Friday, July 21, 2006

Shattered Dreams

Yesterday Dr. Mike Adams published an article entitled, "I Had a Dream". Normally Adams tends toward sarcasm, so I was surprised and touched by yesterday's piece.

As a university professor, Adams has had his share of pretty young women come through his classes. He recounted the tales of four of them, changing names and other identifying information, who took jobs in strip clubs. One seemed destined to be a lawyer, but after blowing her stash on the ubiquitous cocaine, getting pregnant by her boss, and getting fired for not wanting to abort the baby, she never achieved her dreams. Another discovered the hard way that "a single year in a topless bar can put a decade on a young woman's face". Still another was fired for gaining a few pounds. "[S]omewhere between the cocaine parties and the group sex, [she] lost her self-esteemand the desire to do anything with her life." Last was the woman who had hoped to make money for her doctorate but wasn't able to hold on to the money, like most of them, looks worn, and due to her experiences, "deeply resents every man with whom she works."

Dr. Adams ended his piece:
[M]ost young women who decide to strip are already equipped with low self-esteem
the first night they walk into that strip bar. When they finally decide to leave, they often walk out with STDs, drug addictions, a string of unwanted pregnancies and even lower self-esteem. But they never seem to walk out with the money.

But I have a dream that some day the so-called men who frequent these establishments will realize that that they are helping fund the destruction of these young women one dollar bill at a time. And I dream that they will come to see these women as someone’s lost sister or perhaps the estranged daughter of a friend.

I have a dream that some day we will judge them by the content of their character, not the revelation of their skin.
Some may argue that some women do make a success out of selling their bodies through posing in magazines, stripping, or "starring" in porn movies. These, however, are very, very few in number. Most are broken and washed up early. Used and discarded like mere objects, which tends to come from the objectification of women.

I've read a fair amount on this topic. Some women who go into such professions do, in fact, come from normal families. Most, however, come from highly dysfunctional homes where they really don't have a sense of their worth. Some of the stories I've followed are of young women conditioned through sexual abuse by step-fathers or boyfriends of their mothers to think that's all their bodies are for and that's all men really value. I've encouraged men who go to strip clubs to remember that the nubile young woman as a kid may have been raped by some sicko pervert, left crying and hurt, and to remember he's feeding into that perception of the roles of men and women.

Bottom line is that in the sex industry, women rarely are truly empowered. They may be lured into believing that, for a time. But it's just an illusion. In the end, most end up worn-out in appearance and lacking in skills and vitality. By supporting these industries, people are contributing to the devastation of young lives.

Why, you may ask, should anyone care? After all, they made their choice, and if they chose to be whores for a career that's on them. Well, the reason we should actually care is because, as I recall, the implicit answer to "Am I my brother's (or sister's) keeper?" was "Yes."

*Please check out "Sex Industry" on Word around the Net.


At 7/21/2006 9:14 AM, Anonymous NosyNeighbor said...

You seem to post a lot about this subject. I have a few friends who worked in strip clubs right out of high school and into college. They are now happily married with children and no longer in the "profession" if that's what you want to call it. I didn't approve of it, so to speak, but I don't judge (wasn't that touched on in the Bible also?)

My point is to be careful not to generalize. Not all of those girls come from abusive homes. The girls I knew who did strip were doing it because it was very easy money. They would laugh and make fun of the men who were feeding their own egos by feeding the girls money. Most of the time the men were older, over-weight, married businessmen who needed to feel wanted by these beautiful young women. My friends realized how stupid these men were and capitalized on it. Some of the blame needs to be put on the patron. After all, if there wasn't a market for it, the product wouldn't exist.

Of course if you cloud your mind with drugs and alcohol (no matter what you do for a living) your decisions and choices in life suffer.

At 7/21/2006 10:45 AM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

Yes. I do seem to post on these issues a lot. It comes from a heart for women and children and a hatred of anything that would dishonor or harm them. It also comes from knowing so very many, many women who've suffered in various ways and wanting to bring those sorts of injustices to the fore rather than have them hushed up.

You'd be surprised at how many women just open up and tell me stuff. Just on Saturday, a woman I had never met before and was not even talking to turned to me and a friend who was with me and blurted out her pain over her husband's obsession with pornography in their home and his verbal abuse toward her. I have no idea why she did that. I don't know her name. But I seem to have a sign on me that says "If you are hurting and troubled and have ever been abused, tell Anna." It's very strange, I know, but it seems to be my God-appointed job in life to listen to hurting people, especially women, although I've certainly had men tell me some whoppers. (There are some nasty women in the world too.) How else can I explain the fact that I can walk into a grocery store and come out with a person's life story? So my perspective may be different from yours.

I am sincerely happy that your friends have made it out of the sex industry without any difficulties. Some women do. Some women actually make it big too, becoming famous and rich from selling their bodies in various ways. But others don't. Mike Adams, for example, mentioned four that he knew personally whose stories didn't turn out so well.

We do, in fact, have the right to judge behaviors, Scripturally speaking. The Bible has a lot to say about the proper role of sex in our lives. The judging we do, however, is not meant to peer inside someone's heart, as humans never know what's in there as God does, and while affirming what's right, we need to be careful to realize that if we were in the same circumstances, we might make the same mistakes.

