#YesAllWomen

Have you seen this hashtag?  If you haven’t, you may want to check it out before reading this here bliggity blog so that you know what in the heck I’m even talking about.  I’m glad the movement finally has some feet, but good Lord WHY do we even have to say it?!  So here’s my take on it, as a woman, as one who walks this path every day of her life, as someone who has been preaching #yesallwomen for over a decade.  Because I’m fired up.

 

I’m fired up after being harassed, again, for the ten thousandth time, by a man because I dared to be a woman out in public.  I’m fired up because there’s NOTHING I can do to stop the harassment.  There is no response that these particular men will accept that doesn’t get me either followed around and called names or hit on.  There’s nothing I can do that will allow me to carry on my daily tasks in peace.  I’ve been down this road 100 times.  We all have.  #yesALLwomen

 

I walked into the grocery store (Yes, ladies, the grocery store isn’t even a safe haven for us, and for the most part, it’s only full of US.)  I saw the man hovering by the front door as I approached.  I saw him eyeballing me (by me, I mean my ass) the second I got out of my car.  I had a decision to make.  A decision I have to make every time I see this look in some dude’s eye and I know he’s going to “hey, girl” me while looking at my breasts as though I am privileged to be ogled by such a specimen.  Do I feel like being called a bitch today?  If not, then I’ll have to be polite and say “hi” back when he tries to make contact.  I know the consequences of this are that he’s going to try to get in my pants, because CLEARLY I have shown interest in his penis with my polite response.  I can also choose to ignore him, meaning he will then call me a bitch or, most likely, since he appears to be doing nothing in particular, follow me around in order to make sure I know that I’m missing out and that I’m a stupid whore.  After assessing the situation, I chose the polite version.  The guy wasn’t doing anything, so I knew that no matter what, he was going to follow me (he did), but he was also alone, so he didn’t have anyone to impress, so maybe I would get off easy.

 

No such luck.  His four buddies were waiting for him inside the store.  Let the ignorant games begin. *sigh*  I just want to get my groceries and get out of here.  My kids are on summer break and have been at one another’s throats all day, so I wasn’t gonna drag all 3 of them to the store, which meant I had to go after bedtime.  It was late.  I was tired.  Just let me get my milk and eggs and be on my way, MFer.

 

He stalked me through the produce section leaning back and making disgusting spittle noises and saying “damn” over and over.  Wonderful.  He sounded like the Bot when she’s stuffed too much apple sauce in her mouth and she’s trying to slurp it all back in.  I flourished my wedding ring.  His buddies laughing at my obvious discomfort.

 

I yawned as I walked down the juice aisle.  It’s 9 pm and I’m 30 minutes from home loading up on Juicy Juice after what amounts to 2 months of OT for a stay at home mom (summer BREAK?)  A dude in the aisle says, “You look tired!”  He’s making eye contact and smiling pleasantly and NOT staring at my ass when speaking to me. SWEET!  So I smile back and say, “Yeah, just trying to get this done.  Summer break isn’t a break for moms.”  He chuckles a little and tells me to have a good night.  Too late.  I realize that jerk face is right behind me and has seen me talking to another dude.  His heckles are raised, my friends, and raised heckles are a terrible thing to waste.  Polite, non-leering man received some of my attention; therefore, touch my penis mcgee has decided that I owe him some as well, only he’s not going to make normal conversation and let me go about my business, OH NO! He is not.

 

I could barely understand most of his mumbles as I nodded and inched away through ten minutes of questions on whether I am married (yes, you eyed my ring several times), and “how married” as though there are degrees of married (hint: there aren’t.)  There was something about working on the railroad and a Mercedes and a Jaguar and he has 5 kids and here are their names tattooed on his arms and he’s divorced and whatever.  And then, “it’s too bad you’re married, or you could get my number.”

