Hi, I’m Tara…



I'm a whore revolutionary and a wilderbabe. I'm pretty much in love with this little river I live on and myself and if you stick around you'll read (and see) all about it.

Empowerment

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Hi everybody! Thanks for all your comments on my last post! I’m going to write a whole thing about that. In the meantime, here’s something I wrote about empowerment.

There’s been a lot of interesting talk about the internet lately about empowerment. Someone smart said somewhere (?) that it doesn’t really matter if sex workers are empowered. Workers rights issues are workers rights issues – does anyone care if people are empowered by working at WalMart and does that have anything to do with them getting arrested?

I think I’m just writing about the empowerment thing because it’s this big ol’ buzz word that can be interpreted any which way. Also because I got a letter in the mail the other day from the most amazing of sacred whore friend talking about all the judgement and bad thoughts that bubble up around sex work. How to feel empowered in whore-dom?

em·pow·er   [em-pou-er]
verb (used with object)
1.to give power or authority to; authorize, especially by legal or official means: I empowered my agent to make the deal for me. The local ordinance empowers the board of health to close unsanitary restaurants.
2.to enable or permit: Wealth empowered him to live a comfortable life.

I use sex work to get money. Money, in our culture (not in reality), is power. It’s a warm place to sleep, organic food, private schools, attentive medical care, and all the iPads you’ll ever want. Or it can be a way to buy land and ditch capitalism. Money is also a way to determine value in a free market system.

(I remember once upon a time, a drunken bartender in a West Virginia strip club shaking her tip jar at me after a cop threatened us with new legislation again. “You know why those people hate me? You know how much money I make? Those assholes have to go to school for years and kiss ass every day of their lives and they still don’t make as much as me!”)

Sex work empowers me because it gives me money, which is power. I have land, solar panels, a boat with a good engine that has a warranty, and a truck that’ll last me the rest of my life or until civilization collapses because of sex work. I’m empowered to live a life I love and spend most of my days walking in the woods, cutting wood, and hauling water, because of sex work.

Our culture says that my sexuality is valuable. According to the free market system, my sexual attention is worth about three times as much as a lawyer’s legal attention or a doctor’s medical attention. We value doctors and lawyers because they are smart, and we give them money (power) because they took their smartness to school for almost a decade. We value me because I’ve spent my life becoming awesome. Also I read a book about marketing.

Respect is another way of giving and receiving power in our culture. Whores don’t get so much of that, but when Rush Limbaugh calls us names* it’s because he’s jealous of our empowerment.

* Actually, I’m kinda confused about this Rush Limbaugh thing. Did he just call us prostitutes? Why do we care? I’m without teevee, but I’m being contemporary, dammit!

** I think there’s correlation here! Everyone I’ve ever heard/read say that sex work isn’t empowering was either well off already or wasn’t able to make much money with sex work anyways. Someone should do a study!!



5 comments to Empowerment

  • Violet

    The Rush Limbaugh thing was not just him calling women prostitutes. He said that a specific woman who wanted to testify about birth control was a slut and a prostitute, and needed BC because she had so much sex. (Because, you know, people who have a lot of sex need more birth control pills than people who only fuck once in awhile. Or something.) Further, he claimed that since she was she was a whore and a slut, he was entitled to videotapes of her sex life. He’s a nasty person.

  • Muff

    Portland Indymedia will not let me post this following post that I repeatedly tried to post. Portland Indymedia will also not return my emails asking me why they keep taking my post down. The post is entitled “Boycott Union Jack’s”:

