In a conversation with some friends, I casually brought up the topic of erotic dancing. I mentioned how it was a rather easy way to make money and that dancing itself was a great way to keep in shape. Some of the best athletes I know are ex-dancers—though at our age, not strippers. Dancers, those working on a pole in particular, need to have incredibly strong core muscles to execute such intricate moves. When I said that I would consider it in college, my friends immediately told me they would not associate with me if I ever danced. Later, when going for pizza with one girl, I asked her why she was so opposed to stripping. Her response? “I can’t articulate it well, but I wouldn’t respect you for selling the idea of your body instead of selling your mind.”
This comment made me pause, because I could understand her perspective, but at the same time I couldn’t disagree more. True, stripping—any sex work really—is selling your body or the idea of your body, but seeing as it is your body, why isn’t that okay as long as it is your conscious decision to do so? If we’re all consenting adults, why can’t we be mature enough to make our own choice concerning our bodies? Beyond that point, what entry-level job is truly “selling my mind”? When asked, she admitted that working as a waitress, hostess, barista or any other typical college-student job wouldn’t be considered selling your mind either. But, she protested, stripping would make you seem dumb and you’re not stupid. A sad fact is that in America we really do consider sex-workers to be stupid, as though they are incapable of doing anything else with their lives. This is such a dangerous stereotype for us to hold, to demean someone to a class of incompetency based on their current or past career. It’s quite interesting to me in particular, seeing as I want to be a reporter and eventually anchor, but I have considered bartending and dancing as jobs to hold during college. Yet somehow, these options are less tasteful than frothing milk for elitist coffee-drinkers—don’t get your panties in a twist folks, I go to Starbucks too. So what is it exactly that makes these professions unacceptable while others are?
If we are to say that sex-work is selling your body, then isn’t modeling also selling your body and should be considered distasteful? Yet as a society, we push our daughters to be beautiful—and don’t tell me that you believed for a second that it’s on the inside that really counts while you cried that the kid on the playground said you were ugly. If we are considering strippers deviants for selling the idea of their bodies, why aren’t we calling out all the female actresses who are type-casted as the pretty face in some teen-boy comedy where the nerdy guy always gets the hot girl? I refuse to accept the idea that just because you’re a pizza delivery guy and I’m a camp-counselor and he’s a novelist and she’s a stock broker that someone the title of what we do or the amount we make puts at some different level of respectability. I’d just ask that people would get off their high horse for five minutes and take the time to get to know the person they’re judging.
Oh and legalize prostitution so that we can protect these men and women who are the victims of crimes that they cannot report due to the (currently) illegal state of their work. It’s high time we stop all being asinine and just help each other out.