Monday, March 25, 2013

Dancing with Judgement

Settle in, 
kick back, 
and enjoy the show.

Well, I was going to bring you a blog on the subject of people whining about things they don't know about. In a blast of humor on the part of the gods, I realized that I don't know enough about the subject in question to adequately scream at the idiots in question. So Uncle J shelved it, and in the process found another blog he'd been working on, which had been shelved in turn.

Now, I meant to get this post up just ahead of the end of last year, but life kept kicking me in the nards, and is still doing so.

"Oh, so now you're just grabbing material out of the shelved section? You lazy a-hole!"

Shown above: The box in which
I keep the fucks I give.
So, what are we talking about today, kiddies? The adult entertainment industry!

A young lady of my acquaintance posted the following on Facebook forever ago and while my ire has cooled, there's points that need addressing here. This is verbatim, by the by, and uncleaned. She's talking about "stripping" and "strippers" if you can't guess.

I think it is a disgrace to see these young females, come from beauty and wisdom to slutty and provocative females. I mean why on earth would you want to dance on a metal pole all day and have pigs stare at you? Pay you high dollar to have sex with them, seriously?? Why disrespect your body like that, i mean come one.. You can be a nurse, or a welder, or hell even a therapist... But instead you choose to waste your time throwing your body out there for men to gaze at and i believe you are a whore when you do that. It isn't sexy, and it not fun. It is gross and so disrespectful. Obviously, their parents fail at raising them, and showing them that being a whore for a living isn't always going to pay the bills.

I only want one person to see my body, and that would be my love. Because i am with him, and i have known him for a long time. So, why on earth would i flaunt it to other men? I am certain he would not like it, and would probably leave me if i did such a foul thing. What is this generation becoming..???

These are the voyages of the Starship WhatTheFuck, boldly going where sanity and reason dare not tread. While I'm not going to dredge up the drama the young lady in question raised with this post, the mindset it speaks to does need addressing overall. 

Okay. Let's take this from the top, then. Grab a snack and buckle up, kids.

We can skip the opening line. It's a thesis, an opinion, and frankly one that's somewhat common. I don't hold it, nor do I believe it, but it's an opinion and people have those sometimes.

The next two lines, though, make a nasty little statement that does wonders for arguments against parochial teaching and moralistic decision making in public curriculums.

I mean why on earth would you want to dance on a metal pole all day and have pigs stare at you? Pay you high dollar to have sex with them, seriously??

Line the first makes two assumptions: that it's abnormal for a person to enjoy being attractive to others for the sole purpose of being attractive to others or to use their physical attractiveness to make money; and that any male that goes to a club that engages the services of women as adult performers is a mysoginist at best.

Abnormality of enjoying looking attractive can be addressed fairly easily: There's really no good reason to go to a beach in a speedo or a bikini. UV rays are bad for you in large doses, a more "modest" swimsuit serves more functionally than a bikini for women, and guys don't need speedos unless they're in a competition. But it happens all the time. Why? Cause we, as a race, generally like showing off what we have.

Abnormality of using physical beauty to make money? Well, there's models, actors and actresses, singers, stage performers, professional non-adult dancers in some cases...hell, in most of show business "how good are they" is secondary to "how good would they look on a billboard/album cover/magazine/stage." It is now, and always has been, true that using physical edges like attractiveness or strength is an accepted practice. It may not necessarily be a well-liked practice, but it is accepted.

So why on earth is being an adult entertainer so deeply degraded by so many? Well, that would be because it's a job, it can pay fairly well, and at the end of the day it's the logical end point of using physical beauty to make money. No really. It's that fact that adult entertainers show skin for money as opposed to just showing skin because skin.

After all, how dare anyone capitalize on their physical attributes so blatantly to earn income? I mean, there are individuals whose sole qualifications are being able to stand in incredibly high heels for hours at a time wearing a bikini in a chilled environment talking to people they'd really rather not associate with as a general rule.

What? That sounds like an actual job? Well, perhaps that's because it is. And within the adult dancing world, those are the individuals who can't actually dance. Those ladies who can dance do anything from move in ways that seem physically impossible, to performing life threatening tricks that would be perfectly at home in a Cirque Du Soleil show.

Have we talked yet about the fact that as a rule they're contract workers who make no set wage, and live entirely on tips? And that if they want to keep making money, they have to tip percentages to the bar, the DJ, and sometimes the house?

Or how about the fact that adult entertainers are often denied, or self-deny from fear of stigmatization, health and legal services comparable to the very basic services accorded everyone else?

(Yes that's Wikipedia. You can follow their sources just as well as I can. And frankly, most of you would have stopped at the wiki article anyway.)

The second part of this line "and have pigs stare at you" is a backlash against (in this case) the men who enjoy the talents or appearances of these ladies. After all, any man that looks at a woman like that must be a depraved and sickening misogynist.

Just like every woman that wants to jump Johnny Depp or George Clooney, or has a stripper gram at a bachelorette party, or goes to a girls club for the half naked boys must be a depraved and sickening misandrist, right? Nooooo, of course not! That's just girls night out! Those ladies are just out to have fun and...and...enjoy the show...

