So youre a feminist, ey? You tell your kids that girls and boys are equal? That little ladies can grow up to be firefighters and astronauts, that boys can play with dolls and paint their nails? Thats a good start, but the bare minimum a decent adult can do in the year 2017. With a rising oligarchy on our hands, it is time that women and minorities and working class people begin supporting each other. A society is stronger when it is less divided, and we can mend our societal rifts by deeply examining which attitudes reinforce oppression and harm. We can each do our part, and Im here as a feminist sex worker to tell you that the normalization of sex worker abuse by American women contributes to the abuse of all women.
Heres the thing: feminism isnt as simple as reblogging the cutest Tumblr Yas Queen inspos, or buying Male Tears coffee mugs. To support equality of all people, despite their gender, race and class, its vital that you put your money where your mouth is and I dont mean between your teeth at my stripper stage.
How do you feel about sex work? If youre inclusive in your feminism you understand that everyone should be born with full ownership of their body and their time. I appreciate you, and you need read no further! But for the American women who hashtag their pole classes with #notastripper, or who still think that strippers are funny as the butt of a Tina Fey joke, youve got a long way to go, baby.
For women who still think that strippers should remain the butt of a Tina Fey joke, youve got a long way to go, baby.
It was mid-March this year, 2017. I was stepping onto the strip club floor, in the first minutes of my Tuesday evening shift. As of this writing, I celebrate my eighth year at this club. I scanned the crowd, taking the temperature of what kind of reception I could expect. Would the audience be gracious and kind? Stingy and sexist? Entitled and arrogant? I discover this by interacting, but first I study.
It was early, and the crowd was sparse. A few men pushed limes into their beer bottles, someone tap, tap, tapped at the video poker machine in the corner. The bartender shuffled ice. The other night-shift strippers trotted up the dressing room stairs, selecting their music at the DJ station, stretching their calves and running fingers through their hair.
A woman with a pink hat stared pointedly at the stage. She was wearing a pink hat, but not any pink hat. A conspicuous, knitted, cat-eared hat that I recognized from the historic January 21st Womens March. She sat close to the bar, her head resting on her fist and her eyes fixed on the naked woman spinning upside-down.
In front of Pink Hat was a plate of half eaten pasta and some fries. Her drink was scarcely colored, the ice but little pebbles in the glass she had been there for some time. Two men in worn, dusty hats and Carharts clapped loudly and pushed a few more dollars across the metal stage we call the rack. It was my turn on stage.
Hey, did Pink Hat Lady tip you? I whispered into my co-workers hair as she brushed past me to leave the stage. She paused, without raising her eyes to betray my inquiry, No, just stared the whole time. Shes been here for two hours. Great. Taking a deep breath for patience, I trotted across the stage in my stripper sneakers and my onesie, smiling big for the two blue-collared boys who were already laying bucks on the rack.
I once heard, I dont have to tip you, I have a vagina too! from a female non-customer. Akin to, Im a gynecologist, so I dont need to pay money to see pussies! its one of the most insulting and entitled attitudes that adult entertainers commonly encounter. Strippers love female customers, we are way better than gross sweaty men, is a lie that some women actually believe. No girl, we dont. When you come to work to make money, you prefer customers who are actually willing to exchange currency for labor. All women participate in emotional labor for free, and I cant imagine stepping foot into a venue where women work for tips [only] and feeling entitled to give them literally zero for their efforts. Shit, I tip my barista 50% and she screws up the latte like ten percent of the time.
American culture is so deeply entrenched in a misogyny that encourages slutshaming, whorephobia and victim-blaming, that the perpetrators are of all genders. Women are no less hateful of sex workers, and permissive of their abuse, than men. In my decade of immersion in the World of Whoredom, American men and women both have treated sex workers like shit. There is no difference between the hatred I receive via online comments, insufferably ignorant conversations with strangers in public or the number of women that I have watched lose contact with their families due to their jobs.
The hashtag #strippershatemebecause was an attempted Twitter-troll campaign encouraging and making light of physical abuse. Examples include: #strippershatemebecause I dont throw cash, I throw rocks or #strippershatemebecause I kill them after Im done raping them.
Jacqs message never falters: People in all walks of life use their bodies, their emotions, and their time in the pursuit of currency.
Indeed, Pink Hat sat for three more hours, sipping her drink, never once leaving her seat, and never once tipping me nor any of the other hard-dancing ladies. Her pink hat perched upon her head, like a crown celebrating the hypocrisy of fauxminism. I would rather be tipped by a sweaty, swearing trucker than break my back for nothing for a smirking woman. Ive been groped and insulted by as many cis-women as I have by cis-men, which is an alarming rate of female on female victimization, considering that female clients are a quarter of my patronage.
Always look over your shoulder, or in the mirror, when you bend over, I told the wide eyed newbie, after a female audience member shoved a dollar between Newbies labia. People will assault you in front of others, because they think its okay, because theyve been raised to believe that we are accepting of abuse.
Ive been groped and insulted by as many cis-women as I have by cis-men, which is an alarming rate of female on female victimization.
The DJ looked on, and I turned to him, Im not trying to scare her! But she needs to know, people will enter in to this venue specifically to abuse you.
Newbie chewed this over, her neatly tweezed eyebrows furrowing together. I could get an infection from that dollar
According to many so-called feminists, Im part of the problem. Attitudes of fake concern over womens welfare and safety are linked to Puritan attitudes on sex and its commodification. Im sick of hearing from affluent women who have never in their life spoken with an out sex worker. I hate to break it to you, but Tina Fey and Lena Dunham are not feminist icons. They perpetuate dismissive ignorance about sex workers, thus supporting stigma that reinforces harm against sex workers.
You simply dont need to shit on women for making a choice that you didnt.
Keeping sex work and adult entertainment illegal does what Prohibition did for alcohol; gangsters ran the streets and moonshine reigned king. The War on Drugs did not remove drugs from the streets, but rather locked up two generations of poor people, primarily Black and Hispanic/Latino. Similarly, atleast one third of female prisoners have engaged in sex work at one time, and their lifetime of incarceration and recidivism is partly due to belief that there is something inherently wrong with trading cash for certain types of touch. If you want to prevent separating families and stop this oppression of women, you must lend a hand to lift em up, or at least stay out of their hair.
If you want to fight actual trafficking, support legislation that decriminalizes it. Last month, California Democrats made waves with a bill that no longer allows police to arrest minors suspected of soliciting sex. Thats right, sexually trafficked children can no longer be cuffed, but are rather offered resources and options to leave their pimp. In 2015, I lobbied for Oregons HB1359, which established an anonymous hotline for live entertainers (aka strippers) to report workplace grievances, or seek resources for filing taxes or acquiring healthcare.
If you want to help pornstars, stop re-blogging stolen porn on Tumblr. Dont buy or support porn with known rapists like James Deen or Chico Wang.
Sex workers and adult entertainers are tired of defending their livelihood. Exploitation is a heavy word to toss around, especially when the victims own feelings about their experience are entirely disregarded. If you want to help women, help those who are truly in need. The real voices of capitalism and commercialism are unheard, in agricultural fields, in sweatshops, and in kitchens. More women face sexual violence in their own home than in a strip club, how are you proactive against domestic violence? Boys will be boys is the poison pill that so many of us prescribed: shut up and take your medicine and swallow the blame, whore. And besides, some of these so-called arguments are moronic.