These boots were made for walkin’

Freedom is a funny word in the current American English lexicon. There are different definitions and ways it is applied: freedom fighters, freedom fries, Freedom Williams (that guy from C&C Music Factory). The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “the condition of being free or unrestricted.”

However, the application of “freedom” is easily blurred, especially in everyday life. Take, for example, the recent Park Blocks auditions for Liquid Lollipop Labs go-go dancers. The women involved in both the auditions and the performances should be able to do as they choose without being labeled or judged unchaste or immoral.

Feminists have fought for many decades for the freedom of women to do as they choose. This is a case where those who believe it is objectifying women are uninformed.

The difference between go-go dancers and exotic dancers or prostitutes is that go-go dancers wear clothes and don’t need to work for tips from a predominantly male clientele. If you have gone to a dance club, you probably have seen go-go dancers and dismissed them as part of the scenery.

They can be quite a change of pace for the city with the most strip clubs per capita.

The somewhat vague distinction between professional dancing and exotic dancing is swayed by a lack of any teaching in the subject. People are taught that women dancing professionally are automatically strippers or prostitutes.

A look back at the evolution of go-go might help to clarify the difference.

The advent and peak of go-go dancers came in the 1960s with icons like Nancy Sinatra and shows like “American Bandstand.” I’m sure that conservative parents in the 1960s were worried that their children were being subjected to evil behavior, but many teenagers of the time were rebellious and didn’t seem to care.

The 1970s brought along disco and “Soul Train,” with dancers similar to go-go dancers. As a kid watching “Solid Gold,” I never felt the need to compare those dancers to strippers or prostitutes, regardless of several unstylish outfits in unsavory colors. In fact, it was empowering to see both females and males dance without partners in an open, liberated fashion. It’s not just a coincidence that disco occurred during both the height of the feminist movement and the sexual revolution.

The 1980s brought us Madonna, and the 1990s brought us Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, the dirtiest of them all. Pop music and MTV slowly made go-go dancing shows obsolete, with the exception of Spring Break shows. Professional dancing has become frowned upon because of negative connotations brought by exotic or suggestive video dancing.

There are broad lines for feminists between the acceptance and denial of stripping as an empowerment activity. Some women believe that dancing topless or completely nude for tips from men is a shameful and degrading occupation, while others see it as a strong role reversal.

This dispute and the distinction between strippers and go-go dancers were the biggest issue behind the stir surrounding the go-go dancers recruiting and performing on campus.

Observers blurred the idea of strippers with that of go-go dancers and automatically assumed that they were the same. This could be explained by the disregard of go-go dancing as an occupation. The heyday of go-go dancers has somewhat disappeared because of their acceptance in society and the disappearance of dance clubs and discotheques.

In the last few decades, some feminists have taken the stance that exotic dancing can be an empowering activity. Many females in college strip to supplement their low income. Living on a low budget as a college student is difficult. Sometimes you have to make ends meet to buy that beer at the end of finals, the first season DVD of “ALF” or new songs for your iPod. It is refreshing to see that there is a different outlet besides stripping for female dancers

Freedom gives us the power to do what we choose and be unrestricted, with certain laws abiding. Early champions of feminism and gender role reversal (as well as Kevin Bacon in “Footloose”) would be proud that both women and men are able to dance freely without being judged. We should embrace that idea, and not one that states all women who dance professionally are whores.

Britt Baca-Hochhausler can be reached at [email protected]