweenriskand safety that was often being sought.63 on Mon. 307). areembedded socialrelations.entertainment.'and "adventure.you've got guys that'll rappel.168. . possifioilaty of anoutout the side relationship was often more desirablethan a real encounter (Frank. or Consumption.52. I have arguedelsewhere(Frank. and you've got guys that'll go off the mountain This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192.as theybecomemeaningful.forexample.. as a challengeto the existingsocial order."Alex also spokeof his visits to stripclubsin termsof extreme masculinizedadventure.p.It's like .customers often talkedabouttheirvisitsin termsof freedoms-fromwork. I guess kind of like rock climbing. As 1998)arld discussed thenextsections. though customers sometimes tned to findout information abouta dancer's or ask a life dancer on a date. People'sacts. dress." manconsistently One described himselfas a '. for example. as in somemenwere alsoactively seeking escapeto a kindof interaction an with womenthatwas not available themin theireveryday to lives. pleasures. although "men's bodiesdo not1X patterns masculinity" of (p. that Manyof theinterviewees discussed theirexperiences in the languageof"variety. Further.for example. andit was notworththerisk. fromthedemands women. Manyof the men he a enjoyedsharing talesof theirtravels stripclubsin other to cities andstates:"Icouldtell storiesaboutthe placesI've beento forhours." Connellargued.Thoughsome customersexpressed desirefor an affairwith a dancer the or for more"excitementS'theirsexualrelationships in outside of theclubs.'adventure" and "excitement" balance the moremundane to out "compartments"of his life such as workand homeand thatsuch sexualizedventures"makelife worthliving. '4and then I wantto go home to Mama" wife of 30 (his years)." mantoldme." "fun. 1998).Tosaythata practice 4'masculinizing" (p. and symbolism 59)." "adventurers. .'thehabitual desirable as well as making escapefromthe habitsof laborseempossiblethrough everyday practices consumptive of pleasure" (Allison. . workto produce in and masculinities particular in settings by certain and institutions (p.spentan entireafternoon for telling me his fantasiesaboutvisitinga legal brothelin Nevada." Nick said that strip clubs provided .Visitsto stripclubs with can usefullybe seen as masculinizing practicesas well as touristic practices. production relations(or divisionsof labor).he answered I like to do bizarrethings. sexuality sport. WhenI askedhim why he went to stripclubs." even or "intolerable" seemed to have no intentionof changing thesecircumstances.'Ijust wantto do it once. socialclass. Stripclubsexist becausethey are profitable.their experiences.You know. withinwhichtheyarelocated" (Manderson. in even moreliterally marking separateness the clubs the of as well as the desireto maintain separateness. Masculinity. The temporary natureof the customers' excursions was highlysignificant them.relations cathexis(or emotional of relations). and when the tensionbetweenthese boundaries disappears a customerhe maycease to be for a regular.andthe desireto to return to workandhomewere unquestioned elementsof the men'svisits.Becausemostof the menkepttheiractivities the in clubs a secretfrom theircoworkers. Mostof the marTied customers claimedthattheywerenot interested leavingtheirwives. 12 Nov 2012 16:39:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . provided him an opportunity sharethis to even more transgressive fantasyand develop it further through interaction-yet still allowedhim to return our home.becausethey are both in safe and exciting. Other one mendescribed themselvesas "hunters. vulnerabilities and are stillsignificant theconstructions expressions masin and of culinities.His hoursin the stripclub providedhim with a transgressive exciting experiand ence-indeed.However. atthe sametimeas it promisYet es escapeor freedoms imageconstructed of tourist the out gazesalso "serves validate legitimize to and routine experience.218).. but as 218). not Despiterecognizingthis fact. part. 1995. work.canthusbe seenas like a processrather thanan achievement a stateof being. example. involving comportment. however. hadneverusedanyaspectof the sex industry He exceptfor lookingat a few pornographic magazines and visitingstripclubs. part Safetyand lExcitement Stripclubs are appealing..crazy stuff. Such illicit remains wereclearlyinappropriate theseotherspheres."he said.'explorers. serviceavailable stripclubs. is does not mean that it alwaysor unproblematically constructsa particular stablekind of male subjectivity. "Masculinities. they were carefulto removetracesof these visits before returning the ofElce home:checkingfor lipstickon to or theircheeks(remnants a thankyou peckon the cheek) of or perfumeon their clothes. explainedshe wouldnevercondone he it."do not exist priorto socialinteraction comeintoexistence peopleact"(p." "travel.fromtherestrictions marof of riage. 1996 p.Frank 67 merelybe seenas providing escapepomresponsibilities an and commitments.

