Links to share this week; most are pretty long, but totally worth it:
Response: Op-ed: An Open Letter to The New Yorker
Links to share this week; most are pretty long, but totally worth it:
Response: Op-ed: An Open Letter to The New Yorker
One of my biggest life lessons from the past year or two has been learning how to hold multiple, coexisting truths that seem to contradict one another.
Recently, I was listening to and reading conversations by other dancers about empowerment in the strip industry. A few argued that the industry itself is disempowering and controlling, and so how could strippers themselves feel empowered by their work?
I would agree that the industry and system itself does not provide strippers a foundation from which to feel empowered. It’s set up to benefit employees, most of whom are male. It does cater, largely, to male eyes. It was created within patriarchal and sexist cultures, times, and places.
AND. I personally have felt empowered as an individual working within that oppressive system. I have felt in control over my body and actions, been able to feel a true ownership over my body and time, and for the first time, felt like I could truly support myself financially. My brief stint working at a gym two years ago gave me none of that. That job was disempowering.
That being said, I know that not every sex worker or stripper feels empowered by their job, and I know that I haven’t felt “empowered” by stripping every time I go dance. If customers aren’t there or aren’t tipping, when I have to tip staff out, when customers are rude or disrespectful- that chips away at my feeling of agency and personal power. And yet: I, personally, have a choice as to whether or not I engage in this oppressive system. And, I know that not every worker has this same choice. My education, other employment, whiteness, and class make my choice a true choice.
Excellent points were also made regarding the fact that sex workers have an incredible amount of pressure from media, friends, and family to say that they feel empowered by their work, in order to justify their participation in such a taboo job and industry, even if it’s not true that they feel that way. Workers of other jobs are rarely forced to justify their work as empowering.
I have also been mulling over the issue of race in sex work conversations that I read and am part of. I am disconcerted by the fact that so far in my support group (which doubled its attendance this month! wahoo!) we are all white, activist-y types, engaging in sex work that has quite a bit of autonomy attached to it. I am disconcerted by the fact that there are very few women of color voices in the stripper forum I am part of. I am aware I am missing a perspective that has been historically much more marginalized, oppressed, and disempowered than where I have come from. I am a stripper, but I am white. This piece is worth reading.
~My good thoughts and prayers are with the Isla Vista community~
I thought it would be worth collecting my favorite media responses (so far) to the Elliot Rodger incident, and posting them here. I have many thoughts and feelings about the shooting, and many others have already responded articulately and comprehensively. Many of my own thoughts have been encapsulated by others, and while I have been distressed over the shooting, I feel heartened reading all of the strong, emphatic responses by other feminists. I am distressed and saddened, knowing this will likely not be the last incident of its kind, and yet strengthened knowing that so many people I know, men and women, share a vision of gender equality and non-violence.
I posted the Laci Green video on my Facebook wall, and I was not prepared for an acquaintance from high school to side with Elliot’s misogynistic beliefs and attitudes. I have been feeling embarrassed to have such grossness on my Facebook wall, so I keep countering his comments with my own- I can’t let him have the last word on my wall, can I? I have been thankful to my friends who have also been stepping in, bolstering the side of equality. A good friend of mine, too, sent me a message that she had received from a friend of hers who was going through the exact same thing. It was inspirational, and reminded me that I didn’t need to be an “expert” in order to argue with this guy and I didn’t need to apologize to anyone for his behavior and beliefs.
My #YesAllWomen contributions (not that I am on Twitter, but if I was, these would be mine):
Vigilant when I walk by large vans
Cautious when I open my front door at night
Thought about how fast I could run if I need to escape an attacker
Worried that I haven’t taken self-defense and that if I am attacked I will be criticized for not fighting harder
Worried that if I am attacked someone will out me as a stripper and I will no longer look like a “good victim”
Thought about getting an actual guard dog so when we are walking around our neighborhood I would have another form of protection
Do you have any favorite articles on the subject that I don’t have listed? Please share! Reading other people’s thoughts, opinions, and analyses of what happened is helping me process 🙂
What If We Admitted to Children That Sex Is Primarily About Pleasure? (Sorry the ending is so cheesy everyone)
To give you an idea of the lack of sex-positivity of the community I grew up in: Bikini coffee shop agrees to change drink names
She’s not ugly in my opinion, and her body is amazing. Inspiring me to practice my head and handstands: 10+ Reasons I Love My Ugly Body
And this gem that was posted in my Open FB group:
I feel a little late to the feminist table: why hadn’t I come across the word “kyriarchy” before? I don’t know, but now I have. This post does a good job of explaining the difference between kyriarchy and patriarchy. It may seem simply like semantics, but I think the difference in definitions is important to understand.
Kyriarchy is about examining all systems of oppression and privilege, and not just the system of patriarchy and the power that men hold over women. I love this piece from post I linked to:
“Kyriarchy is more descriptive of the approach I try to take to feminism. The word considers all parts of the oppressive structure we live in evenly – no one oppression is worse or better or more important than another. We are all subject to kyriarchy, and we all benefit from kyriarchy; we all share the burden and the blame in different measures and proportions.”
