Guest post by Meredith Kirby
Getting home from a long night at the strip club is always nice. I take my makeup off, eat a nice meal, drink a tall glass of water, and sometimes take a bath with Epsom salts to soothe my sore muscles. If I’m still feeling awake, I might sit down and write for a while.
I’d say that a normal workday for me is not too unlike anyone else’s.
I commute, chat with my coworkers, negotiate with clients, take breaks, and pull the occasional double shift. Sometimes I’m in a crabby mood, and sometimes I’m in a great mood. Sometimes it flies by, and sometimes I’m watching the clock. When I’m not working in the actual “office,” I’m spending time improving my skillsets, networking, and looking for future opportunities.
I, like you, am not required to justify my life choices to anyone.
That said, I am asked the question “why do you do what you do? “ pretty frequently. I’d like to help to normalize the kind of work I do and dissolve the stigma around it, as well as satisfy everyone’s curiosity.
More words need to be written about the sex industry by people who work in the sex industry.
Why I have the right to be a sex worker
Often the question “why are you a sex worker?” is the question “what gives you the right to be a sex worker?” in disguise.
The fact is that my body belongs to me, and if I want to show it to people, that is my prerogative.
There’s clearly a market for people who want to look at naked bodies because I have never had a shortage of clients for longer than the occasional slow shift. Two consenting adults engaging in an interaction such as looking at and being looked at is absolutely no one’s business but their own, regardless of whether there is money involved.
I find it odd that people use phrases like “selling her body” to describe what I’m doing three or four days a week. It’s as if I’m selling off fingers and toes for tip money– giving away pieces of myself which I could never possibly get back. How is there any of me left?
I have news for you.
I’m not “selling my body” any more than a fruit picker, a coal miner, an athlete, or a ballerina; and neither is any other stripper, camgirl, pornstar, sugar baby, escort, or full-service sex worker.
What we are selling is our time, and it’s just as valuable as we are knowledgeable and skilled, just like in any other line of work.
“If you consider a woman less pure after you’ve touched her
maybe you should take a look at your hands.”
― Kaija Sabbah
Why I choose to be a sex worker
Money is the reason why I am any kind of worker.
If we didn’t need money to get by in the world…well, I would hopefully be lounging on a beach somewhere right now drinking some nice scotch.
Stripping pays better than most jobs available to me, a twenty-something who is finishing a college degree. It also has a flexible schedule and a lot of options for different places to work.
Here in Oregon, strippers are independent contractors. It’s nice to be able to get paid when I want to, on my own terms.
There are many things about dancing that I personally enjoy for their own sake.
Learning to pole dance has been a fun, athletic and creative pursuit. I enjoy talking to people and learning about their lives. You never know who you’re going to meet in the strip club, and I get to hear different perspectives on the world all the time.
Also, I like being admired, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
I’m often complimented at work – not just on my physical appearance, but on my dancing skills, my demeanor, my attitude, my humor, my intelligence, my sexiness, and my kindness.
Being appreciated for all of the things that make me an enjoyable woman to be around definitely feels good.
Empathy for other people
Strip clubs create a safe space where people can explore their sexuality and private selves.
Strippers will listen to you rant about your life, your problems, and your weird kinks– and we don’t even care if you’re staring at our cleavage while you do it. I’ve met a lot of people going through hard times in the strip club, and I like to think that hanging out with them and letting them have a little bit of fun has helped them.
Sometimes you just need a neutral person to talk to who isn’t going to judge you. I’ve heard my profession compared to being a counselor or therapist on multiple occasions, and I’ve known a few strippers who have gone into that line of work after retiring from stripping.
My own healing and personal growth
I’ve been in abusive relationships in the past, and I feel that doing this kind of work has helped me to heal my relationship with men in general.
I’m not a pushover anymore – I’ve become much better at setting firm, clear boundaries with men. It feels good to be able to say “no” in a safe environment where I’m protected from anyone who doesn’t want to respect it.
I also find myself feeling more compassion towards men, while previously I had sort of a general frustration towards an entire gender. Men still frustrate me sometimes, of course; but talking to more of them has helped me to better understand their perspective.
Men have their own set of issues to deal with just by being born men, just like women do. It seems that men who visit strip clubs are often seeking an affirmation of their masculinity, which they may otherwise be missing in their lives for whatever reason.
The right to control our own bodies is something that women have always struggled for.
While in most parts of the world we are no longer considered the property of our husbands, and also have the right to do things like vote, drive and go to college; there are still hurdles for women to overcome in order to have the same human rights as men globally.
Sex work acknowledges the fact that men are not “owed” sex, and also that the time, attention and emotional labor given by women is extremely valuable. I value my own emotional labor much more highly now, and I no longer give it away for free to people who don’t deserve it.
Sex work acknowledges the fact that I own my body, and that the beauty and power of my sexuality is mine to command, nobody else’s
That, my dear, is why I’m a sex worker.