Woman as goddess
When Camille Paglia burst onto the scene, her iconoclastic views on art, literature, and sexuality were published in Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. Since then Paglia, a professor of humanities at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, has published a second book and become notorious for her controversial views on the roles of men, women, and sex in society. For example, Paglia rankled fellow feminists by asserting that female nudity in the pictures and photographs is an art. And also is art the striptease.
Penthouse thought it would be interesting to take the professor, out on the town to sample New York’s best-known strip clubs and comment on what they mean in the arena of sexual politics. A fast-talking Paglia, who maintains that stripping is “a sacred dance of old origins,” was bursting with enthusiasm and theories. In a tour of three Manhattan clubs, she surveyed scenes of writhing women and ogling men with candid observations that were entertaining and often startling.
Because most of my life I was lesbian, I totally understand men’s passion for women. Women are beautiful and remote.
There’s nothing you can do to win their favor. The only thing men want is women’s attention, and in nude dance clubs, they can get it for a moment.
The feminist line is, strippers and topless dancers are degraded, subordinated, and enslaved; they are victims, turned into objects by the display of their anatomy. But women are far from being victims — women rule; they are in total control.
My almost whole life I’ve been gaga about beautiful women. That’s why I have this angle on it – I can see the way men see. White middle-class feminist rhetoric has been produced by professional women, lawyers, bookworms, and paper pushers who can’t stand the fact – it’s unbearable to them – that most men will still turn their heads and gasp when a beautiful women walks into the room and exposes a little – body, bust. It’s a white, bourgeois prejudice to find the seductive wiggling of a butt degrading.
Even though I’m one of those supersmart white middle-class women, I don’t have this jealousy. I’m strong enough as a woman to say that it’s natural for a beautiful young girl walking into a room to capture the attention of all the men and women. That’s an eternal human principle. It’s not white male hetero-sexism. It’s universal. All people admire youth and beauty. Youth and beauty are divine and worthy of worship. That’s my theory. I’m saying that people go to strip clubs to see beauty and it’s elitist for people who go to museums to look at paintings and statues of beautiful bodies to denigrate strip clubs. These museum goers are staring at beautiful nude bodies for pleasure, and it’s supposedly high art. The educated and rich get their kicks in museums. Most people who come to these mid-level or sleaze-level clubs are usually not highly educated literati. It’s perfectly legitimate for them to want to look at beautiful female bodies.
I don’t want a culture that says that a woman exposing her breasts is degrading. That’s white middle-class bullshit. Men are fascinated by women’s sexuality. That’s why they pay prostitutes. The feminist analysis of prostitution says that men are using money as power over women. I’d say yes, that’s all that men have. The money is a confession of weakness. They have to buy women’s attention. It’s not a sign of power; it’s a sign of weakness.
At Flash Dancers, a middle-of-the-road topless bar, a blonde with slightly sagging breasts is onstage, acrobatically against a fire pole. And young man wearing a flannel shirt, who watches the dancer thrash against the pole. Simultaneously, several feet away, a dark-haired woman wearing a skimpy red bikini inches from the faces of two male customers. Smiling coquettishly, the dancer slides her bikini top aside, exposes her beautiful breasts, and massages her nipples.
Look! The men don’t know what to do! The money they’re stuffing into the dancers’ garters is a ritual offering, and the women are wearing their booty around their thighs.
They’re displaying dollars as trophies, just as the great women in history – the great queens – have worn diamonds and emeralds.
The dancers are flirtatious but removed. Even when they approach the men, even when they’re dancing at the men’s tables, there is something removed or detached about them. The men know it. The men value it. The men all know they can never fully penetrate the dancers and their lives.
This is a point I made in Sexual Personae: Feminists are wrong to think that when women expose their breasts – or even their genitals in a beaver shot – they are totally exposed. No woman is ever totally exposed; you can never fully penetrate her womb, the heart of her sexual nature. Every naked woman we’re seeing tonight is still mysterious. She has her secret.
But men are totally exposed sexually. Their penis and scrotum are externalized and vulnerable. Men have no secrets that they’re hiding. Therefore, female striptease is good. Male striptease is not good. A woman’s body is ideal created for dancing and nakedness. Naked woman is beautiful and mysterious.
Naked woman is fantastic. Men in strip clubs are completely dazzled. The only time the men feel remotely superior is when they’re young, 19 or 20 years old, and in a pack. They’ll come in very giddy, drink a lot, and try to get their spirits up. Even then, if there are six of them, one woman coming over to them totally throws them off. My theory is that beautiful woman rules the universe. Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct was a great example of woman’s power. Shows a little body, and it turns the men to jelly.
The idea that exposure of nudity is degrading to women is absolutely nonsense. It’s one of the biggest lies of the feminist establishment. If they would just open their eyes and visit these strip clubs, they’ll find the exact opposite of what they’ve been complaining about. The more a woman takes off her clothes, the more power she has.
The feminists who claim that woman are violated and diminished by this kind of format don’t know what they’re talking about. Current feminist rhetoric has gotten parched and bleached and sanitized and distorted. It doesn’t allow for passion, for instinct, for lust, for beauty, for the awesomeness of nature. It’s not sufficient to explain sex. So, bizarrely, the more antiporn that bourgeois feminist rhetoric gets, the more these clubs will arise, because they are fulfilling a deep need.
Strip clubs are temples, women shrines.
What we call striptease – that is, erotic dancing. Contemporary strip dancing is in the mainline of this kind of ritual dancing.
