The Challenges Of Being A Stripper

Despite popular belief that sex workers were oppressed and without agency, victims in need of rescuing, Maria says strippers are not disempowered.

When women are often valued for their looks and in a capitalist economy, where the glass ceiling hasn’t exactly been shattered, Maria thought choosing to profit from dancing around in lingerie seemed perfectly logical.

Maria speaks out about her journey to becoming a stripper and some of the challenges she’s endured; society’s stigma, family fallout, ‘glorifying stripper culture’ on social media, how her feminist views have changed, managements financial exploitation and cultural inappropriate ‘trends’.

What transitioned you into stripping?
I grew up super religious but stripping was always something that made logical sense to me, it was always talked about as this negative thing or a joke at school but I remember being like ‘wait you get paid to dance around in your underwear? I’d legit do that’.

I was actually voted most likely to become a stripper and it was meant as an insult.  So, I moved further away from Christianity the more I started looking into it, did my research, called up, had an interview, started.

How do you think stripping empowers women?
Because its charging men for something they think they’re entitled to get for free!

What’s some of the biggest challenges you have experience because of your career choice?
100% the reaction from my family. It has completely destroyed my relationships with one of my aunties and with one of my uncles that I was really close with. I don’t think about it much anymore but it was really heartbreaking for me, around the holidays I can get sad about it because it makes me miss the family gatherings we used to have but then the money I make after Tradie breakup weeks gets me through it.

Also, I had been in a three year long relationship with my boyfriend at the time who had a three year old boy, I’d previously been on amazing terms with the child’s mother and was a prominent figure in this little boy’s life. When she found out my career choice she went psycho and said I wasn’t allowed around her child anymore. She settled down but never regarded me in the same manner again, it broke my heart because she knew how much her child loved me, how much I loved him and how good a caretaker I had been but all of this became irrelevant because I was a stripper.

I’m sure, like most ‘out’ strippers on Instagram, you’ve receive slut shaming comments. Does it affect you? How do you manage them?
I deleted my stripper Instagram ages ago because I decided I didn’t really want to contribute towards the ‘glorifying’ of stripper culture.

But anyways no, not really, it was all just dick picks and shitty messages from dudes. I feel like I experience slut shaming in a way more passive aggressive way in real life. A lot of the time, when I meet someone and the inevitable ‘what do you do’ question comes up, I’m met with ‘oh wow that’s fine that you do that, I don’t even have a problem! I am sooooo totally fine with that BUT I COULD  NEVER EVER DO THAT BUT YOU GO GIRL’  and it’s like I literally didn’t ask or suggest you should do it. Whatever random girl I have known for two seconds! Thank-you so much for your weird validation that I never asked for. I’ve also had random girls in club tell me things like ‘I would be a stripper but I have self-respect’ and it’s so weird. But the first one annoys me more because the second one I can stand up to and have a variety of come backs to. But when someone’s passive aggressive like that there’s often no getting through to them because they genuinely think that they’ve done nothing wrong.

What do you mean by ‘glorifying stripper culture’?
Basically, the whole strippers on Instagram thing can really glamorises the industry and has made stripping this sort of trend which results in more and more young girls wanting to be strippers because its ‘cool’. I get using social media for marketing but I think if it didn’t exist there would be less new girls around.

Would you describe yourself as a feminist?
Yes

Feminist are often divided over their opinions on strippers. Were you ever against Stripping?
When I was eighteen I was just sort of starting to develop my own views outside of Christianity. I think I believed that all sex workers needed to be saved, I was super against porn and prostitution, I didn’t let my first boyfriend watch porn (LOL) because I thought it was so degrading towards women. I was basically a SWERF (Sex worker exclusionary radical feminism)  but then I started finding stripper blogs and escort blogs, basically listening to what actual sex worker had to say and that was that.

Honestly, if someone can sit there and listen to an actual sex worker and still maintain their views against the industry they can go fuck themselves, give everyone the benefit of the doubt but if you have taken the time to educate a family member or friend and they still won’t listen, it’s a lost cause.

Who are some of your favourite activists in the sex community?
There’s an organisation called RhED in Melbourne that actually advocate for a lot of sex worker rights and do a lot of good in the sex worker community: here’s a link http://sexworker.org.au/, these guys are really great and I know a few girls who have had help from this organisation to pay for their university or course fees!! I like Amber Rose a lot, huge fan of the slut walk concept. Jacq the Stripper work is great in terms of positive representation of strippers which doesn’t exist in any mainstream media.

You strongly advocate against social injustices, what within the club don’t you support?
There’s a lot of things but something that’s really fucked up is the blatant cultural appropriation, at a lot of the clubs there are feature performances and in one show a girl literally wears a native American head dress, I’ve even had STRAIGHT WHITE MALE MIDDLE AGED customers who were shocked.

Another practice that I find fucking disturbing is the Kylie Jenner level of black face that is becoming just a normal thing, girls get melanin injections, lay in solariums and just become a different ethnicity. In terms of health everyone can destroy their bodies in whatever way they see fit, I guess but it’s actually just disgusting, girls who used to be properly pale could pass as being women of colour. Like it’s just shitty everything is a fucking trend, but I don’t see anything changing.

What changes would you like to see made within the industry?
There’s so much. I think in another interview Chase Paradise already addressed the injustices that occur from management, there’s a lot of things that are technically illegal like fining girls for not coming to work or the roster system, it’s all illegal but we can’t do shit about it. Unless there’s an actual stripper union nothing will change. Management can basically do what they want and strippers are treated as disposable, we are easily replaced so lots of girls are too scared to speak up or act out. Basically, I’d like to see strippers actually unionise and stand up for their rights.

Thanks for answering our questions Maria!

 

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