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The Sex Industry & Paganism

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 11:00 am
by Jescissa
I've been part of a very interesting discussion about the sex industry on another Pagan forum (of mainly students) and I was wondering what everyone here thought about it.

One of the girls on the board was considering it because she spent a lot of time in strip clubs and enjoyed the atmosphere and really wanted to try it herself for fitness and self-expression reasons. A friend of hers questioned her motives and asked, as this girl is a Wiccan, whether lap dancing and pole dancing is actually against Wicca because of the high-levels of exploitation that generally go hand-in-hand with the sex industry.

So...I suppose what I'm asking is whether it truly is against Wicca or any other nature-based faith to be involved in a sexually expressive business. We mostly agree that sex is natural, wonderful and should be enjoyable...however how many of us would agree that lap dancing, pole dancing or sleeping with perfect strangers, often for money, is natural and wonderful too when we know full well that a lot of people participating in it are lacking self-esteem when they begin and are often exploited?

I'm hoping to see a lot of opinions and voices on this topic! :lol:

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 12:31 pm
by Greenleaf
I think that when sex is an expression of love between two people who genuinely care about each other, it is a beautiful and healing thing.

However, when it is only about sex, it can be damaging. STDs not withstanding, there are etheric cords that can be formed and drain off the woman's energy, usually without either party being consciously aware of it. A lot of girls that start out doing that end up as junkies/alcoholics because that's the only way they can live with themselves (I've known 3 of 'em). I've also known men that neglect their families in favor of those places. While the dancers are not responsible for the husband's choice to go there, I think they are aiding and abbetting. Also, when you objectify yourself, it is difficult to get someone else to respect your personhood.

If your measuring stick is "And it harm none, do as thou wilt," then there is harm done, especially to the girls who do that.

Another way of looking at it is: If your mother did it and your friends at school found out, would you be embarrassed? If yes, then don't do it. If no, then go for it.

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 4:46 pm
by Lotus
There is this romantic and glamorized view of the sex industry. That if you participate then it will be touching in part with the Sacred Whore aspect of the fem. That its all playboy mansion and no-strings-attached pleasure.
The hard core reality of it all is that there *is* no glam or romance (pardon the pun). Majority of women get into porn for dehumanizing reasons. They lie to themselves and everyone else that they are happy with it......deep down inside they are fragile and broken.

I full heartedly agree with greenleaf. There is a bond or a tie that occurs regardless if that tie is wanted.

Also,
It is widely argued if the "Sacred whore" archtype ever existed. If it ever existed or not really does not matter what does matter is that this paradigm does not exist today.
There is simply just "whore." Freedom is within perception.
There is a phenomena today where women think they are liberating themselves and expressing their freedom by being sex objects. We see this ideology all the time in Girls Gone Wild videos. The harsh reality, again, is that women are not being liberated by this act (as they would think) but instead they are allowing themselves to be objectivied as mere sex toys. When a man (sorry men) sees a woman behave in this manner they are not thinking, "Whoh, look how liberal and free-spirited she is!"
What is *really* poping in his head is disrespectful and too crude to post on this site.

Its harmful to play yourself out....the whole "harm none" also applies to the self.

(ps. I'm using the term "porn" as an all inclusive term)

BB
Lotus

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 8:20 pm
by Crazy Healer Lady
Well, my dear, I have a very set opinion.

Women are sexual beings, as are men. When we feel free enough to express ourselves to our full potential, the results are amazing, no, phenomenal, not just on a physical level, but spiritual, mental, and emotional as well. There is nothing wrong with pole dancing, belly dancing, etc etc etc. I do both: pole dance and belly dance (a relative newbie, I must mention), and my word, you feel so good about yourself, no matter the size of your belly, hips, etc. In fact, both look a little odd when they are done by an anorexically (word?) skinny person, and in pole dancing, you hurt yourself if you are too thin. Also, the experience of first showing my partner my tricks was really amazing.

This being said, these arts are very powerful and express the Divine Feminine and Divine Sexuality. Sex is powerful - it is a gift, from both partners, and an incredible tool to the Divine. (ha... Why do you think we cry for God?)

In ancient Egypt, belly dancing was never to be witnessed by men. It was an art expressed in the company of women only, much like the Moon Lodges of Native American civilizations. Woman is powerful - much more powerful than we give Her credit for.

If you take this sacred thing called Woman and flaunt it and jeer at it and stuff paper bills down Her bra, is She still sacred? If you buy the gift that She was meant to give to a suitor that caught Her fancy, is it still a gift? The obvious answer is NO.

Sex can be dirty and still be sacred. It can be downright laughable and still be sacred. It was meant to be all these things: dirty, funny, loving, spontaneous, loud, quiet... The list goes on! It can NOT be sold and still be sacred. Pardons, long ago (and maybe still) were bought from the Pope and bishops, and we would all agree that because of the nature of the exchange, it defiled the very foundation of the meaning of that exchange. Is this any different?

