A 'sexy space' for women? Heterosexual women's experiences of a male strip show venue

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The rise of male strip shows marketed towards heterosexual women has called into question the idea that only men can 'gaze' or be 'sexual scrutinizers' in public leisure spaces. This paper details the findings of an ethnographic study of a male strip event 'Cheeky's',1 located in the Midlands, England. Utilising observation, informal interviews and photography, the paper describes the physical environment and the atmosphere of the event, and analyses interview data with female customers. The paper questions what spaces such as Cheeky's mean for female sexualities, sexual roles and desires. The findings are twofold. On the one hand the club was a relatively novel sexual space, as some women spectators experienced it as an 'empowering' space in which they could be 'sexually aggressive'; on the other hand, the character of the club was actively and adeptly manufactured by the Master of Ceremonies (MC), and male dancers, so as to encourage - and even to coercively elicit - extrovert behaviour from women customers. Despite shifting normative gendered expectations of women's sexual behaviour to some extent, ultimately the club structured women's sexual experiences around traditional heterosexist lines. The club did not encourage women's autonomous sexual expression, and many women claimed they had not found it a very 'sexy space'. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-235
Number of pages19
JournalLeisure Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2011

Bibliographical note

cited By (since 1996)4


  • outdoor recreation
  • photography
  • questionnaire survey
  • sexuality
  • womens status, England
  • Midlands [England]
  • United Kingdom


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