Home Activism I Think I Just Figured Out SlutWalk

I Think I Just Figured Out SlutWalk

By Man Alive! on flickr

It was Sunday night at the club where I dance, near the end of my shift, when my friend and bartender introduced me to five of her childhood friends. They were all male of course; she’s such a tomboy that I wouldn’t expect anything else. I politely did my rounds, shook hands and made introductions. Hello, Wes, friend since kindergarten. Hi, Brian, friend since sixth grade. How is Arizona? Welcome to Portland, Oregon. My bartender pulled me aside quickly and whispered in my ear how she had brought them here to see me dance. “I told them all, ‘You’re gonna fall in love with this girl Elle.’” I was flattered and thanked her and squeezed her hand as I continued onto the small stage.

The rack was full. There were three young women who looked like newbies, the owner and his date, and the bartender’s male friends at the end of the row. Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs” began.

I’ve danced to that song dozens of times, and I allowed the beat and lyrics to direct my movements and maintained eye contact with each member of my audience as the dancing would allow. The truth is, I was exhausted. Money had been horrible that evening and I was simply relieved to be nearly finished for the night.

The second song was The Black Keys’ “Everlasting Light”. The thump-thump swoosh of the beat is uplifting and cool, and I was planning to ride out the next three minutes, as I had a hundred times before. Strippers who dance to a hundred songs a week know that each one can’t always be special. Moving to the center of the stage, I prepared to make my grand finale leap onto the center pole. Nude except for my two inch heels, I felt for the bars above my head to steady myself before jumping from the stage. Suddenly, I felt a crumpled, single dollar being shoved up my vagina.

Steadying myself, I turned and dropped to my knees to face my violator. It was one of the Arizona boys. He wore a huge grin on his face. The music was still thumping, I had missed my cue, but in my mind the room was silent. My face twitching, my bare ass still feeling the paper inside it, I pushed my face into his.

“Don’t you ever. Ever. Don’t you ever fucking do that, ever again.”

He giggled.

I pushed my finger hard into his soft chest, below his sternum, where I know it hurts; and continued in my deepest voice. “I’m serious. I could have fallen.”

The smile left his face as he realized I was serious. I felt my mouth twitching. It took everything I had to not jab his throat, cup my hand to his ear to burst his ear drums, chop him in the throat, tackle him to the ground, and break his elbows. I train for physical confrontation. I do not, however, train for conflict resolution when my boss is sitting two seats away.

At that moment, the bartender came over to throw money on the stage and leaned in to see what was going on. I told her, “This fucking guy shoved a dollar bill up inside me.”

I saw the look of horror on her face, and she began to berate him. The damage done, I had to finish my song. I took a deep breath and exhaled, a smile on my face, examining my audience as I swing around the pole, light as a feather. The owner and his date were still in conversation. I doubt they saw a thing. The three young newbies still wore the same smiles as before. They probably didn’t understand the gravity of what they just witnessed.

When my song was over, I collected my money, thanking only one side of the stage. The bartender was still yelling at the perpetrator. I tried not to stomp down the stairs to our dressing room while biting the insides of my cheeks to hold back tears. I cried to my coworkers, dressed, wiped my face, counted my tip-out and climbed the stairs.

As I approached the top, I hear the perpetrator speak. “If she didn’t want it then she wouldn’t have put it in my face.”

I couldn’t help myself. I dropped my suitcase to the floor and charged over to this man. This behemoth in a baseball cap had no idea what he had done to me. Facing him, I poked him hard in the stomach with my extended fingers—an unwelcome touch I’m sure. “You motherfucker. Don’t you ever touch me again, you fucking bastard.” He took two steps back and his friends circled around us, but no one pulled me aside. I was ready to fight him. I spend time on the mat with men stronger, bigger and better instructed than this lard-ass, and I was prepared to take him down. I wanted to. I hadn’t felt that kind of anger in years.

Suddenly, the DJ, bouncer and bartender-friend were behind me, asking me to Stop Stop, Go Downstairs. I had a brief moment of clarity and turned hard on my heel and retreated to the back of the room.

