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Working at a strip club: Is it the best choice for making money?


Bonnie Fitzpatrick / Columnist

I will be the first to admit that I would love to have more money. I think any girl would say the same. But a rising trend at Elon that I cannot seem to understand is the number of girls working at strip clubs. I can sympathize with the desire to make money. But does any Elon student need money so bad that she would need to work at a strip club to get by?

I do not want to offend anyone who works in a strip club. I myself know a few girls who do. But at a university that costs as much as Elon and brings in as many middle and upper class families as it does, I question the real motives behind why an educated and, almost certainly, well-off young woman would want to work in a strip club. I don’t think that money is the only driving force.

Since this summer the number of girls I have known of working in strip clubs has risen tremendously. I cannot help but wonder why, since these same girls are driving new cars and sport the latest fashions. If it was money that was lacking, it seems reasonable that their parents could help them out if they could send them to Elon and buy them a nice car.

Now, for the most part, the girls who work at the strip clubs work as cocktail waitresses or at the door. But if they aren’t stripping, why not work in a regular bar or restaurant?

I know from talking with girls who work as cocktail waitresses at a local strip club that on a slow night they will make no more than a typical server at a place like Outback. But they have much more clean up duties after hours than a normal restaurant employee.

People may think that serving drinks in a strip club makes for easy money. But with responsibilities that include cleaning the bar area, VIP lounges and bathrooms, the money a cocktail waitress earns is far from easy. The hours are very long and the clubs are open until 2 a.m. or later. The clientele is not made up of the general run-of-the-mill Burlington patrons, and even cocktail waitresses are propositioned.

Why a girl who has classes every day, on top of social events, sorority functions or sports teams would want to fit this kind of job into her busy schedule makes me believe that our society looks too lightly upon actions that just 10 or 20 years ago were frowned upon. And, if money is truly the driving force, why not just strip and make two or three times the money?

Girls want to skirt the boundaries of acceptability. Be just daring enough to look cool without having to answer for shady choices.

Of course, it would be great to make so much money in one night. I know of girls who have made up to $1,000 in one night stripping.

But if serving drinks in a strip club was as innocent as the girls make it out to be, why are they reluctant to talk about it?

I asked people what they thought about the idea of a woman they know working in a strip club. It made no sense to most people why a girl would want to work around nearly-naked women and drunk men if she wasn’t actually interested in stripping too. Most women would not openly tell you if they were stripping.

Even the people working in the industry obviously don’t feel that it is the most respectable way to make money. It seems just as bad that a girl could stand to be around naked women, but then feel in a different class because she isn’t “actually doing anything bad.”

Possibly, there is a very real fascination with aspects of stripping other than just making money. I have heard that the power trip that goes along with men giving a woman money for her body is as strong as actually making the money because it boosts confidence, which invariably gives women a false sense of self-respect.

But do girls at Elon have big issues with self-confidence? Or do they really need money? Or does it really matter what people think if they gain confidence, make money and are not ashamed to work there?

I have always been an advocate of living life for myself and not letting others’ opinions influence my decisions. But on that same note, a person’s respect is extremely important. A person can lose respectability in a second, while it can take years to rebuild.

Even if no one actually found out a girl had worked in a strip club in college, I think that sometimes it isn’t about what others know you did, but having to remember for yourself.

There will be times in life when we all make bad choices and regret decisions that seemed unimportant at the time. But everything that we do in life will be with us forever.

It is hard for me to imagine what the parents of an Elon girl who works around strippers for “easy” money would think. It would have to be disappointing to realize that all they are giving to their daughter isn’t enough. Could her parents give her more money, more love, more attention?

Most Elon girls are not single parents trying to raise a child on their own, or trying to support a drug habit. And, from what I see they really don’t lack confidence enough to feel they can only gain it by working in a provocative industry.

The only answer that I am left with is that our culture has allowed young women to express their sexuality so openly that it is no longer even surprising to see middle- and upper-class women working in an industry that used to be dominated by the drug addicts and the truly poor.

So, I cannot help but wonder, if we are comfortable with our young women working in strip clubs in the Bible belt of America, what is going to be acceptable next?


© 2004 The Pendulum Online

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