 

O.M.G. Seriously? No one is THAT douchey!  I almost wish we were in the pharmacy department so that I could grab a box of douche and physically hand it to him while walking away.  He tried 3 more times to get my number, saying I may need someone to talk to.  Really? Are you a psychologist? Because I think I need one after talking to you.  I also probably just got crabs by being in your vicinity, so thanks for that.

 

I wish I could say this was an isolated incident.  But it’s not.  I deal with this a few times a month.  Can I walk down the street without being cat called out of a car window?  Can I take my baby for a stroll or walk a dog or even get the mail without at least weekly harassment from a man in a passing car?  Nope.  I can’t.  Not at my biggest, not at my smallest, not even when I gave myself a hideous boy haircut and wore only men’s clothing.  I can’t walk down the street without being cat called and having inappropriate comments about my body. Because I am a woman. In public. And so I deserve it somehow.  We’ve all experienced it.  #yesALLwomen

 

And there’s nothing we can do to stop it.

 

Or is there?

 

Dudes.  My good men out there.  Hear my plea!  TEACH YOUR SONS THAT THIS IS NOT OK!  Cat calling women is NOT ok!  We don’t LIKE it.  It’s NOT a compliment.  Call it what it is.  It’s showing off.  Because no man alone in a car cat calls women.  It’s the man in the passenger seat making a woman uncomfortable for the benefit of his car full of friends who find her discomfort amusing.  GOOD DUDES, if your friends are cat calling women or harassing them in the grocery store, or the library or the bar, then tell them to CUT IT OUT!  When you stop making them feel like the coolest POS in the room for it, THEN things will change!  When you see your buddy staring at a woman’s breasts while she’s obviously uncomfortable and not interested, a, “Hey, man, let’s go over here and grab a beer, you’re making her uncomfortable” would do the 50% of us with a vagina a heck of a lot of good.

 

Teach your sons that it is perfectly OK if a woman isn’t interested in him.  There are 3.5 BILLION of us on this planet.  One of us is going to like him.  Teach him that going back to his buddies and calling her a bitch because she DARED to shun his affections is completely inappropriate.  Teach him that if his friend is rejected by a woman, that’s ok, too, and if his buddy comes back and calls her names, to STAND UP FOR HER.  She has every right to not be ok being leered at and hit on or have her marriage or relationship questioned.

 

Stop letting your friends follow women around and eyeballing their bodies or making comments about their bodies, especially when the woman is just trying to go about her day!  Stop laughing at our discomfort!  Stop making your pal feel like the more uncomfortable he makes us, the cooler he is.

 

HELP US!  WE can’t change this alone.  We need your help.  Man the eff up and do something about this!

 

If you’ve got the stomach for something a little more graphic, click and watch this.  Welcome to a day in our world.

 

http://www.upworthy.com/a-french-film-showing-men-what-being-a-woman-feels-like-kinda?c=reccon1

Experiment results!

So, I wrote this AGES ago….and apparently forgot to actually push the publish button.  Go, Mom Brain!  I was wondering why it had no views.  My intelligence is UNMATCHED in the human world!

So, I was inspired by Allison over at MotherhoodWTF to see what happened when I didn’t nag my family to pick up after themselves.  And by inspired, I mean I copied her idea exactly.  Here are the (surprising) results of that experiment.

NAG ZONE 1: THE KITCHEN DESK

A recap of what it looked like before, when I had cleaned it of everything that did not belong on it.

Image

Progression:

desk1

desk4

Look how much win this is!  I only added a book, a couple of pencils, and stuff that belongs on the desk because the desk is for paperwork, and it is paperwork!  GO, TEAM NO NAGGING!

NAG ZONE 2:  THE KITCHEN COUNTER

When it was clean:

 

kitchenbefore

The progression: Day 1

 

kit1

Day 2:

 

kitchen4

The pile of crap just…SPREAD OUT! AAAAH!  Also, bread.  There is no need to pick up things that you have gotten out to use when Karen will just beg and plead with you ten times to put it away.  Or will she?