Bartender-friend approached me as I was leaving. She couldn’t stop apologizing. I told her it wasn’t her fault, but she insisted, “No, I brought them here.” She teared up and hugged me. She really felt responsible. I grabbed her arms, held them at her sides, and looked into her eyes.

“It’s not your fault. It’s his fault. You didn’t make him DO what he did. That was his choice. Not yours.”

I cried driving home that night. I felt good for facing my attacker. Most women don’t ever get that chance. Yes, I wasn’t raped, but I felt assaulted. It wasn’t the first time and perhaps will not be the last.

I slept heavily that night, and awoke in the morning nestled in my boyfriend’s armpit. I breathed him in deeply, stretched back on my knees and thought. In the light of our bedroom, I said “I think I just figured out SlutWalk.”

Last year, Canadian Constable Michael Sanguinetti summed up an entire viewpoint of victimization at a conference. “Women can avoid being raped by not dressing like sluts.” What did my perpetrator say? “If she didn’t want it she wouldn’t have put it in my face.”

SlutWalk won’t change much. Men who rape are still going to need to dominate and harm their victims. Men and women who disregard the rights of others because of the perception they have of those people aren’t going to stop believing that those people deserve it. Let’s face it, SlutWalk isn’t going to prevent victims from being created.

But it will create unity among survivors which have already been through it. SlutWalk means unity. It means I’m going to walk among women and men who have been there, who refuse to be silenced any longer. Who will confront the truth, even if they never have the opportunity to confront their attacker.

I’ll be there.



  1. This article made my jaw drop and tears spring to my eyes. I cannot imagine that level of violation. I was a customer at a wonderful, favourite titty bar, and getting a shot from my favourite shot girl. Some drunk yahoos were whooping and cheering and clapping nearby, as I’m a slim attractive female. Mid shot-dance, I felt it. A dollar being shoved down my crew-necked baseball shirt as far as he could reach his hand. My eyes flicked to him, wide in shock, waggling my finger like a schoolmarm at first. Then, I yelled at him. I shook. I couldn’t believe the balls on the guy who shoved a dollar down my shirt, acting like it was all part of the show, like I was there for his entertainment, and I wasn’t buying a shot from my girl because I genuinely like her and knew she gave a great dance with her shots. She was pretty wasted, so didn’t realize what had happened to me. You can’t touch a dancer (at this joint, anyway), but that makes it okay to touch a patron because she’s a girl? UGH. So awful. But that’s nothing compared to having a dollar shoved up your vadge just because you’re nude. That’s appalling behaviour, even when I know guys will take a mile when you give them an inch.

    • I can’t believe the audacity of that man. (While I don’t see being in a strip club an excuse to violate the dancers, of course) I never thought of the danger a female customer would have to face. It enrages me that men think they can treat any woman like that, even in such an environment.

  2. Ill be seeing you at Slutwalk with many of my good friends who have the same beliefs and anger against pompous bastards like the one in your blog. Fuck that guy. I don’t understand what goes through a person’s mind when they think its ok to shove anything anywhere on anybody else. You showed excellent restraint-far more than I would have ever been able to. But then, you are a professional and an adult. I’m glad you have the comfort of your boyfriend to remind you that not every swinging dick is a trespassing fucktard.

  3. I will never forget the night I went out to a Vegas club with two friends. We were having the time of our lives, just enjoying the good company and music. Eventually my girlfriend and I got up on those platforms in the center of the floor that every Vegas clubs has. We were completely wrapped up in each other, flirting, dancing—and then I started to feel hands grabbing at my inner thighs, fingers jammed up between my labia. I hadn’t worn underwear because it was summer and I was more comfortable that way, which meant every asshole going for a grope had virtually no interference. I was drunk and confused enough to have a very slow reaction time, but I would try to kick at the guys below or yell at them. I think my girlfriend actually slapped one in the face. (They were doing the same to her.) But regardless of the number of times we told them to stop, or how we asked/told, they didn’t. In fact, it felt like more of them started doing it when they saw the others. So of course we got down and left soon after since I didn’t even feel safe dancing on the floor knowing that so many of those men were still in the crowd. It was one of the most violating experiences of my life—and it didn’t happen while I was working. Your story reminded me of that feeling. I’m so sorry it happened to you.

