Bouncers and Female Vulnerability

In the strip club,we have bouncers, big burly guys who stand around in the club looking menacing. They're not really allowed to talk to anyone because they've got to preserve their image of perfect stoic masculinity. Their job is, of course, to protect us ladies from the mens who want to put their hands on us.

I vastly appreciate these bouncers. They do make me feel safer in the club, safer really than I feel anywhere else. (Ironic, no?) BUT, not always for the reasons you'd expect. If I can get a bouncer to talk to a man for me, I don't have to be the bad guy and enforce my own boundaries with the customer. I can let it be "The Man" who comes in as a disciplinarian. I don't have to use my personal power to enforce my personal boundaries. I can continue to be the li'l delicate lady, which keeps me in the money. Femininity sells.

I was reading Feministing's review of Susan Faludi's new book The Terror Dream. Feministing quotes her discussing how as a nation, "we base our security on a mythical male strength that can only measure itself against a mythical female weakness," going on to say that "when we are most fearful, we are most likely to regress into familiar, albeit limiting scripts about who we are, what our dreams might be, what's safe and what's too scary... Our cartooned femininity is directly related to men's cartooned masculinity."

Now, I'm obviously quoting pretty heavily here to get to my point. And they're not exactly talking about strip clubs and bouncers. Their reflections on masculinity and protection, though, made me think about how I relate to my bouncers, how I rely on them to protect me purely because I am in a feminine role when I'm at work.

I could just as easily physically and verbally defend myself when a man tries to touch me in the club. Granted, some of them might be bigger and stronger than I am, but I'm not a small or a physically weak woman. Most of them wouldn't be. If I did need help, the bouncers would be useful, but I rely on them way more than I have to.

I rely on them so much because it's easier than trying to be powerful in my own right. I can use their availability as an excuse to stay feminine, to stay friendly, to continue to be liked and make more money. The rules of the club are set up to get me to act that way, but I think from now on I'll make more of an effort to enforce my boundaries myself, to be more commanding. I know some of the dancers do this and they still seem to make money. It's just another reflection of patriarchy in my own head. Gotta work on it.


On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

Creative Commons License
This work by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.