November 8th, 2005

Brad @ Burning Man

She Says She's Too Smart Not To Have Been a Prostitute

motel666 has started writing about her life in the sex industry, starting as a stripper and working her way down to prostitution. The introduction to this, "a start," is as thick as a freaking brick. But links to it are getting passed around the Internet at the speed of light, and not just for the titillation factor. The woman really is an excellent writer, for one thing; it's one of the best written, most compelling articles I've seen on the Internet yet, let alone on LiveJournal. Nor is it because she is yet another retired sex worker who's debunking the media cliché that all strippers and prostitutes are trailer park trash or ghetto trash, who were sexually abused and have low self esteem, and even they wouldn't be doing it if "white slave traders" hadn't gotten them hooked on drugs and were making them strip or turn tricks or else die of withdrawal symptoms. I've known dozens of strippers in my life, and I mean in real life, not just from seeing them on stage. (One rule of thumb is true: If you knew her stage name before you knew her real name, no matter what she says, you're a trick and not a friend.) I used to be a regular at Roxies not only because I liked it there but because I knew some of the dancers IRL. Back in the late 1980s I visited almost every strip club in a two hour drive of here out of curiousity. A few years ago, I worked as security for a strip club for two months. In that whole experience, I never once ran into a single stripper who met any substantial part of that cliché. But by now, anybody willing to read knows that the cliché is a lie; highly literate former sex workers debunking that myth are practically a dime a dozen now.

No, what I suspect is a large part of the reason why links to this article are spreading like wildfire, and why she's up to 833 "Friends-Of" within 24 hours of posting it, is what she is boldly setting out to replace that cliché with: a blatant argument that entry-level corporate work has become so awful in general, and so demeaning to young women in particular, that it's more demeaning than prostitution. Let me excerpt it, to give you a feel for the argument and for the flavor of the writing:
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That cliché I was talking about before assumed that except for kidnap victims and the badly broken, women would only do such things if they were already "ruined" for a better life. What she's saying is that she's tried sex work, and she's tried your "better life," and that if you're an intelligent, well-read young woman with neither a degree nor a resumé, or with a degree or a resumé that won't get you any job above food service, telemarketing, or data entry, then you'd be better off taking up stripping until you got over your scruples enough to start doing escort service work, high-end in-call. And I have to say, I adore her for coming out and saying this, because it exactly matches my perceptions of the strippers I've known, including the ones who were hooking on the side. For example at the strip club where I was working, there were something like about 30 strippers in the rotation, of whom I got to know maybe half at least a little bit, including one of the ones who was (in major violation of the club's rules) hooking on the side. Without exception, ever single one of them was witty, perceptive, and well-read, even the ones who weren't doing it to pay for their college education. Not a few of them were hardcore science fiction fans. Most of them could easily have passed the MENSA qualifications. Maybe a quarter of them smoked dope, and steroid abuse was not unheard of, but there wasn't a drug addict in the whole bunch, unless you count the one near-alcoholic. They chose that life because it was right for them, and they can do just fine without your pity, thank you.

(Thanks to supergee for passing this on.)
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