Strip by Catlyn Ladd was a very interesting read. While I have never stripped for a living myself I am no stranger to the world of the night having been a bartender in NYC, and I have friends who have worked as strippers in several different locations and clubs. It was really interesting to read how Catlyn started stripping and what her experiences were.
I really appreciated the fact that her personal stories are interlaced with studies and facts on the profession in general, and of her view on how stripping and feminism intersect. I am personally of the same viewpoint as Catlyn: if it’s consensual, no one is getting hurt or uncomfortable, and there is no trafficking involved, then why should a women not do what she wants to do? Why should a woman not enjoy stripping? So it was interesting to read about the positive experience that Catlyn had.
However. Catlyn talks about the fact that most studies on exotic dancers are one-sided or just too general, but hers is too. She only worked in high-end, “clean” clubs (which she doesn’t hide), and therefore cannot speak to those who work in the less “clean” ones. My eyes also started the glaze over after I read the word “academic” a few times - there is honestly no need to say it over and over again, we know she is a professor, and we know she knows she’s smart. There is a part in the last chapter where Catlyn explains that she tried to keep the narrative as true to herself as possible, including her vanity and maybe snobby attitude at times - I think this sentence would have done well in the first chapter to help provide more context. There were honestly times when I winced...
For example, the chapter dealing with the stripper who is obviously in an abusive relationship was problematic for me. It’s just black and white for Catlyn, and it hovers over being slightly judgmental, somewhat victim blaming. Yes, she states that she is lucky to never have been molested, abused, hit, but the part where she tries to hammer home that she is a fighter, strong, and was taught to “make good choices” is a naive and off-putting. There is no element of choice in being a victim. There was another spot where she talks about “manly men” who don’t dance. So only unmanly men dance?! A little weird!
Also, the timeline is a little wonky, which sometimes makes it a little tough to read. We learn about how she meets her husband in detail, and then in the next chapter she talks about telling a customer that she is going to be married and refers to her husband Gabe as “her spouse”. It just sounded a bit strange because as the reader we know his name is Gabe! I’m being slightly nitpicky here, but it just stood out to me.
All in all Strip is a good read, an interesting study of how one woman sees how feminism and stripping can coincide with each other. It would have been interesting to see Catlyn compare her personal experience to other women she worked with, or possibly to other women whose experience was starkly different. Maybe for the next book!
Strip will be published by John Hunt Publishing Ltd on June 29th, 2018. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy!