Stripping, a jealous boyfriend and relationships

Once I did ask him.

“Why don’t you like my job?”

“I never thought about it. I just don’t like it and probably never will”.

During my whole life I have always claimed passionately that I would have never allowed any man to possess me. Then I grew up and discovered that relationships are made of compromises. This is what I kept repeating to myself: relationships are made of compromises. 

And, after all, I can definitely say that he was not an asshole. On the contrary, he was a good person who had a positive influence on my life… But still he was rife with macho values he did not want to give up. Still he belonged to that sexist culture I am trying so hard to fight against. He did in a subtle way, as many men do: he claimed to be a feminist, but his morality proved him wrong.

He felt prejudice towards my world when we first met, so I tried to make him part of it and show him that those preconceptions were based on stereotypes and social norms. I invited him to my club, he sat stiff with a grumpy face. I introduced him to my stripper friends, he was clearly uncomfortable. I pushed him to come to the events organised by the Berlin Strippers Collective, those events we created by ourselves with so much hard work, from scratches. I invited him to come see me getting interviewed for a documentary about us. He never came, he got a headache instead. His prejudices were stronger than the pride for having a girlfriend whose Collective deserved a documentary.

He did not want to open up, and this was a choice. Even after a year, he dropped sentences like My friends ask me how I can be with a stripper. He had the chance to listen to my world, but still he decided to choose the stereotypes. Still he preferred to credit his random friends who never spoke to a sex worker in their lives, and the fact that he never asked himself why he didn’t like my job proves that he was not willing to question himself and change his morality.

Then let me tell you why you don’t like my job.

He wanted my body to be his, only and exclusively his. He couldn’t stand the fact that strangers would see me naked, disclosing a secret that was appropriate just to our bedroom intimacy. Even if unconsciously, he saw my body as his property.

He did not see how stripping gave me financial security and allowed me to travel the world. He did not see how stripping healed the wounds of a long past lonely time, gifting me with a new family of strong womxn. He did not see how stripping lifted up the insecure kid. He did not see how stripping made me the confident tough woman I am today. He did not see how stripping taught me to take no shit from men. The only thing he could see was my naked breasts displayed for strangers. Stripping for him was reduced to the fact that it made my flesh public, non-exclusive. I was not his secret treasure. Maybe he didn’t even like me to be so confident at all… Confident women scare many men, don’t they? I was repressing a lot of anger because of that and he was getting a headache all the times. This dynamic was not good for any of us. 

I have to credit him that I made my mistakes as well. This wild unleashed redhead was a bit full-on sometimes.

I did send him that infamous photo of my ass in the Ritz Carlton, and the photo was taken by a customer. Why did I do that? What was I trying to achieve? The paradox is that with that photo I wanted to show him that I had nothing to hide and that he could trust me. We agreed on the fact that I would only be stripping and not offer any full-service sex work, and that specific customer invited me to his hotel because he wanted some company to drink fancy beer with. Of course I got drunk and thought it would have been epic to have a photo of my ass in a, luxury hotel I would probably never visit again. My logic was that showing him where I was proved that I didn’t do anything I was not supposed to do, otherwise I would have not been so stupid to send the picture. Maybe this logic was too complicated. And let’s be honest: I also wanted to provoke him, make a sort of statement. Call me stupid, but I was hoping that bombarding him with that kind of content would make him get used to it, at some point. It was a mix of many reasons. And, well, my ass in the Ritz looked fabulous.

Needless to say, he did not take it well.

Once he admitted he was jealous of my customers for me it became clear: he could not consider stripping as a job. He could not draw the line between my personal life and my performance at the club. This reminded me of some customers, the kind of customers who cross professional boundaries, who ask strippers for their numbers and who don’t like the idea of paying for a lap dance, because they would rather meet you on the next day for a coffee. The kind of customers who don’t respect the fact (or probably not even understand it) that our entertainment is professional and performative.

This is when I decided to take the painful decision I had delayed for long. It was the best decision not only for me, but for him as well. There was a constant anger and frustration that unconsciously ate me from the inside, and on the other side I was not the type of girl that would have made him happy – I probably spared him quite some headaches. If you ask me now, I am not angry at him personally. I am angry at what he represents.

Now you might wonder why I consider my relationship so relevant that everybody should read it in an article. It is not much about my experience as a personal one, but I see it as an example that mirrors many relationships out there. I hope that my story can offer a reflection on relationships, maybe on your relationship, and help someone out there taking an uncomfortable decision. My story is a reminder that love is not enough to build up a relationship. That sometimes we forget who we are and what we want. That too often we force ourselves into tight clothes that don’t let us breath, because clothes, even if of the wrong size, make us feel safer than the idea of being naked and exposed to cold winds. 

Relationships are made of compromises, I kept repeating to myself… But if you have to compromise on everything, maybe you are not the right partners for each other. Suddenly I hear that voice again. It is the voice of younger me, that voice that says: I will never allow any man to possess me.

By Edie