Making Choices: Getting Naked? Stay in School?

Okay, friends, this one is a mess. In large part, because I am a mess.

I was asked by my professor (the one who told me a few months ago that my experience as a stripper could be an ethical issue) to meet with her before winter break. I practiced deep breathing as I walked into her office, still feeling happy from J and I getting married (this meeting happened about an hour after that). As I sat down, I reminded myself to stay calm and collected.


She, as the department chair, along with the other three core faculty and the dean, met at some point during the semester to discuss whether or not my stripping experience is an ethical issue. They filled out some sort of professional evaluation form, and as a group (she maintained), they see my occupation as a serious boundary violation and ethical issue in conflict with the code of ethics for marriage and family therapists. Why? Because of the potential for future clients to have seen me dance, the potential for current clients of mine to see me dance, and the potential for the former clients to see me dance. To her, this constituted a seriously problematic multiple relationship. In addition, for some reason, she sees it as a “conflict of interest” (what? am I going to sell lap dances after a therapy session?). This serious ethical issue was held by her regardless of whether I stop dancing now or not.

I can’t disagree that it would be a multiple relationship to have a concurrent therapist-client and stripper-customer relationship with someone. I also would not do that. I also feel it is paternalistic and arrogant to say that I am responsible for making sure that any potential client of mine never sees me out in public doing something that is not mainstream.

I didn’t go into this program to be a cookie-cutter therapist. I went into it with the explicit goal and intention of serving the queer, kinky, poly, and sex positive community (including sex workers). I’ve been completely open with my cohort and professors about my experiences and motivations, and now the message I receive is: sorry, too much. As my friend said to me today: They are grinding you down.

She said: It’s not about exotic dancing! We want you to dance, we want you to feel empowered and to feel empowered sexually. But this is a serious ethical issue.

Is is possible for me to truly understand the code of ethics and continue to dance? I asked.

No, she replied.

If it was up to me, in my personal opinion, she said, I wouldn’t place you next year [for an internship] if you were still dancing.

Think it over during your winter break, she told me. Then in January, I want to meet with you again. If you agree, then we can move forward. If you disagree that this a serious ethical issue, then we will need to convene an Academic Review Committee and investigate further. You will probably need quite a bit of mentoring to fully understand why this is such a problem. It is possible that the result from the committee process that you won’t be allowed to continue in the program.

I left that half hour meeting boiling. I hardly had a chance to speak, to ask questions, to present my case.

I literally feel stuck. I feel angry, boxed in, aggravated, irritated, helpless, hopeless, disheartened, defeated. Defeated.

Pick my battles, figure out my goals, move forward. Give up stripping? Give up school? I’m sure I’ll be writing about this again when my thoughts are more clear.

And yes, I am writing this from the strip club. (My nice way of saying: Fuck. You.)

Happy Marriage

I wore a white sweater and a white hat. He wore his blue shirt, although you wouldn’t know it since he was wearing his big down jacket over it (we stood outside in 32 degree weather in front of a half-frozen water fountain while the judge performed the ceremony).

After 8 minutes and 7 signatures (we had four amazing witnesses- some of our best friends), it was done. Sealed it with a kiss.

We’re legal.

Yay to lower car insurance and taxes! :)

PS: I love you, J.

PPS: THANK YOU to our amazing friends who were with us in person and in spirit, who continue to support us as individuals and as a couple in our life together.


Taking Names

This is a sweet and thought-provoking article from a man who took his wife’s last name:

I Took My Wife’s Last Name

I appreciate this man’s stance toward making the personal political, and yet remaining true to what he simply wanted: marking the creation of his new family.

J and I were filling out our marriage license tonight (we’re getting closer! we got our prenup notarized today, too!) and trying to decide what we want to do with our names.

I have been sure that I would keep my last name- it’s too good to erase. And I am also adamant that I am not being transferred as property from my father to my husband. But what about taking J’s last name as a middle name? I already have two (one that my parents gave me as a “regular” middle name, the other that my mom wanted to give both my sister and I as a second middle name to commemorate her side of the family. It’s not technically her maiden name, as her stepfather had adopted her when she was young, but is her original last name), and I don’t want three middle names. Do I give up one of my middle names? Which one? I love my first middle name; it’s become a nickname of mine. I also appreciate my second name as it has preserved my mom’s narrative of her strength and perseverance of getting through a tough childhood.

J and I could create a hyphenated last name. But that gets long and arduous for ourselves and others. And like the author in the article, we don’t want to create a law firm. We want to simply mark the creation of our family.

It’s not an automatic option to take one another’s last names as a middle name, but it sounds like it is an option; it simply needs to be approved by court before our names are official. But we are considering it. So I could drop my second middle name and adopt J’s last name as my second middle name. He could drop his middle name and take my last name as his middle name.

Slightly complicated, and expensive to do. Changing our names would require trips to the DMV. And money.

It feels worth it, but also a little annoying.

Regardless, here is to our little fam :)

Contagious Love

I was meeting my lawyer today to finalize our prenup… we were sitting in the Starbucks a half mile away from my apartment. Nearby, two twenty-something people sat across  a small table from one another, clasping each other’s hands, beaming at each other. Clearly enjoying one another, in love perhaps.

I smiled to myself as my lawyer explained what legal rights I was waiving by agreeing to this prenuptial agreement. I can’t claim spousal support or all of J’s belongings if he dies without a will naming me as a his heir, yadda yadda. (I know: J and I wrote this together).

Hawaii legalized gay marriage today, I remembered, smiling some more.

I kept glancing at that couple. Their energy was contagious, and it made me feel in love. Even more so than I already felt, receiving legal counsel on a document that will help J and I move forward with our legal arrangement, an offshoot of our committed and loving relationship.

It was a lovely morning.

Prenuptial Agreement & Getting (Legally) Hitched!

School has officially taken over my life… I am hoping that it will slow down to a reasonable pace in a couple of weeks, but until then, I am eternally grateful to J for everything he has been doing: walking the dog, making the bed, making AMAZING meals, watching Games of Thrones, doing the dishes, doing laundry, and more. Sadly, blogging has taken a temporary backseat to all of my other reading and writing, but I am confident it will come back soon.

Anyways, one of the things that J and I did this past weekend was work on our prenup. Why?, you might ask. Because! We are going to get legally married soon!

Legal marriage, to us, is just about a legal financial arrangement. And we don’t agree with the way the state lays out that financial agreement. For instance, I don’t want alimony (spousal support) if J and I were to break up. And neither does he. So it was important to us to have a pre-written agreement prior to getting married.

We are thankful to J’s brother and sister-in-law for allowing us to use their postnup agreement as a starting place for ours. With J’s legal knowledge, it was relatively easy to construct our own, and then for me to send it off to a lawyer who will represent me in making sure I fully understand it and consent to it. J is representing himself (wahoo!!)

There is some weird information out there about prenups- I think there is a stereotype that they are unfair and a symbol of a broken relationship. I think, rather, they are a symbol of a communicative and healthy relationship. 

The current form of legal marriage makes sense to us in the context of a couple in which one person works outside the home and the other within it, raising kids or not. If the marriage agreement is that one person earns money and the other is a homemaker and/or raises children, it makes sense that if that couple were to divorce, the homemaker deserves some sort of spousal support.

Because this situation is not the one that J and I are entering (or plan to have), we wanted something that felt more relevant to us.

In any case, we are both excited to be legally married and reap the societal benefits offered by legal marriage. (Yes, another example of couple privilege.) If you are interested in seeing our prenup, feel free to email us and we would be happy to share this resource :)

Talk Dirty to Me: An Intimate Philosophy of Sex

I am finally trying to get through a bunch of sexy books I bought over a year ago- I just finished one. And loved it (for the most part).

Sallie Tisdsale’s Talk Dirty to Me: An Intimate Philosophy of Sex is engaging, informative, and thought-provoking. It was published in the early 90s, and some of what is in there is a bit dated, but a lot of her philosophizing on gender, sexuality, orgasm, sex, and love still applies. I bookmarked so many pages because her poetic words captured feelings of my own. (The parts I didn’t love as much were sentences here and there that I found surprisingly gendered- sort of a men-are-from-mars-women-are-from-venus sentiments. Otherwise, it was a solid read!) I also really enjoyed the parts about the intersection between law and politics and sexuality (porn, prostitution, medical laws surrounding transgender surgery, religious influences, etc.).

The book is separated into four chunks, each with a few different essays on different topics: Desire (discussions of sex, the myth of Adam and Eve, sexual orientation), Arousal (discussions of porn, prostitution), Climax (discussions of erotica, orgasm), and Resolution (discussion of breaking taboos, BDSM, transsexuals and transgenders).

I bolded my favorite parts of quotes (sorry for how many there are!! can’t help myself). Some I added explanation to, while many I let stand on their own.

Favorites from Desire

One of her opening quotes that I loved:
“Sex is, truly, not important- that is, something we can cease worrying about- only to the extent that we look at sex and see it for what it really is, and nothing more” (p6).

“Now I can see I’d lost my virginity- and lost is not the right word at all, because I never went looking for it again- years before that, when someone or other had touched me in a way so pleasurable, I couldn’t wait to be touched that way again. Sex begins, for each of us, when we feel as though we’d gone through a door and won’t be going back. Don’t want to go back” (p 34).
I love that line: “because I never went looking for it again.” I’ve thought before about defining virginity as somehow “lost” or “gone” once one goes through puberty. Her description (“when we feel as though we’d gone through a door and won’t be going back”) feels accurate for me.

I think I have, too, been seduced by the idea of same-sex sex, under the idea that this other woman will be just like me and know exactly what I want. What a silly idea.
“I have at various times in my life been seduced by homosexuality, by the very idea of it, to the same degree and with a similar sexual charge. I want its possibilities, its infinite variations on a theme. Women I recognize; they are the familiar, the known, different patterns cut from one fabric. One and one combined into more than two, additive rather than diminutive. The fantasy of homosexuality isn’t about being completed; it’s about being increased. And this is as much fiction as reality, too” (p 66).

“All relations spark with conflict from the movement toward anyone outside ourselves, since all others are inevitably apart from us, separate, ultimately unknowable. For all the ease in female friendships, my romantic and sexual attractions, my romantic and sexual attractions toward women have never felt safe or bland or controlled. They are just as risky and terrifying and pregnant with possibility as any involvement with men” (p 67-8).

“We are all in search of balance, and evening out of things, and whether we seek in our lover the ‘other’ that is missing or the ‘self’ that we recognize, it is our selves with which we are stuck” (p70).

“I believe most people are bisexual to varying extents. This seems so obvious as to sound mundane…I believe we are all penetrable, we can all penetrate, we can all be top, bottom, masculine, feminine, up and down…When we describe what attracts us, we are usually thinking too narrowly, and forgetting where our loyalties in fact lie, who our lovers really are and what they look like and how little that matters.
The range should not be zero through six [referring to the Kinsey scale], but zero through six hundred, or six thousand…Perhaps there is one sexuality for each of us…” (p 76).
I think perhaps so!! One sexuality for each person. :)

“The more I watched pornography, the more layers peeled off my experience of lust, one layer after the other, because I didn’t always like my response. When something dark and forbidden emerges, I resist still. My body is sometimes provoked by what my mind reproves” (p 97).

Favorites from Arousal

“Even when I’m not bashful in the act of purchase [of porn], I’m bashful watching. I can feel that way with friends, with my lover of many years, and I can feel that way alone. Suddenly I need to shift position, avert my eyes. Sex awakens my unconscious; pornography gives it a face. Bashful is not a bad thing, either; I’m repeatedly reminded this way that sex holds, perpetually, a special place” (p 133).

I think her views on porn and anti-porn feminists are fascinating (she is very pro-porn):
“There is so much wrong with traditional pornography. It just plain disgusts me sometimes, with its juvenile assumptions, boring repetition, lack of depth. But as much as what is wrong with porn, I see what is right: In porn, sex is separated magically from reproduction, marriage, and the heterosexual couple, all of which most feminists would argue have been oppressive to women….
Women like Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworking have allied themselves with a political camp that is also against reproductive choice, gay rights, and gender equality. Dworkin’s lurid antisex prose reads like arty dime-store pulp to me. She looks down on me and shakes her finger: Bad girl. Mustn’t touch. I’ve heard those words too many times before” (p 157-8).

I loved her essay on prostitution and sex work. She interviewed Samantha Miller, one of the co-directors of COYOTE (Call Off Your Tired Old Ethics, the oldest organization in the US for prostitutes and sex workers), and I love this passage:
” ” ‘Doing sex work is damaging,’ people say. ‘Giving all those blowjobs is damaging, it’s degrading.’ I think society’s attitude toward blowjobs it what’s degrading. Not the actual act,” says Samantha Miller. “My belief, and this is really a hard one for people to take, is that given economic equality for women-all things equal- there would still be women who would choose to do sex work, to call themselves prostitutes, to sell sex for money, however you want to say it.” ” (p 173)

She also interviews a young woman, Alex, who paid her way through college by being a prostitute. Alex’s points are right on:
” “To me, feminism is about choices for women, period…
I went to school with upper-middle-class self-identified feminist women who would argue with me in class about how prostitution contributed to the oppression of all women and how by participating in sex work I was furthering the oppression of women. Here I was, the only working-class kid in this whole classroom of upper-middle-class kids, and they were all going to tell me how horrible sex work was and how it was against feminism, and blah-blah. And it was, like, ‘Fuck you! Mommy and Daddy are paying for everything. I have nothing. Don’t you dare tell me what I can and can’t do.’ ” ” (p183).

“Say ‘sex work’ to almost anyone outside the industry, and that person will hear the word ‘sex’; ‘work’ is a distant and seemingly unimportant echo. To look at sex work as work first can turn every assumption on its head.” (p 195)
I love this point; rarely do people consider sex work as work because of the simple fact that sexual energy is involved. But the same issues involved in any other kind of work are involved in sex work- customers, colleagues, reputation, safety, skill, etc.

“The urge to romanticize the prostitute and her life is just like the urge to imagine her as infinitely sordid or as an inevitable victim- more about us than the whore. The whore scares us, the happy whore most of all, because she doesn’t need conventional rules to survive and thrive. She makes up her own” (p 204).

I love her description of her fantasies (too long to type and include here)- but it is so similar to my own. Just snapshots of different images, without any real storyline or plot:
“Some images, which have gotten so fragmentary they hardly qualify as fantasy, are twisted and nasty, and some are postcard-romantic” (p 221).

“…dominance is really about cowardice and courage, our unwillingness and inability to let go completely for even a second, and our wish to be dominated by our wish. To have sexuality itself say to us: I know what you want, baby, and I’m going to give it to you” (p 222).
Mmm I just love this one. 

Favorites from Climax

“Penis envy is about something bigger, darker, more amorphous, more instructive than the body alone. We dress up in various symbolic ways to confuse and confound others into thinking we do have one after all, a real phallus- that is, power over others, potent and permanently erect… It’s [a penis] not as dangerous looking as a vagina, the most, dark cave out of which new people come, into which goes appetite, appetite almost ceaseless” (p 238-9).

“Adam fell when Eve fed him. Sex is food, and food is sex. Hunger leads to sin, and one solution is to eat again…” (p 252).
I like this one because of my own behavior and emotional patterns around touch, sex, and food. I notice that when I am craving touch, and find it hard to get, I overeat. I look for food to satisfy the desire for touch. Sex and touch and food are, somehow, intimately intertwined in my brain.

“Young [Wayland Young, author of Eros Denied] dislikes saying one ‘has sex’ because of the obscure and evasive meaning of ‘have.’ To have something is to possess it, and a sexual relationship is a kind of possession. It means possessing moments in time that are unique, irreducible, unrepeatable. It means having had a share of another’s surrender…To ‘have’ something is a passive state, static, and experience of being rather than doing. To fuck is to do…” (p 256).
I love the word “fuck.” So good.

“I catch myself talking about safe sex now and then, glibly, as though it had no psychic meaning. But for all the simplicity of latex, for all that protecting ourselves from sexually transmitted diseases is largely a matter of a few moments of forethought, there is a great price required. In the depth of sexual passion the skin of the other has the quality of treasure; the mundane secretions our bodies make are honey, manna, light. To be cut off from each other’s fluids is a terrible thing; our fluids are meant to mingle, we long for this mingling that is both so outrageous and so pure” (p 279-80).
When I first read this, I recoiled a little- a mixture of both my public health background and my own personal insecurities around giving up fluid-bonding as a measure of primacy in my own relationship (at some point, I am sure either J or I or both will have sex without condoms with another person, and I have come to recognize this as pretty inevitable. At one point in our open relationship, I used this fluid-bonding as a marker of our primary relationship, but it shouldn’t be. Our primary relationship is about life decisions and compatibility. And while safer sex is a big concern for both of us, when one of is seeing someone else long-term, I am sure it will come up as a desire for the people involved. And I am good with that.) And I think what Tisdale says is really accurate- there is a large part of my body and brain (and I’m sure for others as well) that craves the skin-on-skin, fluid-sharing part of sex. Also- the whole idea of “fluid-bonding” (at least in how I have approached it thus far in my open relationship) needs some improving. I have swallowed other men’s come, I have scissored with women, I have unprotected oral sex with men and women. There is fluid sharing there.

“Libido, to Freud, meant more than sexual energy, it mean energy, a life force, full of emotion. Reich took Freud’s theory of libido and expanded it: If individual sexual repression led to individual neurosis, then socialized sexual repression led to socialized neurosis. Sexually repressed cultures were violent cultures, despairing, tyrannical. Sexual freedom would lead naturally to socialism” (p 287). 

Favorites from Resolution

“When people complain about how ‘exploitive’ or ‘degrading’ something like a sex club is (having never been to one), they fail to acknowledge how terrible and exploitive marriage, monogamy, and the nuclear family can be for millions of people; how painful and harmful are traditional gender roles for many people; how downright dangerous heterosexual, patriarchal culture is for all women. If radical sexuality works, if sex clubs, underground magazines, anarchic sex shows, and safe-sex education do what they aim to do, then a falling away will happen. Yes, as is feared, a crumbling of boundaries: between male and female, feminine and masculine, top and bottom, gay and straight. The center will not hold” (p 325)
I love the shivery, revolutionary feeling of this. I believe in this. 

“An erotic reality would be one in which everyone is connected to us, where there is no moral distinction between friend, lover, and stranger. Erotic reality doesn’t mean promiscuity, though promiscuity might occur; nor does it mean celibacy, though certainly celibacy would exist. Both, and everything in between, would be equivalent acts. An erotic vision is one of engagement in the lives and experiences of other people, embracing them as they are, and living fearlessly” (p 333).
I think, too, inherent in this statement is the idea that romantic love is not put on a pedestal, and seen in relation to and balanced by the the love we feel for other people in our lives. Romantic love wouldn’t be for just one person, necessarily, and it wouldn’t be seen as “better” than any other, but just a different kind of love.

“There is peace in the chaos of sex, because it is one place we can find each other in ourselves and our selves in each other” (p 337).

And from her closing paragraph; this also makes me feel strong and confident and revolutionary to read it:
“My personal sexual revolution will come when I do what I really want to do sexually, don’t do what I don’t want to do, let others do what they want to do, with a whole heart. It’s not how mundane or exotic our behavior is, but how wholehearted we are that counts. I want to be the agent of sex. I want to own sex, as though I had a right it, as though sex belonged to me, to us all. Sexual freedom in my life means forgetting about sex because sex is so much a part of me as a healthy human animal that I can hardly see it at all anymore…” (p 338).

Phone Sex

My lovely cousin recently loaned me Miranda Austin’s Phone Sex: Aural Thrills and Oral Skills. I finished it in three days!! What a hoot! Her stories are super entertaining, and many of them were arousing for me. (So if you want a combo informative book + erotica, then you may love this book)

It sparked various thoughts for me:

-The author herself is kinky and into different kinds of BDSM play (mainly, D/S and S/M). She also got something from phone sex work; it wasn’t super often that she just sat there bored, twiddling her thumbs while she faked arousal. Many of her customers had kinks or fantasies that also turned her on. Sounds like a pretty great job to me!

-I think being a phone sex worker is a much more intimate sex job that stripping is, and I would bet, more than pedestrian prostitution is. Phone sex is all about a mental connection; tapping into someone’s fantasies, figuring out what makes their brain tick so that they are physically turned on- that is intimate stuff. The physical realm can be so casual and so removed from emotion and mental connection. Not so with phone sex. (Granted, she had plenty of customers who told her what they wanted, got off in 5-10 minutes, and hung up. But many of the stories she included were about customers where there was much more of a relationship, and a consistency and depth to the relationship. And, I think those same things can definitely happen between strippers or prostitutes and regular customers. From my experience, though, it can be far easier to be present physically and not mentally. With phone sex, you have to be present mentally.) Phone sex seems extremely vulnerable, for both people, to me.

-Interestingly, phone sex is not considered prostitution or sex-for-pay and is thus legal. Also, a rule called the “900 rule” means that any phone lines starting with 900 are regulated by the FCC obscenity regulations. “Obscene speech” is not protected under the First Amendment and so phone sex workers working off of a 900 line cannot talk with you about anything illegal- incest, rape, or sex with minors. Toll-free numbers are not regulated by the FCC, though, and you can talk about anything with phone sex workers there.