NAG ZONE 3: THE LIVING ROOM

Before:

lrbefore

After 2 days:

lr1

This was another surprise for me.  Not much damage, when, in general, when I’m Naggy McNaggerson, this room is a DISASTER of toys and pillows and blankets all over everywhere.

NO NAG ZONE 4: BANE OF MY EXISTENCE.  I.E. THE STAIRS

Before.  Really.  This is the “clean” version.

stairsbefore

After:

stairs1

I HATE these stairs and all the stuff that collects on it.  There is NEVER not anything on the stairs to be tripped over.  DO THEY NOT UNDERSTAND?!  I am a hovering helicopter parent, and I have nightmares that they trip on the stairs and break a tooth and get an oral infection and DIE!!!!!

NAG ZONE 5: THE KITCHEN TABLE

Before:

tablebefore

After:  I decided to take lots of pictures of this for reasons unknown to me.

table1

table2

Table4

This is what made my eyeballs twitch for the two experimental days.  Because I knew that ketchup needed to be refrigerated and I would have to throw it away.  I just kept whispering to myself, “It’s already almost gone anyway.  I also knew I was going to hear, “But it’s staaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaale!!!!!” the next time he wanted to eat that cereal that he left on the table for two days.  Open, of course.

RESULTS:  I learned two things.  One, when I don’t nag, they actually pick up MORE than usual!  CRAZY!  My house did NOT become an unacceptable level of filthy.

Two, and this was the one that surprised me most, I didn’t mind so much (other than knowing I was going to have to toss perfectly good ketchup. I made them eat the stale cereal.)  Also, we were so much happier without me nagging.  We enjoyed our mess and did fun things instead of me repeating myself over and over and getting angrier and angrier and then yelling, as that’s the only way things get done, or so I thought.  Turns out, if I don’t yell or even ask, they clean up after themselves on their own, just not right away, as is my preference.  I was a LOT calmer and less stressed, though it does suck to clean all the things as my job during the day and have stuff explode on it the second they walk in the door.  However, I am, in general, a museum liver (not to be confused with a cow or sheep liver), and that’s just not possible with three kids.  Anyway, no nagging means winning.  We were fun and happy, and only a little messier than usual.

 

NO NAG ZONE CONCLUSION:  SUCCESS!!!!

 

The Wonderful World of Dennis the Hitchhiker

So, there’s this hitchhiker I met in high school.  We’ll call him Dennis.  Not to protect his innocence, but because that’s his name.  I didn’t meet him when he was hitchhiking.  I met him at the counter at a diner.  I only know that he’s a hitchhiker because I see him hitchhiking all the time now.  He always starts out in front of the police station here in our little town.  He’s wearing the same sports coat every day that he was wearing when I met him 15-20 years ago.  Even when it’s 103 degrees outside.  It’s a corduroy blazer.  It’s very important to look professional when thumbing for rides in front of a jail in 103-degree heat.

In another time in my life, maybe I would pick him up.  But now I have children and a distinct want to not be murdered, so I don’t.  I would pick him up because I want to hear stories he would tell.  Since I won’t really pick him up and hear his real stories, I’m just going to make up some fake stories that he might tell me and post them here from time to time.

 

To recap:  Dennis is real.  His stories aren’t.

 

Here’s some stuff I imagine Dennis might say to folks who gave him a ride:

Hey, there.  I’m Dennis.  Thanks for offering me a ride.  I’m headed up to the south side landfill to dispose of this human toe.  A body was found, and I can’t keep this trophy anymore.  It’s a bummer.  It’s one of the better toes in my collection.  I’m pretty sure she used Jamberry nails on this thing.  The polish has definitely lasted a lot longer than some of the other painted toes.  Though, this isn’t as great as that toe with the diamond toe ring that I got in 1974.  I’ll be really crushed when that body shows up.  Unfortunately, due to decay, the ring has gotten a little large for the toe.  Perhaps I should get it sized.  Can you drop me at the jewelry store, first?  The one next to the dry cleaner.  I need to get my sports coat cleaned.

 

 

Eats Shoots and Leaves

There’s a stop sign down the street.  Someone spray painted the word “fags” on it.  I’m not quite sure what they want to stop them from doing.  They already can’t get married, procreate, adopt kids, get survivor or tax benefits.  Dang.  What else do you wanna take?  Unfortunately, I think they want them to stop existing.  That’s nuts.  Asking us straight folks to stop making babies, vandals?  You crazy.

Maybe I’ll go paint a comma on it and take “fags” back.  So it will be all “Stop, fags”.  Yeah.  I’m talkin to you!  Everyone that stops at this sign is a fag.  Everyone.  So now it’s not derogatory, ’cause you’re talkin about yo’self.  Boom.  Now fag doesn’t mean homophobic slur.  Now it means, “safe driver”.  Fags for life.  Don’t text and drive.

In all seriousness, I wonder if Martinsville has a mayor’s action line.  I’d like to get a new stop sign down at the corner.

Strippers Aren’t Objects. They’re People.

This is a very difficult post for me to write.  It’s been in the making for a number of years, as it is both embarrassing and extremely painful.  I’m in the process of healing, but it’s a long process, and acceptance is part of that.  Accepting that I made some terrible past decisions that are affecting my present life in ways that were highly unexpected at the time.  Many couples visit strip clubs together or use pornography together to enhance their sex lives or spice it up a little.  We don’t.  Ever.  Many men have porn in the house or occasionally go to the club for a bachelor party or look at naked girls on the Internet.  My husband won’t (by his choice, not by my permission).  This post is why.

I keep writing this and then deleting it.  For years, I’ve written it, decided it’s no good and won’t make a difference, and deleted it.  For years I’ve decided it was too painful, and I’ve deleted it.  For years I haven’t healed.  I’ve been a sinking ship.  Now I’m taking my family down with me.  I’m not just hurting me anymore.  It’s time to repair the wounds.

Worthless is a word that I use to describe myself often.  Useless and failure are a couple more of my favorites.  Purposeless.  No good.  Garbage.  I have a very hard time looking at my wonderful life, my beautiful children, my amazing husband, my dream home, and feeling as though I deserve any of it.  I’m positive that at any moment, my family is going to realize what trash I am and it will all be taken from me.  For years, this is what I was told.  For an entire decade of my life.  I still believe it, and I’ve got to stop believing it, because if I don’t, the prophecy will self fulfill.  Not because I’m worthless, but because I’m too damn negative, and ain’t nobody got time for that.

I’m 34 years old.  I’ve been with my husband for 6 years and married for 2.  I have a BA in Political Science from Indiana University, where I won a scholarship for having the highest GPA in the department, graduating with a 3.995.  I raise two boys and a girl, who are amazing little people.  I’m funny, I’m pretty, and I’m smart…and I started sex work when I was 18.  I didn’t find anything wrong with it at the time.  I had monetary goals, and it seemed to be the way to meet those goals as quickly as possible.  I didn’t have any feelings one way or the other about sex or nudity or modesty.  I’d been working other jobs for years, and it just seemed like another job to me, only higher paying.  I was hanging out on the streets of Broad Ripple one day and was approached by some guy offering lots of money under the table, so I took it.

I made one decision on one day of my life when I was 18 years old, and it has ruined my life ever since.  At 18 years old, I made the decision to become an object instead of a person.

I have been a member of quite a few Internets groups over the years, a lot of them full of moms.  Every now and again the discussion of pornography and strip joints comes up.  Whose husband is allowed to go, whose husband isn’t, whose hides it, who goes as a couple, etc.  It always ends in a fight about the definition of infidelity and respect for one’s spouse or significant other.   The camp of “strip clubs destroy marriages” versus the camp of “jealousy destroys marriages”.

