\ˈstri-pər\ noun;
1 : a performer who removes his or her clothing in a sexually exciting way
: a dancer who does a striptease

You can barely throw a microbrew in Portland without hitting a strip club: Our city holds the highest number of strip clubs per capita in the United States. There is approximately one venue for every 11,286 residents. If you’re a local, this isn’t news—and if you haven’t tried dancing for a living already, you have probably considered it a viable option; especially with the rising cost of living and education.

Recently unemployed, I wanted to consider my options as to what jobs I could work while in school that would be the most lucrative, schedule friendly and easily obtained. What were the pros and cons of dancing? Was stripping to “pay off your loans” a stereotype? I decided to find other Portland State students who dance to find out.

\ˈstig-mə\ noun;
1 : a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something

In Greek and Latin, a stigma was a mark or brand, especially one that marked a slave, so a stigma marked a person as inferior.

Out of the 16 students I found at PSU who work as professional dancers, only two were willing to go on record about their stripping occupations. A common boundary I found was that many strippers are tired of being questioned and judged because of their jobs and are unwilling to justify their decision.

“Why do strippers have to constantly defend stripping to non-strippers about the world of strippers?” wrote a dancer who uses the name Mmmmeadow.

“I, a stripper, can confirm that the world of stripping can be just as boring as a desk job or just as drug-filled and toxic as being a barista at Starbucks,” Mmmmeadow continued. “It’s your character, not your job.”

Another reason many students choose to avoid talking about their professions is to avoid judgment from peers, staff and family. They want to avoid being fetishized outside of their workplaces and protect their safety and personal boundaries by leaving the dance persona at work.

The same stigma that allows people to judge and criticize can also cause undue shame for dancers and a fear of speaking openly or even proudly about their profession.

read rest of article at PSU Vanguard