And, she goes on to quote a scholar, who mentions:
“When people talk about patriarchy and then it divulges into a complex conversation about the shifting circles of privilege, power, and domination — they’re talking about kyriarchy. When you talk about power assertion of a White woman over a Brown man, that’s kyriarchy. When you talk about a Black man dominating a Brown womyn, that’s kyriarchy. It’s about the human tendency for everyone trying to take the role of lord/master within a pyramid. At it best heights, studying kyriarchy displays that it’s more than just rich, white Christian men at the tip top and, personally, they’re not the ones I find most dangerous. There’s a helluva lot more people a few levels down the pyramid who are more interested in keeping their place in the structure than to turning the pyramid upside down.”
Does that make sense? We all embody varying degrees of privileged and marginalized identities, and how we experience privilege and oppression changes depending on context. I’ve understood this phenomenon to be true, but I just never knew there was a word to describe it.
I love this concept because it helps, for me, to explain why I can experience oppression and privilege in the system of a strip club, and why I can experience both oppression and privilege walking into an academic setting or my work setting. It helps explain why a strip club customer embodies both oppression privilege. It helps me breathe a sigh of relief because our world is not so neat and tidy as being able to say “sex workers are oppressed people” or “white people are privileged people.” (Yes, I do think that most of the time in most contexts white people hold far more power than people of color- and I’ve never personally experienced a time in my life where I have felt noticeably less powerful than a person of color. But, I do think there are situations and contexts in which the power dynamic shifts).
For example, this post ventures down this path and I appreciate the writer’s analysis of kyriarchy. My beef with her post, though, is her extension into what kyriarchy means for sex workers. She immediately starts talking about workers in trafficking or abusive relationships with pimps, and discounts the experiences of workers who choose their line of work. So, I would agree with her that it is kyriarchical of her to analyze sex workers’ experiences as she does (“But, and maybe this is kyriarchal of me, when people claim that sex workers derive power from their work, it gives me pause.”)
I appreciate this article on The Guardian, and this particular passage:
“Perhaps most importantly, kyriarchy exposes a sin within the women’s movement itself: that of feminist-perpetuated oppression. (I can already hear feminists hissing at me as I type. But don’t worry – I’ll hiss at myself in the mirror later for perpetuating the stereotype of internecine cat-fighting.) When feminist commentators and charities working to “liberate” sex workers relate their tales for them, rather than letting them speak first-hand, that’s kyriarchy. It’s also kyriarchy when minority male feminists are forced to veto voting rights in equality action groups because they are male.
Kyriarchy has the potential to settle the age-old argument about “privileged” feminism once and for all. Perhaps that’s why it’s so frightening to those that balk at the term, and will dismiss this as yet another example of woman-eating-woman. It may feel counterintuitive, but recognising your own privilege doesn’t make the struggle for gender equality any less credible: it makes it more so, by allowing feminists to see that advantages – such as being born to a semi-prosperous family or being well-educated – don’t necessarily protect against, say, rape.”
Reading all of this makes me feel so much better since I have been stewing for the past month or so about the anti-Belle Knox coverage (you can’t be an empowered feminist and a porn star: the Belle Knox brand of feminism is so totally not feminism). It all seems like a bunch of bullshit (and probably because I identify with Belle Knox and think she is rad)- you certainly can be a feminist, recognize the power and privilege you engender as a young and hot woman, profit off that power, and also recognize the oppression that brought you, as a woman, to porn in the first place- and, say that you wouldn’t want to continue in porn forever. I really don’t understand why complicated motivations and identities are so scary to people. This kind of experience doesn’t hurt the feminist movement: it enriches and enlivens it, allows us to delve into the complexities of our lives, and speak up for minority experiences.
What do you think?
I wrote a post for DatingAdvice on hotwifing and cuckolding 🙂
Check it out!
Most of the new readers to my blog have arrived there because they were searching for things like “hotwifing,” “hotwife lifestyle” and “hotwife,” and my most popular posts are those on the subject.
Subreddits formed around the topic are flooded with conversation. Fetlife groups catered to the community are huge.
Search the M4MW on the casual encounters section of Craigslist and you’ll likely see a sizable group of people looking for encounters. Hotwife and cuckold porn are also common.
I think it’s taboo for men to admit they are turned on thinking about their girlfriends or wives having sex with someone else. Common worries, fears and questions I have heard include, “Does it mean they are less of a man? Or they have penis envy? Or they are gay?”
Breaking down those fears means breaking down cultural messages and assumptions related to gender identity, sexual orientation and patriarchy.
Similarly, it may be difficult for women to understand a male partner’s fascination with hotwifing or cuckolding, especially if she adheres to messages related to monogamy.
In any case, if you are turned on thinking about a partner of yours getting it on with another guy, please know you are not alone!
I think this fantasy and turn-on is probably one of the most common out there, and it is possible to explore it safely (emotionally, physically, sexually) both in your imagination and with a willing partner.”
I hafta throw it out there (with everyone and their mother) that the strangers making out video is outrageously delightful. I also love that there are two same-sex pairs in the mix. Watching the transformation from awkward to blissed and happy is awesome. (Thanks Jezebel for womping down the mood- it is an ad for clothes. Oh well.)
Feminism is having a wardrobe malfunction: I want the whole damn pie, thank you very much!
Hot Sex…with 35 People: practice safer sex folks! Get tested, use barriers, talk to you partners 🙂 Also, how cool are these commercials? Sexy, arty- a lot like Xart, no?
The Duke student and porn star pieces. This woman is fucking fantastic. All the power and love to her. Slut-shaming and patriarchy and sex work-negative culture has barraged her, and while that sucks, I am also so proud of this person for finding the courage to speak publicly about her experiences.
I am also making my way through my first book on BDD (Understanding Body Dysmorphic Disorder)- it’s like a whole huge part of myself is articulated and written down. I’ve been reading it, feeling hopeful and then depressed and then relieved and then more depressed. But overall, it’s been so helpful to know that what I’ve been dealing with for the majority of my life is a thing that I haven’t been making up.
Anything good on your phone/tablet/computer/nightstand recently?
My heart was racing, my body was trembling. I read though my letter one final, agonizing time, and pressed print. And then send.
And then it felt finished. Mostly finished anyway.
I wrote a letter to the faculty and staff at the school I just withdrew from, explaining my reasons for withdrawing. It took me about two weeks to write it. J edited it a few times, and a friend of ours did as well (thank you both for helping me with the nitty gritty part of making it sound all professional and intelligent).
Here’s my favorite part; it happens to be the concluding paragraph:
“I highly encourage the faculty members to reconsider the process in which they evaluated my experiences, to examine their own personal values and perspectives related to sex work and social justice, and to be more mindful of the messages they give to students regarding sharing personal information and the potential ramifications of sharing that information. I also request that the faculty, on behalf of future and current students, consider how they will include and exclude various populations from this profession for which they are gatekeepers. If sex workers, in the opinion of this institution, cannot become competent and ethical therapists, then perhaps the school should include that piece of information in the application process as well as consider the ethics and legality of such a claim.”
I have mostly felt really good about my decision, with the occasional twinge and shade of regret and questioning that seeps into the back of my brain (are you sure that was the right decision? why couldn’t you just stop dancing and agree with your professor so you could stay? most people would think you’re crazy! what if you were just being idealistic and radical? what if there isn’t a program that will feel right? you should have just stayed!). And then I shake it off when I remember the absurdity of the situation and try to imagine myself staying there given the atmosphere. This has been my mantra lately; I love this quote so much that I got a wall decoration with it:
Life IS short. Why waste it on an institution that clearly is un-supportive of my perspectives and experiences? Especially when I can be me somewhere else?
I am talking to a reporter about my experience at my school. We’re waiting to see if I receive any kind of response from the school before moving forward with a formal story. I’ll keep y’all posted on that one for sure.
During the course of talking to my advisor yesterday (who, thankfully, is totally on my side), I was informed that not only are the other faculty members outraged at the ethical violations inherent in being a stripper while also training to become a therapist, they are outraged at how being a stripper contributes to further injustice in the world.
Apparently, stripping supports The Patriarchy, contributes to the objectification and violence against women, and supports trafficking of girls.
Like I discussed earlier about patriarchy and stripping, I think this world is full of “both/and,” and far less of “either/or.” I will not disagree that by participating in stripping I am supporting the “male gaze.” I also think there is more to my story of stripping.
What matters, to me, is the personal intention, awareness, and small-scale action that takes place within oppressive structures.
What about my classmates who work at Target, an anti-LGBTQ company? Or classmates who are all about the bling (one, in fact, owns more than 500 pairs of shoes) and thus pay more attention to their material acquisitions than the fact that their consumerism and materialism contributes to the oppression of the poor? What about classmates who smoke and contribute to second-hand and third-hand smoke? Or, heaven forbid, what about my classmates who go to strip clubs as patrons?
This is about sex and it’s about sex work.
Like another student said to me yesterday: It’s pretty terrible how many times faculty in our program force others to sacrifice personal justice in the name of “social justice.”
Who gets to decide how an individual contributes to social justice or injustice? Especially over something so gray as the work that one does to support oneself?
The professor I met with said: It’s not about the exotic dancing.
But it is. There’s no way around that one.
I bought this shirt a couple of weeks ago, and it finally arrived yesterday:
A bartender at my club was wearing it, and I instantly fell in love with the design, the sentence structure, the many meanings. It feels provocative and powerful to me, disrupting ideas of patriarchy and slut-shaming in subtle and shifty ways. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.
Does it refer to the service industry? The young and underemployed? Strippers? Who are the losers?
How do I feel identifying as a “beautiful loser”?
How would this shirt be different without the word “beautiful”: Support your local losers ? Why does being beautiful matter in also being a loser? I have some ideas… Do you?
If you want one, search for Bandit Brand on Etsy and email the owner. She made one for me when I messaged her saying I desperately wanted one!! 🙂
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