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Pornography, Rape and Sexual Assault, Women's Bodies

“No One Should Have to Be a Stripper”

Women helped by Monique's organization; Monique is the woman in the center, back row.

On the treadmill at the gym today I read a really good and fascinating article* written by a young woman who had been a stripper for years, hated it, ultimately left stripping and now runs an organization created to support women I’ll call “exiting” strippers (sort of like “exiting” cult members; based on the reading I’ve done, there are quite a few comparisons which can be made in terms of what insiders suffer while they are inside,  whether they are stripping or in a cult, and what they suffer when they exit).

p1_stripclub1.jpeg

The young woman who wrote the article, who went by the stripper name “Monique,” was raised by a well-meaning, but, it sounds like, a mostly struggling, poor, preoccupied, and  — for many years — cocaine-addicted single mother.   She was molested by older boys and men as a child and got into trouble as a teenager, finally moving in with an older man who didn’t contribute much financially to the household and who mistreated her.  When she got in over her head in debt and financial obligations, someone suggested stripping to her.  She was tempted but went to several adults whom she hoped, actually, would talk her out of it.  None did.  A male teacher she respected reassured her that stripping didn’t need to go on her resume.   Of course this guy later showed up to check her out in the club once she finally took a job stripping.   She continued to go to college while she was stripping, unlike the other strippers, of whom she said:

They were aspiring actresses, students and single moms.  Some were drug or alcohol addicts, others used drugs just to help them get through a shift at work.  Most … had given up their ambitions oustide of stripping… My friends were not happy women.

The article describes some of Monique’s experiences as a stripper:

[She] did her best to maintain her dignity.  When a man started throwing stacks of dollar bills on the stage, she realized “he was getting off on seeing the women crawling all over the floor to pick the money up.”  When it was her turn… she refused to bend; he kept throwing more.  “At the end of my dance I asked someone to bring me a broom; I swept it all into a garbage bag and left.”  She’d snagged $800 in singles– all from that one man.

Men propositioned her almost every night.  “I told them if they wanted a hooker they should go to Sunset Boulevard.  I’d say it loud to humiliate them because I felt humiliated. ”  Sometimes she had to get aggressive when customers groped her.  Once a man licked her body … she beat him on the head with her shoe.  Another time as she danced, a man yelled, “Come here and bend over, b****.”  She flicked her foot and tipped his drink onto his lap; when he cursed at her, she punched him in the face.

But beneath her toughness was a despondent woman.  While the other girls danced to loud, fast songs, [she] chose sad cuts by Erykah Badu, Sade and especially, Rickie Lee Jones, whose forlorn, streetwise air she identified with.  [She] remembers the lyrics of one song she performed to, “It’s OK, it’s not that bad,” and the irony of the words rang true for her.  It wasn’t  OK… She was in a state of almost constant dissociation– “it was like taking a Vicodin; I was numb all over” — and she was stuck… There was always some financial emergency, always a reason not to quit.

…Once … she invited her mother to the club and got a supportive response.  “Mom told me I brought art into dancing.” …

[Older dancers] often had bad plastic surgery and [would] have to have sex with customers because they weren’t in demand as dancers.  They’d put a tablecloth over their lap and let a man put it in.

Monique made a decision to leave stripping after attending an evangelical church meeting.  She describes having had a sort of epiphany when she realized she had told herself she would only strip for a couple of months, but in fact, she had by then been stripping for three years.  The next morning she quit her job and left her boyfriend.

She went on to get her degree and became involved in the church, meeting and marrying a young man she met there.   She went to Mozambique with a church group and volunteered at an orphanage for a month.  When she returned, she enrolled in the social work program at UCLA (paid for by scholarships).  As part of a research product, she studied the lives of prostituted women and strippers and learned they suffered high rates of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, drug addiction and depression.  She hatched a plan to fill and deliver gift bags, donated by cosmetics companies, to women in various strip clubs around Los Angeles and Las Vegas.  Inside the bags she included literature which didn’t pressure women to quit, but which offered stories of women who had quit as well as a hotline strippers could call 24/7.    She befriended bouncers, telling them she was part of a strippers’ support group and asking whether she could give the strippers the bags, telling the bouncers she had once been a stripper herself. 

The calls began to trickle in on the 1-800 line.  Monique would listen, paying attention to women’s specific needs and referring them to other resources if necessary.  She sought out alcohol and drug abuse treatment programs to which she could refer the strippers and sent sexually and physically abused dancers to organizations which could help them. 

