Erin Stevens, a pastor's wife in Nashville, TN, is on a mission to "feed the strippers." And she's not just talking metaphorically either; she brings hot meals to the strippers.
'I just thought that I've got to do something. So I felt the Lord say to me, "Go feed the strippers",' she told Fox News.
While most critics are quick to point out that strippers don't need to be fed, it's actually not true. There often aren't home-cooked meals waiting in strip clubs when you arrive for work. True, there was the first club I ever worked in, The Hideaway, in Stamford, CT, that had a cooler at the back of the bar filled with cold sandwiches, but they often got soggy.
Another club, The Patio, in the backwoods of Connecticut was an actual honest-to-God suburban restaurant with a small stage across from the bar. Guys would sit at the bar when I danced--all eating Polish lunches. The bar faced the wall, so the men would occasionally glance up at the mirror above the bar. I stretched out my legs against the brass bar surrounding the stage, very aware of their eyes searching out my reflection as they chewed.
I do think what Stevens is doing is noble, but as my stepfather once had a problem with Alcoholics Anonymous saying the only way to be saved is through God, I do wonder if there's a need for a secular organization to help strippers who want to get out of the biz, but aren't necessarily looking for a personal savior, too.
'We never go in with a Bible and we never go in with a prayer sermon. We don't try to change them, we just love them,' she said.
I like the idea of someone coming in when I was working as a stripper and just "loving" me. Most clubs have what's called a House Mom, but her role isn't so much to love you, as to hand you a tampon when you need one and keep cat fights from breaking out in the dressing room.
Stevens turned for help on how to help strippers by getting training from, Strip Church, which helps across the country.
Stevens says: 'A lot of them have pasts that they can't get over, so I just say Jesus knows all that you've done and still sees you as 100 per cent forgivable,' Mrs Stevens said. 'I tell them, "God sees you as valuable and I see you as valuable".'
Again, I love the idea of letting strippers know they are valuable for other reasons than how they represent and fulfill men's fantasies. I can speak for myself when I say my value was and still is always in question.
The part I question here is in the idea of suggesting that strippers need forgiveness. This implies that stripping is wrong and that they should feel guilt or remorse for what they've done.
If Strip Church is about helping strippers who are looking to get out of the business, well then, bravo. But if it's also about implying that they need to be forgiven for their pasts, it feels like they're layering on their own belief system and values on these women.
Let's help strippers who feel valueless by letting them know there's nothing to be forgiven for.
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