It’s Saturday afternoon on the first relaxed weekend I’ve had in about a month, and I could not be happier. Better yet, Outreach arrived in my mailbox today, along with a fascinating book that I can hardly wait to read: A Tragic Legacy: How a Good Vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency. But I’ll focus on the Outreach issue, because of what’s on page 120.
If you haven’t read it, it’s about a young woman who left her job as a stripper. Her name is Harmony Star Dust, and the first few paragraphs are fantastic, because they explain how she ended up as a stripper in the first place. She was sexually abused repeatedly, had an abusive boyfriend and was putting herself through school.
That’s the kind of thing that so often gets left out of these “how I left the profession and found Jesus” stories, and it’s a terrible shame. The sex industry is legitimately a flashpoint for society and for religion, but almost never for the right reasons. And this is where we link up to the book I mentioned, actually. Too narrow a focus on the sin involved completely blinds many people to the real issue: what leads to the situation in the first place. Not everything is clear-cut, but women don’t go into the sex industry because they’re evil. Some claim that the job is fantastic for them, that they make a lot of money and that they feel powerful in their sexality because of it. Whether or not that’s true, strip clubs and the oldest profession would never be able to get enough labor if women were truly valued in our society.
I have two dear friends who went through nightmares of abuse when they were kids, and their stories are shot through with the way their trust was broken and the people who should have taken care of them let them down. This is the real sin. The sex industry holds up a mirror to us and when we don’t like what we see, we want to break the mirror instead of do something to change ourselves.
This is why I wish the noisy types in religion, the ones who use their fame and supporters to hold forth on society’s ills, ever had anything to say about the real sins in our society. Not the evil of the sex industry, which we could debate all day; but the cruelties that often drive women into the sex industry, which are unmistakably evil. How many times have televangelists or professional religious folks condemned the sex industry as though it came out of nowhere? How many times have they held forth about sex and failed to utter a peep about sexual abuse?
I’m glad Star Dust’s organization (www.iamatreasure.com) is out there. I just wish more people cared about the folks in the sex industry as people, and wanted to change the world that was cruel to them before they were big enough to fight back.