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Man Calls Cops on Stripper That Won’t Screw Him: Stripping Isn’t Sex Work Lite

(Image by Nicolas Royne,  via Flickr and the Creative Commons)
(Image by Nicolas Royne, via Flickr and the Creative Commons)

One of the brightest spots of sex work activism is when some bright-eyed bushy-tailed sex-worker-to-be finds her way into the space and wants to know the best way to get into our sordid business. “Come, little one! Join me in the fresh hellscape that is the business of selling sexual services,” I declare, fancying my mentorship style half old-school brothel manager chain-smoking Virginia Slims, half Archimedes the uptight but good-hearted owl from Disney’s Sword in the Stone. But one of the darker spots of the same situation is when these apprentices say things like, “I think I could start with something easy like stripping.” Oh, girl. You did not.

It is times like this that I wish I had this story in my back pocket to pull out and give to would-be strippers that think dancing is the Diet Coke of sex work. It is the story of a man with a shit-eating grin and a monumental sense of entitlement calling the police on a stripper who denied him sex in a VIP room in the appropriately named city of Butte, Montana. To recap, this man believed that the denial of sex from a stripper was not only a criminal offense but a criminal offense worth escalating to involvement with law enforcement. The sense of entitlement to sexual services beyond the ones on the official job descriptions are ones to which strippers are subjected regularly. While it is newsworthy because the guy actually called the cops, strippers know that boundary-pushing clients are part and parcel of the sexual and emotional labor of stripping.

The Annual Sausage Fest

Hahaha... Quit it.  Image via Enriquesantos.com
Hahaha… Quit it.
Image via Enriquesantos.com

Last night, a friend and a few of the girls from work and I headed to a strip club for the annual sausage fest. One night a year, this club shuts down, kicks the female strippers out, and brings out the male strippers. Pudgy Midwestern housewives and sassy eighteen-year-olds alike pour into this place, begging to see men with beefy bodies and thong-draped dicks. So much so, that after the release of Magic Mike this past year, the very large multi-level club had to start taking advance reservations just to get in the door.

My group had such a reservation, and on stripper-time we were early. (By early, I mean, a half-hour late.) Parking was spilling out into the road. Approaching the door, several people told us to turn around and go home; they were only letting reservations in. Ahead, we heard chants of “LET US IN, LET US IN,” from over two hundred angry, horny, determined women. I’d seen male strippers before, and I knew women were generally poorly behaved in strip clubs…but this? There wasn’t even a sausage in sight, yet.

We made it through the crowd of hornballs, and were escorted to the cashier. It was twelve bucks to get in, and we were told there was no available seating remaining. Excellent. The first dancer started, a completely decked-out Fireman, and coworker AI and I knew what we were in for. We’d seen this guy before. He tried to jackhammer AI to death [?] at the last small male revue.

I guess male strippers are in short supply in the Midwest.

Newsweek Embraces Melissa Farley’s Unscrupulous Crusade

Farley in action, probably explaining how all prostitutes are "slaves"

It’s common knowledge ’round these parts, and in every sex worker activist circle I’ve ever bumped up against, that the work Melissa Farley does is misleading, ill-intentioned, and downright vile in the way it determinedly misrepresents the whole truth. She’s a self professed “abolitionist,” meaning she wants sex work (and by necessary extension, sex workers) to be eradicated, and everything she’s ever done in this arena has been deliberately intended to further her point of view. This is not how real academics are trusted to work; like scientists, they’re expected to go after information in an attempt to minimize their own bias, not cater to it. And, as was true in the case of Ashton Kutcher, real activists deal with complex realities. They don’t require and supply a histrionic alterna-world where there’s only one story.

It’s always easy to spot the glaring flaws in Farley’s “reasoning.” She habitually ignores the existence of men who sell sex or women who buy it. (That includes porn, lap dances, etc.) She relies on emotional appeal. She draws from self-selected and otherwise skewed populations and treats them as definitive, expansive samples. She equivocates to serve her ideology. (Prostitutes are raped because they are in a job that “exposes them” to rape, not because laws around that job make them  unusually vulnerable.) This is a woman who once called indoor sex workers “house ni****s.” You could play a “spot the logical fallacy” drinking game with almost any one of her articles and end up with your stomach pumped.

When she argued against legal prostitution for The Economist, readers across the pond overwhelmingly rejected her shoddy case. Empower Thailand commented, movingly:

Miss Farley called us terrible names and accused us of being like toilets! She never talked to any us for her research […] We wish powerful women like you would stand beside us instead of against us. Many other professions have developed from slave like conditions into occupations we all respect today like wife, child care, soldiering, construction, farming, domestic worker and nursing. Why won’t you respect us?

It’s a question Farley is not inclined to answer. She’s very much in favor of dominating the discussion, and she often gets away with it.* She won’t acknowledge sex workers who want rights, because giving us the ability to better control our own labor is not the equivalent of halting that labor altogether. And now Newsweek has given her the floor.

So You Think You Can Fuck A Sex Worker For Free?

(Courtesy of Instagram user local_._honey)
(Courtesy of Instagram user local_._honey)

Sit down. I have news for you. If you’re trying to date or hook up with someone you know from their work in escorting or porn, without paying them, your chances of success are close to zero. This is true even if we favorite your adoring comments on Twitter.

It may come as a shock to hear this. You may feel like sexual attraction is only part of the connection you have with this worker, and that paying would deny the authenticity of that. Or maybe you think that you are a really good (looking) person and only creepy or unattractive people pay. Maybe both you and the sex worker are queer and/or have similar politics. You know sex workers and are down with decriminalization. There are many reasons you may feel you are exceptional.

You are operating under a basic misunderstanding of who we are and what we are doing. Which is this:

1. Portraying an inviting version of ourselves, one with genuine elements but oriented to be pleasing to as many people as possible.
2. …because we are trying to make a fucking living.

I am not writing this to make you feel foolish. I am writing this because in the last week I’ve had multiple experiences of people approaching me in person, calling me on the phone, and hitting me up on social media trying to have unpaid sex with me. It’s been hard to turn people down, because as both an escort and a porn performer, I am not trying to get a reputation as a “mean person”. When I do turn people down directly, they don’t listen or they’re patronizing as fuck. An anonymous internet post telling you how it makes me feel is really the best I (and tons of other sex workers) can do in the hope you get the message.

I feel devalued and strung along. When people contact me by way of my ad or social media I assume they are interested in seeing me as an escort. I’m excited and open in response. I like my job, I like meeting people, and most importantly, I like making the money I need to survive. When I realize that you’ve called me to jerk off or that you want to take me out to dinner and try to woo me into unpaid sex, I go through an emotional arc from excitement to confusion to pure rage. That is not the start of a good relationship.

Dear Ms. Harm Reduction: Make Them Wear Condoms

Visual approximation of Ms. Harm Reduction as the Durex spokesperson. (Photo by David Lisbona [Flickr user dlisbona] via the Creative Commons.)
Visual approximation of Ms. Harm Reduction as the Durex spokesperson. (Photo by David Lisbona [Flickr user dlisbona])
Dear Ms. Harm Reduction,
I am transitioning into full service work, and need help getting clients to use condoms. One sugar daddy in particular has had a vasectomy, and a recent clean test, so he prefers no condoms for any activity. But I still feel uncomfortable with this. How can I negotiate to protect myself? On a related note, do you know where low income/uninsured women can get the HPV vaccine for free? I am over 26 years old, in California, if that matters. I really want to be as safe as possible while still earning money in this industry.

Best,

Need ‘Em Wrapped