afastgirlSuzy Favor Hamilton’s autobiography, Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running From Madness, catalogs the Olympic runner’s experience with mental illness, her career shift from professional mid-distance running to high-end escorting, and her eventual outing and diagnosis as bipolar. Following the birth of her daughter and her retirement from running, Favor Hamilton found her career path fraught and unsatisfactory, its travails amplified by her growing problems with postpartum depression and bipolar. Eventually, the media outed her as a sex worker, exacerbating her struggles.

From growing up picked on by her bipolar brother in small town Wisconsin, to her love/hate relationship with the athletic talent she built into a career, and the way that relationship shaped her psyche and primed her for sex work, Fast Girl covers a wide range of material. It is also one of the more honest memoirs I’ve seen on the day-to-day struggle of being bipolar, and how the disorder can escalate.

I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. My thoughts upon reading the book were filtered through my own experiences with the illness: some of these ideas may seem strange if you haven’t lived with bipolar disorder, or lived with someone who copes with it.

In my experience, an important thing to understand about living with bipolar disorder is that it doesn’t always make sense to those who don’t suffer from the disease. Triggers might be minor, like someone looking at you wrong. You might never find out exactly what association triggered your most recent bipolar episode. Sometimes you do know exactly what the trigger is, but even when you know, you can’t really stop it, only remind yourself your perceptions aren’t reflecting reality.

At times, bipolar made my work in a strip club a hell in which I was irrationally afraid of accepting drinks, terrified that every customer was laughing at me. It made me second guess every moment so thoroughly that suicide sometimes felt like a logical post-shift endeavor. At its worst, this illness makes me question everything about myself: my agency, my sanity, my humanity, my very perceptions. My body and mind became communal property- things for others to manage without my input, sometimes overriding my preferences.

Accepting treatment for a mental illness like bipolar can feel like a violation to me. I have to accept that it’s not about me, it’s about what people around me want for me. Maybe I want it, too, but accepting that treatment means accepting I won’t be the arbiter of what’s “right” for myself. That is left to the family members who can no longer handle my outbursts, or the doctor who thinks that no matter how I feel now, it’s worth reaching for something even better by shifting the med dosages, even at the risk of the new doses making me sick.

That level of outside authority is one that women who’ve grown up in a patriarchal society are already used to. We’ve had it enforced from birth that our wishes and agency are second to the men around us, second to our families, second to the comfort of our community, etc. Favor Hamilton’s story is rife with that conflict, even in instances unconnected with her mental health or sex work. From the other department’s coach in college who videotaped her breasts as she ran, with no negative consequences; to the coach who dictated her sex life after her marriage; to the spectators and competitors who claimed her main talent was her beauty; to her dad’s pushiness and embarrassment in response to her swimsuit calendar modeling, the list goes on and on.



Nobody liked Logan.

Nobody liked Logan.

Dear Tits and Sass,

I was with my boyfriend for two years and we decided to take a break at the beginning of this year, shortly after which I began stripping. We recently got back together and I still can’t pluck up the courage to tell him about my new job, which I love. Problem is, his ex-wife was a stripper and he harbors a lot of negative attitude towards strippers and the sex industry in general, and has said some things that make me uncomfortable telling him (“I couldn’t date another stripper”) as well as the fact I’m scared he would tell my parents out of concern. The longer I keep it from him the worse it will look, and besides I think he suspects it already. Help, please!

Thank you,
Secret Stripper [READ MORE]


oh yeah is that the problem, Nick? Maybe stop helping cops, then.

oh yeah is that the problem, Nick? Maybe stop helping cops, then.

Virulently transphobic and whorephobic radical “feminist” lawyer Cathy Brennan was at it again this week on twitter, intensifying her campaign of terror against trans women by threatening to out trans sex workers. One trans sex worker whom Brennan has victimized told Tits and Sass, “She has a webpage for me on her…site, where I sit alongside male rapists and murderers, and she accuses me of misogyny. She has collected information from various social media profiles of mine, and [g]ives links so her followers can harass me. She has collected all this information together with what she believes to be my real name. I fully believe if I were ever to say on twitter I had found a job outside sex work she would attempt to contact them [a]nd show them my adultwork profile. The irony of her being anti sex work yet in a position where she would make any other job impossible [for the sex workers she outs] is particularly bitter. She only ever picks on people without the resources or backup to challenge her. She’s a bully, and seems determined not to stop until some one is dead. Maybe not even then.” Thankfully, twitter has once again suspended Brennan’s accounts.

