Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Strip club industry to Canadians: "We are coming for your daughters!"

Via Wikimedia Commons
The Adult Entertainment Association of Canada recently announced a "six-point action plan" to fight against the federal government's new moratorium on issuing visas or extensions for foreign exotic dancers working in Canada's "ballet" clubs. They plan on organizing the dancers; seeking Canadian husbands to marry those whose visas are expiring; filing refugee claims, and working with civil servants. (What?)

But another point in the plan  is the one that may get the most attention from average Canadians: If they can't bring in foreigners, they will invite your daughters to do the job.

Association director Tim Lambrinos told QMI Agency that recruiters from strip clubs will try to attract students by attending job fairs at high schools, colleges and universities in Toronto and surrounding areas. "We are already doing some outreach work in some areas," he said. "We will be taking a strippers' dance pole with us to the schools."

I have been trying to track down what QMI claims is a draft copy of the flyer that AEAC is planning to woo the teens with, but to no avail. Here's how they describe it:

QMI Agency has obtained a draft copy of the flyer to be circulated to high school students. It advises them that they can earn tuition fees while working as an "exotic dance entertainer" and that no sex with customers is permitted. 
"If you are visually appealing and comfortable with your naked body and are comfortable about taking all your clothes off," the flyer states. "You can be working right now as an exotic dancer and earn your tuition fees for university or college." 
Students are told they must be "comfortable ... onstage at a club and disrobing," and are guaranteed that "no actual sex or sex acts (will) occur." 
It warns them that they will have to provide private dances, or table dances, in dark lounge areas and part-time, full-time or seasonal jobs are available.

While it is unlikely that Mr. Lambrinos and his stripper pole will be attending career day in your child's school anytime soon, this obvious PR move might backfire as it makes people think of how women are treated in the legal sex industry.

Timea Nagy (via CNEWS)
The visa ban is a result of increasing public unease with the spectre of human trafficking. Hungarian immigrant Timea Nagy, at age 19, was tricked into entering a life of stripping and prostitution in Canada. She was abducted and abused before escaping. She later founded the human trafficking rescue organization, Walk With Me. She applauded the visa ban as a way to get women out of the life.

Caroline and Nicola (via Canoe)
On the other side, QMI interviewed two women from Hungary who are currently working in strip clubs, and feel betrayed by the change in their status.  "I am very disappointed and afraid of what may happen to me in the future," said 28-year-old Caroline. Nicola, 25, added "My visa is almost expired and I am very scared. I am very shattered that I may no longer be able to work and help my family back home."

And here's the problem: we created the demand for these performers, and in many cases turned a blind eye to how they got here and what they endure behind closed doors. But once confronted with the problem, we take it out on those same performers by kicking them out of the country. Either way, we as a society are treating foreign women as disposable commodities.

Which leads back to the "we are coming for your daughters" ploy. Ironically, it reminds me of the "Somebody's Daughter" Christian anti-porn campaign from a few years ago. I wonder if it will make people think more about the women onstage and in the champagne rooms as actual people deserving of empathy and respect, not just paid-for boobs and pudenda. But my more cynical side tells me that people will opt for the more convenient route of just sending the foreigners home and forgetting about the whole thing.

Related: Exotic Dancing Industry in Ontario: Health and Safety (pdf)

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