Anyone that knows me well, knows that I am not at all fond of strippers and strip clubs. I don’t knock anyone’s hustle or the way they chose to pay the bills, but there has got to be another way. Some may say that my opinion is jaded because I have never been to a strip club outside of Brooklyn, Illinois which is home to the ratchet of the ratchest strippers. When I think of a stripper I think of a man’s fantasy, like Demi Moore in “Strip Tease” or LisaRaye in “Player’s Club” but walk into the strip club’s around here and all you get is Ronnie and Trix! (There is nothing sexy nor enticing and or fantasy about them.)
However every now and then I swallow my pride and go into a strip club, mainly to get some chicken and fries (Anyone who is from the St. Louis or Illinois knows that the chicken in Bottoms Up is AWESOME! Don’t judge me.) Me going to a strip club is like a solar eclipse, it rarely happens. This past weekend was one of those rare occasions, a couple of my girlfriends and I went after a concert to curve our appetite and “people watch”. It didn’t take me long after I arrival to realize the reason I despise strip clubs in the first place, women degrade themselves to the utmost working there and men have no problem helping them. The things I witnessed made my stomach turn, from women sticking foreign objects inside themselves and setting them on fire to men sticking their tongues in places only water should go! (Please don’t misunderstand me, I am in no way a prude. As a matter of fact I hosted an amateur night contest at a local strip club years back but had to stop because the things I witnessed on a weekly basis begin to take their toll on me.) Over the years it had become common for me to see familiar faces or girls that I knew or had once known. It’s easy to see how a young girl who is looking for a why out can become trapped in the life of a stripper, the attention and the fast money alone is enough. Last Saturday was no different, I saw a couple of familiar faces as I had many nights before, but one face in particular hurt my heart. It had been many years since I’d last seen her and I could tell life had taken its toll on her, her eyes had deep dark circles around them and bags large enough to carry fifty-dollars worth of groceries. She’d gained a lot of weight and had scars all over her body and she had a styrofoam cup in her hand as she talked to the security guard. I overheard her tell him that she’d been working there longer than any other girl there, that she’d been there since 2006. Just hearing this hurt my heart, we attended high school together and she was two classes under me which means she graduated in 2005, if she graduated at all and went right into a life of pole dances and strip teases. I tried my best not to make eye contact with her so she wouldn’t recognize me, but I couldn’t avoid it. Her stare was blank and there was nothing behind her voice, when she spoke. “I know you, you went to Normandy. You’re Brendolyn.” she said looking me up and down. I just stared at her wondering what happened in her life to force her to choose this path.
I used to judge women who made the conscious choice to sell themselves short and prostitute themselves; be it on the street or in a licensed establishment. I realized that I have no room no right to judge, because I don’t know what happened to them in their lives causing them to have such low self-worth. I realized looking at the young stripper who had probably seen more things in her 5 year tour at Bottoms Up then I had in all my years of living, that she like me at one point in my life is a little girl lost. Like myself and many others she has been hurt, betrayed and ultimately damaged, however she is further gone than most. Looking at her made the little girl inside me want to reach out and hug her, tell her that she was worth more than the dollars that were thrown at her, I wanted to hold her close and tell her that her body is a temple and that she is beautiful. But I resisted the urge of the little girl inside of me and instead spoke the words of the woman I’d become. “I know you too, well at least I did.” I prayed for her that night and have every night since, my heart weighs heavy for not only her but for every woman out there like her. Women are GOD’s greatest creations, but we let the tongue and actions of MAN deny our own self-worth and sink to bowels of life. I learned a long time ago to stop voicing my opinion on the debate of strippers and prostitution, because women who live that and men who condone it will argue that in some form or fashion all women “whore themselves out” in some way or another. Some women are having sex with multiple men and have nothing to show for it while strippers get paid to show their bodies and get fondled and by strange men. The question still remains, at what price do you sell your soul for just so the money come so easily?