"Whoknows?'he said. travel. sociological over the figuresof thetourist. the "forerunner thetwentieth or is of centurytourist.Significantly.)He continued. stranger.1997.and encounters with variouscategoriesof Othersthat must be further explored. and The nen also policetheirown behavior." the and more"graphic displays" weresupposedly that foundthere (thoughfew of the men who expressedsuch hesitations hadactually visitedtheclubsin question). Alex saidthatstripclubswere appealing becausethey i'hadthatsinister typefeel.'no of rules"and as "outside law?" although the and customers experience expressfeelingsof freedom." strolling the pedestrian "poetically who confrontsthe darkcorners' a townor city? of occupied the by dispossessed the marginal. p. you know. adventurer. in he alsosaidthathe hadbeenworried aboutshowing for up our meeting. part Eventhoughwe metforourinitialinterview a coffeeshop. . in Further. Despitedescriptions stripclubs as places with . I don't know if it would be a very good analogy to just call it. . althoughthis is changing.168." Yet despitehis spokenfears. admitted I wasthe our he that This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192.'shedrugsme and stealsall my money. White customers expressedconcernsabout visiting the primarily Black clubs in Laurelton." Saulpreferred visiting"dive" bars thatwere locatedin "seedyareasof town.the and gendered between split publicandprivate realms imporis tantin thinking abouthow discourses travelhavebeen of masculinized time.the wholeplaceis just kindof like darkandthere's anunderground there. with a shotgunin your hand . and customer-to-customer interactions-are policedby boththe dancers the othercustomers. then. they were also dangerous enoughto be alluringa bit "lesscivilized" theplacesthesemidthan dle classmenwouldordinarily enter. . For manycustomers.can be seenas a derivative of restrictive both interventions the on partof the law. especially(but not exclusively) thosewho preferred lowertierclubs.'The men'sideasabout whatit wouldtaketo dancenaked just seemedto bolster beliefthatdancers this enjoyedan uninhibitedsexuality.Someof the men'stalkaboutsafety. also worried he aboutcrimeand"getting rolledin the parking lot. Jim fromthedancer's perspective." (Yet.he showedup on time and participated enthusiastically the interviews. Racewasalsoimportant in structuringsuch fantasies. 12 Nov 2012 16:39:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the that that "worstcase scenario" could be that . Otherkinds of behaviors-such as proper etiquette regard watching in to tabledances. exciting or individuals the vice thatmightbe encountered them. a crackdealer. although Jim severaltimes discussedthe 'idancer's perspective" during interviews. The connection slumming privilege of to meansthatthefigure of theflaneur alsooftenracialized classedas we]las is and gendered. but a formof eroticslumming.52.andeven menwho claimto be wild withdesireor testosterone usually found sitting docilely in their are chairs. and adventure. whereasstripclubs wererelatively safe. the?aneurare the the and alsoimplicitly masculine metaphors particular for kindsof subjectivities (Jokinen Veijola.' At the same time. you know .given the high securityof mostLaurelton c]ubs) was an important of his excursions.1997." saidthathe thought was"very He I brave" conducting for interviews with the customers and admitted he had fantasized by meetingme. I continued see him around to townat the various clubsin which I worked.they are to actually passingoverground hasbeentightlyregulatthat ed to produce particular of experience. Thecustomers oftenimagined dancers livingoutthe as side of normative social constraints? enjoyingimmense "sexualfreedoms'and a kind of "wild sexuality. contamination7 those and and once. . 26). "rough of the crowds. & Thesespacesin thefast-growing citieswereassumed be to dangerous well as authentic as becauseof theirconnection only dancer he had ever even spoken with more than withpromiscuity. 7). however. said." sex lives and orientations:How many of the dancers are Underprivileged disreputable and areas"came be redeto fined as touristsights"(Rojek& Urry.'Ithink."I'veheardof men beingrobbed killedthisway. stroller. Dancerswere also describedas brave andadventurous. .. . contagion. can Bouncers physically monitor control men'sbehavand the ior inside the clubs. or in despitetheirlack of proofthatsuchthingsoccurred: rich New York gangsters laundering moneyor dealing cocaine. know?Orlike livingdayto you day?Orsomebody that'sgoingto schoolfor yourfuture. beautiful womenwhocouldlurea manintoa private room andoutof his monthly income. bachelors few really need theirhandsto be tied behinda chairduringa table dance. to "You neverknowby looking at somebody. p. becausethere'snot any rules. I mean I wouldneverknow if you werelike.) There was constant speculationabout the dancers' who sought them out were said to be C. you knowSthere was a lot of extreme desperation and a lot of loneliness and sadness there. city this kind The hasdelineated wheresuchclubscanbe located (forthe and most part)whattypes of interactions be had inside.The l9th-century & flaneur.1997).""you know. andthe employeesandof their ownexpectations boundaries.63 on Mon. . tipping procedures. . I guess. or excitement during theirexcursions stripclubs. and Men'stalkabout danger andadventuree the otherhand is connected historion to cal discoursesaboutmasculinity. Publicspaceshave long been occupiedby men in the culturalimagination.It's just wild."ForSaulthis danger (oftenfantasized.the factthatvisthe its to stripclubsoftenimplieda journeyinto "bad" areas of townwas seenas riskyanddangerous alsoexciting.then. glamorous. getting on the back of a Harley Davidson.becauseof the 4'aggresfor sive"nature Blackdancers."("AtStarbucks?"was and I tempted ask.thecustomers still fantasizedabout the dangerous. experiences and and supposedly real authentic life" (Jokinen Veijola.upscaleclubswere to notas oftendescribed sinister as spaces.or famousathletes buying oralsex fromex-Playboy bunnies.you know? Though compared lowertierclubs.forexample.slumming.it's just like an existenceon the edge.68 Masculinity StripClubRegulars and head first . the club.Indeed. example.

