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Thank you for the letter you wrote here.

I was searching for feminist stripper's organizations on google because of my confusion. I am a feminist stripper and I often feel confused, lost, stressed, lonely, and terrified. I am pissed at the misogynist judgments that I am a slut and whore, at which I defiantly open my legs a little wider. I am terrified of the feminist judgments that I am a sell out and that I promote sexism, at which I agonize and think about daily, stressing over my impact, trying to make sure I only take money in clubs and never pose in magazines that little girls might see, etc. Any direction that I turn, I am judged harshly and terribly and there is no relief for my situation, no clarity at all. I feel confusion over knowing that I should certainly be allowed to make my own decisions with my body and not be considered disgusting if I am associated with sex or am a prostitute or stripper.

The other times I wonder if it is really my choice I make for my body or is really just influenced by a patriarchal society, and because of my body image problems, rebellion against my dad's sexism, rebellion against a world which told me I had to close my legs and not have sex, that I must follow the RULES and be a GOOD girl, etc. I feel confusion because I see how the industry is currently sexist but doesn't have to be, how women do not realize that not only are the women in clubs not supermodels but not all of us are sure of what we are doing there, and that while it may seem degrading at times to cater to men's wishes, at other times we are in complete power and control. Many of the strippers I know hate men and want to use them and unfortunately this is the outlet, one which is not ultimately powerful for women.

I also feel confused when I see the men who have been hurt by sexism and the sado-masochist portrayal of what sex is, and go to the forbidden zone of being the subjugate in sex, and play the part of a "woman" and beg me to hit, punch, kick, and whip them. Sometimes when I am punching a man, I feel confused inside, because I think "perhaps feminists would be happy to see that I am in control here, I am not being hurt"; then I think "or would they be upset that I am still doing something for him, something HE ultimately wants out of me?" I used to hate every single customer for being male and being in a place which uses and ranks women but now I see individual stories and I can't hate every single customer, especially when they tell me they know they are messed up inside. No I do not like the competition of women selling themselves to men. I do not like how it uses low income women and how most of the women I know are saving for numerous plastic surgeries because of how we feel about our bodies.

But the strip world is very confusing and I have very few other choices, with the amounts of money I need to make for my goals (which involve helping empower women, as my every aspiration is to help women out of stripping and out of pleasing men instead of themselves - be it in a strip club, or on the street) and to help repair the extensive damage and deformity I did to my body when I had liposuction at a young age, due to anorexic/BDD craziness. I really hope one thing: that feminists will realize that not ALL strippers are uncaring women who want to be better than and crush other women, or who like their position in society. Sure, some may be, but I am a stripper and I can't stand those women, I feel they are betrayers, the enemy.

Each stripper must be taken individually, and actually this line in your response made my literally, burst into tears: "I think another important distinction is that you can hate the industry, but not the women. That's crucial. " This explains my confusion perfectly, and it answers why I feel so angry at women who set up things which subjugate themselves and other women to men's beauty/sex fantasies, but why I do not hate the majority of strippers and women I feel are trapped or who feel they need to make money or have other issues, as strippers or prostitutes. Though it is even hard, I try not to get angry and judgmental, as this could also easily happen to me, and I am working hard to simply explain and walk away, and to empower myself, get over my body dysmorphia, and get out of the industry and into something (like setting up my own business) which I will not be confused by, which I will KNOW feels good to me and is empowering to me even as I age, as well as inspirational to other women.




Dear Sar,

I think that everything you expressed is in line with most peoples thinking, it's just so damn hard to have one resolved response. Most people rightfully feel multiple things on the issue and all things can simultaneously be true: it's exploitative and women do choose it; it's fun and it's degrading, etc.

I imagine that most people agree with you, and perhaps just discovering that the ambiguity is the dominant thinking is progress, and perhaps doing more venting and sharing will help bring you some resolution.

Good luck,

-- Amy