I’m in a completely different camp.  The camp of “strip clubs destroy women.”  My reasons for not buying have nothing to do with infidelity.  I’m not a jealous person.  I do not feel disrespected if my husband finds another woman attractive.  We don’t partake of this sort of spice because I absolutely refuse to pump money into an industry that destroys lives.  Not the lives of the PATRONS (via broken marriages) but the lives of the WORKERS.  If you are visiting these establishments or buying these movies or clicking these websites, you are absolutely, 100%, beyond a shadow of a doubt, helping to ruin these women’s lives.  I know that may be hard to hear, but it’s straight from the horse’s mouth.  Insider info.  THE TRUTH.

When you walk into a strip club audition or to a casting for a porn movie or to apply for a job as a “live” model at the jack shack or submit naked pictures of yourself to a number of websites, they verify your age with several pieces of identification to make sure you are a legal adult (to cover their asses with the courts).  What they do NOT verify is that you are mentally stable, have no past history of abuse, or that you’ve been taught what is and is not a healthy sexual relationship.  Why would they?  If they only hired empowered women who ENJOY sex work for the sake of the work, they’d be left with, maybe, 1% of their employees.

I worked all over the country in the sex industry over a decade of my life.  I have met thousands of sex workers, from the girl in the rinky dink strip joint in the middle of nowhere to the high-profile, multi-million dollar porn star.  I believe that out of these women, THOUSANDS of women, I have met MAYBE 2 that had a healthy view of WHY they were doing the work they were doing.  If the stripper you’re talking to tells you how much she loves her job, she’s lying to you.  If you think you’re watching the 1% of workers who enjoy it, you’re lying to yourself.   Porn stars do interviews talking about how wonderful their lives are, how sexy they feel, how much they love to turn YOU on.  THEY.ARE.LYING.  They have a product to sell!  They aren’t going to sell if they go to a magazine and whine about how much of a piece of shit they feel like day after day.  Consumers believe them because it makes them feel better about getting off to these women.  I have sat in hotel rooms with many a high-profile porn star.  All of them have personally told me how much they hate their jobs.  Most of them have gone on about how they hate themselves, as well, and almost all of them were addicts.  I know because I was sitting in their hotel rooms because I was delivering their drugs.

The rest of us are just trying to survive.  The industry counts on women like me.  Down and out, nowhere to go, depressed, abused, told we aren’t worth anything.  Then along comes some guy, and he tells you you’re pretty and can make a ton of money to get out of whatever situation you’re in, except they glamorize the situation you just got yourself into.

So you think to yourself, I can do this, it’s no big deal, it’s just another job.  Only it’s not.  You go for a few shifts, and it’s great!  You make a ton of cash and everyone tells you you’re pretty because you’re the new girl.

Then you aren’t the new girl anymore, and your freshness has worn off.  Some other barely legal, gullible or abused woman has taken your place.  This is when the road to ruin really starts.  This is when every flaw you ever had, and even flaws you didn’t know you had, begin to be pointed out to you, hundreds of times a day.  Men come into the club, and they verbally abuse the women because they want to look at the women, but they don’t want to give them a dollar, so they make up reasons not to.  If they’re mean to the girl, the girl will walk away in a huff, and the dollar will stay in the wallet.  So each day your breasts are too big, your ass is too small, your face is too round, your ribs are showing, you have too many freckles, you have an ugly haircut, your nose is too far to the left, one of your knees is a little higher than the other.  And who cares, right?  You’re just a stupid stripper, and that’s all you’ll ever be.  You’re not even human…

There’s a LOT more to this story, but I’ve reached my pain cap for the evening.

*******

PART 2:  MORE TRUTH

Here’s how the club works.   When you visit for your bachelor party or what have you, this is where your money is going.  Again, this is firsthand experience, NOT some guess from being a patron or what I saw in one club when I went a few times.  This is what I saw in ALL clubs, in all locations, day after day, for years.  Big or small, clean or dirty, the format is the same.  The workers are the same.  Let me repeat, This is the monster YOUR MONEY is feeding if you choose to spend it in this way.  Trust me, you aren’t helping some woman through nursing school, no matter what she tells you when she’s topless and grinding on your lap.