You know why I'm there. Beck said..'sneak" however.suchpractices sexualactivaboutcommercialized diseases. sexualizedsetting). I have reality at home so I'm going back to that. the quest of meeting and building that trustand buildingthatrapportto the point where you could bond enough to have sex and whetherthat happenedin one night or it took 3 months. to admitted some of the interviewees example..was relaxing the men's attemptto justify a sometimesinflammatory and or safe spacein whichto be bothmarried committed guilt practiceor defraymasturbatory (as when men say with (or sexuallyaroused at least. legalvenuesin whichno overtsexualacts clubs in lap-dancing own locales (men who frequented to weresupposed takeplace.ambivalence stripclubs. it's a safe place-from the standpoint let?scall it. more. as I sit and watch these guys.. only as portrayed a formof masculinized of needs to think of HenryMiller. Personal and SexualAcceptance or distaste. This claim couldbe dismissedas partof the experience. tastebetter a thrill. a massageparlorS a "jackshack"is relaxingfor that sexualcontacts theyfind on thekindsof commodified somemen it causedconflictsfortheseparticular men. In the back of theirminds there'sthat hope of hopes thatmaybe I'm gonna ignite anothersparkagain in my life. continued to are into Excursions the sex industry not only related areasof townor bad of theallure supposedly or dangerous but corners.Similarly.theclubswereseenby many disoftenexpressed for or monogamy Tampa SanFrancisco. . manyof my intervie. Manyof themenwithwhomI spokeagreed were not pursuingsexual contactor even thoughthey a release. how far they can exploretheirdesirefor otherswithout As to beingunfaithful theirwives or partners.the adventures Don or Bukowski JackKerouac.Frank 69 Are Do lesbians? theysleep withcustomers? theywild in many to assertions thecontrary. predominant and monogamy.interacting womenin a I However.168.or storiesaboutCharles withthisidea.they readPlayboy "for to significant a large were indeed thatthe conversations ment of sexual exclusivity in marriageand intimaterelabeyondbeing a way to legitimate of number customers tionships exist among individuals in the United States. Juan. it's all that excitement leading up and then the exploringand getting to know what you like and what I like. (Herb) in Williamsaid thathe got "in moretrouble singlesbars thanin stripclubs. experience the riagesor long-term industryhas led me to believe that althoughmen do was wees.as stripclubsvaryaround country.. 12 Nov 2012 16:39:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . to one mustusuallypositiononeselfin relation thisrepreplaces as to Men drawtheirlines in different sentation. I was a participant thousands However. Catholic to around visitthe thefactthathe hadto . he doesn'tget at homeany My expenence was.52. bed?Despitethe dancers' of the men wantedto believe thatthey led excitingand simply variedsex lives andthattheirchoiceof workplace thistrend.then. theyaretrying to recapturewhat's not there in theirmamage anymore." said thathe often felt guilty because of the influence of his wife's Roman At beliefson his own conscience. andlegalconcerns thepointis thatthiskindof nointervieweesor other customersadmitted a using escort services..regardlessof any individual'spersonalviews or This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192.therearealso manymenwho set limits Laurelton or tute. of representation commitment the practices. the first 3 to 6 months of every relationship was just outrageous. men also explicitly of sexual discover7 however.. None of the in to them as theirexperzences to regularly ities.although periodicallyreading Playboy or renting pornographic comfortwith otherkindsof sexualizedservicevariedto or werenot as significant enjoyable fromcommitments worriesaboutsexuallytransmitted videos."Stolenwatermelons clubs gave him he thantheonesyou buy. Several intervieweesdiscussed occasional experiences describingthem as riddledwith much with prostitutes.. . of of these men as supportive heterosexual availablein the limitedinteractions in appointment the visitinga prostiAlthough at pushing its borders). when Im on the roadI know thatwhen I go into a men's club that of. pointyoujustdon'twantto go pastif you a "there's certain Jim a wantto maintain marriage.He didnotbelievethathis a aboutbreaking covenant'were and "thoughts fantasies the samethingas doingso. believe the articles")." said. of in theirvisits. "looking" the final limit with whichthey felt in that to becomeaccustomed theservices areoffered their As comfortable. in At the sametimeas theyofferedadventure the form custhe Of course.for the most part."He continued.. They're zero in a and that mens club . example.andJimconsidered in himself "faithful" his 23 year marriage. afterall. the marriage vows! The temptationsare not there for me. a becauseit provided Thestripclub. course)coupled withtravelawayfromthe safetyof homehaveoftenbeen one adventure. the sametime.Stevensaidthati'what guy gets in a men'sclub.For for reasons disspoken the Though customers' acceptable..(Steven) If you go to a stripclub it's safe. I am able to understand it's entertainment social interaction.andnoneconsidered a practice and clubswere a significant pleasurable they hadin strip to takeup again. .many tomerscannotalwaysbe certainof the kindsof interacto marsafetyin relation that claimed stripclubsprovided in My For partnerships. . guiltthantheirvisitsto strips moreambiguity. man another commented. contactstripclub offeredthe customers "safe"spacein was whichthisdiscomfort eased. (though clubs).63 on Mon. however." those"dark who of the individuals populate Sexualexperiof also to the adventure sexualdiscovery. of ences (not necessarilyheterosexual. also withhimself. notedthatthe conversations All of the menI interviewed theywerelikely this clubs.A varietyof ideas aboutthe require."This troublewas not only with his but partners.tionsin whichtheywill be involved. serial) is thatof lifetime(or increasingly. prostitutes or massage parlors. So whatSshappening out there at the men's clubs. Okay?I know why you're there.

