As a writer of naughty stories I am on the very outer ring of the planetary system that is public female sexuality, with women who take their clothes off onstage being in the center, models, singers and actresses closely orbiting them, and those of us who only assist others in imagining sexual activity as the little asteroids. And even I, an asteroid, encounter men who hear that I write erotica and immediately assume I am either a sexual enchantress or that I am ready to have sex with them right now.
These attitudes explain why most of the burlesque performers I’ve met tend to have thick walls up. A lot of men still aren’t sure what a woman’s sexuality is for. Just because a woman engages in a sex-themed artistic activity does not mean she wants to have sex with you.
Anne Hathaway’s polite refusal to let Matt Lauer discuss her lack of panties is a beautiful example of drawing boundaries around one’s sexuality without letting someone classify you as a prude or a slut.
This prude/slut thing is the crux of my point.
A couple years ago I had an argument with a male friend about whether or not I’d join him and his buddy at a strip club. “But you like burlesque,” he protested, not understanding that a strip club and a burlesque show are about as different as two forms of entertainment could be. I’m not putting down stripping, it’s just not my bag.
A burlesque routine has a story or a concept. It’s choreographed and costumed by the performer herself. The best routines have a joke or bit of social commentary squeezed deliciously in. Most importantly, burlesque tends to be about what the performer finds sexy, not what she believes her male audience is going to find sexy. You’re either in on the joke, or the turn-on, or the challenge, or you’re not.
I find that entertaining. I don’t find strip clubs entertaining. It took most of my twenties to reach a point where I can say that and not feel defensive, un-sexy or un-fun. I know that I’m fun, in fact, experience thusfar suggests that I am very fun. Just not with that guy who was mad at me for not going to the strip club.
I want every little college girl trying to be a liberated American woman to know that she doesn’t have to be a Girl Gone Wild to be hot. Sometimes you wonder about the Muslim argument that our liberation is not so liberated.
I was disturbed when Cosmo argued in their February issue that more women are going to strip clubs with their boyfriends because they want to be seen as “fun.” If I knew that every one of those guys was reciprocating by going to Chippendale shows with these women, I’d feel a lot better. Somehow I doubt it.
Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey made me squeal with delight in Magic Mike, but maybe that’s just me.
Even more odd was the article’s suggestion that women are more aroused by a lap dance from another woman, than they are by a Chippendale-style male strip tease. Sure, the Magic Mike thing can be goofy. But a straight woman is attracted to different things than a straight man and usually those things don’t involve another woman’s breasts in her face (not always, but usually). The same thing applies to porn. More and more women are watching porn, whether solo or in a couple, but c’mon, these movies are not being made for women. You have to dig through the proverbial bins searching for something that has a decently attractive male lead or a scenario that might bring a tingle to the lady-parts.
Shouldn’t we be demanding entertainment that appeals to us rather than bending our sexual tastes to what’s available? It’s like, there’s nothing to eat, so I’m going to eat cardboard and say that I find it delicious.
Sex is supposed to be fun. Burlesque and strip tease and pole dancing and belly dancing and naughty stories and dirty movies are supposed to be fun. If you’re not having fun, it’s not you. It’s them. So say so. If he doesn’t get it, trust me, the next guy will.