Even though celebs like Nicki Minaj frequent strip clubs, black women should think critically about supporting such venues, Monique John argues at For Harriet. Historical exploitation of the black female body makes the decision all the more personal, political and complicated.

Nicki Minaj. Rihanna. Diamond. Young B. These celebrities have made going to the strip club a part of their brand, singing about their titty club escapades, posing for Instagram photos with strippers and hosting events as if the strip club were any other venue …

Understandably, this is not an easy conversation because it is so politically incorrect, making it all the more urgent. On the surface, the strip club appears to be a site where blackness, queerness and capitalism collide at heterosexual men's economic benefit. Sexy ladies are checking out other sexy ladies (a reality that may make anti-gay blacks shudder), while male strip club owners are sitting pretty on racks they collected from dancers' payments on exorbitant house fees.

But deeper than that, women are deriving pleasure from gazing at a body type already loaded with political baggage. With her giant breasts and butt cheeks the shape of basketballs, the stripper physique is directly reminiscent Sarah Baartman. The parallel is undeniable, given Baartman's legacy of being put on display to be poked and prodded by strange (white) people titillated by her curves.


Read Monique John's entire piece at For Harriet. 

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.


Monique John’s writing has been featured in For Harriet, the Feminist Wire and Redbook. She has spoken at Fordham University, Tulane University and the Borough of Manhattan Community College on black sexual politics and violence against women. You can find her musings on hip-hop feminism and strip-club chic at her blog, Twerked. Follow her on Twitter.

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