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.
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Dear Transit Tammy,
Theres this guy. Lets call him Smyft. He says he wants to be with me, which: Yay! Ive been the cat lady of public transit services for as long as I can remember. OK, Im a little run down. My infrastructure is old, and I can be bit flaky, not showing up as frequently as Ive promised. And then here comes this amazing guy
Smyft has promised me a lot. He says hell help fill my gaps in service. Im a small transit agency, and I dont have the wherewithal to get moving at night. Smyft does! Hell provide the labor. Hell provide the vehicles. For a price, everyone in my citycan have fast, reliable transit service, even people whodont own a car.
But Tammy, Ive heard the horror stories. Private mobility guys like Smyft, his brother, SUber, and his cousin, SCar2Go,promise a lot, but theyre not always into sharing—like, data sharing. My job is to help everyone get around, but his is to make money. Tammy, how do I make sure Im not beingused?
– (Nervously) Moving Toward Ardor
Worry not. Youre not the only (aging, struggling) lady with severalsexy new options. Its scary, but transit agencies acrossthe country are taking the leap. In March, par exemple,Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority in Floridastarted covering half the cost of a local Uber—er, SUber—ride, up to $3 per trip. Not too expensive, right? Even little agency like you could handle that kind of low-stakes partnership.
But you dont want to get your heart broken. You’re right to be nervous, because companies like Smyft can be after theaffluentconsumerswho can afford smartphones and a travel splurge. And theycan getcompetitive, too. Some research shows that people sometimes choose between transit and rideshare—andtransit loses.
But the costs of waiting this one out are big.Just today, in fact, the public transit research and advocacy group TransitCenter releaseda report for girls (and guys) in exactly your situation. Itsmain message:Suitors like Smyft may be almost too hot to believe, but they can be great potential partners, ready for real commitment.
So here’s a very quick guide to making sure you, sweet MTA, don’t get hurt.
When you’re approached—or approaching!—a ride-share, ride-hail, or bikeshare company, think of itas a big opportunity. Let’s face it, MTA. Sometimes you’re a stick in the mud. It takes a long time to set up your contracts, and you’rebound by regulations that might not make sense anymore. “We cant maintain this type of process in our procurement and stay nimble,” saysLisa Walton, CTO at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Think of Smyft’s overtures as an excuse to look at your internal rules and decide if they’re meant for this century.
Stick up for yourself, lady! Lean in! You might have a different priorities than your new beau. He’s interested in proprietary secrets; you need to know how many people are traveling downtown, and when. He’s into idling in your bike lanes and taking up all your parking spots; you have other friends who need a bit of parking time, too. Luckily, you have some leverage. The TransitCenter report puts it this way: “Who run the world/ Girls.”
Wait, no—sorry. Actually what itsaid is, “The public sector controls valuable assets, like parking spaces and street right-of-way, that can be used to negotiate for contracted services, access to dataor equitable geographic coverage, for example.” You need open data to make sure this relationship is working, and equitable service for everyone in your area because, well, that’s your job.You have a lot of power, so trade on what you’vegot.
Big buses and long trains are great, and they’ve still got it going on. But it might be that a smaller vehicle, or one that serves on demand, is a better fit for afternoons and late nights, when there are fewer commuters. Maybe what works for your transit agency isn’t a great fit for big city down the road. There are many models, and room to try them all.
Just remember to set boundaries. “If municipal governments and transit agencies are proactive about settings the terms of these relationships,” saysZak Accuardi, a TransitCenter program analyst,“they can put the protections in place that can avoid pitfalls”—like tussles with your friends the unions, or putting people in cars with unsafe drivers.Stay true to you.
You got this, MTA. Be brave.Continue reading
Things are getting back on track for YouTube in Pakistan. Months after the country lifted its three-year-old ban on the site, people have once again begun turning to Googles video service for consuming and creating videos.
