February 11, 2008

What's the difference between strippers and the "Sex Workers Art Show"?

Stuart Taylor is not about to let Duke University palm off this distinction:
"There is an obvious difference," [Provost Peter Lange said,] "between strippers performing at a private party and a group of artists touring university campuses across the country to present a show with political discussion, musical theater, and displays of sexuality."

So people who take off their clothes and dance for money while others watch are not mere strippers, but rather "artists," if they go on tour, call it "musical theater," and toss in scatological and vulgar political effusions?

As if the nation's campuses were not sufficiently steeped in such stuff already.
Graphic descriptions of the art show at the link.

27 comments:

XWL said...

If this crew wanted to shock a college audience, they should have depicted a loving, monogamous male/female relationship that espoused and celebrated traditional gender roles.

That'd be shocking (to the various 'studies' majors), the stuff described in the piece has been the bread and butter of performance artist types for more than four decades.

TMink said...

Ahhh, Dook! As a Carolina graduate I cannot get enough about the failings of Dookies!

Trey

knoxwhirled said...

xwl-- perfect.


It's like all the racy "artsy" movies that come out at Sundance (wasn't there one about a guy who has sex with horses, and another with a graphic rape scene of a 12-year-old?), or Madonna describing herself as a "provacateur." They're just going for the most obvious thing--sex-- and dangling it in front of people's noses. Not particularly creative or even interesting.

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

I just hope that "group of artists" gets paid.

* * *

In seriousnous, this reminds me of Suzi Gablik's comically over-serious attempt to give art meaning in The Reenchantment of Art.

I attended one of her book tour lectures and the Q&A was hostile, even for an art school crowd. Gablik's artists included sensitive souls who ritualized the pickup of litter and delivered positive messages to unappreciated workers.

Apparently, what makes an artist is a talent for self-dramatization and little more.

PatCA said...

Yale is also having a Sex Week.

Must be inclusive and non-judgmental like they are with conservatives!

Or maybe there will be protests, furious letters to the provost, and pies in the face of the "artists."

George said...

Tmink--

Ah, but who won last week's basketball game?

rhhardin said...

The difference is that strippers do socially valuable work, and artists don't.

You don't see John Tierney protesting shutting down NYC museums.

Bender said...

You know, this seems to be to be a clear case of actionable sexual harassment/hostile work environment for the university employees who are forced to work at these events.

Kirby Olson said...

Peter Lange called it correctly at the beginning of the first fiasco and wrote open letters to several of the jerks who wanted to try the Lacrosse players before they had had their day in court. I think again here he makes a crucial legal distinction between the strippers and an artwork.

An individual with good sense and a backbone is hard to find at a college. Double Lange's salary.

Larry Flynt beat Falwell and preserved freedom of speech even if it's raunchy and inane. That's the right principle even here, when some of us don't like it.

Middle Class Guy said...

"The university spent $3,500 from student fees and various programs to pay the performers and cover expenses."


I wonder if any of that wonderful Federal Grant money was spent on this? Maybe some of that pork barrel or ear mark money went for this.


"This event was sponsored by a student group called Healthy Devils, with co-sponsors including Duke's Women's Center, the Program for the Study of Sexualities, the Student Health Center, Students for Choice, the Campus Council, and Sexual Assault Support Services."


I could realllllly see how this has something to do with Sexual Assault Support. Not!!!!!

SGT Ted said...

I think the only real difernce is one would qualify for an NEA grant.

Joe said...

"It's like all the racy "artsy" movies that come out at Sundance (wasn't there one about a guy who has sex with horses, and another with a graphic rape scene of a 12-year-old?)"

Yes, there was one (Zoo) about a man who had sex with horses. A true story. The man, who lived in Washington state, died of it in the end.

As for "graphic rape scene of a 12-year-old," never happened. In the film in question (Hounddog), Dakota Fanning's character was raped, but the act was offscreen and strictly implied. I believe the extent of the implication on-screen was the perpetrator unzipping his pants. In any case, the film was panned at the festival, prompting some liberals to snark that bad reviews did more damage to its chances than conservatives' concern ever could.

(that last statement is hardly true, of course. Witness the relative fates of The Golden Compass and Meet the Spartans. The one got mediocre reviews, but nothing to sink it, generated some outrage, and has garnered only $25m in the US, despite the fighting polar bears. The other probably doesn't have a single critic who would defend it, and yet sailed to first place on its opening weekend with $18m.)

