‘HOW DO YOU DO IT?’: How Exotic Dancers in Australia Manage Stigma to Maintain Positive External Identities

Author: Dawn Parks

Parks, Dawn, 2019 ‘HOW DO YOU DO IT?’: How Exotic Dancers in Australia Manage Stigma to Maintain Positive External Identities, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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The exotic dance industry is highly stigmatised. Several studies have examined the stigma management techniques which exotic dancers use to maintain positive self-identities, but none have examined the techniques used to maintain positive external identities. This thesis argues exotic dancers use stigma management techniques for externally-applied stigma, in order to maintain a positive external identity and positive social interactions. Though stigma management techniques may also be used for internalised stigma, they are nevertheless required to manage external stigma due to its potential effects on stigmatised individuals’ personal lives. The research questions ‘How exotic dancers manage the stigma which manifests in their personal life in order to maintain a positive externally-defined identity and positive interactions?’ To address this question, fifteen current and former exotic dancers in Australia were individually interviewed using a feminist method; additionally, an autoethnographic element was utilised. Ultimately, it was found externalised stigma was managed by the interviewees primarily through ‘separation of social/personal world’. The interviewees demonstrated they chose who to share their stigmatised identity with based on external pragmatic and practical factors rather than internalised shame. This finding furthers our understanding of the subculture/beliefs of exotic dancers (and other stigmatised workers) and their mental considerations when choosing to manage stigma.

Keywords: stigma, exotic dancers, exotic dance, strippers, stripping, sex work, dirty work, stigma management

Subject: Sociology thesis

Thesis type: Graduate Diploma
Completed: 2019
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Deb King