Remember I said above that the recruiters glamorize the industry?  This is how.  They lure a half-broken girl in with promises of big bucks.  Then they (customers, management and coworkers) emotionally break her fully and take most of her money in order to keep her in.  I’ll break this down into two sections: the money structure and the break.

Strip clubs make more money off of their dancers than they do from their patrons.  Cover charges and drinks barely keep these places afloat.  Depending on the club, dancers walk into their shift already $50 to $200 in the hole.  They have to make that money first before they start making anything to feed their children (or their addictions) or pay their rent.  The club charges a house fee from each dancer to “rent” the stage for their shift.  I’ve worked in clubs where the fee is $20 for a weekday afternoon or as much as $100 for a weekend night.  Work a double shift?  Then you’ve got double the fees.  The club also takes a fee for each private dance a dancer does.  Pay a girl $20 for a dance?  She gets only half of it.  The dancer is generally required to “sell” a set number of drinks a night.  If she does not get customers to buy her drinks, she has to pay for the amount she is short out of her pocket at the end of the night.  This fee was generally $5 a drink at the clubs I have worked, so it could be as much as $25 if you weren’t hustling drinks all night (or wanted to stay sober, Heaven forbid.  No one is going to pay $9 for a drink just to have you order a Sprite.)  She then has to tip out the DJ, bartenders, servers and the house mom, if the club has one.  That usually ends up to be around $40.  Can you imagine going to work every morning, and your boss asks you for $200 up front and then tells you, by the way, every hour I’m going to come take 50% of your pay?  Dancers aren’t told this when they are recruited.  Many clubs will waive the fees for the first week for a new dancer in order to keep her around.  New dancers ALWAYS make a lot of money because they are fresh.  So that first week, they’re making a ton of cash and they have no fees.  Hook, line, sinker.

So, you’re a club owner.  You open up some seedy little place and realize that you can make a minimum of $200 (usually more because they are doing dances at $10 a pop for your club, too)  a night per dancer that is in your club.  What’s your best course of action?  The answer is to get as many DANCERS (not customers) into your club as you can, which means hire ANYONE with a photo ID that says they are at least 18.  Your dancers are making you hundreds per, whereas your customers are only paying the cover fee (if there even is one) and a couple of drinks.  Your dancers are your profit, not your customers.  Did you ever wonder why you’ve gone to a club on a Tuesday night and you’re the only customer there, but there are 57 dancers on shift?  This is why.

And now for the break.  When you go into this industry, there are three groups of people whose job it is to break you.  Why?  Because they don’t care about you, and it is in their best interest to make you feel as worthless as possible.

I touched on the customers earlier because it’s the easiest to explain.  The more worthless you feel, the less money they have to spend because you aren’t going to want to stick around wasting your time hustling money from someone who is downright mean to you.  You can be on stage, and you can be naked, and they can see everything they want to see for free, so why would they want to pay you when you come around to get your tips?  It’s easier to just call you names or tell you that your chest is too small.

Management breaks the women for profit, as well.  They know that an emotionally wasted woman will stay put.  If she knows that this is all that she will ever be worth, then she won’t ever try to be worth anything else.  She’ll stay in the industry and continue to generate profit for club owners (while barely scraping by herself).  They break you in several ways.  They take most of your money so that you struggle to pay the bills and have to come back (and pay for) another shift in order to make ends meet.  They verbally abuse you and allow the customers to verbally abuse, and in most cases physically assault, you.  They require you to get customers to buy you drinks, pumping you full of a mind-altering substance in order to lower your inhibitions and increase their chances for profit.  Drunk dancers certainly tip out a lot more than sober ones.  Your safety is at the bottom of their priority list.

Your coworkers will also try to break you.  You are the competition, and they need you out of the way.  Like I said, these girls are already money in the hole walking in the door.  Management has 10 times the number of girls than the number of patrons, and you’re all vying for the $20 that dude has in his pocket.  It is in their best interest to crush you as much as possible.  The lies that they will make up about you and spread to customers (and to other clubs.  The lies WILL follow you) will blow.your.mind.  Dancers also regularly physically assault, verbally abuse and steal from one another.  As I mentioned, most of these women are not mentally stable adults in healthy relationships.