Her organization started with a budget of zero but now operates with a $10,000 grant and with the help of 100 volunteers.   The office is located in Monique’s home; by day she works as a social worker; evenings and weekends she works with exiting strippers.  Volunteers accompany the women to their first drug or alcohol abuse counseling sessions, assist with resumes and job referrals, and if necessary, meet with them, even in the middle of the night, if they need to talk.   The organization is now receiving calls from women leaving the porn industry as well as strippers.

What strikes me in particular about this amazing and encouraging story is:

  • Monique repeatedly sought out trusted adults who she hoped would talk her out of stripping, and none did, not even her mother.  One asshole, of course, showed up to watch.
  • It was becoming part of a religious community which provided her with the material and social support she needed to quit.

What I take from this is, we should not hesitate to offer our strong, radical feminist, anti-prostitution, anti-stripping opinions to girls and women who ask for them.  The men and women who encouraged Monique to strip did her no favors. 

Then, following on that idea — since I’m betting Monique not only would have liked to be discouraged from stripping but also would have liked ideas and support in solving her financial and other problems —  I wonder how many young women, heck, old women, involved in prostitution, pornography or stripping might leave that work if they could find ongoing support in the form of women’s community.  It’s so disheartening and unfortunate that the kind of support women need in these situations is readily available only in evangelical churches, thinking now of material help, ongoing, enthusiastic support, counseling, child care,  service opportunities, and a ready-made circle of friends.   Without this kind of support, how are women to get free, build new lives?  And how many women might get free if there were communities of women to which they could turn, like this one Monique began, but without connections to conservative religion? 

Last year at Michfest I facilitated an intensive workshop on creating intentional women’s communities.  I urged the women in my workshops to create communities right where they were, in their own homes or apartments, or at the library or in the park, in the summertime, on some basis, even if they could only open their homes for one afternoon or evening a month.   I challenged them to begin making the kind of connections which ultimately might result in women finding the strength they need to leave destructive relationships, habits, and behaviors behind. I truly believe that if, as women, we are to move beyond our outrage over the degradation and dehumanization of, not only prostitution and stripping, but over all of the indignities women suffer because they are poor, disabled, single mothers, underemployed or unemployed, old and alone, and on to making revolution in women’s lives, we have to begin at home, begin small, with the creation of women’s communities to which girls and women can turn — grass roots communities, networked for support.  If we can begin to create these connections right in our own homes, with zero money, as Monique did, then prostituted women and struggling women everywhere might find themselves with choices beyond prostitution, beyond marrying a man, and beyond becoming a church member.

I find this story inspiring and encouraging, and yet I wonder whether women can create the kind of solidarity we would need to offer real support to exiting prostituted women with no motivation other than that we care for women and want them to be free.  The work begins with the idea, and so I offer the idea.

*  The article I read is in the January 2007 issue of Glamour Magazine.  (!)  I hadn’t read Glamour since I was in my 30s or so and was pleasantly surprised; there were articles on diet but which emphasized health and eating well and which featured photos of women of all sizes who were unapologetic about their weight, on rape, on how a woman responded to white supremacists when they moved in next door, on the lives of Muslim women, and this article on leaving stripping.  I picked the magazine up because there was nothing else interesting in the basket at the gym and was glad I did.

Heart

Discussion

29 thoughts on ““No One Should Have to Be a Stripper”

  1. Men propositioned her almost every night. “I told them if they wanted a hooker they should go to Sunset Boulevard. I’d say it loud to humiliate them because I felt humiliated. ” Sometimes she had to get aggressive when customers groped her. Once a man licked her body … she beat him on the head with her shoe. Another time as she danced, a man yelled, “Come here and bend over, b****.” She flicked her foot and tipped his drink onto his lap; when he cursed at her, she punched him in the face.

    I will probably be booed off stage for this but I have a hard time believing stories like this one. Reason being I have a friend, a good friend who was a stripper. She got a champagne bottle broken over her head by another stripper going on six years ago now. To this day she has to fight over worker’s compensation for the care she needs stemming from the brain injury she received. She is raw, brutally honest, and her story makes it very hard to believe that a stripper can self govern at the level this person did. There are club owners, club managers who are men who would not allow her to “disrespect” men this blatantly. I’m not saying she had sex with them because I do think one can strip and not prostitute, however, beating him on the head and spilling drinks in his laps and cursing and punching him, I find hard to believe because inside a strip bar would seem like a place where men are safe, where men’s desires are first because they have money.

    What I am afraid she is doing is romanticizing her part, therefore to separate herself from the “others” who are not out.

    I am sorry that it sounds hard but it just lacks believability in my opinion. Or I should say it could be believable but I don’t think she could be that assertive in that environment for three years, more like a week or two, then “shape up or ship out.”