  4. I just barfed in my mouth thinking about that scene Charlotte. I just dont understand that thought process! It’s sad that the world has had to create things like spiked vagina inserts for women who may be raped to at least damage the dick, but that’s not a preventative measure, that’s just an after effect for the guy but the woman still has to survive the attack. People are disgusting.

  5. I know that guys sometimes get ‘handsy’ and I know you shut that down pretty quick, because you’re a woman with great self-respect and inner strength. What he did was WAY over the top. I can’t even fathom what caused him to think that was ok. If it were my club… You wouldn’t have been able to face him a second time because he’d be gone so fast he’d wonder if he’d ever been in the bar at all. And he’d leave feeling lucky he didn’t leave with a broken bone or two.

  6. AAARG. that sucks so bad!!! i hate that that happened to you. once a guy stick his entire (un-lubed, i might add) thumb up my ass while i was giving him a lap-dance, and kept it there as i struggled against him. it wasn’t until i screamed for the bouncer that he took it out. it was pretty awful and also it physically hurt. he laughed all the way to the door, as he was being escorted out of the club, like a kid being dragged to the principal’s office who knows he’s getting in trouble but feels like it was worth the infraction. i’ve had several other errant fingers-up-the-vag but this incident really stuck with me in its terribleness.

  7. Andi- I had something similar happen to me, only it was a woman. We have a pit we walk around to collect tips and after our first dollar we ask if they want us to turn around. Usually I watch over my shoulder, but this time it was a woman so I thought NBD. This fucking asshole shoved two fingers with a dollar bill wrapped around them up my ass. Her reaction? A really bitchy laugh and grin. Her punishment after I told a bouncer? to be sat at a different table. I never felt so let down in my life.

  8. I’m glad you stood up for yourself. I worked with you for a few months in 2009 and I always knew you weren’t the kind of girl who took shit from anyone. I admire(d) you for that.

  9. That is awful, I hate people thinking an environment like a strip club means they have carte blanche to act like misogynist intrusive assholes. Strippers may have a higher tolerance for partying hard, overexcited customers, being propositioned by sleazy guys and drug dealers etc, but moments like that definitely suck. Sex work may be frowned on by the mainstream, but it’s WORK, as in consensual and voluntary, not an invitation for boundary violations, rape and violence, but there will always by those kinds of men exploiting negative stereotypes to pull shit and get off easy 🙁

    • well said! and dear blogger, the slutwalk might not change laws or have a quantifyable effect, but the fact that I, a nearly unmolested, academic underachiever housewife am reading your blog, am outraged with you and post a ‘lik’ on my FB wall is a tangible connection and a tangible change in my world. I come from a country where even prostitution (and I am not implying that dancing is the same job at all, I really don’t) is legal. and the idea that women who work in a sexualised envirnment are not more protected has made the lawyer me always on edge. I am with you. I’d be with you if you’d flied charges (which I think even in this mysogynist country) you’d be entitled to (even if I understand why you wouldn’t). the slutwlak may change nothing in the minds of teh assholes, but the assholes are not the problem, the silent majority is. the silent majority who is uncomfortable thinking about such things and thus prone to go with the *flow*, and the flwo can get determined by the fringe (as is happening right now, it gets definied by the repepetive verbal intrusions and insinuation in courts) or by those who have thought about it, and suddenly the ‘mainstream’ gets hammered with a rationale that is different. I have a friend who is deeply oposed to teh slutwalk because ‘notoriety has never lead to change’ I told her more than once: that is is the only thing how women ever have changed things. We seemingly HAVE to go through that valey of vilification. I admire your strength to go up on that stage again, after this. DOn’t let the douchbags win!

  10. What this guy did wasn’t just over the top – it was criminal.

    And this is precisely why I will be at Slutwalk Aoteoroa Wellington. One of the great things about Slutwalk is that the issue is being discussed. It is finally reaching mainstream media and being discussed seriously.

