Wondered what it’s like to take one’s clothes off for money? Different people have different experiences. A new book by former dancer, Jennifer Hayashi Danns, and campaigner, Sandrine Leveque, collects together some stories from lap dancers and other sex workers, describing their working lives. Danns explains that in the clubs where she has worked, the women must pay a fee for working there, so they take on the financial risk – if there are no customers, the club still makes money, but the women could lose cash. Unsurprisingly, there is fierce competition for customers between the dancers, who will sometimes masturbate, or ignore no-touching rules so they can make enough cash to pay the club fee and make a profit. The male customers frequently make remarks – often insulting – about the bodies of the dancers, telling them that their breasts are too small, pointing out their cellulite, calling them names, or commenting on their genitalia. Danns reports that most of her customers were groups of rowdy young men, who wanted to show off to their friends:
There’s something psychologically unhealthy about it… All you have done is picked the woman you think is most attractive and paid her – but now you want a round of applause. Isn’t that strange?
Danns doesn’t want to see the industry banned, as she thinks such legislation wouldn’t remedy the sexist culture that she sees as underlying it. But she hopes her book will help people see that some parts of the sex industry harm both women and men. You can read more here.
Edited in response to comments that rightly pointed out the previous version made it sound as if Danns’ experiences are universal, but other accounts show they are not.