Author, stripper, anti-misogyny educator, and mentor for sex workers & femmes.
Throughout my adolescence, I was repeatedly punished for what adults perceived as my “promiscuity”. They frequently told me to cover my body, or to change the way I behave in front of boys and grown men alike. I learned that my kindness would always be interpreted as flirting, that my skin would always be seen as an invitation.
As a naturally kind girl who inhabits a human meat suit, this became a conundrum.
Rather than acknowledge or blame the predatory boys and men around me, I learned that I was the problem.
I learned that I was a temptation, a taunt. Wicked, even.
By the time I was in middle school, I had learned how to play the role I was given: I was a "bad girl".
That role suited me okay, and worked as a survival strategy for my adolescence, because at least that way I still got to play the rebel and do my own thing. The trouble is, the “bad girl” stigma comes with a high price (so does the "good girl" one). I learned to believe that I deserved it when I was abused, mistreated, mocked, dismissed, and outcast.
I lived through an abusive relationship in my early twenties, and another in my late twenties, under very different circumstances. The first time, still in my “bad girl” confusion, I really believed I was to blame for the ways my boyfriend hurt me, mentally and physically.
My second abusive relationship occurred after several years of therapy and self-reflection, in which I was able to process the misogyny that had pinned me in place throughout my adolescence. The second relationship was also different because my abuser, although extremely misogynistic, was a lesbian.
Masculinity is genderless. So, too, then, is misogyny.
My experience of queer partner abuse served to deepen my understanding that misogyny is entrenched in our cultural attitudes about masculinity and femininity, and therefore, anyone can be hurt by it, and anyone can use it as a weapon.
As a stripper, my experiences with misogyny are even more nuanced.
Sex workers are the canaries in society's mine, our wellbeing reflecting the toxicity of the misogyny that surrounds us. We are too often forced to contend with others' judgments, misinformed ideas, and stigma about us, making life exponentially (and unnecessarily) trickier. Anti-sex worker attitudes touches virtually every aspect of our lives, from our cultures to our careers and, often, tragically, our closest relationships.
At thirty years old, I was standing in a vast river of lived experience as a femme, a sex worker, and lifelong target of misogyny and gendered oppression.
Standing beside me in the same river were millions of femmes, women, and queer folks, including many of my own friends, coworkers, and family members. I was able to see a fuller scope of what we’d been up against our whole lives.
These days, I teach strategies for contextualizing/recontextualizing our experiences, beliefs, and relationships to account for systemic oppressions like patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism. The goal of this approach is to reduce the harmful impacts these systems have on us, while we nurture a deeper intimacy with our own potential.
Through this practice, we foster liberation, community, and intimacy -- both in our personal lives and in the world at large.