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Gender Roles In The Movie Showgirls

Showgirls is a definite backlash to the typical woman’s role in
society. It is very interesting to me that a movie with this message is
set in a normally deviant setting, when it is trying to portray the
strength of a woman. I feel this is the reason that many woman did not
see the film. They are offended, disgusted, and maybe even a little
jealous of strippers.

Strippers are able to be in control of the customers at all
times. They have the power to switch the standard gender roles. For a
moment, I thought differently when Nomi was forced to give a lap dance,
but she turned the situation around when she gained part control over
Crystal’s man.

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I admire the character Nomi for her strong will, but I am also
disgusted by her. She uses every single woman stereotype to get her
way. She flirts constantly, wears skimpy or no clothing, she sleeps with
Crystal’s man as a retaliation toward a woman who has more prestige than
herself, and many times during the movie she showed a definite fake lack
of intelligence around the opposite sex.
I was also offended that every single scene with two woman in it
was filled with so many lesbian connotations. During scenes with Nomi
and Molly, Nomi was batting her eyelashes constantly at Molly. She even
came on to Crystal at times to try and gain power in the dance world. It
was not relatable to anyone at all, except for perhaps the Las Vegas
dancers who have experienced this type of life.

The men in Showgirls definitely had control over the women. There
was no reversal in standard gender roles in these clubs. The men even
acted stereotypically in revelling in their overpowerment of the norm.

Also, besides the instance when Nomi beats up the rock star, men use and
abuse their status over these scantily clad women throughout the movie.

Nomi tried to gain control in certain situations by seducing the
people she wanted to have power over, but they always turned around and
Knocked her back down to her stereotypical deviant status. Also, when
the rock star was part of a gang rape with Molly as the vicim, no one
even thought of calling the police. The men patted Nomi on the head and
told her they would get Molly enough money to start a shop instead of
acknowledging Molly’s feelings in this life shattering event. Yet, when
Nomi did seek revenge for Molly’s rape, she had to leave and give up her

The gender roles in Showgirls are all very stereotypical. The
women are beautiful, young and barely dressed. The men are suave and
handsome with controll over everything. It was a powerful film about a
woman’s fight against society, but view viewers are going to notice the
message because of the context it was filmed in. Many teenage boys
watched Showgirls over and over again. They saw only the sexy dancers
and the sex scenes, they didn’t even look for a deeper message. In that
sense, I feel the writers failed in portraying a woman’s struggle in
society in a relatable fashion. They put too much concentration into the
naked dancers and the sexual tension. Therefore, if the writers were
trying to portray the women’s plight so that men can understand it, they
failed miserably. Give men a movie with exotic dancers and they will
say, “What plot?” Women can appreciate Nomi’s struggle and even
sympathize with her at times if they ever get bored enough to
demean themselves and rent the movie with the naked woman on the cover.

Neely Vacura
Sociology 101
University of South Dakota. USA


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