    But if her story gets other females to stop stripping or to not go into stripping, then I’m all for it.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | April 4, 2007, 6:05 am
  2. Speaking of building women’s communities, a month or so ago I was looking for a reading/book club in my area. There was none but there was a site that made it available for someone to start one by zip code, actually to start any kind of gathering. It was a complete joke and waste of time. My entry got buried and on top was loads and loads of “come learn how to make money fast” etc. So I think I will have to go back to the old fashioned way. Another note, I hate when women (especially in military communities) think getting together means having one of those parties that sell things, things that give the company far more than it gives the hostess. A complete waste of time.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | April 4, 2007, 6:19 am
  3. Yeah, chasingmoksha, I find that part of Monique’s story — the part about physically fighting back — hard to believe too, for the reasons you also give. My knowledge of, and experience, with strippers is, they do what they are told to do and if they screw up, they get the boot. The only scenario I can envision in which clobbering someone might have been possible in the way she describes would be in situations where it was so crowded, she could do something like that without getting caught, and that’s even hard to imagine. I think the clobbered guys would more likely make a huge stink and she’d be out on her ear.

    I think a reason for describing fighting back, besides the one you give, but sort of related, has to do with religion. As a religious woman, she would be less threatening to her Christian sisters (and brothers) if she hadn’t been completely compliant. But that does kind of go to othering the rest of the dancers and making herself “not like them”.

    As to women’s community and selling stuff, YES. It’s not only military women who do that, either, it’s women, period. Why do so many het women, especially, only get together for stuff like baby showers, wedding showers, and to sell each other Mary Kay, lingerie, Princess House, or children’s toys at Christmas time?! Or to play bunko or penuchle depending on level of affluence? :/

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | April 4, 2007, 10:35 am
  4. Yes, I too had a hard time believing the ‘punching punter’ part, and would agree with both of you that this part of her story was perhaps embellished.

    What creeped me out on my creep meter was:
    She was tempted but went to several adults whom she hoped, actually, would talk her out of it. None did. A male teacher she respected reassured her that stripping didn’t need to go on her resume. Of course this guy later showed up to check her out in the club once she finally took a job stripping.

    Posted by stormy | April 4, 2007, 10:47 am
  5. Stormy, I agree, what a pathetic excuse for a human being this teacher she had respected was. She freaked out when she saw him, too, and describes closing her eyes and basically dissociating. I’d post what she said but one of my tricksy hobbits daughters swiped the magazine and now I can’t find it, hmmph.

    Below is the link to the organization which Monique started. As noted, this is an evangelical Christian organization, and that’s majorly obvious on this website! But you know, this is good work. Why is it that only churches do this work, such that girls and women have to trade their souls, basically, for a chance at a decent, dignified, self-respecting life? Why, as women, can’t we offer this same support to one another without being motivated by the salvation of someone’s soul, or by money, or by anything but how much we give a shit about women?

    Link

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | April 4, 2007, 10:59 am
  6. Here’s a link to the entire text of the Glamour article from Monique’s website.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | April 4, 2007, 11:04 am
  7. To my sister,
    They will never know what you went through,
    They will never know how bad you feel,
    and I will never betray you
    and the life you’ve lived
    for an easy sentiment.
    Thank you for surviving
    I would try my hardest to understand
    if you didn’t
    I believe you, my sister
    I believe you gave as much as you could
    fought back as much as you could
    You didn’t win. in so many ways.
    You didn’t empower others
    like you empowered me
    You didn’t save anyone besides yourself
    I am proud,
    that you are my sister
    even if you are still enslaved.
    with respect and love
    and the need to speak out for you:
    a voice so long ignored

    Posted by mysister | April 4, 2007, 11:05 am
  8. Heart asked:

    “Why, as women, can’t we offer this same support to one another without being motivated by the salvation of someone’s soul, or by money, or by anything but how much we give a shit about women?”

    Hi Heart,

    Because proof of, and celebration of, loyalty to male supremacy is now a pre-requisite for women to do anything that promotes the well-being of any subset of the general population which does not include males.

    It was not this way in the 70’s.

    Only if you are majorly visible as a male-bonded woman are you allowed to give and / or receive female-to-female support in a context where females are being exploited and victimized by males.

    A radfem collective trying to do the same thing would be vapourized within days, and shunned by other women from the outset.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | April 4, 2007, 11:18 am
  9. Yeah, mysister. 😦 Thanks for posting that tribute that I know for sure could be written for millions of prostituted women throughout the world who have done their best, lived courageously, against unbelievable odds.

