Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Dr. Kathy J. Kuipers

Commitee Members

Dr. Jackson Bunch, Dr. Elizabeth Hubble


Exotic Dancers, Identity Theory, Overcompensation, Social Identity Theory, Womanhood, Motherhood


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Gender and Sexuality | Social Psychology and Interaction


In this paper I examine the work of exotic dancers in the Rocky Mountain West, focusing on their identities, identity conflict, identity threat, and overcompensation. In over twelve hours of recorded interviews, I asked ten exotic dancers working in Montana about their work, families, and communities as well as their perceptions of themselves and their work. I found that this marginalized group that resides in places that have rural characteristics, often face identity threat because their identities are known within their communities. The identity threat arises as a result of expectations and stereotypes of dancers, and in order to deal with this threat, the informants relied on overcompensation. The informants overcompensated in a myriad of ways that included costuming, exhibiting anger, creating a tough outer exterior, and drug and alcohol use.



© Copyright 2018 Phoenicia S. Sweeney-Summers