By Alessandra Izzo aka Ally Cat
It’s been a while since I had a rant, but hold onto your knickers people, get those pearls at the ready because I’m about to say some things that might stir the SWERF* pot.
I’ve been privvy lately to the unfortunate views of the grossly misinformed, uneducated and misogynistic regarding pole dancers and strippers. Why these archaic views still exist is beyond me, and mostly they exist outside the pole community, but there are still folks around who insist on distancing themselves from the sex work community while shimmying around a pole and calling it ‘art’.
Here’s a couple of things I’ve read in the last week.
On a Facebook post from Clementine Ford’s fan page:
Regarding pole dancing: “The very nature of it suggests a huge lack of awareness and high internalised misogyny.”
“Many women who work in the soft porn industry have some pretty major issues with their self esteem.”
On the personal page of a Facebook user:
“I don’t care who this affects, pole dancers and strippers are trash. I have no respect for you. Zip. Zero. You are garbage”
Sigh. Yes these views are still kicking around, the last comment was shared almost a thousand times on social media. But unfortunately, many of us still encourage these types of views by distancing ourselves from the sex work community, including strippers and FSSW**.
If you haven’t educated yourself on what internalised misogyny is, there are countless articles written about it now, but here’s a few ways to tell if you’re suffering from it:
- You use the words “I’m not like most women”
- You use the term “slut” or “whore” to degrade other women’s sexual choices or judge their promiscuity
- You judge other women for their appearance, age, weight, hobbies or other life choices
- You believe women should behave in a certain way in order to be respected
- You believe strippers and FSSW are less valuable as human beings for what they do
- You pole dance but get angry when people suggest you might be a stripper
Many people insist that the average person shouldn’t put on pleasers and dance exotic style because that is stripper appropriation. As a retired stripper, I personally don’t agree with this. However, if you are going to pole dance but not openly advocate for strippers and FSSW then you’re a hypocrite, plain and simple. Yes, even you lyrical barefoot polers. The truth is we wouldn’t have this community without our stripper foremothers. So at the very least show them some damn respect.
Everyone has their blind spots. If you recognise that you are still suffering from internalised misogyny, that’s great! It means you can do something about it. I highly encourage you to do some reading and self-reflection. We all have the capacity to grow, and cringe at posts we made in our dark days of ignorance. Believe me, I’ve done this many times over with various issues that I’ve had my eyes opened to, not just my own internalised misogyny. I’m sure I will continue to do this as the years go by.
For those of you who are fully aware of all these things, openly advocate for the sex industry, and have addressed any misogyny issues you may have previously had, congratulations and thank you for making the world a little brighter and more accepting. Please be gentle on those who are coming after you, not everyone will respond to the anger you understandably feel at seeing this bullshit for what it really is. I totally get it. Just remember that anger directed at someone will instantly make them feel defensive. Perhaps show them some compassion, for they know not what they do. Try and help them through it, the more people with their eyes open, the safer this world will be for all of us.
*SWERF: Sex Worker Exclusive Radical Feminist
**FSSW: Full Service Sex Worker