Friday, March 4, 2011

Easy Access

Thanks to all of you who were encouraging and supportive through your comments to my last post! The event went really well – I shared some humorous anecdotes about my customers (an adaptation of my monikers post) and then transitioned into an ode to Irish Gold, one of my favorite people from the club scene, and perhaps anywhere. People were laughing and really into my reading, and it felt good standing up and sharing a part of myself to academics, who usually see a very very different version of me. Afterward, a professor even approached me and encouraged me to do my dissertation on this topic (thanks, but no thanks – I’m not interested in seeing what the genealogical ranking and ordering of geographic areas, distinct separation of topics like “feminism” and “race,” and the cold/removed way academia sometimes deals with sex work would do something that’s been a formative part of my sense of sexuality, humor, independence, and happiness).

But, I have been thinking about academia and stripping in another, more pressing (to me) way. The debates rage in social science about how to study elites. How do we gain access? Does participant observation work? Can we interview elites, and take their word for what they say, when we’re ultimately critical of the power they wield and distrustful of their words? Must ethnographers be allied with, or sympathetic to, their subjects? You know, all the same age-old shit that anthropologists were asking in the 80’s is still being asked in newfangled ways. And social scientists continue to struggle with it.

Meanwhile, in the strip club scene (or many other sex work arenas), you get easy-ass access (literally, I guess) to all kinds of elite subjects. In fact, you get the sort of access that an ethnographer would only dream of. You get to hear their confessions about finance, friends, family; you get to know about their sex lives and politics. Unfortunately, Institutional Review probably wouldn’t approve lapdancing as an acceptable methodology, but man, if they did…*writes strongly-worded letter to National Science Foundation*

This reminds me: remember the Wolf in Veep’s Clothing? I got the most patronizing e-mail from this Republican a-hole recently.

I thought of you concerning the liberation sweeping Arab lands - actually, I thought of, and felt for you. I felt a wave of sadness that Arabs (and Muslims too) have been so oppressed, both physically and psychologically, for so long. It really washed over me. While I feel happiness at the successful rebellions, my sadness was / is actually a stronger emotion: I just felt "why did such repression have to go on for so long, for what?!?" Wanted to give you a hug. May sound strange coming from someone who you know only slightly and from a parallel universe you might say. Hope you feel liberated and positive and optimistic. I've always felt you harbor a lot of inner anger and resentment. If so, maybe that will ebb away. Anyway, Cheers.

Thoughts: First, you should know I corrected 13 spelling errors here to make it easier for you to read. Second of all, how fucking patronizing! He has me on his listserv which sends out bi-weekly articles he’s written about how Obama’s a socialist and how we need to privatize everything, and then he has the nerve to feel overwhelmed at Arab liberation struggles? Does he not get how his neoliberal economic politics rely upon the very oppression he’s trying to critique? Also, I did not appreciate his whole sense of harboring inner anger bit; true, I get pretty miffed at the club when he says things about how good colonialism has been for people of color or about how unfettered free markets are the way to be (yeah, that shit's personal). But, seriously, I do have my jovial side (I guess white male libertarians are deprived the oh-so-envied access to it…).

1 comment:

  1. love it. it kind of makes sense that academics would be excited about what you say about, you know, real life and then immediately suggest you co-opt yourself into their language.
    meanwhile, i agree that we have the best anthropological access to all sorts of interesting subcultures: elites, working class folk, truckers, etc. just depending on where you work.
    as for mr. republican a-hole i think i wanted to puke the most when he said he "wanted to give you a hug". ick. stay angry. stay a civil. stay undressed.