Have you ever been to a strip club? I have, once. It was a decade ago during my bachelorette party.
And to be honest, it wasn’t my cuppa tea. It was an experience that left me well-aware of the differences between men and women when it comes to visual stimulus.
I saw both male and female strippers that night and somehow left the club feeling sorry for the ladies.
Even though the men were doing essentially the same thing, there seemed to be an almost sad energy around the ladies, almost one of numbness countered by desperation.
As you might have guessed, many female exotic dancers suffer from low self-esteem. According to researchers, this is at least in part due to the fact that theit jobs carry such a big stigma.
Recently, new researh was published by Maren Scull, an instructor of Sociology in the CU Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Scull has conducted research on the motivation behind male strippers commitment to stripping and the effect their occupation has on the way they view themselves. And her results were kind of shocking.
“Because stripping is a stigmatizing occupation, it has the capacity to negatively affect exotic dancers’ self-definitions,” Scull said in a press release. “I looked into what motivates men to continue dancing and found that stripping led to feelings of mattering, mastery and enhanced self-esteem.”
After spending two years studying male strippers, Scull realized something profound: though female strippers are most likely to continue their work for the money, it’s all about the confidence boost for the guys, who reportedly earn much less per shift than their female counterparts.
“Initially women who dance for men may experience a boost in self-esteem, but after time they suffer from a diminished self-concept,” Scull said. “My research finds that men who dance for women generally experience positive feelings of self-worth. So much so, that men will continue to strip even when it is no longer financially lucrative.”
She added that this could be due to the fact that men and women typically have different feelings about being objectified as sex objects. Men like it and take it as a compliment while women find it oppressive or stressful.
Shocked or not? Tell me in the comments section below. Let’s discuss.
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” ~Fred Rogers
So, here’s the deal. Life? Sometimes it feels not as awesome as you might like. But then again, you have a lot more control over that than you might realize.
For example, we all have SOME situation, person or thing in our lives that we’d rather not discuss. This could be a rocky relationship with a friend or loved one, a physical or mental disability (perceived or otherwise), a financial struggle, a weight struggle or literally anything that you feel ashamed or embarrassed about.
Maybe it’s even a hobby or your career or your family or something that you truly LOVE that makes you feel like you want to hide that part of yourself.
I’ve recently grown a bit of a stronger spine, myself. See, I used to hide who I was pretty consistently (on certain levels), but as I evolve, my true self emerges–and turns out, I’m alright. Some people even think I’m kinda cool. Ha!
😉 But seriously…I digress.
This very common internal struggle with being true to yourself (and being confident enough that you’re worth loving/liking AS YOU ARE for WHO YOU ARE) can often lead to excessive self-esteem and identity issues, which in turn have many associated side-effects, the majority of which are NOT positive.
Ultimately, it’ll lead to a lower quality of life–not accepting yourself and loving yourself for who you are.
Take for a moment the story of an old friend of mine. Though I haven’t spoken to him in years, I think of him often. For the sake of his privacy, I’m going to call him Mr. X.
The Fearless Mr. X Comes Out: Finding and Learning to Love Your True Self
I was introduced to Mr. X as a blind date. After I spoke with him on the phone for the first time (and totally fell in like with him), I called up the friend who had set us up.
“You know Mr. X is gay, right?” I said when she picked up the phone.
She laughed and assured me that he was not–in fact, she said, he was the gayest straight man she’d ever met. The two worked together at a nursing home and she said he was always very girl-crazy but super fun and easy to be with. So I agreed to go out with him–just for fun. What could it hurt?
That night, my friend and I met up with Mr. X and a friend of his at a local bar, where we had drinks, played pool and danced. It was so much fun, and Mr. X was a great date. He could dance, he could sing and he was just incredibly entertaining. He was also incredibly aggressive sexually, but mostly only superficially. Shakespeare began to echo in my head.
The lady did protest too much, methunk.
I didn’t care though. I felt like I’d known him forever–but I wasn’t sexually attracted to him. I got more of a really great friend sort of feeling, and that’s what our relationship evolved into.
One night he called me, very upset, telling me that he’d done something that made him sick, something he couldn’t even tell me. He didn’t know if he could live with himself–he could not handle the fact that it even happened. It was all he could do to not kill himself, he said.
I immediately went into” let’s get you back on track” mode, starting with reminding him of what a good person he was, how good he was at his job, how everyone loved him. (Side note here: He happened to be a fabulous nurse practioner who could not do any wrong in his patients’ eyes–and that’s because he was genuinely good at what he did and because he genuinely CARED about his patients and his work.)
Finally he calmed down enough to be more reasonable, but he never spilled the beans on what he’d done, exactly. But it didn’t matter to me.
