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Best Seller
Bare by Elisabeth Eaves
Dec 14, 2011 | ISBN 9780307814494

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  • Dec 14, 2011 | ISBN 9780307814494

    Available from:

Product Details

Author Q&A

A Conversation with ELISABETH EAVES
author of BARE

Q: Tell us a little about your background.
A: I’m from Vancouver. I have a bachelor’s from the University of Washington in Middle Eastern
studies and have a master of international affairs from Columbia University. In the three years between college and graduate school, I traveled for over a year and held a variety of jobs including stripping. After graduate school I worked as a reporter for Reuters in London.

Q: How did you start stripping?
A: I answered an ad for "luscious blondes" in the back of a weekly newspaper.

Q: Why?
A: Out of long-term curiosity and because the time was right.

I was curious because I had the impression that strippers enjoyed a level of sexual freedom that others did not. No one told them what to wear or how to behave, or so I thought. I was also curious about using sexuality and sexual power for gain, and the sex industry is one of the few places where such
behavior is not only tolerated but expected. I wanted to know if stereotypes of strippers had any basis, I wanted to know if the women who did it were different from me, and I wanted to know if I could do it.

The time was right because I was young enough, at 25, and I was in limbo. I didn’t have or want a full time job, and I expected to move away from the city where I was living. I felt like it was then or never.

Q: Was it a positive or negative experience?
A: Both.

Q: Do you think stripping is a good or bad thing for the women who do it?
A: It can be both. It can be an incredible confidence booster, because it confirms a woman’s
desirability every day she goes to work. Depending on where she strips, it can give a woman a sense of control by putting her in charge of what she does, when and for how much. It can give her a sense of control over how men look at her.

I think that for most women, though, the negative consequences pile up the longer they stay in. On a practical level, it’s simply hard to get another job with the gap in one’s resume left by years of dancing. Plus many dancers find it difficult to go from earning money quickly to settling for an hourly wage.

Stripping can also have negative personal consequences. It can lead to a more manipulative and dishonest approach to sex, and cynicism regarding men. It’s a job that makes many boyfriends and
husbands uncomfortable. It can be alienating. It can erode one’s sexual boundaries. It can make it hard to distinguish one’s professional sexual persona from one’s real sexual self.

Q: What about for society?
A: I think there is great pressure on women to turn themselves – in looks, personality and sexuality – into consumer products. It comes from sources as blatant as advertising and as subtle as the still-widespread expectation that men should be breadwinners.

This pressure urges conformity and encourages women to value themselves based on their appearance. Stripping, along with sex work in general, does much to add to it. It contributes to the notion that women are for sale. This is one of the reasons I quit, and that I wouldn’t do it again.

Q: How did it change you as a journalist?
A: Most of my time as a stripper was before I became a journalist, so it didn’t change me as one.
Writing a book did though. When I started writing I was still very resistant to talking about myself. As a journalist I was trained not to, and I am also naturally fairly reticent. I’m much more comfortable
asking others questions and putting them in the spotlight.

But once I started working on the book there was no use pretending I wasn’t deeply involved in the
subject. And I felt that while I was asking others difficult questions about their motivations and the
consequences of their work, I should also be asking myself.

Q: Do you find that people in the United States have a puritanical view of the body and sex?
A: I would say not so much puritanical as compartmentalized. We have two separate strains of morality. In one, women are discouraged from being overtly sexual, and find their characters’ judged based on how much they wear and who they sleep with. In the other, pornography, prostitution, and sexuality in advertising are completely acceptable. We live with both, and they’re difficult to reconcile.

Jill Morrison, Publicist
212-572-2091 <>

Katy Barrett, Publicist
212-572-2875 <>

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