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Neon WastelandOn Love, Motherhood, and Sex Work in a Rust Belt Town$
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Susan Dewey

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520266902

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520266902.001.0001

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Calculating Risks, Surviving Danger

Calculating Risks, Surviving Danger

(p.130) Six Calculating Risks, Surviving Danger
Neon Wasteland

Susan Dewey

University of California Press

This chapter analyzes how dancers maintain themselves in Vixens fraught and often dangerous environment by developing a set of survival skills that draw upon broader cultural customs that exclude them while simultaneously offering seductive promises of quick income. It discusses the cultural model of risk that dancers employ in decision-making processes with clients and their reasons to leave sex work. Dancers interpret broader gendered principles of risk, fair exchange, and emotional labor on terms that help them justify their exploitative working conditions and social stigmatization. By discursively placing power and control in their own hands, dancers are able to see themselves as agents and entrepreneurs. At the same time, they remain attuned to the reality that their ability to take work-related risks would not last forever. Psychological trauma and emotional setbacks are other reasons for women who joined this profession out of financial necessity, to leave this work.

Keywords:   Vixens, survival skills, cultural customs, risk, gendered principles, social stigmatization

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