Of course I had an idea of what he was talking about. Having been raised in the Bible Belt and in an area that was particularly populated with intolerant ideology and religiously-oriented folks, he could not admit to himself that he was different. It would mean admitting to himself that he was defective, wrong, not a good Christian.
Sure, he’d been born that way, but he couldn’t accept the idea because he had been taught (read: brainwashed to truly believe) that what he was could be clearly defined as an abomination.
Given my hunch, I assured him that he could talk to me, that it couldn’t be that bad–that everything would be OK. He wasn’t ready yet, but he did ask to come spend some time with me and heal. So that weekend, we started a new monthly or bi-monthly tradition: spending totally platonic weekends together.
We’d sit on the couch and watch girly movies while we ate ice cream out of the same pint.I loved those weekends so much! It was like having a really cool big brother who totally acted like a really cool big sister. Not being funny–seriously!
After one of these weekends, Mr. X called me and said he had something to tell me. He said he hoped I was sitting down, and that I’d never believe what he had to say.
I pretended to brace myself, but I suspected that he was finally about to tell me his big secret, the one I’d suspected from the first time we ever spoke. Could this be it?
He said, “I know you won’t believe this…but I’m gay!”
I said, “I know. I still love you.”
He missed a beat, then cleared his throat.
“Of course,” I said. “You thought I thought you were straight?”
“But, what–why…why didn’t you tell me?” he asked, and he was totally serious.
I laughed and told him that it didn’t matter to me who he was into, then joked that at least we wouldn’t be going after the same guys. We continued our platonic relationship and even went out dancing a couple of times after that (he was a great dancer!).
A year or so later, I met my now-husband who didn’t fully understand the platonic nature of this relationship. He asked me to stop having Mr. X visit on the weekends, telling me that it made him a little uncomfortable that a man was sleeping in my bed with me. (Another side note, I just laughed out loud when I typed that–I can’t believe I even expected him to feel any other way! Haha!)
But even at that time, I totally got that–and I totally respected it. (After all, how would I feel if the situation were reversed and his BFF was a female who spent the night at his house? Platonic or not, I’d not be thrilled!) So I explained it to Mr. X, who totally understood and was already busy with his new relationship.
Unfortunately we lost touch years ago, but every so often, I remember him and how once he finally embraced his true nature, he blossomed and became this light-filled, amazingly beautiful person. He was always that person, but had enclosed his true nature under a blanket of other people’s prejudices and feelings. Once he learned to separate himself from those feelings, he saw that his own feelings weren’t weird or perverted–they were just part of who he was. And who he was happened to be a pretty amazing guy.
Once he realized it and TRULY EMBRACED HIMSELF, he was free to be happy, find the love of his life and get healthier than he’d ever been. What else could one ask for?
Now, it’s your turn!
What do you think? Have you fully embraced your true nature, or do you hide who you are from some people in your life? If you’re still hiding, is it because you are ashamed of your behavior because YOU BELIEVE your behavior is wrong, or is it because you don’t want to deal with the judgments of people who wouldn’t understand? What would it take for you to reveal your true self to the whole world?
Share your thoughts in the comments section, below.
This is me–in both pics. Click photo to see how I lost 100+ pounds (and counting!). Not a sales tactic or pitch–just my story. I’m telling it because I want to help others who are dealing with what I dealt with as the “before” version. <3
Need some help? Here are a few of my favorite workout routines and programs.
While I love me some Leslie Sansone and just about anything that teaches me how to dance, I have recently developed some new favorites–mostly due to the fact that they are giving me extremely noticeable results in a shorter period of time.
Here’s my list, which, to be honest, also includes just about anything from Beachbody.com!
Some of my personal favorites include:
INSANITY – A 60 DAY TOTAL-BODY CONDITIONING PROGRAM put on DVD – click here
“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” ~ Buddha
In my experience, starting a workout program hard and fast after months (or years) of couch surfing never works out well. So, if you haven’t worked out in awhile and today’s your first day, the mission is simple: move your body for ten minutes. Some ideas:
Deep-clean a room
If you’ve been working out for awhile, try adding ten minutes of activity to your day. Go for a walk around the block, dance like no one’s watching or try today’s YouTube Workout Challenge.
YouTube Workout Challenge
I recently discovered the wonders of YouTube workout videos. There is a huge variety of videos out there, offering nearly every type of workout. So I thought, why not save money and try new things? That’s why each day, I’ll provide one workout video from YouTube to get you started or to inspire you to try something new.
Here’s today’s video.
How’d you do on today’s mission? Share your experiences in the comments section, below. Don’t forget to add your fitness notes to your Bliss Book.