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Uncomfortable Burlesque Discussion


F222, I don’t think anyone is arguing that Burlesque isn’t a form of using bodies for entertainment.

The argument is that someone voluntarily choosing to use their body for entertainment for an audience that has voluntarily chosen to be there can be empowering and a celebration of body positivity.

That is being differentiated from predatory or exploitative forms of sexualized entertainment where either the performer or audience is forced, coerced, tricked, or otherwise pressured into participating.

Your comparison to the rude joke doesn’t work here; the issue at hand isn’t one of intention but one of agency. Much like I would try to avoid a restaurant that mandated it’s serving staff wear mini skirts and high heels, I would never shame a server who chooses to wear that outfit because that’s what she finds comfortable.

As to your catcalling question, that is all about the context of the social space we are currently occupying. E.g. Generally, punching someone is considered unacceptable behavior. However, if you are a boxer in a boxing match, the social context has changed so that it not only becomes acceptable but highly encouraged to punch someone. That doesn’t change the fact that once the match finishes and you leave the ring it once again becomes unacceptable to punch random people in public, even if you encounter your opponent from the match on the street later that same day.

Similarly catcalling is (or should be) considered unacceptable behavior in public. However, when you are the audience of a burlesque show, you enter a social context where it not only becomes acceptable but highly encouraged to show your appreciation of the performance through vocal recognition that is indeed very similar to catcalling. That doesn’t change the fact that once the burlesque show ends it once again becomes unacceptable to catcall people in public, even if you encounter one of the performers from the show on the street later that same day.


F222, having a conversation requires that you actually listen. You come across as someone who has made up their mind before beginning.

“When someone tells a crude or sexual joke and ends up being called out on it” - Strawman argument.

“How can we stand by saying that a game like Conan is wrong for specializing the female characters yet immediately turn around and accept a Burlesque show because it’s loosley based around geek culture?” - Strawman, and ignoring the replies already given.

It’s difficult to engage in a conversation with someone who behaves this way about it.


Great answers and things for me to think about.

Could you please expand on your thoughts regarding someone voluntarily using their body as it relates to booth babes?
Presuming a woman is not having financial hardships, is it not acceptable for her to take a job as a booth babe?
Let’s take it a step further since you have a problem with an employer mandating someone dress a certain way (potentially your argument against booth babes)… does it then follow that if the Burlesque performers are being paid to strip that this goes counter to what you find acceptable.

For argument sake let’s assume the Burlesque performers were paid.
How is that different than a booth babe being paid to show her body?

Furthermore, if the designer of a game decides to show his or her body at a game convention for their own self promotion does it follow that this form of booth babe is acceptable?


I’m sorry you feel that I’m not listening and processing your answers and I don’t know how to convince you otherwise.

I have not read anything above that specifically explains why Burlesque should be considered a higher art form other than that previous posters have said it should be.

In the same manner that you utilize boxing in your explanations (an equal example of hyperbole) I have used other corollaries such as offensive jokes… yet you feel that only one of us is allowed to use alternate examples to illustrate points or ask for clarification.

To address the question of Burlesque directly I ask you this:
Is a strip show where the dancers are not paid directly by the audience the same as Burlesque and if not, why not?


The important distinction is whether it is primarily employment versus primarily a hobby or personal interest. Choosing to use sexuality due to financial need is very different (and far more complicated) than due to personal enjoyment. Financial deprivation is coercive. Personal enjoyment is definitionally not (you cannot coerce yourself).

It doesn’t have to be art. Some people enjoy their sexuality in different ways than you might, and some of those ways might be public ones. It could be entirely prurient and still totally valid, so long as it is not coercive.

By the way, you pointing to the boxing example is an example of how it feels as though you are not making an effort to listen, as I was not the one who used it. It does not seem like an honest attempt when you are asking me to explain others’ points for them.


The problem with booth babes is a little more complex than you make it sound here
(and I’m having a hard time believing you don’t know that; I have to agree with @Panzemek that you don’t seem to be willing to reflect on your personal politics and instead make use of logical fallacies and false equivalents a lot).
One important point is that sexuality is used to sell/advertise something that has nothing to do with it.
That’s basically the main feminist argument against a lot of common advertising,and something that I agree with.
A burlesque show, on the other hand (and you can keep calling it strip show as much as you like , it won’t change the fact that these are two different things), is (usually) not selling/advertising anything.
In this case it was part of a board game convention, but as several people have already mentioned, there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be forms of entertainment that go beyond that. That’s something not at all uncommon.

So, in short: sexuality used to sell something else is problematic, because then it actually gets instrumentalized.
Sexuality as a form of entertainment isn’t problematic in and of itself (or rather, that’s my stance; I am aware that there’s a debate in feminism about this, and that people’s religious or personal beliefs might make them think otherwise; bit in no way is an accepted fact/moral code). However, it can get problematic due to a number of factors such as power relations, coercion, age/maturity etc.



Firstly this side debate that you are beginning as to whether or not I am reading your replies is neither true nor productive.
Yes in the above example I confused you (a faceless, pseudonym) for another persons response because you have a green bubble.
It would still follow that you have no problem with others making such comparisons.

(By the way, neither of my examples are straw man as both examples I gave do not indeed have black and white answers, are frequently debated, and thus do not immediately refute someone else’s argument)

To stay on topic though,
In both your original statement and in this follow up you argue that it is the voluntary use of a performers body that makes burlesque different.
If you are under the impression that Burlesque shows are all voluntary and do not involve financial compensation then I think we need to start with you defining what you think a Burlesque show is.
Because if you are choosing to define an acceptable Burlesque show as one that involves voluntary participation and thus this is what makes the SHUX show different then I’m not sure what I could possibly say to that narrow definition.


