One of the women I work with now used to be a stripper and a lapdancer. I love her honesty and she's a bright, brilliant woman. It would be easy for an old hag like me to say it was a terrible thing for her to do, but I don't feel that way. She's a beautiful woman and why not? I wish I'd had so much confidence in my looks and body when I was 21. If I'd ever had the "right" figure, I might have done it. I wouldn't have been so open about it, but I'm generally not an open person anyway.
The thing I've been most encouraged by is how the men in my work react to what she used to do. They have all been absolutely fine with it. None of them have done "that face" - you know the one, where they decide a woman's a slag and are equally repulsed and intrigued. None of the women she's told have been horrified either, and women are more than capable of doing "that face" too. It was a job, just like any other job. We all make our living how we can.
So this is compatible with my feminism how? Well, because she was in control. She knew exactly what was and wasn't acceptable to her. She knew where her boundaries were, expressed them, and enforced them. Every random man who approaches her and says "I know your face!" is a victory of sorts for her, because she would never know theirs. Her most amazing comeback: "Oh, did you get a hand from me? How would I know?" How would she know? She wasn't looking at you. She wasn't there for your benefit. She wasn't even thinking about you.
It's funny how some men can squirm when presented with a naked female body. It's so, so easy for them to view a female body as a piece of meat, as something they're entitled to, as something they can look at and call a "thing". Any man who would go and watch a stripper and call her a slag is a man who can't deal with any woman's sexuality, and is probably a man best avoided. I like looking at hot naked men - it's a thing. Nobody has to be ashamed of liking a hot individual of their choice attractive, so why the embarrassment? I don't think anyone can be a good sexual partner until they accept their own sexuality. I'm as straight as it gets, and I've possibly missed out on some really amazing experiences because of that, but I can't help it. It's just the way my sexuality goes.
It is amazing to have my theory about how many awesome men there are out there confirmed. The men I work with are so cool, and I haven't seen even a hint of disgust cross their faces at my ex-stripper colleague's admission. My only slight concern for her is that she's so beautiful, she may make herself suffer more for ageing than most of us would. But whatever else she does, she will always be bright, sharp and witty, and how many of us can say that? I'd give anything for a tenth of her confidence. I do have the privilege of being happy with my body, but I'm not very pretty and I've always had to use my brain to snare men. Not that too many men are looking to go to bed with a brain, but that's what they get.
And to the people at work asking how old I am - I'm the same age as Star Wars. If any man doesn't know how old Star Wars is, then we're fundamentally incompatible. I'll pass that on to my colleague who's determined to find me a boyfriend. This will be FUN.