Pakistanis are now spending substantially more time on YouTube than they were in January, the company told Mashable India. Google says the watch-time of YouTube has more than doubled in eight months. Pakistan government had banned YouTube in late 2012 after it found an anti-Islam video circulating on the video portal. The ban was eventually lifted earlier this January.
Much like India, Pakistan is an important place for Google. Unsurprisingly, both neighboring countries share a similar challenge for the company – low Internet penetration. Earlier this week, Google outlined its plans on how it intends to improve its services for Indians. Today it made two important announcements for Pakistan.
Google says users in Pakistan too can now save certain videos for offline usage. This feature has been particularly popular in emerging countries where many face connectivity issues. Through this, a user can go to YouTube app (on Android as well as iOS), and save a video for later viewing. The video will be with them for 48 hours after downloading it.
We are delighted to launch this new offline experience on YouTube with some of the top Pakistani players in entertainment. By making these popular videos available for temporary offline viewing, our partners will help fans connect more easily with their favorite content, while also helping bring more viewers to their videos, said Tania Aidrus, Head of Business Development, Next Billion Users team at Google Asia Pacific.
But more importantly, Google is also looking at YouTube creators for growth. To make the deal sweeter for them, it is bringing YouTube Partner Program to Pakistan. This will allow video creators in the country to make money for their original work.
Pakistani rapper says YouTube has been his only glimmer of hope.
This is particularly an exciting development for artists in Pakistan. The country’s entertainment industry is fairly small, which makes YouTube the biggest platform for many artists to showcase their work. Popular Pakistani rapper and comedian Ali Gul Pir explains the matter to Mashable India: YouTube for Pakistan before the ban was a glimmer of hope as we did not even have a single record label in the country. So musicians and artists only had YouTube and that’s where I released my first song as well.”
“It got over 3 million views. It made my career but then YouTube was banned and we were back to zero. I still made content but we would use Twitter and Facebook to show the work, and frankly that didn’t work well because those platforms are not made for content creators,” he added.
Google says any Pakistani creator even if they have only one original video can become a Partner and start making money. These partners will be able to run ads against their videos. YouTube splits the revenue generated by those ads, and pays its partners.Continue reading
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Silicon Valley has been lampooned as the place where entrepreneurs like to declare theyre making the world a better place when theyre actually just trying to make money. But now a new, nonpartisan initiative called Debug Politics is encouraging the tech industry to live up to the catchphrase by helping to fix the political system.
Jesse Pickard, CEO of brain training app Elevate, told me that after the presidential election, he and the other organizers of Debug Politics were discussing their frustrations and their desire to get more involved in the political process.
We dont think we are the only ones that can fix the situation, or that we will save the world in a weekend, Pickard said. However, they felt the tech community can and should be engaged in things that are about more than monetary gain.
(I should mention that thanks to the magic of Craigslist Pickard was my roommate for about a year when I was first starting at TechCrunch.)
Specifically, Debug Politics is organizing a hackathon this weekend in San Francisco, followed by events in New York, Los Angeles and another in SF. Attendees (who could be developers, designers, marketers and others) are encouraged to figure out one thing that youre dissatisfied with in the 2016 election cycle and build something to fix it whether thats something that could help a particular candidate in 2018, or could address broader issues like the divide between rural and urban voters.
When I suggested that many of our political problems may not be fixable by a tech product, Pickard didnt disagree, but he suggested, Everyone has a different set of skills. What the tech community can do effectively is build products that can quickly affect people at scale.
He was also sensitive to the perception that folks in the tech industry might be presumptuous in thinking they know better than the people and organizations whove spent years dealing with these problems.
Another thing that Debug Politics also really encourages is not reinventing the wheel, he said. If there are groups that are potentially tackling the problem in a way thats very aligned with you, we encourage peopleto reach out to those groups.
To be clear, theres no formal organization here, just a group of friends and peers putting together some events. But its still very early days in an effort that could grow.
I might have a different answer for you in a couple of weeks, Pickard said.Continue reading