This article questions the progressive potential of media depictions of male strip shows. I examine two overriding discourses within media representations, comparing these to the experiences of male dancers and female customers gleaned through ethnographic fieldwork in two strip venues. Namely, the media’s portrayal of the masculinity of male strippers as ‘fragile’; together with the construction of dancers as ‘fantasy’ subjects who know ‘what women want’. The article interrogates these constructions in relation to a critique of women’s opportunities to exercise an erotic ‘gaze’; the operation of racist and classist discourses of consuming ‘difference’ and Othering customers; and male dancers’ attempts to construct a viable sense of workplace self in the light of negative constructions of sexual labour.
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Funding: Economic and Social Research Council for funding the ethnographic component of this research [grant number ES/F024126/1].
- male strip show