    So true, Mary Sunshine. I don’t think this could be done by radical feminists other than in a very grassroots, woman-to-woman way; first women connect in someone’s home, then they say, “Why don’t we do this,” and they do it, they just start, they don’t advertise, they don’t fund raise, they just make up gift bags, drive down to the local Live Nude Girls, see what happens. But then, that’s the way all revolutions begin.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | April 4, 2007, 12:01 pm
  10. I believe her. It’s the reporter’s error I think. I believe she probably told the reporter she got smacked or censured for it. Betcha we’d find it in the reporter’s notes. Reporters leave out lots of stuff purposely, and some accidentally. It could have been one or two sentences lost in the digital page make up. To accommodate an ad placement. Etc.

    Posted by Pony | April 4, 2007, 1:51 pm
  11. That could be, too, Pony. Another possibility is, she did this during shifts that were covered by bouncers/management who would protect her or even when, for whatever reason, there wasn’t a bouncer or manager near at hand at the time.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | April 4, 2007, 3:41 pm
  12. Yes, I must repent, I am guilted by Mysister’s poem, but I still do not believe that portion of the story. But by no means would I want to distract from the whole. However, it is, in my opinion very telling of the whole, as in what Heart points out, that she has to look better for the crowd she is dealing with. It reminds me of Clytemnestra, Helen of Troy, and Penelope in Homer’s The Odyssey. A clear mandate of Greek values, hence, patriarchal values, hence contemporary Western values. Clytemnestra is clearly the “whore.” Even though she comes from a matrilocal line and whomever she marries becomes king, she “had the nerve” to take a lover while her husband was gone off to war. A war that only took place because of greed, not to save the honor of a woman whose face launched a thousand ships, that part is simply propaganda. The war had to take place because if Menelaus lost Helen he would no longer be king, because Helen is Clytemnestra’s half sister and they both are from matirolocl lines. If Helen had married Paris, Paris would be the new king and Menelaus would be out on his arse. Anyway, Clytemnestra angry because Agamemnon not only killed her first husband and first son, but also turned around and killed her daughter she had with Agamemnon. He killed the husband and the son so he could move in as king, and he killed their daughter in order to sacrifice to Aretemis for a good wind to Troy, even though Artemis supposedly would have been happy with a well-fed animal, not a human virgin girl. So the whore is killed, not just killed but killed by her son, thus the son is held a hero because he murdered that murdering whore. Which brings me to Helen of Troy, not a whore, she cannot be, if she was they could not allow her back in their fold. So they reinvent the story and make her the recovering whore, the new and improved demi-virgin, the almost Madonna (Penelope). Narrative does this by giving Helen an excuse. She was under Aphrodite’s spell. She was raped, but not often highlighted as a real possibility. The rape is possible. But what is left out is the possibility that Helen may have wanted to go with Paris. No, we cannot have that. We cannot illustrate how a woman asserted herself and we accepted her back in the fold, so we have to revise the story. Also the possible rape cannot be highlighted because even though the rape was from another man from another land, Paris is still a man. So again, the story is revised to get Helen back in order for Menelaus to have his place as king, and to hide any indications that Helen thought on her own. Of course, in their twilight years Helen routinely gave Menelaus and his guests the drug “Heart’s Ease” so they would forget all their troubles, i.e. forgets she sexed another man, or was raped by another man.

    Sorry for the ramble. I just think the origin of Western narrative up to Roman up to Christianity reveals so much of the contemporary patriarchal thought. It is amazing how for over 3000 years it has survived and is still thriving.

    But Pony has a good point. Perhaps the reporter left some of it out.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | April 4, 2007, 4:05 pm
  13. Men propositioned her almost every night. “I told them if they wanted a hooker they should go to Sunset Boulevard. I’d say it loud to humiliate them because I felt humiliated. ” Sometimes she had to get aggressive when customers groped her. Once a man licked her body … she beat him on the head with her shoe. Another time as she danced, a man yelled, “Come here and bend over, b****.” She flicked her foot and tipped his drink onto his lap; when he cursed at her, she punched him in the face.
    Another reason I am harping on this is I believe it sounds glamorous, do-able, in an it’s all about me and I am not mature enough to think about the big picture kind of way but I would enjoy having men worship me kind of way. If I was a young woman in need of cash and know that I will not be raped, not have to prostitute, and I could curse and beat men who violate me both verbally and physically I may in fact decide that stripping is not that bad. So, I think that is what is bothering me. I am afraid young women will see this and say “Hey that sounds empowering, —not oppressing.”

    Posted by chasingmoksha | April 4, 2007, 4:24 pm
  14. i think the way it reads, it’s logical there’s a sentence or two missing there. Bad edit. Hey I once gave a woman eight children. No idea how it happened, whether I did it or a digital gremlin. She __ was __ not happy.