    Normally I wouldn’t suggest boycotting a strip club on an indymedia site, because the overlap between clientele of many strip clubs and Portland Indymedia users isn’t always so obvious. It would seem pointless to talk about on a site like this. However, over the past few months that I worked at Union Jack’s, I encountered an array of members of the “radical” community walk through the doors of this tiny club on Burnside. I don’t know if it has anything to do with it’s location in relation to Red and Black and the Vegan Mini Mall, but I just kept seeing people from those worlds. It was shocking to me to see so many people I wouldn’t expect come to Union Jack’s. Recently I was given an ultimatum via text message by the club owner, who rarely shows his face, watches the club through closed circuit camera, and pretends to be in the Russian mafia. Since I do not shave my genitalia bald like a child’s, I have often faced bullying, belittlement and abuse from coworkers in the industry, usually from other dancers who have internalized misogyny so much that they are unable to understand why I have a bush. While customers have occasionally done the same to me, and contrary to what my coworkers wish, I usually do very well in the industry and am a top earner in clubs that I work. I had been at Union Jack’s since October, earning more money than a lot of workers there. A few months ago, I spoke with the boss about a particular dancer who was saying negative things about my pubic hair to customers. I was upset, and while he made no effort to stop the situation that I was aware of, he also had no objections to my pubic hair at the time. However, I continued to face harassment by coworkers. One staff member named Yanis, an old man who I have seem smoke pot with dancers who he likes to put his hands on, always had the habit of staring at my pubic region whenever he passed me, in a way that made me uncomfortable. One of the bartenders, Carlos, never called me by my name, and instead chose to refer to me as “mucho pelo” anywhere from twenty to thirty times per night. Sometimes he would walk by me as I was talking to customers, just to say “mucho pelo.” After a month or so of this going on, I made it clear to him that I didn’t want him to call me “mucho pelo.” For a while he stopped calling me this, but as a result of my asking him to stop, he also stopped helping me behind the bar when I needed a cup of coffee or a glass of water. I would sometimes stand for ten minutes before getting any help, because the only way that he would get me anything that I needed is if I allowed him to call me “mucho pelo.” He eventually began calling me by that term again. Then, last week, I received a series of text messages from the owner of Union Jack’s, Ilya Adamidov (http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-1674-snitch_slapped.html). The first text message read:

    “Rami is about 2 suspend u 4 not shaving.. If u want 2 keep your shifts,the bush has 2 go back 2 .1947.”

    “1947 is the last year a bush was seen by general public. Just make it comperable 2 what dancers there or any serios club have. Normally they shave it off and keep a small line above. I cant believe iam having 2 talk about this.”

    “I dont look at bush. Its not my thing.”

    Since I wanted to keep my shifts, I lied to him and told him that I trimmed my pubic hair after receiving the texts. I decided to not take my bottoms off anymore, even though I prefer to, because it was the only way to avoid losing my job and not have to shave my genitalia. While dancers in Oregon are considered independent contractors and have to pay the owner of the club a nightly fee, the owner of the club is still able to dictate certain things about those who pay to work in the club, such as pubic hair. I was feeling very upset and exploited, having dealt with harassment from dancers and male staff at Union Jack’s for so long about the way I choose to maintain my body, and then receiving those text messages. On my last evening of work, I sat down at a table with a few yuppie couples. They asked me how I was. I told them in detail about what happened, and told them that I felt exploited. The alpha male of the group said to me, while pointing at the woman he was sitting next to, “This is her first time at a strip club, and you’re really blowing it for her.” One female from the group was talking about how she got a lap dance from a hair dresser who talked about her hair for the whole song. As a joke, I said to them, “If you get a lap dance from me, I can talk to you about a different kind of hair that I have, and I’ll bet it would be a whole lot more intellectually stimulating than talking about being a hair dresser.” These yuppies became very angry with me. One of the males of the group began yelling at me, telling me that I am no better than a hair dresser, and that it is wrong of me to say a hair dresser is less than me. While that wasn’t exactly what I said, I could see that this group was becoming very angry with me. One of the females asked me why I was there if I felt so exploited. I said to them, “Well to hustle upper middle class pieces of shit of course.” This made them even angrier, at which point one of them got up to tell the bouncer they wanted me to leave them alone. I got up and left them alone. I watched as another one of them went to tell the bartender about me. About an hour later, with no further dialogue between myself and their group, my manager arrived. I watched as one of them got up to complain to my manager about me. I wasn’t sure exactly what the complaint was, but I was called into the owner’s office shortly after that. The owner had me sit in his office while he told me that I was not being exploited, and that he can’t have me talking in such a way to customers when he has to sell liquor in order to make a living. I said that I understood, and was allowed to go back upstairs. For the next few hours, I proceeded to make over five hundred dollars, while simultaneously informing all of my customers that I would not be returning to the club ever again, giving them a detailed account of the issues surrounding my personal decision of pubic hair. While on stage, several of the dancers who regularly bully me stood to one side while I danced without taking my bottoms off. While dancing, I watched as they stared at my crotch, trying to decipher whether or not I still had pubic hair. I left without paying my fifty dollar house fee at the end of the night. Later, I asked the owner one more time over text message if I could keep my shifts without having to shave. He sent me this text message:

    “Bush has 2 b way shorter then it is or Rami will take u off weekends. And I relly hope i dont have 2 talk about bush, or any other kind of landscaping again.”

    As stated before, I’m not sure why I have seen so many people from “radical” circles at Union Jack’s. I suppose they might be drawn to the popular aesthetic of tattoos, black clothing and rock music that Union Jack’s promotes, or perhaps they feel that they are entering a subversive environment that is more female-friendly than other strip clubs. Maybe the pseudo-intellectualism of Union Jack’s fools people into believing, like teenagers shopping at Hot Topic in an attempt to be rebellious, that they are supporting a business with integrity.

    And, if my personal story isn’t enough to deter you from entering the club, perhaps one regular named Kyle will. Kyle frequents Union Jack’s on weekdays anywhere between seven and nine. Kyle is a young blonde haired man, and can be identified by his swastika and neo-nazi imagery tattoos and jewelry, his boots with white laces, and if you ask him what the images mean, he will quietly tell you all about his white nationalist ideology. I realized what he was about, about a week before I quit. I attempted to talk to both the bartender and DJ about his imagery and beliefs he shares with anyone who asks, as he sits around drinking and flirting with strippers who give him lots of free attention. Neither of the staff members I talked to expressed objection to his being there, since they said he wasn’t causing any problems. When one dancer overheard my attempts at getting him removed from the club, she told him about it, and this only intensified the coldness and bullying that I experienced from others at the club.

  • Muff

    Well, I looked for some jobs since that traumatic event, and I found weekend night shifts hard to come by these days in PDX. I had one club I used to work for tell me I’m too old (I’ll be 26 in a few weeks), and one club I used to work for tell me I’ve gotten too fat (I’m 5’8″ and 150 pounds. I’ve gained about fifteen pounds since I started shoplifting gourmet foods and deserts). So, I caved in and went back to Union Jack’s, and don’t plan on removing my bottoms unless I do a lapdance, which bums me out since I enjoy showing off my bush and vulva on stage. I also know that inevitably, the above comment will be found by some snitchy fuck and Ilya will eventually find out and fire me, probably in a traumatic way in his Russian Mafia-style office. I don’t want the comment removed though. I plan to make a blog and document the misogyny as it unfolds. At least Ilya doesn’t tell me I’m too fat or old to work weekend night shifts. ‘Tis a sad world. I don’t know why I’m posting on here about it. I guess it’s because I spend all day hiding in my apartment on the internet and am grossly turned off by Portland stripper blogs wherein they celebrate things like electric music, mass amounts of tattoos, bald genitalia, and ignore bullshit things that go on in strip clubs. Mainstream PDX stripper culture makes me want to vomit. The money is so damn good at UJ’s though. Let’s see how long it lasts before my comments are discovered. In closing, I bring you Ilya’s latest text message to me:

    “U got 2 shave tho. He ll send u hm if u did not. Text me the date u want 2 sttart.”

  • Muffy

    Hey would you mind taking off that previous comment? I got rid of that blog but don’t want google searches of it to come up or anything like that. Thanks.

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