Belly dancing (the oldest dance in the world), where you clearly see the sexual undulations of the hips and pelvis, that giving and benefitted women’s health and giving pleasure to men. That’s exactly the kind of dancing that was denied and hated by radical feminists USA, which has always been opposed to dance.
Even Christianity is not so radical. Christianity (Catholic) wants us to rise above our sexuality, but sexuality is fully recognized. And does not prohibit dancing. Also, Church for many centuries was allowed erotic art – nude women in paintings, sculptures…
Belly Dancing is good for women health and is a wonderful celebration of the beauty of the female body.
And also a similar dance is a striptease.
All activation of the female body – it’s never degrading. Instead, it’s filling a hole, the vacuum in our world. Beautiful organic rhythms of the body.
In other, the more something is forced underground, the more intense it gets because it becomes taboo, forbidden. This makes it dangerous and very alluring. So you have these women letting us look at them. The areas of the body they’re exposing are the ones we’re not allowed to look at.
College women are being trained in women’s studies courses USA to say that when men focus on a woman’s breasts and buttocks, they are reducing women to dead parts. This is absolute bullshit. I’m radical on this. I’m militant. I know I’m really extreme, and most women probably can’t feel what I feel. I say there is nothing degrading in the exhibit of any naked women form, in whole or in part, if it is voluntary and appropriate place.
Our best women students are being taught that strip clubs lead directly to rape, that there is no space between men going to see this and then attacking women. This is absolute nonsense. The truth is, the minute you have a complex, advanced, urbanized society, throughout history, you get prostitution, stripping. Immediately.
What does that mean? It means that as soon as people cluster together, the reality of sex erupts. What you see in prostitution is the reality of sex. It is not a patriarchal distortion. It is the ultimate physical reality. So a feminist who claims to understand sexuality but cannot deal with topless clubs is no expert. She is a censor. She is a prude.
Stripping is not about sexual freedom; it’s about freedom of imagination. Stripping, erotic dancing, is an art form, and striptease – the artistic level of the scene in American has increased enormously. It’s obvious that it’s a new vocation. Dance itself has gained in stature recently. I think erotic dance, with her sensational dance routines, has helped bolster the pride and self-confidence of these women. They are professionals, and they know they are in control. They aren’t apologetic or defensive. These girls know their power.
A curvaceous woman stoops in front of patrons.
Look at those two young men! They don’t know what the to do. The girl is dancing right at their table. She’s flirting with one of them, touching him, flaunting her breast in his face. The men are desperately looking at each other for support. They’re embarrassed. She is in total control. They’re paying her a tribute. They’re offering her money for her momentary attention. They are as abashed as they would be with their mothers.
There’s nothing humiliating in this for woman. Look, she’s totally self-assured. He’s nervous, insecure. She’s helping him feel confident. That is part of her skill – to make him feel relaxed. He is admiring her. She’s lifting up her breasts for him to see. He loves it! He’s have a close encounter with beautiful female breasts. I think it’s wonderful.
I first became interested in topless dancing when I was teaching at Bennington College. Some of my students were moonlighting as topless dancers. They made a lot of money, but they and their coworkers always drew a very firm line between themselves and prostitutes. Many of the dancers are rightly regard what they do as a profession. They know it’s an art form, a craft with demanding skills.
Strip clubs today are far less squalid than the clubs in long ago, many years ago. These women are very secure about themselves. I’m very happy with what I’m seeing here, because I think it’s showing a kind of European cosmopolitanism. For more than a century in Paris, there have been all kinds of sophisticated displays of sexuality, such as the shows at the Moulin Rouge. In Europe it’s accepted.
I don’t want a culture that says a woman exposing her breasts is degrading. That’s just puritanism. The feminist establishment believes the stripclub scene is chaos, all debauchery and decadence. It’s not It’s as strictly organized as a faculty meeting at Princeton University.
At Stingfellows Pure Platinum, patrons wear suits and can enjoy an expensive full-course dinner while watching gorgeous “entertainers” dance and drop the tops of their full-length gowns. During individual dance routines, the women shed everything but skimpy thong bikinis and invisible patches of latex covering their nipples. When they’re not performing, the women mingle among their guests as if they were hosting an intimate cocktail party.
Men They want to see beautiful women, this is completely normal. Some women here are in various stages of undress, but others are fully clothed, promenading around in fabulous glittering evening gowns. We are being treated to the full range of women’s sexuality. This is theater, a mesmerizing theater. There’s an energetic, improvisatory quality. It’s very beautiful. It’s almost as if the women sauntering around were creating their own plays, their own little dramas. There’s a classy, high-fashion element.
Strip clubs are an art form for the masses USA. It’s the highest paternalistic condescension when people attack and dismiss them. We haven’t seen a single man cross the line anywhere tonight. What we have seen is men understanding that women are wonderful beings and worthy of great reverence.
I issue a challenge to all those prudes and puritans who are carrying on from the oh-so-safe precincts of the Ivy League to come to one of these clubs and actually watch the men’s behavior. The reality totally contradicts the bullshit feminist ideology. All this entertainment is decent; that is, it’s oriented around the supreme fact of woman as goddess.
You can sense the awe in men’s attitudes to each of these women as an incarnation of the goddess figure. I’m radically pro-striptease and other erotic dance and nice photos and statues naked women. The dominance of woman’s image is not about the subordination and humiliation of woman – it’s the opposite. Men are led to worship women.
And that’s what strip clubs are about: Not women as victim … not woman as slave … but woman as goddess. Men then have great respect and admiration for the woman.
Translator, adjustment and correction – Mary Taylor