“If a woman strips for money – she’s a slut. If a guy strips – he’s a legend.”
“That is the absolute bottom line”, says Jay*, 30 who has been a male stripper for couple of years now.
“There is a big difference between how male and female lap dancers are perceived. I think a lot of it has to do with the way the audience goes about a dance.
“Male customers would usually text the female dancer afterwards and ask her for something more, whereas women from the audience would rarely pursue a flirt with the male stripper”, Jay explains.
Despite powerful speeches from role models like Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie fighting for gender equality, and often succeeding in changing people’s perception about feminism, in the striptease industry sexism double standards defy how male and female performers are viewed by the public.
Stripper – turned – businesswoman Amber Rose says it’s “not fair” that there is such stigma for women, but men are being praised for stripping in an interview for Cosmopolitan South Africa.
Jay works for the stripper agency Party Strip in Manchester and says there is quite a difference between the type of shows male and female dancers provide and maybe that’s why there is such a gap in the public’s perception.
He says women in the industry have to work much harder and tolerate a lot more than men do.
“Male strippers are usually hired for fun. My act is a mix of comedy and stripping, so I go there, do my performance, people laugh and I leave.
“I try to keep it all very funny and entertaining, but I think for women dancers it’s a lot more difficult because the business we’re in is entertainment – it’s not exrated, but a lot of the time men expect it to be”, says Jay.
LISTEN to what his act usually includes to make his performance dirty, but also keep it lighthearted and funny:
Wes*, 27, who works for the same agency in Manchester says that despite the difference in the show, male stripping is very much like female stripping – it’s a job: you just want to get it over with and take the money you’ve worked hard for.
“In this aspect I think it’s exactly the same.
“To me it’s purely a job – I don’t think ‘Oh, I can’t wait for this girl to touch me’.
“Unlike women dancers, we do allow touching. We don’t particularly enjoy it though, especially when customers get aggressive and tear you clothes or scratch your back.
“At the end of the day, I’m there to do a job, not to be abused.
“But in this kind of sense, women tend to be more protected by club rules which forbid any sort of touching. So the double standard works the other way around as well”, explains Wes.
Elena, 26, who works in a gentelemen’s club in Manchester, agrees that sometimes men performers have to tolerate much more, because to the general society it’s acceptable for women to touch men, but not vice versa.
“Women have society on our side, whereas for men it’s much more difficult sometimes”, she says.
LISTEN to what Elena says about the difference between male and female stripping:
Jay says that men also have the wrong idea about what it’s like to be a male stripper:
“Guys think we love dancing in front of women because of all the attention we get, and you do enjoy it in the beginning, it feeds your ego.
“But the novelty soon wears off.
“People think it’s a dream job, but it’s really not – it’s actually very hard work.
“And eventually, it’s just like any other job: I want to do what I have to do, get some Chinese food and go home.”
Jay and Wes say that male strippers make good money, but most likely not as much as women.
They both agree that while there are quite a few gentlemen’s clubs in Manchester where female dancers can work regularly, bookings for male performers could be quite infrequent, so they usually need to have a day job as well.
Here is a map of Greater Manchester’s top lap dancing clubs:
**Names in this article have been changed to protect sources’ privacy.