I take extreme responsibility for my life. Although other people are part of this experience, I take charge in what it is that I have power to do and say. Working in the strip club has allowed me the opportunity to do the work to find healing and empowerment.
This idea of causing my own trauma while embracing a space that perpetuates it for others has been on my mind for a while. It has become a never ending cycle and I choose to put an end to it now.
I heard a story about a man being traumatized from a situation in which he touched a stripper and while maybe she wanted his touch or didn’t, she did not guide or correct him to do otherwise.
He was left scared by his actions.
For years, I would internalize the pain and the suffering of being touched in unwanted advances. I accepted the sexual harassment as part of my job. My boundaries were blurred of what my human rights were. The passivity was in full bloom.
I had nightmares and deep rooted anxiety that became part of the job. I numbed the pain with various intoxicants that would allow me to make the money I needed to survive.
Many years down the road I began to see the pain expressing within my personal life. Fear and anxiety began to run the show creating unhealthy dynamics within my relationship to myself and others. I decided to make a shift.
The changes started out slow. While at work, when someone would touch me without consent, I would turn to them, look them in the eyes and respond saying angrily “That’s unacceptable and inappropriate. I’m a human.” I needed to express that their desire for connection and actions that followed caused me harm and discomfort.
Some responses from others were of genuine compassion, while others ignored the expression. For me this became a practice of expressing my humanity and it came out in a variety of ways.
I stuck up for the other woman in the club if they were being harassed and would call people out willingly. I’ve been thanked a number of times for knocking the ignorance out of people, while others chose to remain in a trance like state of being the oppressor.
Each day I go to work, I deal with sexual harassment. There are signs in every club saying that this is normal, and if you have a problem, there is a number to call, but it should be expected to happen.
Drive by pussy grabs, breast gropes, pulling clothes to the side, butt grabs, squeezes that pull my butt cheeks so far apart it feels like it’s going to rip, ass slaps that leave welts, bites that break the skin, ear licks, neck kisses, face touching, hair grabbing, lip kissing, penetrating words that linger… it’s all part of the job description.
Finally recognizing the pain it was causing me to sit by and suffer in silence, my presence became more powerful. I began demanding respect as a basic human. I no longer allow anyone to touch me without my consent. I set my rules. I set my boundaries and there was no consequence but my empowerment.
A New Day
The day this all came to fruition, I set my boundaries to be “I’m not going to dance for you but, you’re going to pay me for my time.” I made the most money I’ve ever made on that day. What a concept though, truly!
Boundaries are sexy. In the past I was rewarded with money, but this new way made me feel sexy, successful, and empowered.
The question I keep asking myself is, “How can I really strip and not perpetuate the masculine wound?”
So I’m looking at this boundary practice as something that offers space for the masculine to heal their wounds, while I tend to my own. I offer a space where together we can confront social conditioning around sexuality and find a better way that makes everyone feel safe and good.
The thought of harming another in this deep way causes me great pain and discomfort. If I were to continue my old ways, letting the abuse slide without expressing how much it pained me, I would simply continue to be part of the problem.
As a sex worker, I take this responsibility in my hands. I take the responsibility to educate men in what is appropriate when trying to connect with women. The strip club is a place where I have the opportunity to teach men how to be better men.
I’ve begun the conversation within the strip club about the masculine. I openly speak with men about this topic. I share my experiences and I hold space for them to be empowered in their choices.
When I’m with a man, I offer space to speak about healing the past and hold them in safe and loving arms. I see their pain. I feel their pain when they touch me without asking and when I’m not looking. When they turn away in shame as I sensually gyrate my hips. I see the hurt they carry around with them, through their interactions with me and I choose to love and honor their pain as I do my own.
I vow to stay true to myself and invite others to stay true to themselves.
In this life, what matters is what I do; what I believe and how I show up. When one light shines, others are shown that they too can shine just as bright.
Be the example. Be the change. That’s what this is all about.
Be the love. Love. Love.
I love myself and I love you.