Strippers on Campus: Outrageous or Empowering?

(Editor’s note: This article contains language that some readers may find offensive.) 

A lacrosse player who hires a stripper is likely a rapist, but a women’s group that hires a stripper is empowered.  At least, that’s the logic too often employed at many college campuses around the country.  

Everyone now knows that Duke lacrosse players threw an off campus party, where—gasp!—they drank beer and hired a stripper.  There has been substantial hand wringing about what this says about young men and women on campus today.  It’s a worthy topic to consider.  But those concerned might turn their attention back on campus, where feminist exploits make Duke lacrosse parties look tame in comparison.

A recent event at my alma mater, Bucknell University, highlights the extent to which campus feminism has devolved into little more than pornography.  On March 8, a host of Bucknell offices and organizations including the Bucknell Feminist Majority, Women’s and Gender Studies Department, Center for Race, Gender, and Ethnicity, and Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Awareness spent $1,920 to bring a “celebration of whore culture” to campus.

The Sex Worker Art Show featured a variety of titillating performers.  Take Cathy McPork, for example.  Cathy pretended to be a “right-wing Christian with a death wish” before stripping to a red bra and slip dress, the costume of her alter ego Scarlot Harlot.

Other performers stripped down their duct taped covered nipples or nipple pasties and panties.  One performer even ran through the crowd looking for her clothes to the Mission Impossible theme song.  Then there was the large man who rapped about “ho’ ass n—–s” while lubing himself with baby oil.  Critics are still, well…confused about that last one.  

Saving the best for last, the show rounded out with a strip tease performed on a trapeze (try saying that ten times fast).  The last feat might be impressive on a purely logistical level but how the acrobatics benefits Bucknellians, women, or feminism is less clear.

I wish this behavior was out of the ordinary for Bucknell feminists, but after four years on campus, I know better.  These are the same young ladies who sold “I Love Vagina” and “Does Your Vagina Pop its Collar?” T-shirts and plastered campus with posters asking “What Does Your Vagina Smell Like?” to promote the feminist play the Vagina Monologues.  If the advertisements aren’t enough to scare you away, be prepared to be greeted by an empowered woman shouting “c–t” over and over again on stage once the performance begins.

The show doesn’t end at Bucknell.  Professors on the west coast don’t let sex workers have all the fun—they get in on the action themselves.  University of Southern California professor (of Women’s Studies, of course) Diana York Blaine recently posted top-less pictures of herself online.  When a NBC affiliate reached the school for comment, they were met not with outrage or embarrassment, but with a web policy defending Dr. Blaine’s rights to “free speech” and “academic freedom” that “must be protected in a university environment.”  The school was also quick to remind NBC that it is not accountable for the content of the site.  

Somewhere along the line an act of unprofessional exhibitionism (that would get Blaine fired from most jobs) became “academic freedom” that USC has no control or ability even to rhetorically condemn.

But what do women get from this hyper sexualization of feminism?  Girls following in the footsteps of Dr. Blaine and Bucknell feminists are more likely to get an STD and a broken heart than they are to be empowered or liberated.  Like it or not, women are more vulnerable to the negative consequences of sex.  It’s odd then that sexually explicit behavior becomes the rallying point of campus feminism—something to be admired and emulated.

Feminists may want to adopt the worst of traditional male behavior, but the consequences are different for women.  Do feminists honestly think men gained power and respect by shouting sexual epithets and hanging out with hookers?  This sort of primal behavior does nothing to advance women’s rights. Instead, it does women a disservice by leading them down a dangerous path of sexual exploits and low moral standards—and the true feminists on campus should demand better.