this the Though menmayhavevaluedtheconversation. aboutotherthings.and tion. ing similar of or obligations. are disabilities frequent Men well as thrilling. they modunrealizable men alsosubject andboysto (generally) els of the kind of female they must win with equally (p. 1997. and young. in they Somemennotedthatthe interactions purchased safe stripclubswerean ego boostbecausetheyprovided the without with for opportunities closeinteractions women and Sexuality sexualconquestafteralls risk of rejection.There'sno boundaries. in oppressive otherspheres.the food he wants. Reed.63 on Mon. Indeed. "Hey. anywoman about to forsomemen. as and by can be expeneneed menas humiliating stressful Daviddescnbedhis visits to a stripclub duringa failing as marriage "goodfor my ego to buildme up. they also is malesexuality honedon the images. it was the Sometimes.. conversation valuedbecause was that a kindof interaction the men felt they haddifficulty workfinding elsewhere. .Evenmenwho arenot impotent. a withinthemselves.52.in Thesecustomers betweenmen also competition to addition malebonding. if I haven't been feeling that great about myself and I go in there it doesn't matterif it's real or not but aftera while.proximity.customers theypaidforthedancer's how by overthe situation dictating taina senseof control wouldlast.the "beauties" interested. it gets in your head. sexual affairswith intimatefrlendships that womenmaybe the only routeto intimacy they think stripclubscan be seen as offertheyhave(p 57).'7 womenwhomaybe sexualboys settlefor"inferior the but attractive do not quite succeedin approximating haunted the beauties. mens enjoyment by havebeeninfluenced the contentof the conversations. in sharing male emotional areasof men'slives. Shuttleworth. that's for sure. 287). accepting." be womenwithwhomthesemenwouldnotgenerally able a of for to interact.for example.As Beck said. .leavingthe manhumiliated. and tion). abled."she argued.and successful. actionswith women." said thathe went to the talk to a beautiful with gorclubs to have "an idealizedsocial interaction to offeredan opportunity talkto Dancers geous women. long as ily basedon mutual couldstillmaintime. the without kindsof releasesandconnections. you know whateverit tales.'. almost like therapy.to makeme joked feel like I was a man again.especiallyin male-dominated places.Brettsaid withwomenin conversation that though"mencan open up to women. sometimes I go therejust to talk because I feel like I can talk to I somebodytherewithoutany rules. were at times seekingan otherness sense of escape from those aspectsof the self that felt insesuchas old age.thefirstplaceI'd be that whereI could in interested goingto wouldbe someplace Jim woman.and if you're a warthog.As Joe said." by ideal.yet therewas usuallysomeoneelse if willingto takeherplaceS onlyforthemoney.she would not be paid.even fix"straight atedon them"(p.whatwouldbe discussed. was is notto say thatthisconversation alwaysor necessarAs or disclosure engagement. the thing was considered moment he hadsomefreetime.available. 290)-may leadsomemento seekbothsolaceand In in excitement pornography.' Many sex workers their and reallybeing"therapistsS' understood jobsto about him be aboutboostinga man'sego by convincing thathe masculine. and arosein manyinterviews conversations: eventually I guess it is kind of an ego thing too . (Ross) There'sno way youre going to go in [the stripclub] and get the cold shoulder. or any couldwalkawayfroma customer Granted.baldn got a pot belly.justtalking a beautiful to be a luxury.'just thebeautiful us subject womento (generalrepresentations] [incultural modelsof the kind of female we must ly) unrealizable and becomein orderto be worthyof attention love. (Jason) You'remassagingthe marl'sego . age differences. longtheconversation tookoff herclothesduring or andwhether not the dancer that understanding Therewas an unspoken the interaction. some good looking girl's gonna come up and go.or unattractive. in your memory. . werekeenlyawareof the factthat. lackof socialskills or intimate Bordo (1999) discussedmale anxiety about female bodies as that and attractiveness argued . .168.ugliness. withphysical the visitorsof suchclubsandappreciate femalecompanto ionshipthatis available themthere(e. if a dancerwas not pleasing. You know? It's You'renot thereto judge me." and eventuallymay come to pervadeother workplace. failures. entanglements. the women'swillingnessto interact outsideof theclubs. consequences" 285)*Thoughmostheterodestructive fixes. stripclubs. in mayfeel insecure interhowever. This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. and it's easy! (Roger) weregoodto talkto about Rogersaidthathis malefriends women. ed"(p. . repercussions an affair. It's just absolutely an ego trip and because you go in there. Becausemen seldomdevelop motivefor male infidelity: with othermen. 12 Nov 2012 16:39:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .or work"but thathe felt moreengaged "sports. . thatdesire. manymen still "remain only thus Imagesof femaleperfection sCnot shapepercepshape sexual desire.Thus customers is desirable. that'swhat it boils down to. Bordoarguedthatthe male perceptionof female beautyas powerful-able to "invade and male consciousness arousedesireand then to reject frustratshamed."men "don't commuare" knowwhattheiremotions andhavedifficulty with each otherbecausetheiregos are "toobig" nicating in may Stoicmasculinity be idealized the and"toofragile. arethereas a live fantasy. a curity. anynumber reasons: lackof attractiveclass differences(in eitherdirecness. It's an ego massage . The desire for an ego boost was but that almostneverthe firstmotivation menmentioned. dis2000). It makesthe man feel good abouthimself. dancer groupif she did not wantto engagein a giveninteraction or foundit offensive. don't necessarilyhave to talk aboutsex but I can go thereandjust talk aboutanythingand sometimesthat'skind of nice.preventing a Oliker(1989) suggested possiblenonsexual fnendships.the massagehe wants.g. do you wantme to dancefor you?"Seducingwomen is something all men wish they were betteratSyou krlow?And this seems like you're doing it. giving him the drinkshe wants.70 Masculinity StripClubRegulars and mayor maynot The thesetransactions.