@Webs “and you can keep calling it a strip show as much as you like”

I do not recall and cannot see where you are getting the impression that I keep calling it a strip show. I have deliberately refrained from using such words as I’m interested in knowing more about the acceptability of Burlesque… not simply calling the performers strippers.
Please don’t pretend I’m saying things that I am not.

I absolutely 100% know that Burlesque is different than booth babes. What I don’t know is why I know this.
And that sort of a response is not acceptable.
Simply telling someone that one thing is okay while another is not yet being unable to quantify exactly why is authoritarian rather than reasonable.
Thus far I have not understood what makes Burlesque different in your minds from other things that you would consider exploitative other than a voluntary nature of the act.

But I return to my original statement that I do not in fact know how I feel about the Burlesque show.
I know that booth babes are wrong, I know that the sexual exploitation of females in gaming is wrong, but I’m not sure about this Burlesque show and what makes it different.
I equally don’t know that the Burlesque is right and this is why when thugs are difficult to explain or define like this then I’m not so sure it was a good idea to skirt that line.
Particularly with the current environment of pushback against previous inappropriate use of sexuality in gaming.


Please see my first post in this thread. It defines what modern burlesque is in detail. This is not the same thing as the “Moulin Rouge” idea of burlesque that you seem to be stuck on. It is, instead, a deliberate reaction to the negative aspects of “strip shows” where both performers and audience enter into a unique social contract. Traditionally negative things like catcalling are flipped on their head precisely because in other contexts they are wrong. The audience is allowed to show appreciation for all types of bodies and expression precisely because the performer wants them to as part of this unique social contract.


I would welcome if you could expand on exactly what you think is problematic in a burlesque show, because I’ve got the feeling that there are some fundamental differences of value here.


But I did explain it!!??

One important point is that sexuality is used to sell/advertise something that has nothing to do with it.
That’s basically the main feminist argument against a lot of common advertising,and something that I agree with.
A burlesque show, on the other hand (and you can keep calling it strip show as much as you like , it won’t change the fact that these are two different things), is (usually) not selling/advertising anything.


Please see my reply above @webs

I do not have an inherent problem with Burlesque.
I’m concerned that in an industry (I include video gaming due to large cross over) that has exploited sexuality in negative ways a Burlesque show at the venue toes a line that is not easily explained away.

We are at a point in time where we are trying to correct previous mistakes in this industry and as gamers to show why we do not want to have sexuality peddled and exploited.
If you have a hard time explaining to me what defines sexuality as acceptable vs exploitative then how do you expect marketing directors to look upon Burlesque shows at gaming venues being well attended?


I would argue that it was you that has still not adequately explained why they think burlesque might be problematic.
Because it employs sexuality as entertainment?
If you’re stance is that sexuality in entertainment is inherently problematic, then I feel that this discussion will lead nowhere.
And I feel that there have been some clear answers to your questions that you still chose to ignore.


Minor point of order, but it would help with engagement (in life, as in this thread), if people stopped using the word ‘problematic’ as a cover-all term for basically everything, and instead used the precise word they mean, e.g. ‘coercive’, ‘exploitative’ even ‘icky’ or ‘uncomfortable’.

Me not having a sandwich is problematic. Famine in the Yemen is problematic. The word is so over-used it’s meaningless.


This is exactly what burlesque is also trying to do… As has been explained repeatedly above.


I used the term because I actually don’t know what the problem here is, and I myself don’t have one with burlesque. So I’m not sure if I’m the right adressee here.


Although I haven’t typed it yet in this thread, you can pry my use of the word “problematic” from my cold dead hands! :grinning:


What was it about this strip show…

Is a strip show where the dancers are not paid…

I do not recall and cannot see where you are getting the impression that I keep calling it a strip show.

You are being intellectually dishonest here (also regular dishonest) in a transparent way. You are the sole reason that discussion is impossible here. People have given you their time and effort in giving some well-constructed responses, and this is how you have chosen to respond. It would at least be more honest to acknowledge at this point that it is deliberate.


“Is a strip show where the dancers are not paid directly by the audience the same as Burlesque and if not, why not?”

Try reading that whole quote again and realize that it isn’t calling Burlesque a strip show. It is also not a rhetorical question meant to equate the two. It is a question as to what makes these different.
You are the one who is partially reading, quoting, and quite frankly taking a holier than though approach to this discussion.

“What was it about this strip show that made the SU&SD crew feel that it had a place in this conference”

Completely wrong of me to use that term and it was an oversight that I am happy to admit to.
Read all my other replies though and you will realize that I do not keep referring to it as a strip show.


Webs has done a reasonable enough job approximating my thoughts (with only a few minor quibbles) on the booth babes questions that I’ll save myself some typing and refer you to those posts.

And no, I have no problem with burlesque performers being paid. In fact, if (hypothetically) the Geekenders received financial compensation for performing I’d only be upset if I learned that (hypothetically) the dancers didn’t receive any. As long as there is no form of coercion or exploitation and everyone is fully and enthusiastically consenting I have no problem with paid sex work. Most of us need paying jobs and if someone is more comfortable dancing around in fun and revealing costumes for an audience or having sex with strangers than working in an office or serving food in a restaurant, then they should follow their passion.

Two asides:

  1. I personally consider burlesque a type of theater and you pretty much have to stretch the definition of sex work to the point of breaking for burlesque to fit but for the sake of this conversation I am very loosely grouping them together.
  2. There’s a way larger conversation beyond the scope of this forum regarding the coercive nature of mandatory labour in a capitalistic society BUT due to the nature of burlesque work, the general philosophy of empowerment underpinning the larger modern burlesque community in Canada, and the relatively low pay compared to actual forms of sex work (again, more theater than…) I feel confident that it is extremely unlikely that any Geekender performer is being exploited by a desperate lack of other options.