    I am certain it will change some people for the better – people who might have previously thought that how you dress or behave (in your case undress) is never – EVER – an invitation.

    And I can see this spilling over into other areas – such as the TN senate (if I remember rightly) trying to re-define rape. People need to be outraged about this.

    There is only one thing that needs to change – not how women dress, not how they behave, but the attitude and behaviour of the offenders. For far too long we have tolerated the view that victims have to protect themselves. Well fuck it – no longer. As a man, I decided some time ago that it was my personal responsibility to do whatever I can to change the behaviour and attitude of other men.

    I admire you so much for what you did here – and for the restraint shown.

  11. You know, this is an excellent illustration of the idiocy I’ve seen in clubs. I used to be a commentator and driver, and I am all about the respect and admiration that comes with seeing you work your ass off in a hugely physical and emotionally draining job.

    I’ve re-facebooked this. Your writing is wonderful and captivating. I can only hope that your words can help raise awareness of the abuse that comes with erotic entertainment.

  12. Thank you for this. I was at the original SlutWalk in Toronto and I’ve been following the global debates about whether it’s “right” or not for women to stand up and assert that they own their sexualities that followed. Pieces like yours make it clear why everyone needs to understand that whatever we do with them, our bodies are ours. Beautifully written.

  13. Even if the guy was my best friend, I think I would knock him out and apologize 1000times if they ever did that. Or hold him and tell you to go at him hard (just don’t kill the guy, too much legal hassle).

    I’m guessing you had a garter where the money is meant to go, he went past that n went the whole nine yards? That’s such fucked up behaviour. I’m sorry that some people are like that, some have no respect for dancers (not sure what term you ladies n gents prefer), I’ve even had words with friends that tried to say that they were sluts n berated them for not having any respect.AS A MALE I see no problem with erotic dancing? It’s a body, tits, ass, whatever, big deal. People use their bodies in magazines to sell products that they may not even believe in, but people get up in arms over stripping/etc. Hell from what I’ve heard in Australia many young women put themselves through expensive tertiary education with the money, that’s something admirable. Work less hours (pure guesswork here, don’t kill me if I’m ignorant) so you have your money quicker so you can focus on studying sounds like an awesome deal (expect for the pathetic attitudes of some folk, and stigma which needs to be ABOLISHED).

    It’s sickening that they see them as less respect-worthy and that attitude needs to change. Just want you to know I have a lot of respect for you to face the worst in guys, hopefully more of us will speak up n try re-educate our idiot friends (none have assaulted/raped that I know of, if they did they’ll be in jail and not my friend). I hope that guy was charged with sexual assault, or at least re-educated by some big burly men and a few broken bones. It’d make him think twice next time.

    Personally I’d take them all and force them to listen in vivid detail to personal accounts of rape n assault victims, to see the pain it causes. I’m sure many have no idea that small things in their mind can leave big impacts and it would go along way towards teaching them acceptable behavior.

    Hope I didn’t sound too ignorant on any issues or trigger anyone etc, I really hope there is a place where brave men n women come forth to tell their story so others can know how truly shocking their behavior is. And guys, if she’s good enough to look at n put in your spank bank, then she’s worthy of a thing called respect. She’s a real person, yes her body looks nice, yes it’s on display, so treat it with the respect it deserves and be thankful you can see. Doesn’t make her a slut, or a whore, hell she could be a virgin and you wouldn’t know. So give her respect like any other woman or man.

  14. I still say it was rape of a sort. No, not traditional penis in vagina but, this man took it upon himself to insert a foreign object into her body without permission. I say that is STILL a form of rape! It would be the same if he had chosen to use another object rather than money and he should be feeling like crap for what he did and for treating a human being while doing their job like that. Even if that person chooses a job that includes states of undress it still doesn’t make it right.

    • Dunno about over there, but here in NZ it is definitely a crinminal offence. “Indecent assault” with up to 7 years in jail, possibly “sexual violation” with up to 20 years in jail.

