TRIGGER WARNING-this post talks about rape and sexual assault.
As if sexual assault wasn’t an issue for all women everywhere, dancers face a whole different set of concerns than the average woman. Being objectified makes most girls feel uncomfortable, and although at some point every girl is hollered at by some toothless wonder on the street, only the Megan Fox’s and Kim K’s of the world are objectified to the level that we are. Women in the adult industry choose this line of work knowing that we will be sexualized, coveted, and sometimes treated poorly. We know the perks, so we tolerate the drawbacks without much complaint. Some crazy assholes think that because we have given them the go ahead to look at us like Barbie dolls that we have extended an invitation to do what they want with us. As absolutely insane and wrong as it is, it just keeps happening. Some men realize that what we do is a job and that we are real people outside of work, but some just don’t. Some think that we are just crazy, drunk sluts and no one would miss us if we were gone. The stigma in the sex industry has always been the same: “These girls are objects, they are not human. It is ok to rape them, and it is ok to kill them, and it is not worth government money to do thorough investigations of either.” We have always been the victims of heinous crimes. Just off the top of my head, there’s Jack the Ripper, the Craigslist killer, the Long Island killer, and whoever keeps snatching those girls in New Orleans. No one does anything to stop it, unfortunately. The education is nearly nonexistent, and the “She’s asking for it,” sentiment is not limited to any certain demographic. It’s everywhere.
We (kind of) know where the blame lies, and we know it isn’t with us. We live in a sick society, too many people, too much greed, the media, bad parenting, etc. But blame does no more good in this situation than it does in any other. Blame doesn’t empower us, it enslaves us, and while I support demonstration and activism to educate the public, it doesn’t do much to protect us today. The SlutWalk in Vancouver might be a really fun event (I bet it’s awesome actually), but if you are going to get sexually assaulted tonight in Kansas City, it really doesn’t do much, does it?
I’ve heard the story a thousand times, of the girl who was followed, stalked, raped, or assaulted by a customer. If you haven’t been through it, do everything you can to avoid it. It messes with you more than you think it will and it isn’t worth it. Lots of girls are headstrong on the safety issue, and it’s so unnerving. You are a target, empower yourself by being protected, not by living in denial!
It’s sad that society teaches, “Don’t get raped,” instead of, “don’t rape.” It really does point the finger at the victim, but before you become the victim (again or for the first time), let the light come on. Realize that it IS up to you to keep yourself safe, especially when you are knowingly putting yourself in a questionable position! We need to respect that one of the draw backs of this job is that it’s dangerous. We need to be somewhat cautious. My inner feminist hates me for saying all this, but she also respects my inner smart, savvy woman who does what she needs to in order to protect herself.
So let’s make a pact to focus our efforts on ourselves as individuals. Let’s promise to watch our own backs, instead of hoping the guy we’re hanging out with doesn’t have that mentality because he “shouldn’t.” Lots of people are wolves in sheep’s clothing, so do what you need to in order to protect yourselves. Being more responsible individuals will strengthen us as a community, and that’s what we really need! Can we decrease the rate of sexual violence against women in the sex industry? Yes, absolutely. Before you even think it, NO, we shouldn’t have to. But we do have to. No one is going to do it for us. Men should be able to control themselves, but it’s becoming apparent that they can’t, so something has to be done. Please feel free to comment with any other ideas. These are just a few from my brain:
-We should dress modestly on our way to and from work whenever possible. Leaving work in a short dress and heels with your stripper makeup still on and your shoe hanging half way out of your bag says, “I have cash on me, I am tipsy, and I am loose,” during the most dangerous hour of the night. We will avoid giving people this impression by wearing something modest. If I am not getting paid for it, the attention is unwanted anyway.
-We will not see a customer outside of the club without doing a proper screening. Always take a picture of his ID on your phone and send it to a trusted friend who knows EXACTLY where you are and what time to expect you back.
-It’s a bad idea to promise things we have no intention of delivering. It is an easy $500 to say we will meet someone later and then never show, but drugs+alcohol+sexual frustration+thievery=disaster. Not only is it morally wrong, but it’s just putting yourself in a compromising position.
-We won’t leave the club alone if we are fucked up. Drunk girls are easy targets.
-We will stick to the buddy system whenever possible.-We won’t go somewhere with a guy so he can “get us” something. I don’t care if he has all the cocaine in the world and you REALLY want it. These guys use drugs and money to coerce you. Don’t fall for it! These aren’t your friends!
-We will never let someone define our boundaries for us. We know what we are OK with, and we can and will firmly say stop if someone tries to cross them. We are not afraid, and we need our self respect more than we need money from those assholes. We all know that there are GREAT customers out there who want to pay us and treat us right, but we don’t find them if we waste our time with the ones who push.
Will this stop rape from happening? Probably not, but it might stop yours. A larger impact isn’t impossible, either. Stranger things have happened. When everyone takes responsibility for themselves, the whole improves. Again, should we have to come up with a solution to this problem? No. We didn’t cause it, we are just effected by it, but as the ones over whom the issue has the most chilling impact, we NEED to do something. We can’t just throw a fit in our pink panties that people don’t see us as more than we show them. We have to show them more strength and less vulnerability.