Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Politics of Strippers

Everyone is getting in on the voter registration and turnout bandwagon, even strip clubs.

The strip club that I used to dance at, in the suburbs of the NYC metro region, wasn't political on the surface. But isn't the personal always political. Most of us dancers were women of color. Most of us were single mothers. Some of us had day jobs. Some of us were going to school. We weren't part of a union (although some of us did examine that option). We worked for tips and table dances. We had no benefits, worked 8 hour shifts (sometimes more if we did doubles). We were sexually harassed (and no I don't mean by the customers). I mean our asses were smacked by management when we were on stage and more than once did I see a dancer disappear into the back office with the owner. We were women who realized that we could earn more money shaking our ass than raising our own children or working in an office.

My customers were mostly conservatives and Republican. The exceptions were the Irish customers ,with whom I could always have a good conversation about colonialism , and the Latino working class men who would come in. Occasionally I would have an artist come in.

I didn't become a stripper out of real need. I was on the corporate track down on Wall Street. I walked away from that because of the racism and sexism there. What I realized under the black light is that the differences between spinning round a pole and spinning in an office chair were minimal as a single Latina mother. I was stereotyped in both worlds. I was not given what I deserved and worked for in both worlds. I was harassed in both worlds.

So I say register those men who go to strip clubs and hell have the strippers register them. It doesn't have to be about promoting a specific candidate but it should always be about promoting a specific agenda. That agenda should be one where women have options and access to education, jobs, childcare, reproductive and sexual rights. Maybe that will be a hard agenda to sell in lucite heels but if I remember anything from when I used to strip a year and a half ago (damn has it been that long) is that men like an aggressive woman and that it is all about the hustle. Make sure you all are hustling for the right things.


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