      Rape is usually moderately defined – except as mentioned above how Tennessee are apparently moving to change the definition to be “forcible” – ie, if you are drugged or give in to threats and don’t fight, then it isn’t rape in their eyes (although I think that might be only in terms of public funding for abortions).

  15. Wow, I was really touched by your story. What happened to you was totally unacceptable. That isn’t really a strong enough word, but it’s true. It goes without saying; that guy was a bastard.

    Both men and women need to finally learn that there is no grey area when it comes to harassment. It’s true, sadly, nothing we do will stop new victims from being created, but I believe slutwalks can change people’s attitudes towards the victims. Many victims of harassment and abuse are met with suspicion, scepticism or blame. Slutwalks are helping to change that.

    I, personally, want to change the belief that people give consent with their clothes or their bodies, the attitude that being aroused by someone is what gives you the right to interfere with them.
    Consent is the only consent. The only thing that gives you the right to touch someone is that person. No one should just assume that they’ve been given consent. No one should ever argue with someone who says they feel abused.

    It was really brave of you to write about this, and for what it’s worth if I, or any of my friends, had been there that guy would’ve got his ass kicked. I really do believe that slutwalks are making a difference. Because they’re encouraging people to come forward with their stories, just like you did. Most people are kind, just misinformed. If we can change their attitudes then they’ll start sticking up for the victims rather than blaming them.

    You’re a brilliant woman and you’ve inspired me. Stay strong.

  16. ….The actual problem here is that there are so many comments with women telling stories about yahoo’s putting their hands in their bodies. I give up, I’m buying a rape-axe just in case.

  17. Hi there, I’m a “sex-positive” feminist from the UK (ie. not judgemental about sex work, exotic dancing etc). This post was incredibly moving, as well as the comments below. This is like an online survivors’ group on here! I’m a survivor of sexual assault and rape. I live in Scotland where we have one of the lowest rape conviction rates in the world – 3.7% of reported rapes. (58% of cases that go to trial end in conviction though, showing there’s a massive stigma and fear around taking your case to court.)

    The only thing I disagree with is that rapists will always be rapists – as a feminist I believe that misogyny and patriarchy are structures that can be brought down. I think a world without rape and sexual assault is very far away but not impossible. But yeah – SlutWalk definitely functions as both an anti-rape/sexual assault campaign *and* a way of having unity and solidarity with survivors, and I love that you take comfort in that.

    I have so much admiration for all of you, keep being awesome. As the chant goes – Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no. Including if we’re nude, or even in bed with someone. Hey hey, ho ho, victim blaming has got to go!

    Much love

  18. I love the way you dance and worry when you jump to the pole. You could have fallen and been hurt.
    There will always be those few idiots that think anything is ok in a strip club. He should have been tossed out.
    You are a tough girl. I admire that about you.

  19. Sometimes the behavior of people is so out of line and embrassing to admit being from the same species and sex as these kinds (deleted people they don’t deserve that title). i am so in support of the whole Slutwalk idea. i still am outraged at the Toronto PD official that made the remark that rape is the fault of how someone is dressed. Sorry even if one is naked and working in a club, it still isn’t an open invitation to anything. Hooray for all of you that stand up those subhuman scum and thank for that you have friends to get support when these kinds of things happen.

    i have taken the time to learn about some girls in different clubs that i have gone to. Yes there are those that maybe as shallow as some make the Ladies out to be but i have meet and enjoyed the time and company of a lot more that are more caring, etc. that i am proud to call a friend.

    Thanks for starting and helping promote Slutwalk.

  20. You should have decked the bastard.

    Thanks for writing this up so well and taking something positive from it. Anyone doing that in any of the Australian clubs I may have frequented would be thrown out so fast their feet wouldn’t touch the ground.

    I’d be proud to be your friend (and/or customer, but that’s another story). Your boyfriend’s a lucky man.

    PS: Why are so many American men such assholes?

    • “PS: Why are so many American men such assholes?”

      Well, that’s unfair.

      Additionally, in an attempt to prevent this comment from being vapid and not contributing to the conversation, I guess it speaks for itself in that I am here reading this article and comments out of interest, care, and concern. It is undeniably apparent how much courage it takes to step onto that stage in front of strangers, co-workers, and friends. Very admirable.

