About a whore and a stripper

Note: This post is LONG overdue but travels and general laziness has prevented its publishing…

Although Amsterdam is usually the city that comes to mind when one says “red light district”, I’ve discovered that Frankfurt, Germany also has a pretty happening red light district. To save money and time, I booked a hostel in Frankfurt. It was only 2 blocks away from the train station and had decent reviews. It was also smack in the middle of the red light district in Frankfurt, lodged between a casino and a peepshow club.

I had never been to a strip club before and after dragging around my (male) travel buddy to countless churches and museums, I agreed to accompany him to a strip club. It turned into quite the night and would you believe it, I felt like a much more empowered woman by the end of my adventures in the Frankfurt world of vice.

This story must be prefaced by explaining where I was before Frankfurt and why. I was in Munich, essentially the iconic city of Bavaria and a city most well-known for their beers. While I did want to visit Munich for its beer and history, I really wanted to go for – dare I say it? – a boy. Now for the most part, I’ve taken a very strong stance against doing anything for a boy but I made an exception this time. I met this particular boy 8 years ago, when he was visiting his sister, an au pair for a girl in my high school, in the US. It was something like love at first sight. He barely spoke any English and we were “together” for all of 2 days before he went back to Germany. My German boy, at the age of 14, was the cutest thing ever. Of course, we had a magical kiss (both of us had braces) before he went back to Germany and grace à facebook and the internet, managed to stay in touch throughout the years.

So when I decided to do some traveling after my employment in France, I decided, hey, why not see my dear old German boy? We exchanged multiple emails/facebook messages/bbms and he seemed overly excited to see me and you can imagine that I was as well. In hindsight, my expectations may have been a little too high. I imagined a rather romantic reunion, dropping my suitcase at the train station at first sight of him, running towards each other, embracing like lovers… Ok I didn’t expect that exactly but I didn’t expect how much he had changed in the past 8 years. I still thought he’d be the cute little German boy who spilled coffee on himself and then didn’t know the word for napkin. Instead, I met a cocky 20-something year old dude who reminded me so much of Ex-Boyfriend that it was beyond freaky. So instead of an emotionally charged reunion, we had 3 decently awkward days where German boy spent most of his time on his blackberry facebooking or bbming. Real nice right?

So I arrived in Frankfurt with German boy and Ex-Boyfriend on my mind, wondering why boys like them continue to make disappointing appearances in my life. My self-esteem felt a tad deflated, seeing as how facebook was more interesting to German boy than I was, but that all changed when I met some of the most powerful and confident women. I know female partners, doctors, strong working mothers, students who manage to juggle many things but I never expected to feel as much awe as I did when talking to a stripper.

The strip club was loud and dark but nothing could hide her breasts which were pouring out of her shirt. As I looked around, I thought, these poor poor women, degrading themselves to make a few bucks. And then the stripper sitting next to me, the one with the huge overflowing breasts, started talking to me. Obviously, I was here with a friend and obviously I was not a stripper, so what was my story? I shared my story with her, including why I was in Germany and she was nice enough to share her story. She was Argentinean and studied dance when she was younger – Salsa, Meringue, you know, real dance. Not being able to find a job, she and her mother went to Mexico where she found a job as a dancer, just not the kind of dancer she wanted to be. Sad story so far right? Well, she went on to describe how strip clubs in Mexico heavily differed from those in Germany. In Germany, the girls make great money and receive all kinds of benefits, including insurance. For some of these women, they are the sole breadwinners in their families, or if not, they make more than their husbands and boyfriends. And men look at these girls, dancing in their 6-inch stripper heels in awe. In this situation, even though men are the clients, they have to be on their best behavior. Yes, the women have to make money but they can still choose their clients. The power they hold is that of sex.

I had never seen so many confident women. They didn’t feel ashamed of what they were doing. Now in contrast, the whorehouse I accidentally visited, was a completely different story. The owner was nice enough to chat with me and my friend (while swindling tons of money from him) and told us that while these girls also have benefits and make lots of money, they are ashamed of their profession. If he wanted to enter into the back room, I’d have to wait for him at the bar.

I had never thought highly of either strippers or whores, nor did I distinguish between the two that much. However, it seems that there is a big difference. Why is it the Frankfurt strippers are proud while the prostitutes are ashamed? What makes one powerful while the other one meek? The key is sex and more specifically, the withholding of it. We all know that sex sells. Just look at any billboard, magazine, commerical. What does sex have to do with soft drinks? Apparently quite a lot because take a look at the Fanta girls. Dont’ you wanna Fanta? Sex is a weapon, a bargaining tool almost, but it is also a point of vulnerability. It shouldn’t be given out freely, it is of value because it makes you powerful. OWN IT. I’m not saying, be a stripper. I’m saying, know your value, respect your body. You wouldn’t whore your friends around (well, not most of the time) so shouldn’t you treat yourself with the same kind of respect? I say all of this because I’m still trying to follow my own advice (but you know how tricky alcohol can be…)

Economics can be broken down into a basic principle of incentives because all humans, no matter how good or how evil or how stupid or how smart they are, are all driven by incentives – be it moral, economic, or social. Prostitution and stripping, they’re all just businesses, careers. Whether we are lawyers, doctors, or waitresses we all provide services to our clients in exchange for money. We are worth more than the money we make and sex is worth more than a few too many shots of whiskey. Ex-boyfriend used to say: “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free”. He sucks, but he was right.

So own your sexuality, know your value and make ’em work for it! Remember the difference between a stripper and a whore.

– Mag

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