While your friends made fun of the married men who came and gave them money, I wonder what their wives would have thought? Maybe some don't mind, but I have sat with a friend and listened to her deep hurt and anger over the fact that her husband frequented such places and used money that should have been there for the family's use on such pursuits. She was very embarrassed but needed to get it off her chest. Of course those actions were just symptomatic of the disrespect he had for her, but it didn't stop that particular issue from hurting her profoundly. They finally divorced, surprise, surprise.

You are, of course, dead on that some of blame needs to be put on the patron. Actually, I'd say a lot!! Especially since the women are usually relatively young starting out in the sex trade and may not be approaching their choices with the same level of maturity as they would in another 20 or 30 years, while many of the patrons often don't have immaturity as an excuse for their behavior. Yeah, I'd put a lot of blame on the patrons, especially if they're married and don't have their wives' full support and approval for their behavior and use of family finances.

At 7/21/2006 1:34 PM, Blogger Christopher Taylor said...

This sort of work looks very appealing to some girls. It's atheletic, it involves dancing, it involves accolades of men, and the pay is frankly quite good. But the demeaning, degrading aspect is not considered, and the fact that this kind of business does not exactly attract the finest sort of bosses or environment eludes them. So does the fact that it's very, very rare for any girls to get out with their money and make a regular life again.

Some things you do, you regret for the rest of your life. Best to avoid them before you start.

At 7/21/2006 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand both sides of the arugment of the story today. I must also add that I am please to hear that the individual who knew girls who lived and funded their dreams by living this type of life style came out unharmed, or may appear to be unharmed. That is just it, people have a natural way of hiding hurt to those close around them. It is easier to talk to a stranger about painful subjects than to break down that wall and let those around you see life really isn't as rosy as you make it appear to be. Everyone has something they don't want others to know. Guilt hides itself in all kinds of ways, one of which can be in trying to find humor in it. No matter how you look at it how can you find humor or even justify these actions. We are all accountable for what we do in life, everyone of us, even to the point of how we have caused others to sin. Our world is so sex driven it is unbleieveable. You can't even watch a kids "G" rated movie without some smutty remark being made. Is that really needed??? Is that what we have come to be? A pack of sex driven animals?

Standing back and looking at the big picture, it's all about the selling of SEX. Yes, those who provide the variety of services mentioned are very wrong in doing so. I don't believe we are being judgmental when morality is in question as long as you try and correct what is wrong. Remember, love the sinner not the sin.

Which bring me to my conclusion. I remember many years ago, when my husband and I first got married we met a girl through a friend who dance at one of these places. Her story was a sad one and I often wonder what became of her. She was a run away and lied about her age in order to get work. She wasn't very bright and was trying to make it on her own. She turned to this profession seeing the only thing she thought she was good for her and soon lost her way. I only met her once but my thoughts come back to her time and time again. What a poor lost soul. That could have been anyones sister, or daughter. How many girls have fallen into this trap? How many felt have pain and despair? How many are afraid to admit the true pain which rests inside their heart. My heart breaks just thinking about it.

What humor one may find in such a sad form of sexual pleasure I have to admit exscapes me. can find excapes me But one must look at the big picture and see what is morally right.

At 7/21/2006 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are two sides to every story. It is beyond my wildest imagination that I would consider stripping to support myself. In saying this, I've never been in the position, where I had no other options available to me. It always amazes me to find myself in the position where I say, "I would never do that, or say that," and in a couple of years, I find that I have. I always have a silent chuckle, b'c I know God has taught me a lesson. Never say never!

Yes, I was by your side, when a very sweet, older woman turned around in her chair and shared with us about her dh's addiction to porn. I was so shocked that first of all, someone of her age had to deal with this...but then again, I'm probably more naive than most. I was even more shocked that she shared her "secret" with 2 total strangers, although I felt she was directing her story more towards you. I felt very uncomfortable with her sharing...I did leave.

As I grow older, and hopefully a bit wiser, I will remember that people come from all different circumstances and make their decisions based on those.

At 7/21/2006 5:27 PM, Blogger Christopher Taylor said...

The truth is, in the right circumstances and time any of us are capable of anything, even the things we say "never" about.

What I wish is that more churches had some manner of outreach and mission program for girls in these fields. Prostitutes, strippers (all too often the line blurs), etc. Some do, like 10th Presbyterian in Philadelphia, but most do not.

At 7/21/2006 7:52 PM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

That's actually my dream Christopher. I just have not had means to make something like that happen as of yet, and I may not be the one anyway. But my heart goes out to women who've gotten trapped, regardless of how they started out.

Those of you who've said the "never say never" have it exactly right. I've been there too and learned long ago to consider myself when I say that. That doesn't mean I don't believe certain things are wrong. I most definitely do. I just don't believe myself to be somehow above any sin. In the right circumstances...well, any one of us is capable of incredible things.

At 7/21/2006 7:56 PM, Anonymous Andy said...

The trouble with the industry is that its influence is insidious and addictive. I might, might, know one male friend of mine besides myself who does not view pornography in some form. These aren't bad guys. They treat women well in their personal interactions, but they don't even think about porn causing any harm. In fact, they all assume I must do the same despite the fact that they know my religious values. They don't see the impact of their support for the industry, so they push it out of their minds pretty much completely.

At 7/23/2006 3:26 PM, Anonymous Nancy Willing said...

I do think we have our greatest social obligation is as protectors of the innocent.
I know of people who allow the sex mags to be freely placed around the home (if the chilren of either sex are exposed to this it is wrong, IMHO).
I am not a prude!!! But let a child be a child.


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