    Posted by Pony | April 4, 2007, 4:24 pm
  15. Chasingmoksha I love these classical rants. I read all this stuff at one time, now I’m gettting what it was really about. More. Brava. Ooops well if Heart oks it I guess, or you do have a blog. How about “restructuring readings Monday” or something.

    Posted by Pony | April 4, 2007, 4:27 pm
  16. HAH! Point taken and considered.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | April 4, 2007, 4:46 pm
  17. Thanks so much for sharing Moniques story with us on the blog. It really is an incredible read, inspiring and heartbreaking.
    Most of all, Heart, I loved your analysis:

    “What I take from this is, we should not hesitate to offer our strong, radical feminist, anti-prostitution, anti-stripping opinions to girls and women who ask for them. The men and women who encouraged Monique to strip did her no favors.”

    It always infuriates me how radical feminists are criticised for being judgmental when we point out how incredibly harmful prostitution, pornography, stipping etc. is to wimmin. We aren’t allowed to speak out against these violent forms of male-domination because that’s “disrespectful” to those wimmin’s “choices” *thumbs down*
    Patriarchy sure is wiley when it comes to sneaking backlash into malestream society, cleverly disguised as feminism😦

    Fantastic blog Heart. I love it. I’m going to be hanging around here a lot more (believe it or not I only found out about it today!)

    Posted by Sazz | April 5, 2007, 12:09 pm
  18. I love Greek Tragedy because it does make Patriarchy look so uuuuuuuuuuuuugggggggggggggggggly!

    The thing about the kingdoms passing through Helen and Clytemnestra is that they as inheritors had already lost so much power. It’s the men that have the armies, and the right to wage war. The right to kill other men and THEIR OWN PROGENY in order to maintain power. At this point in history, female property rights are moot.

    I don’t ever remember my professors referring to Agamemnon as the monster that he is, as a stand-in for the rest of male kind, because that is how I see him and how the rest of us should.

    Posted by LCforevah | April 5, 2007, 5:10 pm
  19. Heck, LCforevah, it’s how they ought to see their beloved Christian god, too, but you won’t see them doing that either.

    Posted by justicewalks | April 5, 2007, 10:18 pm
  20. I was a stripper for 5 years. I’ve begun blogging about my experience on the site listed above.

    I would love to be able to assist women in finding their way out of the club as I did. No college degree, no silver spoon, no hand outs… it wasn’t easy, but I went from dancing with no resume to speak of to working in corporate america making almost 6 figures.

    It can be done… its not easy, but its worth it.

    Thank you for drawing attention to this article!

    Posted by Hailey | July 4, 2007, 9:59 pm
  21. I’m sorry can I just please say something…

    the term ‘hand outs’ while I understand the need to affirm and relay that one clawed up from the bottom or whatever and made it–the term ‘hand outs’ is Such a slam against all kinds of womyn,

    womyn who have disabillities who have no choice but to take some help, womyn with children that if help wasn’t there their kids might suffer, womyn who may not have the skills or money or resources or college or ‘looks’ to like compete or womyn who for reasons such as lack of opportunity or because of racism in the region they are in,

    thousands of scenarios but there are times we ALL NEED A HAND UP–

    A HAND UP IS NOT HAND OUTS…but thats just it–in our society its so driven that if one needs help then its like this awful shame because its deemed as a hand out–that psychology of the ‘deserving poor’ and it all feeds–

    into that exact same philosophy and shame that guess what–does have a lot do do with why many young womyn would rather go into porn, stripping, prostitution than seek help because to actually say, i’m struggling or i’m down and i need help–is looked upon as the worst form of human failure–

    and what it does is to create this ‘comparison’ too which is not fair–to the thousands of womyn out there that maybe they don’t have the ‘right looks’ for the ‘market’ and that includes the corporate world o.k. which is JUST AS BASED ALOT OF TIME ON LOOKISM KID YOURSELF NOT AND AGEISM, womyn are judged so much on these qualities that even the most skilled woman in our society can find herself at the bottom of the ladder because she is judged more by ‘looks’ and ‘skin color’ and ‘class’ often–more than on her skills–

    what i’m trying to say is that while i am so happy for you that you left and were able to make it–

    its unfair and I’m so sorry because I in no way want to discredit you or offend you in any way but it is unfair to the mass numbers of womyn who don’t have maybe the same resources or qualities or skills and i guess what i’m saying is that we have to be careful sometimes in how we set up like these expectations like in how we ‘say’ we did it—get what i’m saying…

    because everyone’s experience, background, is different and I share this with you as one who too–came off the streets and who walked away — who went to college–but the thing is–there were things in my life that even with all the hardships, i had that many womyn in my same boat didn’t have, o.k. thats what i’m saying so like for me to say,

    well i was once homeless but i made it and i didn’t get hand outs etc–is really just kicking those other womyn down because one, I’m white, o.k. so just that there–does make a huge difference in that many of the womyn on the streets were womyn of color and i can guarantee you they would not have had the easy time of getting a lot of the help that i did–because of discrimination, etc…

    two though i had a childhood of sex/physical/serious mental abuse–I also had the good fortune of some intervention–by a few people and a church mind you–along the way though maybe not like perfect–the seeds of hope were planted–

    i know SO many womyn who have not had those same fortunes…and who’ve had so much more to overcome than I could ever dream of,

