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Women of the Strip: A Gendered History of Las Vegas

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Item Summary

Title: Women of the Strip: A Gendered History of Las Vegas
Authors: Dunston, Darlene B.
Advisor: Henriksen, Margo A
Issue Date: Dec 2002
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: This thesis offers a gendered history of Las Vegas. It does so by investigating the histories of women workers in Las Vegas, especially showgirls, cocktail waitresses, and casino card dealers. It also does so by exposing the masculine political economy of Las Vegas that restricted women to the realm of sex workers or rendered them invisible in histories of Las Vegas. Showgirls and cocktail waitresses were shadowed by the image of sex and prostitution for decades. In contrast, female blackjack dealers had to divorce themselves from sexuality in order to gain employment in a field with direct male competition. Women in Las Vegas had to learn to live between sexual extremes and to inhabit what one scholar termed their "liminal space" in Las Vegas. In doing so, though, they experienced a real sort of financial empowerment and a real sense of liberation, particularly when viewed in the context of the larger American culture and society, These women were sexual outlaws, often breaking barriers firmly in place for women elsewhere in America. It is argued here that the threat posed by female sexuality was acknowledged by a masculinized Las Vegas in two ways: by reducing women to what men saw as the demeaning roles of "strippers and prostitutes," and by outlawing female sexuality when it directly competed with masculine employment, as in casino card dealing. Women in Las Vegas, however, also used their bodies-both by exposing and concealing them-to survive and prosper in Las Vegas, and to become a significant part of the city's history.
Description: vii, 118 leaves
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:M.A. - History
M.A. - History

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