People’s responses generally follow one of two lines when I tell them what I do for a living. It’s either “but that’s so degrading!” or “wow, you must be so confident!”
Yes, I’m a stripper. No, I don’t have “daddy issues”; no, I won’t do anything for money; and no, I’m not addicted to heroin/crack/meth. I’m a perfectly normal, 20-year-old Media & Communications student who happens to take her clothes off for a living.
Since everyone’s always so curious about my job, I’ve decided to clear up a few misconceptions, so the next time you meet a stripper, she’ll be spared the usual interrogation, and you can start treating her like a person, not some exotic animal on display at the zoo.
“Isn’t that degrading? Why are you selling your body?”
No, it’s not degrading, because I’m always in control: I determine who I dance for, I determine when, and I determine what they’re allowed to do. I think that people who think sex work is inherently degrading are people who think sex is, by its very nature, dirty and bad and wrong. There’s nothing wrong with taking your clothes off, and there’s nothing wrong with doing it for money, as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult.
Honestly, the most degrading job I’ve ever had would have to be either working as a checkout chick, or a face-to-face fundraiser – you know, those people standing on the street saying: “Hi it’s ___ from Oxfam, give me your credit card details!” The amount of abuse and vitriol you get as a fundraiser is unbelievable, and the way people look down on you working in a supermarket is equally so. I think it’s a lot more degrading to work your ass off for $14 an hour than it is to earn up to $100 in twenty minutes, when you just happen to get naked.
As for selling my body: let’s have a think about that, shall we? When you sell something, you lose possession of it. My body is definitely still here, and since men aren’t walking out of strip clubs with the severed limbs of strippers, I think we can safely assume that no one is actually selling their bodies.
What we do sell is time. I sell ten minutes of my time for $60, during which time I will dance, and take all my clothes off. At the end of the ten minutes, I’ll put my clothes back on, and walk out.
People who claim to be feminists and say that strippers or other sex workers are selling their bodies are the most irritating people, because they’re the ones who think that all a woman is worth is her body.
“You’re selling yourself.”
No, I’m not. If you think that’s all I’m worth, that all I am is my body, and how good a person I am is directly correlated to what I do with my body, then I’m sorry, but you’re not a feminist. If you don’t respect sluts, or strippers, or whores, then you don’t respect women, because the amount of respect you give a person is not contingent on how much clothing they wear.
“I thought you were a feminist.”
I am a feminist. In my Arts degree, I minored in gender studies. I run anti-oppression workshops on weekends. I go to Reclaim The Night every year, and I volunteer with Women for Women International and UNIFEM.
‘Stripper’ doesn’t equal ‘anti-feminist’. I’m a sex-positive feminist, who believes women have the right to do as they please with their bodies, and prescriptivism about said bodies is pretty damn anti-feminist. I don’t believe women need to cover up to have self-respect, and I resent assumptions being made about me because of my job.
And if you’re a customer:
Yes, they’re real. You can touch them if you pay for it.
For all intents and purposes, my real name’s Natasha. You really don’t need to know any more than that.
Yes, I’m smart. Not just “for a stripper,” because most strippers are actually pretty smart. At my club there’s a med student, two nurses, someone studying for her Masters in Biochemistry and a girl with a Commerce Degree.
How much to take me home? You know you’re in a strip club, right? Stripping is a job. I don’t care how turned on you are after a dance, I’m just doing my job, and that’s all it is. Girls who do “extras” are a small and universally hated minority in strip clubs, because if you can get a blow job from one stripper, no one else is going to make any money. There’s nothing wrong with consensual prostitution, but a brothel is the place for that, not a strip club.
I’m gay, so no, I’m not going to go out for dinner with you. I don’t do that. Don’t ask. Don’t try. It’s not going to happen.
My phone number is 1800-NO-FUCK-OFF
NO I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR WIFE/GIRLFRIEND/CHILDREN WHO ARE OLDER THAN ME.
Natasha keeps a secret stripper blog at http://www.doubledhonoursdegree.tumblr.com