Oh, no, there's a double standard there, huh?

Seriously, people. I will never cease to feel sickened by the things we make values judgements about based on the gender of the person doing them. Man hits a woman? Evil. Woman hits a man? He had it coming. Man goes to a strip show? Sickening. Woman goes to a strip show? A night of naughty, girly fun!

Even if she goes to a female strip show. Yes, that's correct. A bi or gay woman can go watch female dancers, get in free, and be considered a sexy, desirable, and strong woman. If a man watches adult entertainment from either gender, he's a pervert.

It's a show. There's audience participation, alcohol flowing, frequently beautiful and often intelligent ladies wearing about what they'd wear to the beach, and they'll dance if you tip them. No sex. Customers can't touch the dancers. It can be yucky at times, and there are perverts, obviously. But for the love of heaven, if a guy goes to a strip club he's more than likely going in order to see beautiful women move in entertaining ways, just like a woman does. End of freaking story.

Onwards to the second part of this nasty little couplet:

I mean why on earth would you want to dance on a metal pole all day and have pigs stare at you? Pay you high dollar to have sex with them, seriously??

The second line in this pair takes a left turn at "what are you smoking" and goes deep into moral high ground territory. See, an adult entertainment professional is one thing. Prostitution is something else entirely. These two lines together make the assumption that not only is a woman that chooses to work as an adult entertainer somehow fundamentally wrong for making a living at it, but it automatically also makes her a prostitute. For the record, prostitution is still widely illegal and while some dancers might take a guy home, it's not always for money, and the vast majority of them are just dancers.

Full stop. No ifs. No qualifiers, no buts. Dancing in a state of undress is not prostitution, and does not make one a whore in any sense of the word.

Why disrespect your body like that, i mean come one.. You can be a nurse, or a welder, or hell even a therapist... But instead you choose to waste your time throwing your body out there for men to gaze at and i believe you are a whore when you do that.

Ok, and now we're into the thick of it. With all the jobs available there must be something you could be doing instead of this, right? I mean, anyone who chooses to do this must just be a whore.

Definition of whore = this is also a no.

Now, stop a second. There are plenty of women who are paying for the training to get those exact jobs with the money they make in this line of work. One former adult entertainment worker I know very well is in training to be a therapist. Several nurses I know used to dance. I have yet to meet a welder, but that may just be because I haven't met any new dancers in a couple of years.

Any why, precisely, is this career bad? Aside from the lack of anything resembling stability (which is largely a function of the legal system being designed to enhance and further the stigmatization of the profession) it can be good money. And we, as a race, like looking and being attractive. Being attractive for money is kind of the dream job of everyone I've ever met.

If a girl goes to a club and dances in booty shorts, three inch heels, and a crop top, there's a good chance she'll get lots of guys/girls looking to get to know her. The moment she steps on a stage and starts collecting tips, we go from "racy night at the club" to "whore"? (Again: no.)

So you wanna be paid to be pretty... Well, modeling is a bitch to break into, acting requires moderate to high levels of skill as a function of its existence (though occasionally not)...if you really just want to look pretty for money, learn six or seven basic dance moves, invest a hundred bucks or so in underwear and shoes, and take off your clothes. Do all adult entertainers leave it at that? Nope. Met more than a few that do, though. And they do just fine by all accounts.

There's no guarantee you'll make it there either, but at the end of the day, unless you've lucked out and found one of the clubs that requires you to actually dance, the sum of your job will be "look pretty and move your assets in a vaguely sexual manner."

But that, apparently, is the exact line where it goes from "I wish someone would pay me to be pretty" to "I would never get up on stage and take money for looking pretty! That's wrong!"

Once again:

Moving right along. "Why disrespect your body like that?"

Let's step back for a minute and define a few things. A body is what you get around in, nothing more. We dress them up, put tasty things in them instead of just choking down basic nutrition, define ourselves by them; but at the end of the day, it's an ambulatory bottle and maintenance system for a ~3 lb. hunk of tissue that holds the vast majority of what makes us "us" (unless you ascribe to the soul, in which case, it's the seat of the wetware that lets the software function properly.)

So the only way you're going to "disrespect" it is by interfering with its ability to do its job, i.e, drugs, excessive alcohol, etc. Disrespecting your body by showing it off? Well, you'll have to trade in your swimwear, as previously noted. Also, eject any bra that does more than support your breasts, since we can't be showing those off. Men, please remove from your wardrobes all muscle shirts, short sleeve shirts, shorts, and any pants that shape the bits (front or back!)

On that subject, we'll have to get rid of jewelry. It's only purpose is to show off and call attention to one's anatomy, especially if it goes somewhere other than you ears. Makeup is out as well, since its purpose is to make the form more appealing. Tattoos? So much no. I mean, if showing off what you have is disrespectful, what do you call putting actual artwork on it?

