First Advisor

Randy Blazak

Term of Graduation

Winter 1999

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology






Stripteasers -- Attitudes, Stripteasers -- Economic conditions, Feminist theory



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 81 pages)


Women working as nude dancers have been depicted both in academia and popular literature either as victims of patriarchal exploitation and economic oppression, or as empowered women choosing the most profitable form of work out of the limited options provided for them. This study explores these opposing motivational factors for the entrance and continuance of nude dancing, integrating the theoretical framework of Sex Positive feminism with Strauss and Corbin's (1990) grounded theory approach. Sex Positive feminism asserts that sex work is neither oppressive nor exploitative but rather can be a consensual and legitimate avenue resulting in an increase in women's power. This study examined 1) factors present in the occupational choice to dance nude, 2) motivations for women to continue dancing nude and 3) how Sex Positive feminism is reflected in women's motivational factors for nude dancing.

Twelve women who worked as nude dancers in Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California participated in focus group interviews. This form of data collection is the most appropriate due to the exploratory and feminist nature of this topic. Three factors were present in the initial choice to dance nude: 1) an intrigue, 2) a contact and 3) an awareness of economic gain. Women continued to dance nude because the economic reward provided them with flexibility and independence. However, this economic reward for nude dancing also reflects the attention given to them by customers. The women defined this attention as being a motivator for continuing as well. The ability to use their sexuality for economic gain provides them with emotional confidence including positive body image and the ability to set and maintain boundaries. However, the focus groups revealed that when the use of their sexuality does not provide them with economic gain, their emotional confidence becomes unstable. This study demonstrates the complexity of nude dancing and suggests that nude dancing contains both empowering and oppressive elements.


Copyright 2000 The Author

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