Frank 71 often centeredon the struggleto gain attentionfrom womenandmanywelcomedthe opportunity avoidthis to competitionIn stripclubs. it fun to be the one "Is up on the pedestal?".andSaulall mentioned they hadbeenmadeto that feel like "perverts" numeroustimes because of their "voyeuristic" desiresto look at women.Formen who arewillingandableto payfor it. whichhe thought he couldnotshare that withhis wife. times. Othermenwanted expresstheirdesiresverbally to but not necessarily act on them.andhavingaffairsor datingyounger women(displays of sexualpotency).52.purchasing sportscar (displaysof financial/physical a power). Theyhavea reason be there. "I'd tradeplaces with you if I or could. I don'tget excitedabout goingto yourlocalbarsandyouknow. Customers also sometimeswantedto be acceptedas objectsof desire.forexample. yet he still foundthisfantasy compelling." cross-identificatory The wishesbeingexpressed in suchstatements rootedin complexfantasies power are of exposure. theyhadin their to that adolescentyears in orderto reclaima fading sense of strength influence(p.'pervert" that becausethis was whathe wanted.63 on Mon.Paul Gary. Manyof the customers werealso concerned withseeking women'sapproval even enjoyment the sexual and of practicesthat they found appealing.He toldme that he was certain wife wouldleavehimif he askedherto his do so. Certainly. idealization Frank.'Similarly. theywerefasthe and cinated withthe detailsof performing.I also interacted of witha number menwho seemedthrllled thethought of by of talkingaboutsex witha woman. or sex thatdoes not necessarily require contextof an the intimate relationship be desirable. however.These effortsmay inclLude familiar copingstrategies already deleterious that had aspects to themsuchas displaysof poweroverothersat workor workaholism.Other times." kindof girlsthathe to as the could'. "Howdoes it feel to be perfect?". had fantasiesthey wantedto sharethat had causedextreme reactions fromtheother womenin theirlives.current events. or you're24. I haveto be accepted.you're46. thatdancers said wereless likelyto pass judgment thanotherwomenbecauseof theirstigmatized position:"They'renot gonna tell you what's right or wrongbecauseherethey dancers!" Garymadeseveral references dancers "sluts. His fantasies werefairlystandard pornographic fare thatI personally not findupsetting surprising.menmay wal attemptto restoretheir self-imagethroughredoubling their effortsto gain powerover others.Thegirlsatthestrip jointsmight be therenot only to talkto. Davidsaid. some in cases the idea that dancerswould be moreacceptingof theirsexualfantasies basedon the men'sideasabout was theethicalinadequacies womenwhowoulddancenude.for example. on thejob by both andduring interviewsfor instance. thediscovery thetypeof femaleattention of available in a contemporaw clubcanbe a monumental strip experience. to I don'tlikeusingthe lines andI thinkthecompetitive nature of thatis justsortof sillyto me. degradation. and (see 2002). justtrying pickupchicksandbe thecool suavedudeatthebar. you'reBlack. Although the dancers maynothaveaccepted actualoffer.you'refat.Becausesuchconversationsare often inappropnate betweenstrangers the in everyday world(andeven sometimes between lovers). to There's Elnancial considerations pushing andthey'lltalkto youwhether that.168. 198). as HoweverX occasionallymen glimpse their very mortal(and unacceptably deflated) selves. GoodandSherrod pointed thatduring also out midlife.Oneregular to customer was anoldermarried whoconsidered man himselfandhis wife to be 'iveryCatholic. Althoughthese authors' and reliance thenotionof the "real" is potentially on self problematic. men who wereinvolvedin alternative lifestyles or who hadrisquefantasies seemedto genuinely appreciate womenwho could talk openlyaboutsex and sexual are7 This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192.Another customer. Good and Sherrod (1997) arguedthatmen frequently seek to "maintain grandiose self-images" partof their as genderidentity.the desiresthe customers At expressed weresimplyto look at femaleanatomy without shameor apology. Oftenthe mensaid thingslike "Itmustbe nice to haveeverybody wantyou". WhenI refused. These authorsdiscuss the heightened importance theseimagesin middleage: of They wantto perceivethemselves powerfuland in charge. and to Customers also told dancers thingsthatthey claimedthey hadnevertold theirwives or lovers usuallyspecificfantasies expenor ences that they thoughtthe other wornenin their lives wouldnot understand.you'resmall. Somemenweresearching acceptance theirsexufor of al desires. 194) (p. Another married cameto the sameclubsevman eralnightsin a row."thepressure's off.eachnightoffering moremoneyin an attempt find someonewho would have sex with him to afterworkwhileweartng strap-on a dildo.customers ear.he became distraught told me his wife had left him becauseshe and thought he was a . did or Still. of Joe.the fact thatwe couldengagein suchtalkwithimpunity was relaxing enjoyable somecustomers.the idea that such behaviors take on intensified importance middle age is potentially in illuminating in regard stripclubs.get" whenotherwomenrejected him.In addition the customers to who enjoyedthe everydayconversation aboutwork.or any number othertopics. their families. men maysometimes reengage the kindof nonrelational in sex.you're big.andhe was provided withinformation aboutanalsex in addition to a forumfor aural fantasizing. 12 Nov 2012 16:39:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . they'retherebecause they'reworking.Garysaid.Dunngsuchtimes.andmanytold storiesaboutnot being allowedto look at theirwives' or partners? bodies." enjoyedtelling me his sexual He fantasies.begged me to anallypenetrate him with my high-heeled shoes.andto his my knowledge nonedid7 expression his fantasy the of did notleadto rejection withintheconfinesof theclub.Somemenmaynothaveexperienced to a sense of strength influencein theireverydaylives and even during theiradolescent years yet maythinkthatthey shouldhave.I was constantly askedquestions about how it felt to be a dancer thecustomers.bothat homeand on the streets. he experienced thesefantasies deviant wasrelieved as and to find a nonjudgmental Othertimes.