    I did not get hooked on drugs and i was really lucky there–so many did and it doesn’t mean i’m a better person or stronger just that i didn’t get onto drugs–they did–so i didn’t have that to kick as well–

    so like–can i just kindly suggest–and not to say you shouldn’t take pride in your strength–you should–but realize, that while its great that we can rise above–for so many others, its not that easy and so the using ‘hand outs’,

    i think hurts womyn, and it hurts us because you never know, corporate world or not–when you might actually be in a place where yes, you will need a hand out and there is NOTHING wrong, with needing help…

    for millions of womyn who’ve been demonized for being poor–and the welfare cuts, they’ve been plunged into poverty and that whole thinking of hand outs–has done more–to harm both womyn and children–while the rich get richer–

    and womyn raising children IS WORK AND IS A CONTRUBUTION TO OUR SOCIETY AND SHOULD BE VALUED AS SUCH…and when we can begin to realize that– rather than just giving praise to male oriented values and the work they men have valued for too long–

    we may also begin to demand increase in wages for those very jobs that are the lowest paid in our world–that care industry–rather than womyn working for a pittance and the sex industry being one of the avenues that is a multi-billion dollar industry–why so many womyn do go into that work…

    and that ‘hand out’ has a big part in the pyschology against womyn and psychology against the poor and the pyschology against womyn’s traditional or care work…

    its a pyschological warfare and it hurts womyn.

    Maybe somebody can articulate this better than me–but i would encourage you to keep that in mind…

    because leaving the sex industry is possible, it isn’t easy–and i would hate to think a woman would refuse help…and stay in the industry to avoid the stigma…know what i’m saying…

    and i think we have to be careful not to set up expectations in a way where womyn will think that just because they can’t get into like a corporate position means that they should stay where they are at…

    because you know there is nothing wrong with working manual labor or low income jobs–its the fact that they are ‘devalued’ in this country…but the work has value–

    and when we change that–when we start placing fair value on all work rather than this ‘elitist ladder’ to strive too–that is all wrapped up in how many figures’

    we will have a lot of power to put a stop to the sexual exploitation of all womyn.

    Sincerely,

    Tasha

    [maybe some of you can say this so much better than me–i know what i want to say but i don’t want to be hurtful either–]

    Posted by Tasha | July 5, 2007, 1:50 am
  22. I believe Monique’s story. You have to be in her shoes to understand. Even criminal’s in jail surrounded by guards get away with stuff. This has happened to myself and other girls in clubs. Your having a bad night and a guy crosses the line. It would cost too much to have that many people watching every person. Once in a while you get that asshole that doesn’t respect state or club rules. You could tell, but unless the customer is wasted or keeps doing wrong, the club will only warn that guy. So it’s easier to take care of it youself, he could get crazy, but he won’t because, what is he going to say,” I licked, touched, her so she hit me. I’m sure that never happens….

    Posted by Liz | August 15, 2007, 10:19 am
  23. My ex husband secretly frequented strip clubs for 10 years of our marriage. I often wondered why he would come home from his “Business Trips” and violently rape me. The last time he did it he came home at 3 o clock in the morning and told me his 10 year secret and that he had just gotten ‘done’ at a strip club in vegas. I let him know I was divorcing him in the morning and he told me he needed to “clean” himself off by fucking me” basically he wanted to feel it was ok to be dry fucked by other women by having me last. He violently raped me and tried to kill me. I fought with all my heart mind and soul because my 2 baby girls needed a mom to protect them from the glamour and fame of strippers in music videos and every where in our society, bachelor parties etc. I escaped that night physically, but mentally I am not the same, I struggle quite often. So it’s not just the strippers who get hurt and destroyed – its many other women who do not strip. I feel for the strippers and prostitutes, my heart aches for them. My heart also aches for the men that go into strip clubs. it is not mentally ok for humans to treat or be treated as objects, not people. I’m not saying my experience with strippers is normal, but I often wonder how many other women and children get hurt after a man gets teased. I wonder how many other women allow their men to go to these places because if they told the truth that it hurts to not be good enough that they would be labeled as insecure. Does anyone know if there’s a place that a women who didn’t strip but got the abuse of men that went? (including my father after he would go).

