There have been many times in my life where I have been asked to do things, experience new places or try out a new product, all on account of a friends suggestion. “You’ll like it,” they tell me. “It’ll be fun,” they remark. A lot of the time I go into these goings on with an open mind and everything ends up working out. I let the experiences change me or move me. I allow the personal growth to happen and make me a better person. Not to mention all the amazing people I meet along the way. I am luckier than most and have had my fair share of adventures.
A friend of mine had reached out to me to go see a burlesque show at the Tampa Pitcher Show (http://www.tampapitchershow.net/), feating the Hellcats. As a sex positive feminist, I have always been open to everyone and anyone embracing their sexuality and showing it off as they saw fit, but I had never ever been to a burlesque show. Images of speakeasies filled my mind and piqued my curiosity. “Actually, that does sound like a lot of fun,” I told her. She filled me in on the details and I went about the rest of my night fascinated and exited for what was about to unfold.
Now, for some of you that don’t know what a burlesque show is, let me enlighten you. It’s nothing like the movie, “Burlesque” featuring Christina Aguilera, trust me. Some shows feature women and men who portray the act of seduction. Whether it be through song, dance or intricate strip tease, these individuals focus on seducing the audience. They don’t just throw out their bodies in whatever manner, they show only so much (underwear and pasties stay on) and they do it to allure the audience into forgetting their problems, and just let them enjoy the human body.
Let me tell you: I had one of the most enjoyable and fun nights in a very long time! I enjoyed everything from the witty banter of the MC to the lovely dances performed by the dancers to the company I kept. Everything was so lighthearted and entertaining that I quickly lost track of time and let loose for what seemed like the first time in ages. Yet, after every beautiful dance, I took a moment to question whether or not I was objectifying these wonderful women and if they were indeed having as much fun as I was.
After the show, I was able to speak with a few of the entertainers about how they felt. Almost every single one of them told me there were having the time of their lives and they really enjoyed performing. One even told me that she hated her body and how she looked until discovering burlesque. She said it was a sexual awakening – she was now proud of who she was and loved the sexual power she possessed. My mind was blown! They were happy, healthy and excited to use their sexuality in the way that made them, let me repeat, them feel good.
Through media and all their slut shaming practices, this is not the story we get from women who portray their sexuality in this manner. We lack this piece of women’s voices and stories when we discuss women’s sexuality. Not all women feel oppressed by showing their bodies off, some feel empowered and happy to do so. Some individuals are willing to write off performances like burlesque by simply objectifying these women and not listening to what the performers have to say. If these women feel empowered, happy and beautiful, then that is powerful. Not only for them, but for women as a whole. If you take away that power aren’t you just as bad as the ones who are really objectifying women? Everyone wins if we all just stop judging.
I know I will continue to support women who do what they love and what makes them happy. And if burlesque dancing make women happy, wonderful!