Hello, I’m a stripper. I talk about this online a lot. I often receive unbelievably lovely comments from men and women alike online, offering empathy and understanding. On the flip side, I also sometimes receive comments that describe me as a ‘whore’, or ‘goldigger’ – even though in reality, a rich old dude dying and leaving me all of his money would probably negate both my need and desire to continue dancing.
Trolls occur just as often in strip clubs as they do online, working in clubs and documenting my journey online has led me to experience both. Many people view my videos, and I meet many people in the club. They all have one thing in common – they all talk. Language is a funny thing, it often reveals more about a person than they realise. The words we choose are symbiotic of our past experiences.
People take their anger and insecurities, their own confusion and jealousy out on strippers. It happens in and out of the club. Most women in the adult industry, become perceptive as to what someone means, despite what they say. We understand that the old adage denoting jealousy as a reason for cruelty might not be true – but insecurity certainly is.
Insecurity in one’s self, and adaptation to change, all play a role in the reasoning behind a persons spitefulness. This is how and why we dancers bounce back from rejection in the ten seconds it takes to receive a ‘no’, and spy another person open in the club. When men tell us we don’t respect ourselves as dancers, , it is because our line of work (and lack of fucks) represents an ego threat. It changes their view of themselves, it removes their trust in their self-identified alpha presence, so they pretend that we must have been destroyed to ‘end up’ here.
In a sense it is true – we have destroyed the part of ourselves brought up by society to be whorephobic, ashamed, virginal and ‘demure’. Femininity as viewed through the male lens has been destroyed by the dancer, she becomes self-defined, pulling on the strings of femininity to create sales, puppeting those traits into a fantasy for sale – as every ad for every product ever invented has been doing since the dawn of time.
My self-perception has not changed as a dancer, only those things (such as my body shape, or level of social confidence) that would change daily regardless of my choice to work in this industry have. I am still myself, with the same hobbies and interests, I eat the same foods, I read the same books, and I gravitate toward the films, photographs, music and art I did prior to dancing. I vote for the same political parties in elections (those who work with empathy) and I defend the same core philosophies I have for the entirety of my adult life. The fact is, regardless of whether I’m dancing or not, whether I had ever slipped $50 into a set of rubber bands on stage – someone somewhere will still find something about me offensive and will take out that same Jungian shadow on me.
I understand my worth, though. It comes from a Eudaemonic self-created source, and has always done so. That is the place my confidence to become a dancer came from.
These comments that come my way, this societal perception at large: It’s not about me. It’s not about my job. It’s about the story and beliefs that person tells themselves regarding women, dancers, sex, money and ethics. It’s their choice to not divert and unpack those beliefs, and expose their own demons, their own Madonna/Whore complex. Their own inability to admit that the story is not true. It is the pity of all of us, when we close ourselves in from uncertainty, to accept safe stories and comfort over progress, and rebirth.
When we shroud ourselves, we reject what new opportunities we could rope into our lives, to humble ourselves from the pretense of ‘knowledge’ and accept that there are things, ideas, circumstance, larger than us that we do not know. We have not experienced.
My best example of my doing this is when I work in a club, and there are few customers, or I think I’m unable to make money. I shrink, pretending to ‘know’ this – and I reduce my presence. I don’t try to hustle, to work harder, or to approach more people. I say, ‘fine, this is what I’ve made tonight.’ I pretend that I do not have the links available to further myself, I pretend that I don’t have the confidence or skill. That’s the real story behind a lot of my ‘bad’ nights in the club.
As for online, and the tall tales we tell to make ourselves feel better than someone else: I choose to remain vulnerable, no matter how many people choose to disown me, because it’s important, as humans, to share our stories. Humans are narrative beings, and it is through story and perspective that every law has changed, movement been created, and barrier been either lifted or built. Our stories are our tools through which we can change greater perceptions. For every Instagram story a dancer posts about disrespectful customers, or working out their tax return – the perspective of the public body is – even in the smallest way – changed. Vulnerability is a quiet revolution, gaining momentum as it influences others.