Liepe-Levinson considers the way spectators can become implicated within the performance of the striptease. She notes that female spectators seem more interested in eliciting the gaze of the stripper than objectifying the male object of the look, and that even when they do objectify him, this does not affect men’s position of control in society. Male spectators, in contrast, take full opportunity to gaze at female bodies with impunity. However, Liepe-Levinson argues that the striptease does not simply reproduce traditional sex/gender roles. Other rituals in which the men must remain inert while women dance above and in front of them, suggest that sexual roles can be continually reified and denied in the strip show. Audiences may also shift the focus to themselves; once spectators tip a dancer to perform just for them, they too become performers, mimicking those on stage and watching themselves performing, while pretending that in their excitement they might ‘lose control’ or put themselves in a risky situation. Finally, Leipe-Levinson demonstrates that many theories of gender and representation overlook the possibility that the spectator is not helplessly manipulated by what he or she sees, but is knowingly and pleasurably swept away.
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