As I walk my dog each morning on Randolph, I have passed by the soon to be opened Flirty Girl Fitness center. I thought, "Oh just another gym," until I saw a sign that read, "Are you fit enough to strip?" Basically, the Flirty Girl Fitness center will offer you for a monthly fee of $120 unlimited classes in stripping, pole dancing, lap dancing, and boxing with pink boxing gloves.
Having done my undergraduate thesis on phone sex, I've kept up on the sex work arguments and I think there is a certain empowerment that comes with having control over one's sexuality (if that is the case) and a viable choice of exploiting the higher profit margins of the sex industry. The rise of female producers, regulations about public health with the AIDS crisis, and safer working conditions has helped in the porn industry at least in the US. Street workers still are extremely vulnerable, but the shift to prosecuting the "John" instead of just the prostitute has at least in the legal sense made things more equitable. There is, of course, exploitation in the sex industry, but not more exploitation than in the mining industries, or the oil industries.
Yet, the idea of paying someone $120 per month to "lap dance your way to physical fitness" strikes me a somewhat problematic. Okay, for let's say, a 40+ white woman who has had her sexuality repressed by her suburban lifestyle, taking a weekly "Chair-strip tease" class can empower her by putting her back intouch with her sexuality. There are no men allowed in the class, so it is supposed to be a safe environment. But if you are a young woman, a woman of color, the oversexualization of your person is often the source of your disempowerment. Endulging in masculine fantasies of hyper-sexualization, is perhaps not the best route to reclaiming your sexuality. Looking at the gallery images of the Flirty Fitness site, the majority of the people are young women of various racial/ethnic groups.
I guess you could do it for yourself, but a trip to the Ole Sex Shop is probably a less expensive and more effective alternative therapy. So interesting enough on Randolph, there is a real strip tease club which I also pass by when walking the dog in the morning. It will be interesting to know what the women there will think of the new "gym" down the street. My bet is that they would want to tell the women to come there and earn the $120 as opposed to pay it out. One does not know which represents the true empowerment.