250358 Neighborhood strip club: Occupational health in one segment of Portland, Oregon's adult entertainment industry

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Moriah McSharry McGrath, MPH, MSUP , School of Urban Studies and Planning, Portland State University, Portland, OR
Background and Objective: Exotic dancers, who perform nude in strip clubs, face distinctive physical and psychological hazards of their jobs. This vulnerability is exacerbated by the fact that they receive no wage and are not entitled to fringe benefits or labor protections. Portland, Oregon presents a valuable opportunity to study how factors at the metropolitan, neighborhood, and workplace level influence these hazards because unique land use laws have contributed to a proliferation of sexually oriented businesses throughout the city. Methods: In-depth interviews with exotic dancers, club owners, and clubs' neighbors and a review of documents including police reports, ballot measures, and media coverage. Results: The stigma of sexually oriented businesses is relatively low in Portland, yet exotic dancers' work experience is characterized by interpersonal and economic volatility. The exotic dancer workforce is comprised of young women with limited opportunity and experience in the formal labor market. They fear asserting their limited rights because of the potential to lose their source of income; their position is especially precarious because the high local tolerance for strip clubs lowers the social barriers to entry for replacement workers. Conclusion: Even when sexually oriented businesses are well tolerated by the local community, exotic dancers constitute a marginal workforce whose employers are not subject to any occupational health oversight. The failure to regulate conditions in strip clubs delegitimizes the work of exotic dancers and inhibits them from advocating for their interests. Such regulation is increasingly important as the sex industry expands in Portland and worldwide.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
* explain the occupational hazards of working as an exotic dancer * discuss how local political, cultural, and legal factors affect the workplace experience of exotic dancers

Keywords: Occupational Health, Sexuality

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am conducting the study being discussed and have graduate training in public health and urban planning.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.