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Stripped: Inside the Lives of Exotic Dancers

3.4 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0814799338
ISBN-10: 0814799337
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Editorial Reviews


“With Stripped, Barton makes an important contribution to the ongoing conversation about the effects of stripping on the women who actually take their clothes off. The polarized nature of the debates sometimes makes it difficult to say anything complicated about sex work—it is either said to be empowering for women or degrading to them. Yet, of course, things are never that simple—and Barton’s arguments provide a significant alternative to such binary thinking.”
-Katherine Frank,author of G-Strings and Sympathy: Strip Club Regulars and Male Desire

“Compelling. . . . This accessibly written, matter-of-fact book makes important contributions to what is known about the lives and experiences of the growing number of women who ‘dance’ naked for money. . . . Throughout, the author listens attentively to the shifting, insightful, diverse voices of women with whom she has a palpably respectful connection. Barton uses the complex picture that emerges to engage longstanding debates over the meanings of commodified femininity and sexuality.”

“Makes an impressive contribution to the sociology of work and its intersection with sex and gender studies at the theoretical and applied levels. It is an excellent examples of the rich data and critical methodological insights that can emerge in the course of engaged field research.”
-American Journal of Sociology

Stripped is a revealing book about a revealing (and controversial) trade that focuses on a philosophical clash between old—and new—school feminism.”

“Barton presents [exotic dancers] as open-minded ‘intelligent risk takers’ who are ‘comfortable exploring things other people are scared of.’”
-Carlin Romano,Philadelphia Inquirer

“A terrific read! Stripped is the best kind of feminist work: original, honest, and deeply engaging. Barton’s remarkable insights into the work and private lives of exotic dancers move far beyond notions of strippers as exploited or empowered to uncover more hidden aspects of this world—its burdens of emotional labor, social stigma, exhaustion, and boredom as well as experiences of athleticism, ego-gratification, intimacy, and even spirituality.”
-Kathleen Blee,author of Inside Organized Racism: Women in the Hate Movement

“The thrust of stripper scholarship is that both dancers and customers are more like your next-door neighbors. Some are your next-door neighbors.”
-Philadelphia Inquirer

"Written clearly with very little jargon, this volume sensitively explores the lives of exotic dancers."-Noralee Frankel,Archives of Sexual Behavior

“Fascinating, insightful, and surprisingly balanced. This book will take you way beyond Hollywood's clichés and into the realities of stripping, and you'll emerge with a deeper understanding of the pleasures and the costs of being the object of male fantasies.”
-Susan Bordo,author of Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture and the Body

About the Author

Bernadette Barton is Professor Sociology and Gender Studies at Morehead State University in Kentucky. She is the author of Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 195 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814799337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814799338
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #715,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. A. Jones on May 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I found Dr. Bernadette Barton's Stripped to be both interesting and insightful. My community has recently been debating restrictions on strip clubs, and Stripped provides a viewpoint...that of the strippers... often missing from these debates. Also, as an academic who works in sexual behavior research, I also found Stripped different than other studies and autobiographies. Barton lays out the opposing feminist arguments around stripping and sex work in general: either a) stripping denigrates the dancer or b) stripping empowers the stripper. Then she interviews dancers about how they feel about their work. While some strippers' autobiographies and other documentaries do exist, they often highlight the sensational or humorous. I have also not come across another book on strippers that discusses the significant proportion of dancers in Stripped who turn to bisexual or lesbian relationships while employed as a stripper. Stripped shows these women as seeking a nurturing relationship rather than as sensationalistic lesbian sex.

Scholarly studies of exotic dancers are fairly rare. What books on the subject that do exist tend to be sensationalist stories. Stripped provides a good balance of integrating a) theory about the power dynamics at work in these clubs, b) the stories and experiences of the actual dancers, and c) a scholarly approach to a topic often viewed as unworthy of academic interest.

In many ways this book is groundbreaking in its approach and I am sure will be widely cited as one of the authoritative studies of a) the effects of sex work on women and b) the lives of female exotic dancers.
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Format: Paperback
In her book, Stripped: Inside the Lives of Exotic Dancers, the author takes the high road to examine an industry and group beset with both secrecy and boundless consumer appeal. Moving exotic dancers beyond the base trivialities of "The Thong Song", the author suggests their lives and work more complex than feminist observances of exploitation or the more common she-who-makes-the-money-has-the-power harangues. Indeed, Barton reveals the latter in her book. We are given access to women, who are genuinely mesmerized by their own sexual power. Just as poignant, however, are stories from the same women, which disclose everything from foot-back pain to hostile, demeaning clientele; having to deny what they do to fear of their lack of marketable skills outside dancing; and relationships that cannot get pass the "touching" to, generally, feeling "stuck." Social and psychological costs to stripping? Not very sexy take. However, as an academician, I gather Barton's book is not supposed to provoke that kind of titillation. Instead, "Stripped" dares to make intelligent and engage questions about the arguments, labor, and women typified by four-letter words and copious amounts of overpriced beer. I recommend this volume.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a gay man, I did not expect to find much common ground with female strippers, but thanks to Barton's nonjudgmental and compassionate tone, and her steadfast refusal to pigeonhole the dancers into any particular academic theory, I found myself relating to the women--or well, at least some of them--as outsiders. I think anybody dissatisfied with the relentless commoditization of bodies and sexuality will find compelling stories and analysis in this book. Not that it's all doom and gloom: even as Barton describes the undeniable degradation--or toll--of sex work, she also focuses on the many ways strippers subvert the system in which they exist (or sometimes, sadly, don't). She writes with a pragmatic empathy and sense of humor that not only humanizes the dancers, but ultimately herself, which I have to imagine is her own trick of subversion in the often dry and constrained world of academia.
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Format: Paperback
...a book about strippers that does not preach, that does not take sides or pass value judgements, and that does not denigrate or glorify the people who work in the sex industry.

Stripped: Inside the Lives of Exotic Dancers, does exactly what the title suggests: it takes the reader inside the private lives of women who work in the sex industry, and it presents exotic dancers in such a way that the reader sees them first as people, effectively taking the women out from under the overwhelming shadow of their job title.

Barton's writing style is precise, intimate, and candid, and it propels the reader right into the livingrooms and dressing rooms of exotic dancers. The book tackles the tar pit traps of the "sex wars", why/how women get into the sex industry, sexual identity, and the reality of working in the sex industry without getting bogged down in conflicting feminist theory.

Yet Barton adds her voice to the sex industry debate in a way that commands attention from both the average reader and from those well versed in the intracies of the "sex wars".

This book makes its debut in a pop culture where young Hollywood starlets show just how blurry the lines are between acceptable female behavior and sex industry work. Barton takes her readers back and forth across that line with facility and empathy, allowing the reader to finally determine for her/himself where that line actually exists.

I look forward to her next book.
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