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Male Strippers in Popular Film: Representations when Disrobed

It's been a few years, but my book chapter exploring representations of heterosexual and cisgender men's stripping in film has been published as part of John Scott's, Christian Grov's and Victor Minichiello' s new Handbook of Male Sex Work, Culture and Society (Routledge Press).

What's it about?

The Handbook of Male Sex Work, Culture, and Society is an anthology of work focusing on men's engagements with the sex work industry. There are some fantastic pieces that range from commentaries, theoretical explorations, empirical pieces, and cultural analyses. It is a sequel to Male Sex Work and Society.

The book challenges myths and reconceptualizes male sex work as a discrete field. Importantly, it provides a vehicle for the voices of male sex workers and new and established scholars. This richly detailed, humane, and innovative collection retrieves male sex work from silence and invisibility on the one hand and its association with scandal and stigma on the other (Grov, Scott & Minichiello 2021).

What's the chapter about?

The book chapter I contributed explores how men's stripping, specifically that for a women's audience is presented in fictional and documentary film. It uncovers how men's stripping is positioned quite differently to that of women's stripping, and how for heterosexual and cisgender men, it often avoids being seen as a form of sex work. In not being regarded as a form of sex work, men's stripping for women is able to be seen as a legitimate form of employment.

This is achieved through a number of framings, including:

  • As humorous, ordinary, and average;

  • As a form of community love and support;

  • As romantic, connected, and heterosexual;

  • As engaging a high level of skill and expertise; and

  • As part of a broader set of promotional and entrepreneurial activities

What films did you watch?

The chapter covers a range of over 17 films. Some were iconic films specifically about men's stripping, such as The Full Monty, A Night in Heaven, Magic Mike and Chocolate City. Others were analyses of men's stripping as a scene within a film, such as Ramone's strip-tease in The Proposal. The documentary La Bare, a look into the life of men's stripping in Dallas, Texas, was also viewed.

A full list of films are available as part of the book chapter appendix.

What inspired you to write this chapter?

There has been quite a lot of commentary and focus around Magic Mike and the objectification of men's bodies. I wanted to explore this in more depth, particularly how men's stripping might be presented across a variety of films. I was also critical of the argument that men are now experiencing the same kind of sexual objectification of women, and that male strippers experience the same challenges and stigma that female strippers may experience.

Exploring representations in film, including documentary films, enabled me to see how men's stripping is regarded quite differently than that of women's stripping. I think these differences are important, because they show how gender dynamics are at play.

Where can I read the chapter?

The chapter can be read here. Please get in contact if you'd like a copy!


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