“You’re not worth anything unless you show me your tits.” It was 5pm on a Tuesday afternoon when this disgusting comment was snarkily spoken to me by a man we will call DumbFuck or DF for short. I was getting near the end of my work day as an exotic dancer, and had been talking to DF (and his surprisingly rather lovely friend) for about fifteen minutes at DF’s request.
I had approached them - as I do all patrons of the club - to welcome them and share a few words. I look at this part of my profession as though I am the hostess of a party. With this mentality, I view all people who enter the facility as my guests - whether they attend to see me specifically or not. My perspective is that we all work together to create the fun, inviting, and dynamic environment, most of my clients seem to enjoy during breaks in their day. Community is everything both as a simple human gesture, and as a business tactic. As the song goes, you want to go where everybody knows your name.
With these two particular gentlemen, the topic had turned to business. There are a plethora of misconceptions about the adult entertainment industry. One laughable one is that I spend my day in lascivious conversations oozing with sexual innuendos and tantalizing promises of bliss. The myths surrounding the exotic dancer is one of a wicked Eve saleswoman using my serpentine seductress speech to entice the unwitting prospect into watching my stage shows or purchasing a private dance. The truth, however, is less provocative in a sexual sense, but far more intriguing overall. I have fascinating conversations with my clientele ranging from travels to books, climate change to political policy, fashion to technology and more. True we do occasionally discuss desire and sensuality, but that’s to be expected when you have a half naked woman smiling and conversing with you.
On this day, when he heard I had traveled for work around the world, as well as have a thriving online presence, DF asked me about my website and my Beacons site with all my links. The dialogue turned technical and I explained how I had designed my website, remained connected with clients, and created a business card with my QR code for the ease with which it allowed me to update my information. The whole exchange was going swimmingly, until…this comment…
I was shocked. It was random, uncalled for, and not the norm in my interactions with my patrons. Although I have seen memes degrading dancers as mere sex objects, most regulars treat me with kindness, respect, a bit of awe, and always appreciation for my time. His friend also seemed taken aback. Seeing my consternation, DF said, “Well I had to bring you down a peg since you seemed to think you were so smart with all that business stuff.” His friend interrupted saying “DF she is smart. You just said a minute ago that she had more knowledge about marketing, web design, and building a brand than the people you employ in your company!” DF looked at him, made a scoffing sound, and continued to leer at my scantily covered breasts.
I was still reeling at the idea that this person, a man who had asked my opinion of so many technical and business matters, thought such behavior was acceptable. “I hope you both enjoy your time here,” I said starting to walk away. “I’m not done with you,” DF began but I cut him off before he could continue. “I, however, am quite done with you.” I nodded a farewell softly to his friend who still seemed embrarrased, and left without a backward glance. Later, his friend found me in the club and offered me a generous tip with his apologies.
If this seems like an isolated incident to you - perhaps one even to be expected only by women in the adult entertainment field - I am sad to tell you, it’s not. Talk to women in any number of professions and you’ll find that despite being capable, qualified, or in some cases a better fit for a job than their male counterpart, most have been on the receiving side of discrimination or a sexualized comment intended to harass or shame the woman into “knowing her place.” In this particular case, it’s interesting to note that DF’s behavior changed once he realized that I WAS smarter and more capable than the people he employed for the same skills we discussed. By his comments, it appeared that those employees, whose skills I surpassed, were male - not that it should have mattered.
Later that night, as I reflected on the incident, I began to wonder. Does having a pussy disqualify one from being viewed as an intelligent, successful, driven, motivated, businessperson? Why am I a bitch if assertive, bossy if in charge, emotional if I speak up about unfair treatment, and sexualized because I choose to dress attractively? Why are women (and minorities in general) treated as less than their CIS white male counterparts? Will the mythological glass ceiling which prevents equal pay and fair treatment remain intact forever? Is this the kind of behavior future generations will continue to accept and expect as the norm?
Now if you have read this far, I thank you for hanging in there because the issue is NOT as simple as one thinks. If we are going to look at the unfairness of inequality, then we must address it from both sides of the issue. How many times have we heard snarky comments about a MAN being a nurse instead of a doctor (“Oh he must not have been able to cut it in med school.” Or “Well it makes sense because he is effeminate.”) Or assumed a man’s lack of intellectual prowess because he is a blue collar worker, janitor, garbage man, or other menial labor job? Such an idiotic assumption of diminished mental capacity because of the nature of a paid position is merely a means to disempower entire categories of society - for what purpose I can only speculate in another much broader piece. Regardless, your job does not indicate your intelligence, and no one should ever be made to feel less than for an occupation.