Hell, if showing off your body is disrespectful to said body, we're going to have to change everything about clothes in the entire western world. Because that's what clothing does. It shows off the form it encases to best advantage for the purpose of looking sexy, whether you're attracting a new partner, a new playmate, or keeping it looking good for the one(s) you have.

Once again. This doesn't mean whore. Never. In any sense of the word.

Let's take the next couple of points staccato, ok?

It isn't sexy, and it not fun. 

If it isn't sexy or fun, why do we as a culture pay millions of dollars a year to go to clubs, restaurants, and theaters on dates for the end goal of getting someone to remove their clothing (which can take longer or shorter depending on your win conditions)? Why do we buy clothing that has no purpose other than to look good on our bodies and show them off? We do we spend hours looking at beautiful people (no matter what your preferred form of beauty is) and wishing we looked like/knew them?

Adult entertainers cut out the middleman and sell the fantasy directly. They sell all those bits and pieces of beauty we snatch up from our daily lives and hoard within our memories, but they sell it as a whole package. It may not always be sexy or fun, but if it consistently wasn't either, no one would do it because you couldn't make any money at it.

It is gross and so disrespectful. 

Gross? Yeah, it often is. It's gross to see adult entertainers who are obviously sick to death of dealing with idiots that have been raised on the "adult entertainer = whore" mentality. They're being paid to look pretty, to sell a fantasy, not to deal with some idiot that thinks they can be bought and sold.

It's gross that stigma and legal harassment often make the adult entertainment work place into a badly lit, badly maintained, OSHA nightmare.

And it's gross that a women (or man) can get up on a stage, reveal the miracle of the human form, and be disrespected for it. You think it's an "easy way out" or "the bottom of the barrel"? Then you get up there and do it for a day. You'll most likely be quite pleased to get back to whatever job you were doing before. Or not, in which case: congrats on finding a job you like!

ON the subject of entertainers being "disrespectful:" who is being disrespected by these men and women, anyway? No one owns them. They're not disrespecting themselves. By the Webster's definition, they're actually respecting the hell out of themselves, by:

: an act of giving particular attention : consideration

3 :  a : high or special regard : esteem

      b : the quality or state of being esteemed

Number one, by the way, is "in regard to," for those who think I'm cherry picking.

Obviously, their parents fail at raising them, and showing them that being a whore for a living isn't always going to pay the bills.

RE: repeated use of the word "whore:"

It. Doesn't. Mean. What. You. Think.

As to parents raising them wrong? Are we really going to try and pin this one on the parents? At the end of the day, those ladies are up there because it does pay the bills. And in most American instances, at least, they're up there of their own free will, no one holding a gun to their heads.

For some, it's a viable and necessary job. For some, they've tried everything else and have turned to this because it's a way to make money using assets at hand. And for those who enter the industry against their better moral/ethical judgement, they're still in it whether they were taught that it was wrong or not. No parents involved anywhere in there. About the only instances I've heard of of dancers that involve parental teachings in some way causing the behavior, we're talking about rebellion. As in, they've been taught one thing and they're doing the opposite?

By the by, in cases where coercion is involved, that's another story entirely. For that, we want this post.

Wrapping up this little tome, we have the righteous denial:

I only want one person to see my body, and that would be my love. Because i am with him, and i have known him for a long time. So, why on earth would i flaunt it to other men? I am certain he would not like it, and would probably leave me if i did such a foul thing. 

Good! This is a combination of personal reasoning and values judgements that indicates a series of excellent reasons for this particular individual not to get into the adult entertainment industry. But that's it. At no point in any of that do any combination of those points apply to anyone other than the author.

And that's about the size of most of the stigma. Including those who declare God as a reason to justify whatever squicks and foibles they have, everyone is projecting their own personal values and morals onto a profession. Just like always. And as in most situations where values judgements are made sight unseen, those who are being judged suffer for no reason beyond "we don't like that you do that."

If we cleaned up the laws, provided decent healthcare, and removed the stigma? It could be a viable, decent profession. In short, the people who view adult entertainment as a "disgusting, disrespectful, gross" profession, are the very people creating that environment within the profession through stigmatization and ignorance.

What is this generation becoming..???

With any luck, more open-minded and accepting of others, regardless of their own personal beliefs. Because at the end of the day, personal beliefs are just that. Personal.

Oh, and one more thing: someone, somewhere, is going to jump right on my repeated use of this Merriam-Webster definition. They're going to say, "ah-hah! But that also says 'promiscuous or immoral'!"

Yes. Yes, it does. Now, please explain to me:

If you have a single partner, or a string of relationships, are you promiscuous? (Hint: no.)

Then you can't declare someone a whore on the grounds that others look at them. And since their personal life doesn't enter in here, promiscuous has nothing to do with stripping.

If someone has different morals than you, does that mean that they have no morals? (Hint: also no.)

Nowhere in that definition of morals does it say that there's a definitive set of morals all humans have. So you can't declare someone else's morals to be immoral, and then force them to change. Nope, end of story. That's just the way it is.

So really. It's not applicable here.