The other day I wrote an article for yourtango.com that got picked up immediately by Shine! for Yahoo. It was about how being a stripper made me a better lover. Immediately, women began posting comments about what a horrible person I must be.
The reaction in my body made me feel like a witch about to be burned at the stake. I began sweating profusely, my heart rate went through the roof, and my breathing became fast and shallow. I was really angry that people automatically assume that because I was an exotic dancer I was having sex with men for money. I felt their judgments like arrows through my heart.
I understand that in some strip clubs, the dancers do have sex with customers. That didn’t happen where I worked. In fact, we often said, “I’m an entertainer, not a hooker.” Of course I was occasionally propositioned, but not only would it have gotten me immediately fired, I happen to be in a monogamous relationship. I don’t have anything against prostitution, in fact I think it should be legal, but I wasn’t getting paid for sex. I was getting paid to dance. This morning I decided that whether or not I had sex with customers is beside the point.
This morning I had a different reaction. This morning I want to own my stripper shadow. I want to own the part of me that holds cultural shame for having been an exotic dancer; the part of me that doesn’t want my mother to know I was a stripper. (sorry mom, no parent wants to know their daughter was a stripper, no matter how old she is) The shadow is the part of the subconscious mind where all the things you were told were bad and unacceptable live. It’s a part of you just as surely as your eyes and your nose.
This morning I want to hold a mirror up for all the women who judge me. As they judge me, they also judge themselves. I want to say that if we can’t own all aspects of ourselves, we can’t fully and completely love ourselves. That means that we own not only the aspects we like, but the ones we don’t like. Not only do we need to own the aspects we express, but we also need to own the unexpressed. Own your inner stripper. Own your inner whore. Own your inner dominatrix. Own the part of you that wants to be raped. Own it all, and love it all, or you will be susceptible to being manipulated by people who judge you for being yourself. When you deny your shadow, it wreaks havoc in your life. What you don’t own, owns you.