And then there is the pressure society puts on men to “bring home the bacon”, and be the defender of the family. Which leaves no room for men to reach out about mental health issues or ask for help when the pressures of job, family life, wellness, all become too much. How did our genders become such limiting identifiers in society, constricting our roles to our mutual detriment? I would hope that such beliefs would dissipate now that we finally accept a more broad definition of gender identity. But the truth is, it may create even more boxes to try to compartmentalize who does what, and which identity reigns superior. Like a horrific version of a carnival’s funhouse, will the glass ceiling continue to lower down until we are ALL trapped under obstructions that we have created to block our own success?
Furthermore, if we are to talk about glass ceilings, we must also acknowledge the prejudice against the elderly - in which many are forced out of careers and into a banal retirement as though age is a disease which infects the workplace. Nor can we forget that there is still a need for education about race discrimination which is rampant in schools, the professional community, even in how voting districts are drawn up. What about immigrants whose children are now allowed in our schools but can’t get legal documentation to work? The proverbial glass ceiling isn’t just in the workplace, it has created an impediment to life itself - affecting us all on a nationwide scale, perhaps throughout the global community as well.
The truth is this conversation will have no merit if we do not recognize that we need to eliminate the barriers placed on ALL PEOPLE. As a woman I can fight for my rights to equality, but if, for example, I still place the traditional CIS white male into the same old defined role construct which limits him too, then I am also perpetuating the problem. Breaking a glass ceiling means everyone must have the prerogative to reach the top of their emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental potential. Period. No exceptions. And if we are to qualify this limitless potential, it would be that it is our right to be seen, heard, valued, supported, and encouraged as card carrying members of the HUMAN race.
Back to the original story which started this Tink Talk… I haven’t seen that particular client come back into the club. And had he continued his rude talk after I walked away - calling after me or harassing me further - my management staff would have asked him to leave without hesitation. Side note, while I have been on the receiving end of discrimination and harassment before in other “traditional” professions, this incident was atypical of my experience as an adult entertainer. Most of my patrons DO treat me respectfully. As an adult entertainer I actually feel EMPOWERED to smash the glass ceiling to smithereens.
If you break my current business model down, I am shattering stereotypes about what I - an attractive woman who takes off her clothes for a living - CAN and DOES do. Often depicted in cartoons and memes as uneducated, desperate, or forced into an industry due to lack of skills, I am none of those things. A graduate of higher eduction at the masters degree level, I successfully RUN and MANAGE my own brand. I design my aesthetics, create and market my content, travel the world, and am compensated well for my time. I’m building a positivity and entertainment empire aligned with my personal values. And I’m doing it all with grace, dignity, while perpetuating kindness, and promoting healthy living, wellness, and equality for all.
Do I feel like I have a glass ceiling? Not really, but then again I have stepped off the traditional path into one of my own design. I have created a journey which allows me to embrace life fully and utilize my skills and talents to the best of my ability. I know my worth, I know what I deserve, and I am confident of my success in achieving it.
However, I recognize I still exist in a societal construct that attempts to deny equality for all by perpetuating ridiculous stereotypes and limiting rules. So the question becomes, how do we make it so that everyone can reach their full potential without restriction or discrimination? I have a few thoughts…
To start, we can STOP equating attractiveness or career choices with intelligence, quit defining societal roles strictly by gender, race, age, etc., stand up to discrimination, let go of stereotype profiling, and have a no tolerance policy for bullying and harassment.
We can encourage kindness, and stop confusing respect with admiration by insisting it must be earned. That is a fallacy in logic. The fact is everyone deserves respect simply by existing. However they earn our admiration by the actions they take.
We can support one another in our dreams, goals, desires instead of tearing them down or shaming them for breaking out into nontraditional paths. We can be open to growth, learning, and conversations in which we discuss opposing ideologies without judgement or humiliation tactics. We can value someone’s skills, talents, and achievements independent of their gender, race, sexual orientation, and not insult them by paying them less than their true worth for such attributes. In short, we, as a collective community, need to be better and do better overall. Only by letting go of preconceived biases against one another can we remove the self-inflicted restraints that limit our potential.
I have faith, that we will get there.
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Tink, world traveler, positivity muse, and adult entertainer, has also freelance written for a number of companies as their ghostwriter. Now talking directly to YOU on this platform, she is also writing two books at her community's request.