error. signifwith sexualperformance difficulties described encounters customers In of icantto themeanings theexpenences.argued. of througha publicperformance or porarily in fantasy7 in '. artificial.Onthe otherhand. he hadslept Yet surgical due erections to a disastrous walls in ing. Rather. leasttemcould heterosexuality be comfortably had thathis malTiage become Ross explained interview. in This is not to say that all of the participants the andbe seen doingso by others. with a number womenbefore and in uratively. thatdid notneedto be explained womenenjoy lookingat and tomersS manyheterosexual along with a chanceto expresshis a sexual encounter.asexual" recentyearsbecauseof his inabilityto get desirMencouldobservethemselves desirefor a woman. masculinity" 142) despitethe part of contemporary that vulnerability otherarenas."itis less mandesiresto feel goodabout and sex as an act of penetration releasethana talkabout specifically. of course. sex"(p.bothliterally.she to exposedor expected perform after ed fromdoingso).'My of Further.'real" as realor original).Swingers whose ideas out theirpartnersas did otherindividuals differed from the monogamyand relationships about norm. bodyas well as withthepleasures. manymen who visit stripclubs womanor to experience with a dominant to whosebodiesareagreeable themandfor whomsexual stripshowsmay tionor pain. fantasyof the 4'perfect sexualperforneedto proveit eithervisuallyor through werenot of the 2002) andalthough desires thecustomers the or always straightforward stereotypical. all.relaxing that desire generate of with as context7 interconnected the vulnerabilities the took rarely in the Though regulars. nakedbody to the dancers. act withthe dancers. After all." and bodythatcouldrespond perfromhis youth. transactions mance.although is my is functioning not an issue.a fantasy lesbian women work as dancersor visit clubs as cusin formwhenbiddento.In this way. partof whatstripclubsprovidefor theircustomers the through 1995) withoutthe penis"(TieferS (see for or illegitimate. Manybisexualand "straight. is not reallynec. may not. to put it differently. Significantly.intriSomeof the talkaboutthe formof refugefromjudgment.52."He linkedthis to the factthatno matter bothto oneself of serveas an affirmation genderidentity abusivefather and his as a youth? physically emotionally from can sexualdesire feel different (although andto others and told him that he called him a "faggot" repeatedly ideas it of orindependent gender. themirrored of theclubs.andfigand marriage said. argument that in desireas problematic someways heterosexual construct is and theirgeographies choreographiesas dirty.which can provideanother of not. men remain varietyof ways masculinity understood expressed room thereareways increasingly men.63 on Mon. thesenseof self-reflection fantasy. a stripclub.Thereare.The fantasyof the perfectpenis is. 12) thatis effectivein thesesettings: talkaboutsex with a womanwho indulgeshim anddoes PerforrningDesire and the Fantasy of the 'Perfect can In his not counter assertions. of but identity. such for in their relationships. himselfas a man. and sciously sometimes arealsopart thescene.indeedS prohibit. expresshis desirefor themverbally. the fact that they between desire and bodily perforwhich a disjunction in with encounters thedancers a pubin engaged sexualized and Some interviewees other mancecouldbe negotiated. of couldin turn workand my sexualidentityare the Iynchpins who I desire of or theexperience performance sexual whathe did am.1999). my experience. of catelyinvolvedin performances identity. example Liepe-Levinson. all of themalecustomers straight .I do not wantto reify stereotypes visitedthe clubsseekinggraticlubs.A stripclub offers a certainprotection "sexual (p. afterall.Rosscouldinteror of oneselfas masculine feminine).try.includingthe bedfrom and is the at home. in aspectsof stripclubsmustbe understood this out and meaning pleasure of theirinter. poraryrelationshipshas meant that "thereseems to be no with visitedtheclubsS orwithsometimes desire. was of lic place. Allison(1993) especiallyin a commodified when a of wroteof male patrons hostessclubs in Japan. canalsoserveto reinforce In to wouldamount nothing.yet is abouta sexualencounter fantasize or for not responsible physicallyperforming providing are that to It is essential recognize thedancers nottheonly fromrevealinghis to pleasure her. and sexuality.andin thepresence a live audience.. if otherwomen'sbodiesandvisit the clubsas customers a identity(or.168.visits to the exchanges that occur in heterosexualstrip clubs are clubsallowedhimto accessthebodythathe remembered for they definitelyarenot.and they seemedto enjoy discussingtheirexperias encesanddesireswiththe dancers well.72 and Masculinity StripClubRegulars As encounter.YetS has some of its rootsin feelingsof with interactions the dancers The customers' as vulnerability well. experienced tionthatwas already and either7 some men enjoy watchingothermen in the aboutthe Of course.a customer Penis' with a woman. This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. Ejaculation. self-representaare Not theyareallowed. or ideologiesof anaggressive unconof the did not overtlyquestion connection heterosexuality linkedto hegemonic toolS' male sexualitywiththe penisas a "power trollable of patterns masculinity. example. 12 Nov 2012 16:39:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Duringour second at secured. as Tiefer(1995) argued.the increasingimportanceof sexuality in contema to essaryin order enhance man'sfeelingsof masculinity. stripclubs. actions.to be masculinewithoutrelying on physical validation. alsoa fantasy notjustproofof heterosexual is competence part some wouldsay the central sexual potency. customers. that opportunities of advantage the on-stageperformance with a space in The clubs providedsome customers were availablefor men in the clubs.He is also prohibited consometimes the in performers thesevenues.At timesscustomers of ficationof certainfetishessuch as the desireto interact sexualinadequacies menwho mightuse the sex induspublichumilia.Although and clothedduringthe interactions are neverphysically by individual are (and. to normative it provided (Bordo.

