From the article in The Guardian
Is working as a stripper honestly empowering? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself since I quit stripping 18 months ago, after spending two decades naked.
It’s also a question I had a vested interest in not asking while I was still gainfully employed. I hated the popular belief that sex workers were oppressed and without agency, victims in need of rescuing. I didn’t like to think of myself as disempowered.
When I started stripping in the back bar of a Christchurch brothel at 18, I was in control of my decision to get nude – or so I thought. An arts undergraduate, I had no pressing need for money, the reason usually cited for entry into the sex industry – an umbrella term that encompasses stripping, web-camming, escorting, prostitution and porn. My parents paid my rent, my Kentucky Fried Chicken and my living expenses.
Rather, I was seeking transgression. I’d spent five years at a private girls’ boarding school, where the conservative, upper-middle-class culture left me craving an outlet for creative and sexual expression, diverse experiences and more interaction with the opposite sex. I also wanted the independence to make my own choices.
Stripping delivered, on all counts…
Thanks to stripping, I’ve had some amazing experiences, met some extraordinary people and been well paid to luxuriate in my own skin.
Now that I’m out of the industry, however, I don’t have such a vested interest in defending it. While I’m not against stripping or other forms of sex work, I don’t think it can ever be unequivocally empowering when it places the pleasure of men above the equality of women.
Two Decades Naked by Leigh Hopkinson is published by Hachette Australia.