Strip clubs are not sexist, shaming women for expressing their sexuality is

As an advocate for sex-positive feminism, I disagree with the letter “Daily wrong to run Deja Vu ads” in the Feb. 23 issue of the Minnesota Daily.

Sex work in itself is not inherently anti-feminist. What is sexist about strip clubs, pornography and other commercial avenues of sex is the fact that our society has normalized the open expression of menâÄôs sexual desire and not that of women.

WomenâÄôs equality goes beyond legal rights and equality in employment; it extends into healthy expressions of sexuality that are not mediated by gender-specific societal values. Many ideas in our culture continue to be dominated by a Victorian-era obsession with giving women âÄî and not men âÄî a sexual value system that they “should” adhere to.

As a woman, I find it disheartening that other women continue to replicate the slut-shaming ideal that is imposed upon our gender. The problem isnâÄôt that women working as strippers donâÄôt adhere to an “appropriate” standard; the problem is that there even is a standard.

Sex work doesnâÄôt cause men to see women as “a means to an end.” If that is what someone gets out of going to a strip club, it is because of an individualâÄôs own views, not the institution itself. Blanketing men with misogyny does not accomplish anything.

When the author says that a strip club “displaces the personhood of a woman for just her body,” it makes the assumption that women donâÄôt have agency over their own sexuality, which is a sexist assumption in itself.

Just because strip clubs present sexuality in a more public setting does not mean women give up their ability to dictate their own sexual expression. Enjoying visual depictions of sexuality and understanding “true love and respect” are not mutually exclusive.

People who participate in the sex industry as performers or spectators donâÄôt lose any crucial part of their morality; they are simply more comfortable expressing the sexuality that human beings share. Our modern society offers the same essential opportunity of employment to women as to men, so it isnâÄôt as though women are pressured into sex work as their only option.

Women who work in strip clubs are consenting adults capable of making their own decisions and undeserving of the stigma society places on them.

It should also be noted that sex work âÄî heterosexual pornography in particular âÄî is one of the few industries in which women are routinely paid much more than men.

Second-wave feminism embraced the birth control pill as a way for women to experience freedom in sexual decision making, and women today should continue to honor this tradition of sex-positivity and freedom of expression.

I respect the decision of the Daily to run advertisements for Deja Vu, with the hope that if male strip clubs become equally normalized for women to enjoy in our future, they would allow ad space to them as well.