Many men ambivalent were towardsexualarousal the clubs..and politicaldiscomfort. As whena manis 20 yearsold . to for example.168. I thinkI've 51nally my wife to got understand .theyalsoexperienced visits a degreeof ambivalence thesemotivations abouttheir about and practices."These places keep me young. I love my wifes body. men find theirdesirefor Some commercialized sexual experiences materials be an unpleasant or to compulsion (Brooks. aremanyreasonsfor this:the There cultural shame often arisesfor individuals that aroundissues of sex.They also cautiously visits discussed importance theirwives' losses of the of youthand beauty to themselves. especially around materials experiences and associated masturbation with (evenif masturbation not actudoes ally place). we wentto a hog race afterward! must I havethrown fortwohours! god. dependence a particular (an a on dancer. but yet that there's stigma women this that think if a mandoesn't that havean orgasm didn't he havea goodtime. and depending on one's religiousbackground one's otherrelationships and with women.1997). At The samethingoverandover. an attractive body. in smoking dopeand havingfun drinking whisky." get. did In fact. menalso their other argued that their commodified interactions not affecttheirbodies. relaThe tionship betweenthe dancers' bodies. . (p. Kenneth Brett. yet claimedthatthey wantedto be able to be excited by them. of expressed difficulties becoming arousedby theirwives or long-term partners.. or especially in the contextof an ongoingintimate relationship. self feel younger moredesirable a and is privileged position (andone theirwives mightnot be ableto occupy. 12 Nov 2012 16:39:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .."For some customers.in someways. to an Customers discussed difficulties theirwivesand the that partnerswith"losing had beauty youth'? with"not and and wanting reminded it was still outthere" to be that by their husbands' to stripclubs.Stock. of the to This referencewomens bodies was not simply an to exercise in male privilege or misogyny.52. Youthfulness something was thatthe men desiredfor themselves not simplyin thebodiesthattheychose and to view the clubs. I canbe turned but on still not erection.Frank apparent reduction the male sexualfocus on physical in performance" 152). Some theoldermen. . sometimes explicitlycomparing the bodies dancers those of theirwives. ButI findthatthe olderI get.theman'schanged. Not everyregular claimedthatinteractions the in improved sexualrelationship homeor were clubs his at related to his ideas about sexual performance." hardCarlsaid whenaskedhimabout I howhe responded tabledances. of "This doesn't affect me physically. ."customer me during tabledance.. don'tget or "I ons while I'm watchingdancersor anything. Tim spoke similarly. especiallyby male friends. . 73 Another thatI interviewed DJ statedthatif the music right.Some menclaimed compartmentalize fantasy to their encounters in the clubsandtheiroutsideintimacies.the social stigmathat take surrounds sex the industry its users.. A DJ I interviewed spokeabouthow he triedto match the music he playedto the averageage of the crowdto facilitate fantasy youthfulness: this of WhenI playLynyrd Sknyrd's "SweetHomeAlabama.I get turned by my on wife." they're remembenng driving around thebackroads. Roger.. . I cancertainly andgive herpleasure..as well as in one's beliefs abouthow relationships own shouldbe conducted.the men'spartners' bodies. "youbecomethatgirlhe wanted high schoolwas in and didn't or thatone he let get away. visitswerealso of the intertwined with the men'sown insecurities aboutlosing a youthful body. least. did many and as other tomers whomI spokeinformally theclubs.provide middlean interestingandcomplicated return a site of adolescent to fantasy. cuswith in In addition arguing theirencounters the to that in clubs did not affect sexualrelationships. as and that the majority the regular of customers were men agedor older.it wasso up Oh muchfun!" . some of whichhave been alludedto above.The clubs. ANXIETIES ABOUT BEING STRIP A CLUB CUSTOMER Although men expressednumerous the motivations for their to stripclubs.It takesa littlebit more needto be excitstimulation. the number timesthatI heardmen say. however. or an inabilityto controlone's spending) often seen was as humiliating.thoughthe youthfulness the in of dancers helped facilitatethis fantasy.forexample.. in his mind's he but eye cango back. he'sa walking erection.Conflicting concep- Other customers discussed stigmaassociated also the with an inability maintain erection. As Stevensaid. a told a "because you're young.for a variety reasons). the And variety whatactually is doesthat.1995. Joe said. port Any in a storm.. you ed a littlebit more.you kindof get desensitized it to .however. "Thisis the firsttimeI drank Jack Daniels!Qh my god.Althoughthese men's could possibly have contributed visits to their wives' partners' or insecuritiesabout aging or sexual attractiveness severalinterviewees (and explicitlystated that believedtherewere connections). havean try Ihat turns me on butI don'tnecessarily to havean have orgasm fromit." exceededthe numberof times the interviewees that explicitlyclaimeda physical response evena desirefora response.moraldiscomfort. Youthfulness an issue thatemergedfrequently was in conversations interactions I had in the clubs. they and the to purchase attentions others although ability the of to makeone- This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. in whereas peormances of desirewereeneouraged some in situations. .andtheirownbodiesandsexual performances was thuscomplexandmultifaceted. Well..actualevidenceof desire erection. so effortlesssexual response something was associated was that with youth." Herb.. "It's like I'm makinglove to my wife and not fantasizing abouta dancer or something.63 on Mon..frommy perspective. given the prominence certainstrandsof feminismand of ideas about "political correctness" populardiscourse.a body thatwouldandcouldperforrn sexuallywhenthe opportunity needarose. think youget older7 I as though.Men'sanxietiesaboutout-of-control bodily responses a lackof responses or influenced theirinterpretations theirsexualizedencounters strip of in clubs and elsewhere.

