Strippers deserve respect and dignity

Written By Dominique Hildebrand

Ladies, how excited are you for “Magic Mike XXL?” Channing Tatum and his abs are perfection, moving in sync to “Pony” in the new trailer for the movie. Everything about his life seems glamorous. What about the strippers in all those Playboy movies? The girl dances as the hero of the movie tips her a pile of Benjamins. Through the eyes of Hollywood, stripping seems almost as exciting as being a spy.

However, in reality, strippers are often looked down upon as almost less than human.

It’s time for a reality check. Stripping is not for the weak of heart, and we should not put a negative connotation on the individuals who choose to make money this way.  

First and foremost, why do we continually put these people down? Why is okay for Channing Tatum to have once been a stripper but repulsive to think that a teacher or businesswoman was once a stripper? I have heard stories of women who stripped their way through college. You know how much debt they had? A whole lot less than I do. And then they are fired because someone found out what they used to do. The emphasis is on “used to,” as in they no longer are, but it shouldn’t matter either way.

Strippers are physically fit. They are strong. They lift themselves up on a spinning pole and make it look sexy and effortless. It takes an impressive amount of body strength to do the work they do. There are even classes anyone can take. I tried it and I couldn’t even raise my hand to write the next day. So how come when stripping is a fitness class it’s okay, but when it is someone’s job it’s atrocious?

Strippers know what they are getting into when they make the choice to become sex workers. Many feminists find it liberating to show off their sexuality. They don’t need protection from a sex-driven market. What they do need protection from is the people running these clubs. 

Did you know that strippers have to pay to strip? They actually have to pay the club a fee to strip there. That’s how the clubs get away with not providing healthcare, and they can unjustly fire strippers. You can be hired to work at a strip club then have to pay the club for stage time. Then they will take out more money for their “cut.” Strippers essentially have to pay to work. Imagine having to pay Starbucks for the pleasure of working in their fine establishment. Starbucks would get sued pretty quickly and there would be an end to that nonsense.

 Strippers have been trying for years to advocate for better working conditions. They deserve a change. The most famous of these stories is The Lusty Ladies, who fought to unionize in the late 90s. Today, there is another movement for better working conditions for strippers. Sex workers in Oregon are lobbying for safe and fair working conditions. 

This is a right. Anyone making taxed money and working full time should, at the very least, have a clean and safe working environment. How hard is it really to make sure the stage won’t cave in and the pole won’t come unhinged?

Strippers can’t even organize to try and improve these conditions. The Lusty Ladies were lucky, they got a union. But more often than not, clubs threaten and forbid strippers from thoughts of unionizing before they can even attempt a negotiation. 

Treat strippers the way you’d treat any other person who works hard to make a living: with dignity and respect.