So here you are.  You’ve been in for two weeks and you’re no longer a human, you’re a thing, an ugly, addicted, broke, worthless thing.  The transition was quick.

I’m done for the day.  I’m hoping one more day of writing will finish it, though part 3 will be the most painful, as I have to think about present consequences for past actions.  That’s a doozy.  It’s where I will have to go from “I used to be” to “I am”.  Ouch.

*******

PART 3:  THE MYTHS

In thinking more about this, I think that all of my thoughts on this subject are way too much for a blog and would best be written in book format.  However, that would certainly take even more years, since just the blog took an inordinate amount of time.  There is something that can’t wait, though, and that’s what I’m going to finish this post with.  There are myths that I can debunk, so I’m gonna.

FOR THE PATRONS:

MYTH:  Some clubs are clean.

TRUTH:  There’s no such thing as a “clean” club.   There IS such thing as a clean dancer, but every CLUB is “dirty,” meaning if you’re looking for touching or to meet up afterward for prostitution or for drugs, you can find it in every single club in the country.  High-end or low, you can find it.  The competition that I mentioned above sets the stage for this.  If 30 girls are competing for a couple of hundred bucks, some girls are going to do whatever it takes to be the one to take it.  Management cannot control what the women do when they are no longer on their shift, and it’s almost impossible to catch them in the act.  Customers aren’t going to complain about a girl soliciting, and dancers lie about one another in order to make more money.  Unless management one, hears a girl soliciting with their own ears and two, gives a crap, then nothing will be done.

MYTH:  Touching the girls is ok because you don’t get in trouble for it and all dancers are selling themselves.

TRUTH:  All dancers are NOT selling themselves.  Even in a strip club, when a girl walks by and you smack her in the ass, BY DEFINITION, you’ve sexually assaulted a woman.  When she’s giving you a dance, and you think you’re being sneaky to reach up to touch her breast, you’ve sexually assaulted a woman.  No, management isn’t going to stop you.  No, the police aren’t going to give a damn.   It will, however, eat at the woman, possibly for the rest of her life.  Your unwanted touches will translate into her home life where wanted touches from a loving husband will trigger horrible memories, the same as if she’d been touched against her will outside of the club by a random stranger on the street.

FOR THE DANCERS

Some of these are myths that I’m working on debunking for myself.  I know they are not true, but it’s hard to believe them.  I’m still in the process.  And I know a lot of you are reading this thinking I’m full of crap and that’s ok, too, if you aren’t ready to hear it, but it helps my healing to believe that one day you will.

MYTH:  You can’t get out.

TRUTH:  It’s very difficult to get out, but it can be done.  There are other ways to feed your kids, and there are jobs out there that WILL have you with this background.  Know that all of the people trying to keep you in this industry are doing it for their own benefit, not yours.  It is in THEIR BEST INTERESTS to break you as much as possible to keep you in.   There are organizations out there that will help you get out.  The truth is, the industry is an addiction, and it’s just as hard to quit.  It’s a job where you can come and go as you please, work as much or as little as you want, and make a killing in just a few hours by doing very little work.  It’s hard to leave.  You have to think long term.  If you’re a clean dancer now, is it sustainable?  How about when your looks fade as you age and you become less marketable?  How about when the economy crashes?  Think long term.  As the economy goes down, more and more women look toward the industry for quick cash to survive in this world, and as more of them saturate your club, the economy takes your customers.  That’s more women to compete with and less money to compete for.  If you’ve been in for more than a few weeks, you know that the money isn’t consistent.  You can have three phenomenal shifts and then three months of using all of that money to pay the house night after night where you’ve earned nothing for your bills and paid back all of the money you made to the house.  If you want out, there are places that can help you with your bills and with keeping food on the table while you look for a healthier job.

