CULTURE

Going to Strip Clubs Doesn't Make Dua Lipa Any Less Feminist

With #dualipaisoverparty trending on Twitter, we need to have a talk about strippers and sex worker rights.

In the age of an imperfect cancel culture, Twitter users have harnessed the power of hashtags to superfluous extremes, often at the expense of innocent stars.

This morning, #dualipaisoverparty began trending on Twitter, a response to a video that surfaced of the singer attending a strip club for a Grammys afterparty and throwing bills on twerking dancers—you know, what male rappers have been doing since the dawn of hip-hop. Lipa was criticized for perpetuating the oversexualization and objectification of women while proclaiming to be a feminist.

The origin of these #isoverparty hashtags is frequently attributed to K-pop fandom's futile attempts to "cancel" everyone but their idols, but bot accounts and the dense, virtue-signaling side of "fake woke Twitter" can also be credited for bolstering the virality of this kind of hashtag. In this case, Lipa's critics set a clear example of misdirected fake-wokeness, neglecting to consider the fact that sex workers and strippers are as deserving of respect as women in any other industry.

Cardi B, since taking the hip-hop limelight, has been open about her experience as a stripper. She's emphasized that she chose to go into sex work when she was of legal age to do so, and she was able to have fun while accruing enough money to go back to school. "It made me open my eyes about how people are, how men are, about hunger and passion and ambition," she explained.

When practiced safely, there are many pros to sex work for both sex workers and their clients—it can even contribute to aiding natural disasters. Cardi is just one example of how sex work, in its myriad of forms, has allowed many women to feel empowered, independent, and even allowed them to reclaim a degree of power. Criticizing Lipa for attending a strip club perpetuates the stigma that stripping and sex work isn't a valid profession, which further discourages governments from legalizing and regulating other forms of sex work like prostitution. Similar to abortion, criminalizing sex work doesn't make it go away—it just results in women resorting to much less safe and regulated ways of carrying it out. Though legality makes stripping and prostitution undoubtedly different, it's time we have an open mind about all forms of sex work and end the stigma.

"I find it interesting that as a medical doctor, I exchange payment in the form of money with people to provide them with advice and treatment for sex-related problems; therapy for sexual performance, counseling and therapy for relationship problems, and treatment of sexually transmitted infection," wrote Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng in an op-ed for Teen Vogue last year. "Isn't this basically sex work? I do not believe it is right or just that people who exchange sexual services for money are criminalized and I am not for what I do. Is a medical degree really the right measure of who is deserving of dignity, autonomy, safety in the work place, fair trade and freedom of employment? No. This should not be so. Those who engage in sex work deserve those things, too."

Dua Lipa isn't any less of a feminist for attending a strip club, and neither is anyone who chooses to safely and respectfully participate in sex work. For many women, sex work isn't just one option—it's their only option. We should respect the women who choose to go into that profession as much as any other, and let their clients mind their own business.

With the constant onslaught of complicated news that 2020 has brought, sometimes you just want to be able to shut off your brain, relax, and feel happy.

Enter comfort films. These are the feel-good movies that feel like a warm hug when you finish them, the ones that allow you to escape for a short while. We often turn to these types of films in times of trouble or extreme stress, and when we're not sure what films of this nature we should watch, we turn to the Internet for options.

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MUSIC

Thank You, Ariana: The Sweetener World Tour Graces New York City

Ariana Grande began the NYC leg of her world tour with an empowering celebration of her career.

Ariana Grande centering an eclipse.

Getty

On June 15th, Grande performed for the second night in a row at Barclays Center.

Before even stepping inside the venue, concert-goers were greeted by seven, pink balloon rings, each adorned with a different color gem to create a rainbow. The instagrammable set-up was intentional; for every picture posted with the hashtag #ArianaWithUS, T-Mobile would donate a dollar to the HRC in support of LGBTQ+ equality. Every person who took a picture in front of the balloons had to awkwardly grab their phones out of plastic bags, reminding everyone of the safe space they were entering. Grande enforced the clear bag policy to ensure everyone's safety after the attack at her Manchester show in 2017. Two years and two albums later, Grande chose to title her tour after her fourth album, Sweetener, instead of thank u, next. Transforming her pain into universally acclaimed creativity, Grande helped Sweetener become a balanced symbol of hope, weighing the dark with the light, the bitter with the sweet. Back in her natural element, the New York resident took the evening in stride— as if it were easy for her, even though she's disclosed how draining performing can now be.

The singing began off-stage, maybe to give Grande a moment to herself. Grande used that big voice of hers to introduce the event with "raindrops (an angel cried)." On stage, she broke into her transformative, compelling hit "God Is a Woman," recreating her iconic VMA's performance. On the vast stage, Grande was small and visually swallowed by her dancers. In contrast, her voice bellowed and washed over the crowd like a gust of wind and water so refreshing and revitalizing, you couldn't help but sit up. The personal songs were followed by the bangers. The simple stage design comprised of three spheres, which included visuals of the sun and moon, at times eclipsing one another. Meanwhile, the formal stage drew out into a semi-oval, so the performers could run and dance around the crowd. The schematic design placed her voice at the center of the show. Grande may be a pop star, but she's so much more, and in concert, she's in control. At times, one may not understand her mumbled cries of "I love you, New York!" but one doesn't have to in order to connect with the vulnerable star. She laid it bare on the stage for her fans to breathe and harmonize with her.

Unsurprisingly, the performer did not sing a couple of thank u, next's standout tracks. Prior to kicking off the tour, Grande revealed that she would not sing the ultra personal, devastating "ghostin." To the disappointment of some, the equally private and complicated "in my head" was instead used as a transition between performances. The exclusion of the two songs felt like a line drawn—Ariana Grande has boundaries now.

That doesn't mean she didn't end the night by tearing down every wall she could to try and let her fans in. Grande exquisitely ended the evening with "no tears left to cry," prancing around with an umbrella, referencing "Singin' in the Rain." When the hopeful, cathartic banger ended, the audience knew she couldn't leave without performing her iconic "thank u next."

The audience clapped and cheered for the encore they knew was coming. The encore began with a montage of the social media frenzy that surrounded the personal events that inspired "thank u, next." With supportive female singers on each side, she sang—for the first time that evening—like it wasn't easy. From her discography, "no tears left to cry" and "thank u next" are the most revelatory; the career-defining tracks were both born from the trials of love and loss. To follow one with the other was genius and pivotal.

Towards the end of "thank u, next," the male performers joined the women on stage, parading around with pride flags, waving them in unison—symbolically concluding this chapter of Ariana's career. Still recovering from the trauma of the terrorist attack in Manchester and the unexpected death of Mac Miller, the pop star's finale shone with hope and ended on a lasting, powerful "ye."