AS ONE of the few feminists who have had any interaction with women in the stripping world, having once interviewed some of the biggest names in the industry back in the ’90s, to hear that exotic dancers at the Spearmint Rhino stood up for themselves and won a big class action settlement in Federal court made me stand up and applaud with glee.
From Melissa Gira Grant in The Atlantic:
Last week, strippers employed by the Spearmint Rhino chain won an unprecedented $13 million settlement in Federal court, the result of a class action suit to restore back wages and contest their status as independent contractors of the clubs. Deciding in the dancers’ favor is U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips, best known for ruling “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” unconstitutional in 2010. It’s one of the largest financial settlements awarded to dancers at a major chain in the United States—with 20 locations worldwide, and though Spearmint Rhino would not release this information, it’s fair to estimate with several hundred if not several thousand dancers working in their clubs in the United States. In sex workers’ ongoing fight for the same rights on the job that any worker should expect, will the dancers’ case be a tipping point in the strip club business? “Spearmint Rhino is a big brand.” says Bubbles Burbujas, a stripper and one of the co-founders of the popular sex work blog Tits and Sass. “There’s no way this won’t have an effect.”
[...] Dancers may dispute how to get the strip clubs to give them their fair share of their earnings, but their fight for control over their working conditions is the point—not to abolish the industry, as some women’s right activists want to do. Dancers aren’t taking the potential risks associated with outing themselves to file lawsuits or to organize necessarily because they want to defend stripping as an institution; they’re defending, as many women have and many more must, their right to earn a good living.
Feminism was never about political correctness to me; being the right kind of feminist and belonging to the girls club unimportant. It was always about having the power to do what you want with your life, as long as it’s legal and your making the choice freely. Approval has nothing to do with it. But you also don’t get to bitch if you make a bad choice and things go south.
What matters is that you have the same legal rights as other workers, even if the work you choose isn’t traditional.