The former White House official behind twitter account @NatSecWonk, who notoriously ridiculed the D.C. National Security community, is allegedly also behind infamous escort client twitter account @DCHobbyist. Sic semper hagglers!

In the wake of being raped and beaten by a client, a sex worker in California fights discrimination in victims’ aid.

NYTimes writer and sweatshop advocate Nicholas Kristof  livetweeted a trafficking op in a “southern U.S. city” last night. He seems to have edged close to, but then backed off of, self-awareness. Kristof pulled this kind of stunt before when he livetweeted a brothel raid in Cambodia. Read Melissa Gira Grant’s Kristof primer for more on his white savior antics.

The Somaly Mam Foundation, named for Kristof’s partner in the Cambodia raid, has come under scrutiny for fraud. This feature in Cambodia Daily talks about woman who was coached by Mam to lie about her trafficking victim history in a documentary. This Metafilter post collects several stories about the questionable financial practices within the foundation, which participates in the unlawful arrest and detention of Cambodian sex workers.

You know what’s news this week? Justin Bieber groping a stripper’s ass. Hands to yourself, Bieber. The stripper in question later tweeted, “I’ve Danced For A lot Of Celebrities And They Normally Don’t Phase Me But Justin just Had Me In Shock !” No, we don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, either.

The University of York’s student paper, Nouse, and the Huffington Post still seem surprised that students often use sex work to fund their education. Yawn. Meanwhile, the former chief constable of  the South Wales police spoke out in support of a new study into the extent of student sex work in Wales at Swansea University.  We yawned yet again at ex-chief constable’s Barbara Wilder’s specious distinction between students and those OTHER sex workers: “[T]hey [the prostitutes Wilder encountered before] were mainly people who had drug addiction or had mental health problems or in really desperate desperate financial situations. They were often driven into it with no choice. Whereas with students we think we are dealing with a different set of circumstances. They are intelligent, starting their lives.”

Ex-porn performer/current anti porn activist Alexa Cruz/Vanessa Belmond shared her story on British TV show Date My Porn Star, claiming that, ““[n]obody really wants to date a porn star, stripper or escort. Also the whole family thing and having kids, I’m like ‘who’s gonna have kids with an ex-porn star.’ ” Many of our partners and children would disagree.

The Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, Astitva Sansthan, and other Calcutta sex workers’ rights organizations protest an anti-trafficking law that criminalizes their brothel clients.

An abandonedVictorian brothel was turned into a temporary art gallery, with employee files and other confidential information on display as part of the installation. Thankfully, local sex workers convinced the gallery’s management to close it down.

Police in Scotland plan to use condoms as evidence. The Conversation gave us another entry to file under The Headline Says It All, documenting the outraged responses of Scottish NGOs: “Police Attitude to Sex Saunas is Wrong, Bizarre, and Dangerous.”


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One way to convince your parents stripping might work out

One way to convince your parents stripping might work out

Hello Tits and Sass,

I am a dancer in Canada and have been reading your great blog for over a year; I have also had the recent experience of being outed to my parents a couple of days ago. I have only just turned 20 so I haven’t moved out yet and am extremely mixed up about how to deal with the situation calmly. I am cut off from any coworkers for a few days (so I have no women who understand my perspective to ask advice from) and my parents are attempting to take control and make me quit (which I have no desire to comply with, I have been stripping for a year and am happy). If anyone has any words of wisdom, a post about the topic would greatly be appreciated.

Best regards, Claire [READ MORE]

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from the @AngryStripper Twitter feed

Today the Houston Press published a blog post by Richard Connelly about stripper blogger/tweeter @AngryStripper (Sarahtress), with what they seem to think is the bombshell revelation that a stripper is also a journalist working for the local daily. But really. How closeted is a stripper who posts face photos and whose Twitter profile lists something close to her real full name?

Sarah is kind of snobby in her stripper posts and tweets, but her bluntness is part of her charm (except for the occasional racism). Reading that she writes society coverage for the Houston Chronicle is unsurprising to readers familiar with her sweetly bitchy tone. Plus, what better background could there possibly be for covering Houston socialites? Anna Nicole Smith was far from the only woman to go from stripping at Rick’s to marrying a millionaire, y’all. There are undoubtedly a good number of former dancers and escorts among the women throwing charity balls and volunteering at (probably) MD Anderson. [READ MORE]