      Matthew, American Male

      • If it makes you feel any better, far too many men are assholes here in NZ too. All it takes is reading the comments sections of the mainstream media.

        Although it is not to be recommended.

  21. […] This article explains SlutWalk the best. It’s about a stripper who was violated, grossly violated, while working. The guy’s response? “If she didn’t want it, she shouldn’t have put it in my face.” Often, it is advised strippers not speak about their job (and others who are in the adult entertainment industry). Why? Because it’s not safe. It’s not safe because it’s automatic people will assume you are easy, that you are a low-class individual, that you don’t care about yourself and you become a target. I know strippers. I know what they go through and it’s disgusting. Here’s a bit of news: Just because someone decides to dance erotically does not mean they do not care about who touches them. They are still people. Are they objectifying their bodies? Yes but it doesn’t mean they deserve to be treated as if they are below humane consideration. Do not drop your manners and consideration just because someone is naked in front of you. […]

  22. I am so sorry this happened to you. It brought back memories of my own rape at a high school party…I had been fooling around with some guys and went up to the bathroom; when I came out one of the guys was waiting for me. He had a knife and he made me go into the bedroom with him, and then he raped me. He told me that I was askign for it because I had given him a hand job. And for years, I believed him. Thank you for sharing your story because it gives me courage to stand up for myself and say NO, I did not deserve it, no one ever deserves to be assaulted no matter what they are wearing or doing.

  23. I’m ashamed to admit that my first internal response was: Then don’t work as a nude dancer…
    I’m ashamed to admit that the pervasive attitude of sexism has become so deeply entrenched in me that I would have that response FIRST – before the horror of the assault that was committed against you. That’s the WHOLE POINT of the SlutWalk.

    What makes my response even more upsetting is that I am a self-proclaimed feminist, a radical liberal, female sexual assault survivor. Despite my years of living and learning, fighting for my rights as a woman – I’ve internalized every single “she deserved it” message I’ve ever heard.

    That’s not a world I want my daughter to grow up in! I don’t want her to have to feel she has to watch her back, no matter what job she chooses. I absolutely do not want her growing up with an internal message that tells her that she’s limited in her choices because of her gender.

  24. I feel your pain. Having a dollar shoved in you is not really that different from having an uninvited penis out there. It’s still violation of the HIGHEST order, and I applaud your reserve.

    Once, years ago, when I was dancing in clubs for fun (techno clubs, not that it matters, because a girl shouldn’t be assaulted no matter what) a guy grabbed me ass and wiggled his fingers as I exited the bathroom. I grabbed his hand, twisted his fingers, grabbed his throat with the other and slammed his head against the wall. Twice. Then I told him I’d slit his throat if he ever touched another girl like that again.

    Coward waited until I was out of earshot to tell the guy next to him “You know she liked it.” The guy next to him was a friend of mine, who told him he was lucky I didn’t actually kill him. But that attitude is still prevalent 20 years later, and will unfortunately be here 20 years from now.

    But we don’t have to sit quietly and take it. So I applaud you, with all my heart.

  25. I was at an 80’s night wearing my favorite super, super short skirt. We left to go to another club with a friend of a friend tagging along. He grabbed my vagina. Everybody stared at him in horror–a girl who I didn’t know at the time but is a friend now looked like she was going to kill him. The mood in the bar had changed and he was forced to buy me a drink and get the fuck out. I felt totally supported by the room.

    That being said, I’ve had my ass grabbed so many times I don’t even notice it any more (sad on it’s own). I’ve seen men put their hands down my friends shirts–friends that were everything from an A-cup to a DD-cup. I’ve been roofied and almost all my friends have too, at one point or another. This has got to change.

  26. Reposted the link to the SlutWalk Des Moines Facebook group, FYI.

    As a stripper myself, I feel like it’s an important addition to the “It really doesn’t fucking matter what she’s wearing” theme.

    (I usually comment off an on around here, but stuck with my real name this time–ek, associated with stripping, even–because of the FB group.)


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