Students across country strip to make ends meet

You wake up, and slowly fall out of bed one morning. You groan as you rise to your feet, and walk over to your closet where you throw on the first things you come across, before heading out the door. Before class you check your mail. You flip through it and come across a bill from the college. You open it up to read that you still owe more than $5,000 for this semester alone. You get that sinking feeling in your gut.

How do they expect you to pay all this off? No job that you can think of can come close to paying what you would need to be able to cover this bill alone. Wouldn’t life be great if all your financial woes would just disappear?

Wouldn’t it be great if it was just as easy as taking the shirt off your back? Now, just imagine it was.

The world of exotic dancing has in the past been deemed as loathsome and seedy, but that may be changing. Many young women are entering this profession and finding that it is enabling them to lead more comfortable lives.

An exotic dancer working at a decent club, can easily make $2,000 a night, club officials say. As a result some students in colleges across the country have turned their backs on work study in favor of lap dancing, and pole grinding.

To many, it may seem like a degrading choice of work, but for those who do it, they seem to be just fine with the whole idea, especially when they look at their bank account.

But what about a small liberal arts college like Castleton State College? Granted there are no strip clubs in the area, but with the type of money an individual could make in just two nights, they could easily drive an hour or so to areas that have clubs and live very comfortably for a month or more by only working two nights.

Would you strip? One student did

But what do the young women of Castleton think about the whole idea of taking their clothes off for money in front of strangers?

“To each their own,” said one Castleton senior and former exotic dancer who asked that her name not be used. “If you got it, and can make a few bucks, that’s fine.”

She said she formerly danced near her home town, but stopped after her boyfriend of the time expressed that he was not comfortable with the whole thing. She talks about a very pleasant and safe working atmosphere.

“The manager was very nice, and the bouncers would always walk the girls out to their cars,” she said.

She gave details about the job, like how in addition to dancing on stage, the girls would take some of the customers into the back to what they called “friction booths,” where they would give them private lap dances.

It was there, she said, that the girls would make the bulk of their money, saying that the individual would have to pay every time a new song came on.

Asked if she felt objectified by the whole experience, she was quick to say that she did not and that things like Girls Gone Wild and the various MTV television series like the Real World, and Spring Break are the types of things that are truly objectifying to women.

“Dancing is different,” she says. “The girls are of sound mind” because she said they aren’t essentially fed alcohol to get drunk and act out.

Is she the exception?

Still, not all young women at Castleton feel that that exotic dancing is as harmless as the senior makes it out to be. There are those who feel that it is a gateway to a darker and more dangerous world, consisting of drug use, and prostitution.

Marry Powers, a communication major and senior at Castleton State College, feels that even though stripping doesn’t necessarily mean your going to walk down the wrong road, it still puts you in a questionable position.

“I personally wouldn’t be able to do it and respect myself,” she said. “It’s like prostitution without penetration.”

Powers states that she feels that sex or sexual satisfaction that is paid for is not legitimate.

“It’s demeaning because when men pay for sex, the woman is no longer a person,” she said.

Despite these strong feelings of opposition, she still acknowledges the fact that the individual has the right to choose for themselves when it comes to stripping.

“I wouldn’t encourage a friend to do it,” she says. “But it’s their body, and their life.”

Still, others feel that the real insult is to view something like exotic dancing as degrading to women.

Castleton State College senior Candy Daniels believes that by telling women that stripping is a self-loathsome act is in a way setting women back by forcing this view point and decision on them.

Also, she believes that with the price of higher education these days, that people shouldn’t fault anyone who enters this line of work for the money.

“As a student who has to fund a big chunk of her own education, hard work is necessary. Stripping and or exotic dancing is a legal profession, and I believe that it does not reflect negatively upon the character or social morals of the professional dancer,” said Daniels with strong resolve.

She said she can see why some may believe stripping could lead to illegal activities, but in the end she does not believe it is so cut and dry.

“Alcohol can lead to alcoholism, and gambling can be dangerous too, yet in most places they are still legal,” Daniels said. “If a club can adhere to the laws then I can’t say no against it.”

Daniels said she once went to a strip club where men took off their clothes and had “so much fun.”

Other Castleton students like Shelby Williamson, take a more middle of the road view on the issue.

“I wouldn’t do it, but there is money to be made,” Williamson says, adding that she has had acquaintances that have done it in the past.

When asked to comment on the notion that stripping leads to other things like drugs and prostitution, she said “If they have the courage to do what they do, then they would be strong enough to avoid bad scenes.”

According to Williamson, any choice to walk down a darker path is just that, a choice, one made by the individual who would have more then likely done so regardless if they were an exotic dancer or not.

At the end of the day, Williamson finds herself split on the issue because she feels the women are objectified to a degree, but at the same time they are not being forced to do it so they really aren’t victims in that sense.

What do the men think?

Still one of the big questions that remains is what about men stripping for money? Do they run the same risks as women do or is it different for them?

Many would say that male stripping is more a spectacle then anything, and that the men do not run nearly the same risk of being taken advantage of as the women do, with the Chippendales being the lead example.

“Men won’t be pressured into something seedy because male strippers are these big strong guys,” says Williamson.

But what do the men themselves think of stripping?

“Your body is your body,” says Eric Kapitan, a senior at Castleton. “It’s a natural thing and you have the right to do what you want with it.”

When asked what he would do if his girlfriend begin dancing at strip clubs, he explained that while he would not be very excited about the whole thing, he would have to respect the fact that it was her choice.

In the end, Kapitan comes back to the concept of choice.

“My opinion doesn’t matter,” he says. “As long as they are not being forced to do it, and their comfortable with it, then more power to them.”

When asked if he would ever consider stripping for money, he was very quick to say, “Hell no, I don’t have the desire to do that type of thing. Plus my girlfriend would kill me.”

Other male students seemed to share his beliefs.

“I don’t care ether way,” said Paul Bisaillon, who echoed the notion that as long as the dancers in question are not being forced, then there is no real problem.

Despite such thoughts, Bisaillon still admits that he would not be comfortable with his girlfriend doing it, and went on to say that he would try to help her find another job.

When asked whether he would be willing to get into exotic dancing to help pay for college, he replied with a laugh.

“I’d rather be broke,

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