Some women may feel empowered that they would be worth so much to random men, but inside they know they are selling themselves. They are defiling Woman.

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 3:46 am
by Jescissa
This is exactly how I feel about it, but this woman feels differently and I've tried to see things from her point of view, but it's hard. I have always thought that pole dancing and belly dancing are empowering things, women feel bad enough about our wobbly bits and anything that can make us love them and celebrate them is all good, but only in their correct context. Lap dancing doesn't celebrate Woman if She is doing it for random others' entertainment.

I try and be openminded about the whole thing, but I believe sexual energy is sacred and should be shared carefully and considerately...and preferably not with leering punters you don't even know!

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 5:53 am
by fatale
There used to be prostitution in holy temples. Often times the priestesses of the temple were prostitutes. Usually they were well respected, because they were not just knowledgeable about sex, but were generally educated. They created atmosphere and beauty and men didn’t just want them for quick sex, but appreciated their opinion on important subjects (politics, business) These women might have been “sacred whores”.

There’s nothing sacred about prostitution, pornography, and strip clubs these days! It’s dirty (often literarily) all together. Men and women who go there don’t want sacred sex. They want quick and cheap (or not so cheap) stimulation.
I worked in a strip club for about 6 month when I was pretty young still. I thought I make easy money and how stupid those guys were to pay me all this cash! Things change and even still, 15 years later, I feel dirty for doing what I did – and I was only a stripper.
That’s my personal experience, not to say that other women don’t feel free and liberated while strip dancing in a club. Looking back – I find myself rather vulgar, not sexy at all and not desirable as a woman.
How many porn stars do you know who still have real boobs? Every other stripper has implants. How many prostitutes are on drugs? How empowering is this?????

I think one problem for women is the public opinion on what is beautiful. Girls are constantly dieting, plugging hair, putting make up on, and try to look like the airbrushed cover girls. Women should re-claim their personal beauty and stop trying to look like an army of Angelina Joli clones or Jessica Simpson wannabes. Women objectify themselves.
Re-claiming your own beauty is an important step to become a powerful, sexual being. Belly dancing and learning how to strip can be stepping stones. Knowing how to move your body in an erotic way can be a great experience for a woman and her partner.
It doesn’t take a lot of confidence to step on a stage and take off your clothes. It does take confidence to go through your life as a strong woman who knows what she wants and works hard to get it.

Wosh – what a rant! (and I still could ramble on)

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:13 am
by Jescissa
I think a lot of Pagans excuse their 'right' to enjoy strip clubs and stuff through the old 'well, we used to have sacred whores in temples...' Well, generally people watching a stripper aren't thinking "Wow, aren't they sacred and liberated, enjoying the body they were given?!", they're thinking "Woohoo! Naked bodies all for me!"

We've lost the association of sacredness and sex, this is why it's so easy to degrade it. There are now no cultures in the modern world where women are sacred prostitutes bringing the power of cosmic Woman into a man's world and it'll take a lot of work to bring it back...I'm not sure whether it will ever return.

I'm not dumping on the women who do go into it with their eyes open and do enjoy their work...but I don't think they're in the majority. I was speaking to my boyfriend about it today and he said something along the lines of..."no one is forced into doing it, they have to audition first and they'll know by then whether they want to or not," but I don't personally think it works that way. Some women *are* forced into it and the ones that do go into it for a career might just be doing it for the money - those paychecks can be phenomenal amounts of money to a woman who needs to keep earning to keep a roof over her head.

I think that even the women who do it because they enjoy it don't always stay with it for very long because the environment can be very unhealthy, with drugs and alcohol being in the vicinity. Sometimes it isn't such a big step into prostitution either.

Fatale - it's a shame that you feel uneasy about your past, and say you felt undesirable. I have my 'ugly days' too...but the thing that really turned me around was having myself photographed almost naked. I'm 21 now and I know I'll look back on those photos when I'm 80 and marvel. I'm thinking of marking all my milestones with nude photos because it's made me really appreciate my body and I can now see in me what my boyfriend sees. I'd recommend it to anyone - although my boyfriend has a DSLR camera so he was able to process the photos at home...it's not so good if you have to send the photos away to be developed!

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:22 am
by Willow
Great topic.