pleasure. and especiallyif they visit alone. havingto 'ipayfor it" is demeaning othermen if can (presumably) the same femaleattention free.on someoccasions.74 Masculinity StripClubRegulars and tionsof masculinity interact also withideasof clienthood to create anxiety for some male customers. independent. Customers seldom are askedto challengetheirviews.attractive. get for Thereis still a forcefulstereotype . Some visits. to becausetheyknewtheirwives or girlfriends woulddisapproveof theirvisitsto stripclubs.Most of the men discussed the needfor theirvisitsto be "private entertainment." a desireto feel desirable leastin fan(at tasy). Customers tended makesenseof theirvisitsby drawto ing on particular masculinetraditions on dominant and cultural ideologiesof sex and gender." and Alex termed desirenotto be seenat theclubswhenhe his visitedalonea "healthy paranoia. Thereare indeedprivilegesassociated with being ableto availoneselfof the servicesofferedin stripclubs. although talk aboutwomen'sbodiesis often a meansof bondingwith other men and may reflect misogynisticattitudes. intensifying potential uneasiness the for with such transactions. 12 Nov 2012 16:39:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .men On who visit too oftenor who talkaboutusingany sectorof the sex industry openly risk censure. Although somemenmightvisit a cluband spendonly a few dollarson tips. Sucha systematic appropriation women'semotionallaborby men can of indirectlysupportmale dominanceat a societal level (Bartky. freedom. or a desireto have a sexualized interaction with a womanthatdoes not involve the vulnerability actual of sexualactivity.or in the sex industry moregenerally. for some men feelings of masculinity -and function reminders his needfor to as of continuedor futuremonetarysuccess.There are times.they their or maylookforother formsof entertainment developother or sexualpractices. unpartnered" the instead to menin a variety of of positionsand with varyingprivileges(Queen. is a complicated processthat is rife with ambivalence. 130). talkopenlyandwithprideabouttheirvisitsto stripclubs.complito catethisconnection well. even if a dancershunsa customerbecause of his sexist or racist opinions. a touristic desire for adventurethroughmingling with Others who areseen as "wild" visitingspacesbelieved or to be "dangerous. the otherhand. of privatedances. Becomingand remaining customer a then.then. example.63 on Mon.visits to stnp clubs were usuallypremised on the abilityto spendsignificant amounts moneyon tips.If men do endup questioning sexuality theirdesires. Manymenclaimed feel guilty. suchas bachelor parties. Further.52. Men'sconsumption as practices in these kindsof stripclubs are premised a rangeof on possibledesires:a desireto publiclydisplaya particular masculineself free of obligationsand commitments. couldservebothto enhance man'sfeelingsof financial a power and status. for example.Visitsto strip clubs.Whena manneedssomeoneto turnto for emotional support.such behavior be ladenwithconflicting may personal emotional meaning.168.forexample. Negative gender? racial. Whenstoicmasculinity idealized the workis in place. CONCLUSION Men have many differentmotivations visiting strip for clubsthat although related malesocialpower. whenavailing oneselfof commodified sexual servicesis seen as a deE1cit one's masculinity.'family money" private on entertainment triedto findways and to justifytheirvisitsto themselves. Some of the interviewees went out of theirway to pointout to me thattheirsex life was enjoyable. visitsalsooffered and The the men an opportunity experience to theirselves in pleasurableways:as youngS virile. therearesomemenwho.and thus. malepractices consumption of in stripclubs. simplytalkingto a beautiful womanwho appears to be genuinelyinterested boost a man's ego and can restorehis securityin his masculinity.conversations with dancers.for example.theunatthe tractive.forexample.menwho desired longer ormorepersonal interactions expected pay(somewere to timeshighly)fora dancer's time. can also serveto maintain imbalanced powerdynamics perin sonalrelationships women especially with whenvisitsare usedto shame anger or wivesorpartners. but recognizing the subjective feelings of vulnerability that infUsesuch practiceswith meaning is essential in trying to assess their place in social life more generally.As mentioned and to earlier.isexworkers that providesexualreliefto society's'wretched': old. Finally. as sources but of desire. Increasing commodification concerns and aboutauthenticity progresare sivelymorein conflictin consumer cultures moregenerally as well.evenat thesametimeas they enjoyedthe male camaradene the sexualized and nature theencounters. in Thatis.visits to stripclubs offeredthe men opportunities thinkof theirbodiesnot as '4prison to houses" (Ross 1989)or working machines.As partof each customer's repertoire of masculinizing practices. of Others guiltyspending felt . seenas sociallylegitimate are and even as normalmale behavior.drinks.it maycometo pervade otherareasof men'slives andprevent emotional sharing malefriendin ships. sometimesas powerful. and Certainly. 1997. Thoughthey may visit spaces that pose challengesto dominantideas placesthatdisplay publicnudity. Thisis not to say thatcommodified sexual exchangesare inherently aboutthe preservation and This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. p." Further.employers. classstereotypes underlie and may someof theerotic chargeof the men'sexchanges. possibly anticipating tryingto deflectthis stigma. 1990).families. perhaps even in a way calculated makeothersaround to them (especially women) uncomfortable. placesin for or whichfemale sexualitycan be expressed almostaggressively theyalsomovethrough thesespaceswithunquestionable privilege.and too ostracism from friends. othertimesas vulnerable. therewill almostalwaysbe another womanwho will tolerate viewssimplyforthefinancial his gain. and Someof the servicesandconsolations a manmay that seek in stripclubsarenecessary becauseof his pnvileged position. mayoftenbe a woman. lovers. it Manydancers spend timewithregulars discussing men'swivesandfamilies the andthediff1culties joys related them.and covercharges.rejection.

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