-I like the fact that phone sex is a really safe form of sex!! No chance of STIs or pregnancy with phone sex! And as long as you feel mentally/emotionally safe with the person you are engaging with, you should be good there :)

-I also really like phone sex as another tool to keep up on in your sexual toolbox for use with partners. What it’s really about is dirty talk: learning what words you think are sexy, learning how to describe things in great detail, figuring out your fantasies and practicing communicating them to your partner(s). I think phone sex is hot!! I love the image of J masturbating, and so I know I would love breathing heavily into the phone, dirty talking him, visualizing him masturbating, and pleasuring myself. HOT!

-I am honestly considering trying to find a phone sex girl who is into girl-girl sex. I think it could be a really hot way for me to experience some girl-girl sex on a semi-regular basis. I’ll definitely blog about anything I try out ;)

Updated Exotic Magazine Response

After J’s editing, I wanted to post my Exotic Magazine response to the independent contractor versus employee conversation. He helped me clarify all of the tax-related info, and it is better now! :D I’ll let y’all know if they respond at all or run it!

“In response to the conversation Elle Stanger started in her article “Minimum Wage Strippers?” I have some comments and points I wanted to make:

Legally, workers are eitheremployees or independent contractors. Right now, strippers in Oregon are classified as independent contractors. Yet, many of the clubs in Portland treat strippers as employees. Clubs cannot have their cake and eat it too. Strippers deserve fair working conditions, whether that is as employees or independent contractors. Ideally, clubs could decide for themselves whether they want to classify strippers as employees or independent contractors, depending on their environment and financial structure.

Tax-wise, there are a couple of major differences between those who are categorized as employees and those who are categorized as independent contractors. Employees have taxes automatically withheld from their paychecks whereas independent contractors are expected to pay their taxes in quarterly or annual payments to the IRS. The second major difference is that independent contractors must file taxes even on very small amounts of income, unlike employees who are usually exempt from filing taxes unless they make more than roughly $5400. Also, the IRS is not limited merely to auditing employees; the IRS can also perform audits on independent contractors – even those who don’t file taxes. Tax-wise, it is illegalto not file your taxes, regardless of how much you make.

Independent contractor taxes seem really high, and it doesn’t feel fair to many strippers, many of whom don’t make a ton, to pay those. But they only seem high because they are paid in different ways. As an independent contractor you are responsible for all of your Social Security and Medicare taxes; an employee has the benefit of their employer taking on some of those taxes, so employees pay less of those taxes. Yes, as an employee, taxes are taken out of your paycheck. But depending on how much you make, those taxes may make less of a dent than independent contractor taxes otherwise would. And you are also operating legally in the tax system (as opposed to not filing your taxes).

I don’t know if it would be beneficial for strippers to be classified as employees, because I really don’t know how that might impact their total income and the tipping structure and tipping culture. But, it is not fair for clubs to exert the control they do (outfit and shoes, pubic hair, music, stage performance, private dance guidelines, mandatory tip-outs, etc.) without then giving strippers the benefits that accompany that kind of control (sick leave, workers compensation, unemployment, etc.). Clubs need to be held accountable for how they treat their workers. 

As a stripper myself, I understand that some strippers do profit from the system as it is now (and many really don’t seem to care one way or the other). However, I think that many strippers would benefit more from clubs sticking to a clear system. I think it is demoralizing to be controlled in the ways that I am at work, without also receiving the benefits of being an employee. Either, let me work the way I want to (don’t regulate my outfit, force me to pay your other employees money, or force me to dance to your music), or control my behavior (which you already do) and give me the real benefits of being an employee.”

Strippers: Independent Contractors or Employees?

A dancer recently wrote this piece for the most recent issue of Exotic Magazine: “Minimum Wage Strippers?

I have so many issues with her, and I plan to email the magazine with my response in the hopes that they print in. (They probably won’t, but at least I’ll have tried to make my perspective heard.) It seems like she completely missed the point of the whole conversation. I remember during the meeting that we both attended, she agreed that dancers should be considered either independent contractors or employees, and yet she doesn’t even mention this in her article.

Here’s my response (so far; J has yet to proofread it for me):

“In response to Elle Stanger’s “Minimum Wage Strippers?” I have some comments:

Legally, workers are eitheremployees or independent contractors. Right now, strippers in Oregon are classified as independent contractors. Yet, many of the clubs in Portland treat strippers as employees. Clubs cannot have their cake and eat it too. Strippers deserve fair working conditions, whether that is as employees or independent contractors. Ideally, clubs could decide for themselves whether they want to classify strippers as employees or independent contractors, depending on their environment and financial structure.

