“Show Girls”: Words that Carry Meanings of Misogyny

By Jeanne Sarson | Oct 3, 2011

Every September morning that Linda and I walked down heavily worn thick stone steps of the hostel that housed our six day stay in Poland, I wondered about the peoples whose ancient footsteps had carved such indented pathways that now led us onto the Polish streets. Sadly, I left Poland never being able to discover their stories. I did, however, leave with other thoughts, triggered by the sign that greeted Linda and I every morning. A sign that advertized “Show Girls”, with a string of blinking red lights that were turned on to match the notice that hung on the door, “Open from 3 p.m. until 5 a.m.” Once, I saw a middle aged woman sweeping the steps with a hand-held brush and dust pan and a 40ish aged man standing in the doorway talking on his cell phone. I wondered about their motivations as I peered through their open door into a pleasant appearing foyer with its pale blue mat on a clean wooden floor and stripped whitish wallpaper that led from the doorway to two comfy chairs separated by a small corner table on which sat a tall green wispy plant accented by a soft light. A pale blue grey coach provided additional seating room for those who decided to walk through the doorway.

For me, this door, the blinking red lights and the words “Show Girls” were symbols that expressed socially constructed misogynistic meaning. Consulting a dictionary it tells me, for example, that ‘words’ consist of elements of speech, a remark, a password. From this brief list of meanings I’ll select ‘password’ because the sign ““Show Girls” is just that—a password into the global patriarchal gendered oppression that is filled with misogynistic objectification and sexualized comodification of women, of women being referred to as girls, and of girls.

Although I wondered about the history, or maybe it was herstory, that made deep indents on the stone steps of the hostel, I did not wonder about the woman and man I saw in the “Show Girls” doorway. From my perspective they were participants—reinforcers—of the systematic global patriarchal misogynistic oppression. I use the word reinforcers because I do not have knowledge that would permit me to identify them as human traffickers because maybe their activities do not fit the meaning definition of human trafficking. Which the UN Protocol defines, for example, as those who recruit, transport, transfer, harbour or receipt vulnerable persons using threats, force, coercion, abduction, deception, control and/or abuse of power for the purpose of exploiting vulnerable ‘others’. Obviously the words “Show Girls” express a global misogynistic activity given that the words “Show Girls” were in English, not Polish.

In this case, the socially constructed attitudes of patriarchal gendered misogynistic oppression were flashing in bright red lights to all who passed. Regardless of nationality or gender, adult or child, the message was clear—misogynistic objectification and sexualized comodification of women/girls is a global main streets agenda. Its eradication is an ever present challenge. Refusing to be silent, blogging permits me—grants me—the privilege to have a global voice of resistance so I express my resistance by refusing to ‘forget’ the “Show Girls” sign and its global meaning of gendered oppression and comodification.


Latest Posts