    Posted by Tam | February 24, 2008, 2:03 pm
  24. Tam, I am so sorry for what you have been through! Dear god, how horrible. 😦 You never deserved it, your husband (and your father?) bear all the responsibility for what they did to you, every last bit of the responsibility.

    I think women don’t protest their husbands going to these places because there’s no point in it, their husbands will go anyway. Your father, your husband, and other men don’t go to strip bars because their partners aren’t good enough. though sometimes that’s their rap, that’s what they want you to think, so you will blame yourself and not them for what is completely and totally their responsibility. If you’re blaming yourself, they’re off the hook (in their own minds). They go to strip bars (or use pornography, the motivations are the same) because it gives them the fleeting sensation that they are powerful, or at least not completely incompetent, because they deeply resent women, because they are dangerously insecure and disconnected, and because for them, sex has little to nothing to do with relationships or connection (though they might say and even think otherwise). Sex is about orgasms and fantasies, and really, that’s it for them, when you get right down to it. When they’re in these places, they don’t have to pretend to like or care about women as they feel they must pretend they like and care about their wives and partners and the women in their lives. They don’t have to deal with the inner turmoil and fears their disconnections and resentments and incompetencies cause for them. In these places, it’s all about them, for a fee, of course, and only briefly, but still, it’s worth it to them. Bottom line, these men feel entitled to a world that is all about them and to be the center of that world, or at the very least, the center of some woman’s world. They only feel as though they are that, and have that, in the early stages of a relationship with a woman where things are unreal, mostly fantasy, and the woman doesn’t know them, and they don’t know her. She’s an empty slate to them then, and upon her they can write whatever they want, most of which boils down, when you get right down to it, to adoration for, and devotion to, themselves. That phase of the relationship passes, of course, once the woman begins to emerge to them as an individual, a person in her own right, who argues with them and does not go along with their every whim, and especially who does not unfailingly admire them and make them feel good about themselves. So begins their resentment. So begins their disappointment. So begins their disconnect, and their renewed, if hidden, search for that sensation, once again, that there is a woman somewhere who will be unendingly devoted to them, who will make them like themselves and feel good about themselves, and that they have found her at last.

    Strip places, for a fee, provide men with the illusion that life, and women, *are* all about them, and that they really owe women nothing. They know better, most of them, at least. They know they’re wrong. But when you get right down to it, they don’t really care. They want to be viewed as good men in their regular lives, they want people to like and respect them, so they play certain roles to the best of their ability, all the while resenting it. When the resentment gets to be too much. they turn to places like strip bars or to the alternative sexual universe of pornography, where they don’t have to think about or care whether anybody likes them and don’t have to cough up decency or respect for anyone, where women don’t argue with them or inconvenience them in any way, where they can fantasize the world as it should be in their minds — all about them — where they can have orgasms and go home or switch off the computer and forget about it. Those who go back home and rape their wives do it because they have blamed their wives for being human, for making them feel bad about themselves, even though their wives have absolutely nothing to do with that. They do it because they’re angry and resentful and because they can do it and get away with it. They do it because they feel guilty. They blame their wives because their wives weren’t who they wanted their wives to be — fantasy women, ever-adoring, ever-available, ever-devoted, without minds of their own, without needs or wants that are problems for these men, that make them feel, again, insecure or powerless or incompetent or less than the center of someone’s world. They feel bad about themselves at times because they know they are mistreating and abusing people who depend and care about them. They don’t feel bad enough, though, to do anything about their abuses. Instead, they move quickly past feeling bad to blaming the women for the predicament they find themselves in: resentful, angry, feeling bad about themselves and their lives, feeling disappointed and ripped off, because where’s the adoring woman every man is entitled to, who makes his life worth living? And of course, it’s easy for a man to blame the woman in his life. She’s going to have disappointed him plenty, because he never really wanted to love a human being to begin with. What he wanted was a fantasy woman’s endless, uninterrupted adoration and devotion. These are very dangerous men.

    You ask ” Does anyone know if there’s a place that a women who didn’t strip but got the abuse of men that went? (including my father after he would go).”

    Tam, you have been violently abused and raped by your ex and, it sounds like, your father, and I am betting you would be very much helped by women trained to work with battered women. There are many hotlines for battered women which are available around the clock. The counselors who answer the phones will talk with you about your experiences and struggles and can refer you to battered women’s shelters and organizations in your area. Some of these shelters offer support groups for survivors of domestic violence where you can meet regularly with other women who have had experiences like yours for support, comfort, healing, and empowerment.