MYTH:  You’re worth less than other women

TRUTH:  This is ABSOLUTELY FALSE!  They tell you that to keep you in!  They tell you that because they won’t have to pay you as much or because if you feel like crap, then you’re less competition!  They tell you that because then it’s easier to abuse you!  No matter what you do, no matter if you are still in, if you’re in and out, if you’re out; no matter if you’re a clean dancer, a dirty dancer or have never even been a dancer; no matter if you are addicted to a hundred substances or none; if you’re a dancer, a prostitute, a porn star or an attorney, NO WOMAN IS WORTH LESS THAN ANY OTHER WOMAN.  Period.

MYTH:  No one cares about what happens to you, you’ll never be anything to anyone, you deserve the abuse because of what you are, you’ll never deserve a good partner

TRUTH:  I care what happens to you.  If you want a shoulder to cry on (ok, with, because no lie, I’ll cry, too), if you want out and you need help, E-MAIL ME (karbaum@umail.iu.edu).  I will listen to you if you need it, whether you want out or not, I will listen.  No matter what you are doing or where you are, I will listen, and I will not judge you for your actions.  I’m not going to lie or coddle you.  I WILL encourage you to get out.  If you want out, E-MAIL ME!  I WILL HELP YOU FIND THE RESOURCES YOU NEED.  I don’t care if you are in my area or across the world, I will Google the snot out of some resources, and I will help you get out and begin your healing process.

You do not deserve to be treated with anything other than respect.  What you are doing now is not who you are (and even if it is, because I do know that a few of you actually enjoy the work you do, you don’t deserve to be abused).  You do deserve a good partner, and the truth is that you can find one.  I’m not going to hold your hand on this, though.  You likely won’t find one while you’re in.  The industry takes a heavy emotional toll on us day after day after day.  Most of us come home from a night of work and tell ourselves that it will be ok, it’s just another job, we LIKE what we do.  We pretend because if we don’t, if we admit that we’ve just been abused for 8 hours straight and that we choose this life, we’ll chase a bottle of aspirin with a bottle of Jack Daniels.  That kind of emotional hell is not conducive to finding a good partner.  It’s proven that when we decide we are worthless, we seek out partners who feel we are worthless as well, and we sabotage relationships that contradict that.  Also, many of us develop substance addictions in order to deal with the day to day work life, to numb the effects of our choice.  Addiction is not conducive to finding a good partner.

Many women find a good partner and try to change for that person, but that’s a rough path.  Your partner didn’t sign up to be your savior.  He or she isn’t a superhero, and it’s not fair to them to put them on that pedestal.  They’ll break trying to meet the expectations of solving their own problems and feeling responsible for yours.  No one can save you but you.  We are not given good partners to save us, we are given good partners because we save ourselves.  They are a reward for doing what we know we can do when we put our minds to it.  Again, it is NOT EASY.  Recovering from this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and it’s ongoing still, but a good partner will wait for you.

*******

So that’s it for the blog (if not the book).  I welcome shares and comments, though if you’re just going to call me names for my past, then you obviously only read the title.  This blog is only one step in my healing process, and I’ve still got a long way to go, but if you’ve come to tell me I’m a worthless slag, save your fingers.  I don’t believe you.  Also, it’s not a scientific study, obviously.  It’s a personal observation based on my own personal experience.  I certainly don’t think it’s a narrow view, but it’s not one size fits all.

Working on a serious one

So…uh…I have something very serious to write.  I’ve got demons in my past, and I have thoughts about them.  I’ve been working on this post for years, getting it out, saying what I want to say.  But I’ve been afraid.  I can’t be afraid anymore.  I’m not healed, and that’s in part because I’ve bottled it all up. 

 

I also have other, less serious, stuff that I’m working on.  Including Elementary Homework, which was inspired by the Big Man’s recent homework hilarity.  If your kids have have turned in hilarious homework, please scan and submit it to karbaum@umail.iu.edu or send me the story.