Opinion: Stripping Is Not Empowering

In this day and age, people do whatever it takes to get money. Whether it be tireless hours of honest, hard work or shifty, illegal deals under the table, millions of people are desperate for cash. Speaking as a collegiate with around $90,000 in student loans, I definitely understand the hunger for a significant income. However, I think there is a fine line between what is and is not an acceptable means to becoming affluent. What I mean is, I struggle to comprehend the lengths some people go to get the hard cash.

For those who do not know me, I am a feminist through and through. And right now, I am having to work around 30 hours a week, while maintaining an academic workload of 20 units, just to pay the bills that are piling up around me. So, trust me when I say this, I completely understand the fear of not being able to make ends meet. Despite how tired I get or how far in classes I fall behind, I personally would never allow myself to take certain measures to pay my bills.

A few months ago, one of my friends was falling short of meeting her financial obligations, so she decided to get a job as a stripper. When she told me about it, I was rather perplexed. She, like me, is also a feminist; so, I was completely stunned that she chose that profession as her pathway to financial income.

I know that there are a lot of mixed feelings on whether becoming a stripper is empowering or enslaving. I have heard a multitude of key points for both sides of the argument and I weighed each and every one of them before coming to the conclusion that I have now. In my personal opinion, stripping is not empowering.

Stripping harms absolutely everyone. Not only does it increasingly encourage men to view women as possessions that can be bought at a price, it also reinforces the ideology that they are allowed judge women based solely on their physical appearance and that we are a means to satisfy their misogynistic pleasures. In turn, women, especially sex workers, are forced to obsess over their physical appearance, which diminishes the lack of individuality and self-love. It creates a network of women all over the world who are forced to conform to the unforgiving, body-shaming standards men have to be considered “attractive.”

Furthermore, sexual harassment is especially not empowering. Imagine how many women have to deal with drunk, disrespectful men grabbing at them and demanding different forms of sexual gratification. Consent in the sex work industry is a major concern, especially when many strippers, prostitutes, and pornstars were sex trafficked into the profession to begin with. Many women working in this profession are forced to compromise their own morals, which eventually leads to them lowering their standards and personal self-worth.

I remember asking my friend about how her job was going. She murmured a few words under her breath before telling me, it was not “that bad” of a job, but when I asked her if she would allow her future children to step into that work field, she immediately said, “Of course not.” Her response got me thinking ─ if the mere thought of our children partaking in this industry turns us off, then why are we deliberately choosing to help perpetuate its growth as a profession?

Like I said before, I totally understand the need to make ends meet. Compared to some people, I likely have it way easier than they do. I know that certain individuals are simply dealt a bad hand and will always have a disadvantage in their lives. I am sure many people have done things in their life that they could have never imagined doing from the get-go. Knowing that many women have to offer their bodies to men to make money hurts me, but knowing that certain women willfully choose to support this anti-feminist industry honestly kills me.