And these Duke guys sure are a pretty set of fools, aren't they?

Joe said...

note: Wikipedia tells me that Hounddog also showed Ms. Fanning's face and reaction to the deed.

Ron said...

I mean really, who hasn't wondered if their stripper really has the hips to discuss Dialectic Materialism! God knows that's what I'm thinking at Scores!

Middle Class Guy said...

Help Wanted
Grant Writer

Must be well versed in obtaining Federal and State grants to put on toruing shows of an artistic nature on college campuses.

Must have good communication skills, networking capabilities, and a sense of humor.

Art experience is a plus, especially in the field of dance and alternative lifestyle entertainment.

Please send resume and topless photo to:

Sammy No Nose Inuralli
c/o The Badabing
Brooklyn, NY

rhhardin said...

I mean really, who hasn't wondered if their stripper really has the hips to discuss Dialectic Materialism! God knows that's what I'm thinking at Scores!

Long ago, Bernard McGuirk of Imus in the Morning was out scouting for man-in-the-street interviews, and came across a Columbia Journalism major specializing on International Affairs, working her way through college as a stripper. So Imus interviewed her, having established this, and they talked about the Middle East.

An elegant allusion to his still-at-hand reputation and the feminist movement.

Revenant said...

"What's the difference between strippers and the "Sex Workers Art Show"?"

I like strippers?

sonicfrog said...

Cool! After the Lacrosse rape thing I swore I would never consider going to that school, EVER! But now, after reading this and realizing how tolerant the University is, and how much fun it would be to be a "sex worker" at Duke, I'm gonna transfer tomorrow.

Uh, where is Duke, anyway....

PS. I don't do sparklers.

TMink said...

George, I acquiesce your point.

Bite me!

Trey

H Palmer said...

I go to USC and last semester I actually had a "sex artist" aka prostitute come into my Race and Class in Los Angeles discussion class to advocate her job and in fact tried to recruit students. I was so disgusted and repulsed by it- she had a scanty video and tape the discussion which she later posted on her website. She argued that it was simply work and it wasn't immoral to sell her body. She said her work made her feel empowered. I strongly disagreed and argued for a while with her, saying it was degrading to not only her body, but her soul. She has to stoop so low to sell her body- why can't she get a "normal" job that doesn't involve giving away her most precious possession? To the argument that it is simply 'work,' she has to perform physical actions on people- how can that not go into your personal life? I was so struck by this visit and was astonished she called her self a "sex artist" and said it was at all artistic.

knoxwhirled said...

a student group called Healthy Devils, with co-sponsors including Duke's Women's Center, the Program for the Study of Sexualities, the Student Health Center, Students for Choice, the Campus Council, and Sexual Assault Support Services.

They should all just get together and form one big club called "Desperate for Attention."

knoxwhirled said...

the act was offscreen and strictly implied

There was certainly a lot of buzz leading up to its release about the film's partial nudity and a protracted rape scene. Of course, it's entirely possible all that buzz was a marketing ploy from the beginning. And it sounds like it worked. It got a mediocre movie a lot of attention, if not box office draw.

prompting some liberals to snark that bad reviews did more damage to its chances than conservatives' concern ever could.

Probably true. My own objection is not as a "conservative"--though I am one in some respects--but as a grumpy person sick of shitty movies and art pawned off as groundbreaking or provocative just because somebody has thought of a new sex act.

And though the complaining about stuff like "The Golden Compass" can be annoying... for every conservative objector to "racy" content, there's a liberal who wants to sound cool for being open-minded enough to think it's meaningful--even when it's an obvious stunt.

Christy said...

Why do I suspect Dolly Parton did not give permission for her song to be used in this roadshow?

Cut them some slack, guys. The only careers available for the special studies majors are teaching special studies and sex worker. They need to learn this stuff.

Mr. Forward said...

What's the difference between strippers and the "Sex Workers Art Show"?

Will there be a test?

Cause I could pull an all nighter if it would help my grade.

Joe said...

I'm reminded of the joke about a photography professor being asked what the difference is between art and pornography. The answer: Pornography is in focus.

colleenjk said...

XWL-
Depicting traditional gender roles WOULD be a shock to college students. The man going off to work while the woman cooks dinner for the family? I know I wouldn't want to see this in any show! I wouldn't mind seeing "Sex Worker Art Show." It is a point of view that we don't really hear about. I believe it serves an educational purpose as well as being extremely entertaining.