Tax-wise, it is illegal to not file your taxes, regardless of how much you make. The IRS can perform an audit on anyone; there isn’t some magical line of income that determines whether or not you can be audited. Small business owner taxes are really high, and it doesn’t feel fair to many strippers, many of whom don’t make a ton of money, to pay those. Yes, as an employee you would be required to pay taxes. But your taxes would be far less than an independent contractor’s. And you wouldn’t be risking an audit.

I don’t know if it would be great for strippers to be classified as employees, because I really don’t know how that might impact their total income and the tipping structure. But, it is not fair for clubs to exert the control they do (outfit and shoes, pubic hair, music, stage performance, private dance guidelines, mandatory tip-outs, etc.) without then giving strippers the benefits that accompany that kind of control (sick leave, workers compensation, unemployment, etc.). Clubs need to be held accountable for how they treat their workers.

As a stripper myself, I understand that some strippers do profit from the system as it is now. However, I think that many strippers would benefit more from clubs sticking to one clear system or the other. I think it is demoralizing to be controlled in the ways that I am at work, without also receiving the benefits of an employee. Let me work the way I want to (don’t regulate my outfit, force me to pay your other employees money, or force me to dance to your music), or control my behavior (which you already do) and give me some real perks.” 

To her credit, the same author wrote a piece for the same issue about a newly formed sex worker coalition, called the Dancers’ Initiation Coalition. The Coalition aims to promote the health and safety of dancers and sex workers in Portland through education and outreach, including connecting them to legal services. I am impressed with the mission of the DIC and excited to get in touch with the founders and see what they have planned for the organization.

Psychology Today: The End of "Normal" Sex

Marty Klein published a new article today on Psychology Today, “The End of ‘Normal’ Sex.”
I have an academic crush on Marty Klein, and so it’s hard for me to criticize his pieces and books. However, I think some vanilla friends of mine saw something in his article that I breezed past. And in the name of being balanced, I decided that I would re-read that section and think about the potential issues with his stance and choice of words.
One of the more problematic sections of his article, according to my vanillies, was the last part:
“Oh sure, millions of today’s politically conservative young people loudly demand that politicians continue to criminalize alternative sexualities–while many of them privately do those very things. The really religious ones (often home-schooled) talk about virginity until marriage, the unreliability of condoms, the horrors of commercial sex, masturbation as infidelity, and strict heterosexuality in thought, deed, and fantasy.
Until, of course, they get drunk, those blissful few hours when they love strip clubs, premarital blowjobs, and watching girls make out with girls.
They’ll support a narrow, punitive vision of normal sex once again when they sober up. But for the rest of us, no matter how ordinary our sex lives are, the days of normal sex are just about over.”

I delight in Klein because he doesn’t bullshit and he’s not afraid of making generalizations or rocking the boat. The last part of this article is a lot of that: generalizations, rocking the boat, and his unfiltered views and opinions.

A friend of a friend on FB commented that: “Interesting read, actually. Although I do have to say I tend to hold that my still being a virgin is a legit choice of sexual expression and not something I do until I’m drunk enough to [lose] my ability to choose and engage in oral. (fwiw this is my personal choice and I know others make other choices as is their right having a unique conscience). It’s just odd to me that virginity is only for homeschooled losers who don’t mean it and not a legit and robust sexual expression in its very negation.”

I think this was a good point, and I am sure Klein offended any moderate to conservative readers. It’s not fair to say that all young conservative people secretly want the liberties of casual, drunken, queer sex, or engage in them secretly. I am sure there are other people like my friend of a friend above who genuinely live by a personal integrity that posits virginity (or some other kind of more restrained sexual expression). And I agree with her stance: “still being a virgin is a legit choice of sexual expression.” Yes, it most certainly is. Abstinence and celibacy are certainly forms of sexual expression, and people who sincerely engage in those practices ought to feel healthy and happy, just as those who express their sexuality in other ways. Of course, the problematic point is when those who engage in abstinence or celibacy promote their way of sexual expression as the only, right, and moral way of expressing sexuality.

That being said, I still like Klein’s bottom-line: “normal” sex (i.e., heteronormative, virgin-until-married, missionary, monogamous) is in its final hour. And thank goodness.