First thing, I think prostitution should be legalised, unionised and standardised. Prostiutes should get benefits, access to condoms, birth control and workplace safety training (read, how to kick the ass of a guy who wants to beat you). A lot of people don't a greee with me, but it is going to continue happenning, all the hooplah in BC has made me realise that it neds to be brought int he public light. The arguement against this is that they are still doing a degrading job, well, yes, and no. There are male prostitutes too and they should be afforded the same protection even though there aren't as many of them)

Next, I also don't believe anyone ever just turns a trick or dances naked and thinks nothing of it. In Canada, aside from fruit picking the most people we import on work visas are strippers, because Caandian women won't do the things that the bar owners want them too My "acquaintance" frequents strip clubs and he says that every year there are more and more little asian and romanian girls who don't speak english giving out lapdances He had to leave once because he was convinced the girl was no older than 15 (lied about her age probably)

Therefore, for me, paganism/wicca as I understand it is completely at odds with the sex industry as it exists now It does harm and I think it needs to be fundamentally changed before it is something I would even think about encouraging people to participate in

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:42 am
by Kitsune
I feel that the sex industry does harm... but then when does any industry not harm?

Belly dancing and stripping and pole dancing can be empowering... If you're doing it for the right reasons.

That said, I don't think at this point in our collective history, that many people understand what those reasons are.

Dancing for money, sex for money, bellydancing for money... Not Sacred.

Dancing, sex, bellydancing for freedom, understanding and reclaiming your objectified body... Sacred.

I'm a little harder on the girls though... I figure by now, if you still fall into the "pole dancing because it's hot and glamorous" you deserve to be there until you learn to be less naive. The immigrants should be questioned thoughly to make certain they understand what the industry is like here. Although it worries me that for some of them, it's so much better than what they left, that they still consider it to be a major step up.

Willow, I agree, If the sex industry was legalized and unionized, it would solve some of the problems... However, there will always be a black market for those desires that are not considered socially exceptable, and I worry that if we legalize it, the true depravities will come to light more often. :-?

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 11:34 am
by katsu
Kitsune wrote: Willow, I agree, If the sex industry was legalized and unionized, it would solve some of the problems... However, there will always be a black market for those desires that are not considered socially exceptable, and I worry that if we legalize it, the true depravities will come to light more often. :-?
No it won't.
Over here our government thought so too, prostitution was legalized in 99. Still most women are either illegal in the county, forced to work as prostitue or are abused.
There are very few women who are better of now.

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 4:27 pm
by Crazy Healer Lady
If Canada legalized prostitution, I have no idea what would happen. I keep thinking of Pickton in the papers, murdering prostitutes just a few minutes down the highway from where I live now, so many and so gruesomely. So many things are legal, but as said, there will be a black market. So many women are sold on the streets as kids... I really want to cry when I think of it. Who knows what we could ever do to help people. At least on the streets of Vancouver there are many places sex workers can stay the night if something happened & talk with social workers without jdugement.

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:26 pm
by Lotus
Willow wrote:Great topic.

First thing, I think prostitution should be legalised, unionised and standardised. Prostiutes should get benefits, access to condoms, birth control and workplace safety training (read, how to kick the ass of a guy who wants to beat you).
If I am not mistaken, Australia legalized prostitution and unionized it. Maybe someone from there who is on the board can address this.

*shrugs* In a way I do agree. This industry will always be there so, we should protect the individuals involved in the industry as much as we can.
At the same time, we need to address the who and why aspect to this industry to make more corrections.
IMO this industry is fulled more by power than sex. The same reason why people are raped....not for sex but, power.

This whole thing stems to certain people being viewed (or treated as) less than others.

BB
Lotus

Re: The Sex Industry & Paganism

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:50 pm
by Greenleaf
she spent a lot of time in strip clubs and enjoyed the atmosphere
Does that strike any one else but me as odd? Why would a presumably college age girl be hanging out at ti**y bars? Does she work there, or is "she" a troll?

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 9:20 pm
by Crazy Healer Lady
Actually, I know a few girls that like the atmosphere. Honestly, sometimes only women are in those clubs. My best friend, actually, would get up on the dance floor not to sell herself, but because she felt powerful over the men there, sort of a "You can look but can't touch!" I still feel this type of imbalance is not healthy.

Mind, because of this, she did work as a stripper for a time, and she felt really rotten for it. The part about getting money for it really bothered her, and it took a looooong time for her to tell me because she was so afraid I would think badly of her, because she knew it was just selling herself.

Now that she has a baby (and is the happiest and one of the best mommies in the world by the way), she has quit all that.

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 2:09 am
by Willow
I am not sure abot the netherlands case, but Canada...despite its faults, can be good at regulating undustries, I think there is a difference between regulating and legalising.

And you are right Kitsune, there will always be a black market for depravities. Things like child sex should always be illegal, period.

Power and sex..its true almost synonymous, I wonder if legalisation wouldn't put some of the power in men's hands. I don't htink it will end rape, because rape is not about sex at all. Hopefully though, regulation would make people realise that prostitutes are able to be victims of rape as well.

As for liking the atmosphere of a strip club, I just find most clubs over stimulating, and I blush when people kiss in movies, so they aren't really the best place for me.