“Live Through This With Me”: Memoirs of Erotic Dance and Agency
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This project is a discourse analysis of first-person and ethnographic writings published between the years 2000 to 2012, written by cis-gendered women who have worked or are working as erotic dancers. Utilizing frameworks of “whore feminism” and whiteness I argue that the works under examination within this project assail the victim/agent dichotomy that has historically dominated discourses surrounding sex workers, which ignore what erotic dancers themselves have to say about female empowerment and how they choose to define themselves. By examining the issues of self-presentation that arise within the context of autobiographical work, I interrogate the tensions inherent within the erotic dance industry surrounding assumed motivations for engaging in the industry; measurements of success for erotic dancers; and how stigmatization impacts the lives of dancers and their loved ones. The project highlights ways in which erotic dance memoirs at once open up new critical and theoretical spaces and also problematically reinforce patriarchal stereotypes.