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Journal of Gender Studies





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The performance art of burlesque is gaining popularity in North American culture, but with many ‘neo-burlesque’ performers, critical reflection or commentary on the politics of female sexuality is glaringly absent or summarily dismissed. Neo-burlesque could be a feminist rewriting and reclaiming of a Western dance form, which showcased women simpering sexily for her audience. However, in order for neo-burlesque to have a feminist tone, it needs to do more than incorporate women of various ethnicities and body types to transcend patriarchal scripts of female sexuality. Some neo-burlesque includes disruptions of traditional scripts regarding female sexuality that demand the audience think about the complexities of desire, sexuality, and identity, often through a feminist lens. However, these critiques often do not go far enough in their interrogation of power structures and the politics of sexuality. This article makes the argument that the popularity of neo-burlesque in mainstream culture serves to oppress female sexuality in very traditional ways instead of what it purports to do: empower women to celebrate their sexuality through performance.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in [Journal of gender Studies] on [February 28, 2014], available online:

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.