    Here are some places to start:

    National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    Rape, Abuse and Incest Online Sexual Assault Hotline

    The women who answer the hotlines for these organizations will know how to offer you help and support and will be willing to talk with you about what you have been through. I urge you to call. You can get free, move on, find healing, get past the horrible legacy of having been violated, raped and abused.

    My very best to you,

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | February 24, 2008, 5:26 pm
  25. Heart,
    Thank you! And God Bless you and all the other women out there trying to help and heal other women. I want to help those women as well. I have been through quite a bit of counseling and it always seems to be missing something, it feels like I am continuously stuck in the talk-about-it stage and never get to the heal-it stage. I think I finally figured out the part of healing I was missing – helping other women. I want to volunteer my time and energy in helping these women, I have never been a stripper but I’ve been abused and I think that’s the basic story line for us all to heal anyways.
    Also, Heart, thank you for your words of wisdom! I shared this article with my fiance. He is a man that used to go to strip clubs when he was married and he agreed with every word you said. He knew he was wrong and selfish. He hasn’t been to a club for years and has changed his mind about himself, women and the sex industry so much that he will never walk into a strip club again. He is the one telling his buddies how much he regrets every time he went. He has been helping me heal my past by showing me how he has healed his past. He is encouraging me to go out there and share my story with other women in hopes it will help them and maybe a few men along the way too!
    We are all really just Angels parading as strippers, prostitutes, abused women, abusive men etc. It’s time we all woke up and saw ourselves and our fellow brothers and sisters as Who We Truly Are. When we do that, the abuse stops.

    Posted by Tam | February 25, 2008, 3:31 pm
  26. I have been a stripper on and off for 11yrs. I started when I was 19. I still look good for my age and my boobs are real. I really enjoyed hearing about monique what she is doing is comendable and im sure healing for her and the women she helps.
    to chasingmoksha you dont have a clue what you are talking about. I have seen dancers do that sort of thing on more than one occasion. One of my friends beat the crap out of one guy cause he kept trying to touch her. the manager thought it was funny. Simply because the costumer would have been kicked out any way because of what he was doing she just saved him the trouble. despite what everyone seems to think the male staff are there to keep us happy not the customers, thats our job and if they piss us off they better hope its the male staff their gonna have to deal with. when a customer would get to touchy with me or one of the girls and I saw I would lean in and wisper in his ear ‘if you pull that shit again your not going to have to deal with the manager or the bouncers your going to have to deal with me and thats the last thing you want” and if the tried to solicit me I would do the exact same thing monique would to and again the bouncers and manager would just chuckle, smile and shake there head I even on occasion kicked one or two guys out myself for acting like assholes. in fact thats what I always refered to them as “the assholes and the idiots” As for your claim that she was just trying to sound glamours. well it is at times and fun as well. being a dancer and being a prostitute are worlds apart believe it or not. I mis it some times especially being on stage I love to dance and have had many people staff, dancers and customers tell me I was one of the best dancers they had ever seen. most of the time I had fun. but when it was bad it was real bad I have had a few nights that ended in tears thankfully I always worked with wonderful people who cared about me. In fact my boyfriend of 3 and half yrs was a bouncer at the club I worked at. He is the best man I have ever meet. I agree with what monique said and is doing she is trying to help people and for whatever reason you have, ya all are tearing her down and makeing it sound like there was cleaver editing or else monique lied. I assure you she didnt and there was no cleaver editing. that is the life of a dancer.

    Posted by Katrina | August 15, 2008, 7:43 am
  27. Katrina. I hope some day you get out of stripping. I think you will see it differently once you have healed and stop the denial delusion and dissociation that keeps girls in it and makes is so hard for them to get out and life a normal life. I don’t think the club hires anybody to” keep the girls happy”. Strip clubs are businesses that make money on the backs of the ruined lives of young women. To run a strip clubs means that you know this and have no problem with it. If you don’t believe this, you haven’t been around to pick up the pieces after these girls leave and try to reenter the real world. In learning to be a strioper, you learn to be a phony, a liar and, well…a loser. You learn to dissociate, to pretend to like someone for his money, to put up with his attitude and behavior for his money, and if you just cant bring yourself to do it anymore and you still need the money, you learn to medicate with drugs and alcohol so that you can do it anyway. This ruins people. This creates addictions, destroys relationships, reduces friendships to mutual exploitation, and when the strip club starts to feel like your family, it ruins your relationship with your family. A burned out stripper is truly society’s throwaway. The club does not care. They just put another ad in for “waitresses”.

    Posted by joseph | August 31, 2008, 5:02 am

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