Thursday, February 20, 2014

What to do when mistaken for a stripper

Yes, I write this from my middle-class pedestal. I’ve never fallen on life-threatening hard times, but I know this: Women, every single one of them, are worth more than their bodies. In an ideal world, everyone would see that.

-Amberly McAteer

I woke up and reached for my phone to check the time.  I had missed a call and received a text while I slept.  From a local number not saved in my phone.  No voice message, but the text came an hour after the call.  Simply, Hey.  I had a couple people in mind of who this might be, but didn't know for sure.

So, I replied: Hi. Who is this?


Now I had no idea who this could be.  This is where I may have made my first mistake (though some of you may be thinking I had already made a mistake), but it was early and my head was hurting and I reasoned this guy had heard my voice -- and my name -- when he got my voicemail. 

I'm sorry. Derek?... I'm Amy... Were you meaning to reach me?

His answer: Platinum

My stomach dropped.  That sounds like the name of a strip club, doesn't it?  I replied with a question mark, and then did an internet search.  Turns out there's a Platinum Salon in the area and a Platinum Plumbing Company.  But you don't normally make hair appointments at 2 am nor handle water emergencies via a one-word text. 

Most likely a local Platinum Club where sugar daddies meet sugar babies.

I figured my punctuated reply would be the last I heard from Derek, but I still couldn't help but think about who he might be -- his character.  His intentions with the girl the call and texts were meant for.  And what kind of life he must have to engage in that type of behavior.  And what about her?  Who was she?  Did she feel desperate?  Or unloved?  Or worthless?  Or was she feeding some addiction?  Or just trying to feed her babies?

In college, I worked the night shift at a hotel next to a similar type of establishment.  The small pieces of that industry I was exposed to there -- when greasy men and mostly-naked women would check in late at night -- was enough to make my skin crawl.

Another message box: Did i meet u at platinum

Okay, this guy was leaving less and less room for doubt.  I felt sorry for my secret sister.  I wondered if this guy had been such a creep she gave him the wrong number, or if he had just fumbled the number himself and got me.  I also felt sorry for him.  He obviously wasn't taught love or self-worth appropriately, either.  (And... well... I don't think this whole phone thing was going the way he had planned.)

And though I was safe at home on my couch I felt like I had come face-to-face with a man set on taking advantage of a woman.

Some disagree with me that an adult consenting to sexual acts in exchange for money is being taken advantage of.  Some might also argue that I really had no idea what Derek's true intentions were.  Still, I felt compelled to respond:

No, I have never been to Platinum.  Is that a "gentleman's" club?  I am sorry if I am being presumptuous, but I hope you were not trying to contact a woman to use her body.  I understand the allure of physical looks and pleasure alone, but women are so much more than that.  If that is all you are after, I would encourage you to seek out a woman who you can value and cherish and love and enjoy fully and completely, who will also value and respect you for all of who you are.  Commit to one another fully and for life.  It really is so much better that way.  I am speaking from experience.  Again, sorry if I misinterpreted this interaction.  I just feel passionately about this issue.

I usually am pretty agreeable and flexible on most issues.  I take a live and let live stance in my life and occupy a world filled with gray.  But for me, the commercial sex industry -- pornography, prostitution and all that goes with it -- is just downright unacceptable.  Intolerable.  I believe we can never, ever be okay with anyone trivializing sex to a business transaction.  (Which I also believe is actually impossible to do -- it will always be MORE than that, even in those one-time instances when money or goods change hands.)  It's even more deplorable when it is used to deliberately exploit and abuse.

I know many of my fellow humans, many of my fellow Americans, even many of my fellow women disagree with me on this.  That a little fun never hurt anyone.  That boys will be boys and it's one of womankind's longest-standing "professions."  But it is never okay to objectify and reduce a woman (or man, for that matter) down to just something pretty to look at or play with.

The more people who stand together on this one point, the better our world will be.

Please join me in taking every opportunity you can -- even those instances when you may be mistaken for a stripper -- to send a clear message about the true value and full worth of a woman.
To read more about my thoughts on the commercial sex industry as it relates to human trafficking, visit this previous post. (Explicit content warning)