By Sydney Benjamin
Growing up, I thought shows like “Millionaire Matchmaker” and “The Bachelor” were blueprints for a perfect dating life. Mind you- I was a complete virgin- I hadn’t had my first kiss, nor had I even held hands with a boy who wasn’t a relative helping me cross the street. The producers had me convinced that in order to sweep a man off his feet, I needed to come across as approachable, sweet, and semi-malleable to society’s standards, yet maintain my own personality and confidence. Looking back, those shows were the BAMBOOZLE of the century. In no way is it normal for 20 women to be competing under one roof for the same guy- EXCEPT in a strip club- where these “experts” claim that the perfect woman, or man, would never be.
Mass dating shows are hilarious, and I genuinely don’t understand how anybody could watch one and think, “are they in a strip club?” These people think they are competing for a romantic partner, but anywhere that you are supposed to date and leave with a sum of cash or massive ring indicates that they are competing for a very lucrative and permanent private room. If you’ve watched an episode of any dating show, the contestants are given a short introduction to the Bachelor or Bachelorette in Distress and hope that they seduce their prey indefinitely. The same rules apply to strippers in the strip club: there is a certain level of games being played, but overall, you’re given about thirty seconds to make a first-impression “elevator pitch,” that typically foreshadows the potential connection. The fact that some relationships on these shows do work also debunks the myth that it’s impossible to actually fall in love with your Sugar Daddy. Need I say more?
As I watch these ladies and gentlemen compete for the attention of the richest person in the room, I feel a sense of relatability that I’m sure the hopeless romantics are missing. I observe the lavish dates, the “locker room” drama, and the camaraderies forming between only the likeable girls, and am home. I am reminiscing on doing exactly that- nothing more or less- except I am being honest about the fact that this is simply a room of strippers trying to hustle on a dead Tuesday. I hate to burst my inner twelve-year-old-child’s bubble, but this fantasy only really exists in the strip club, which brings me to my point: pop culture has taught us to date like strippers, but society does not allow us to BE strippers.
More recently, I read “Why Men Marry Bitches” by Sherry Argov, so you can save yourself the few hours that I, for one, will never get back. While some of the advice is worthwhile, it only took Miss Argov nineteen pages to shit on strippers, and to inform us that being one, looking like one, or even taking a pole fitness class, will totally deter any man from taking a woman seriously. I suppose that any book that leads with a Bill Cosby quote on how to treat women has clearly not aged well. The irony of a guidebook on how to be a great woman (for men), that tells you to be confident and yourself- but also tells you exactly how to speak and dress, is allegorical nonsense. In hindsight, this book’s tips landed me my first toxic relationship, and it took having the confidence and self-respect of being a stripper to unlearn everything I was told. Overall, I will give Sherry props in that her intentions were good; however, most of the information is hypocritical, and I hate to break it to her, but a lot of these tips would be best utilized in a strip club.
Sherry Argov should be the poster child for carceral feminism- rooting only for women to be lawyers, doctors, and other jobs that would be deemed as “impressive” in the eyes of Joe Biden voters over 50. Her Relationship Principle #7 claims that, “When a man sees you wearing very revealing clothes, he’ll usually assume you don’t have anything else going for you,” which is followed by Relationship Principle #8, “When he sees you scantily dressed, he is not reminded of how great you look naked. He immediately thinks of all the other men you’ve slept with.” These bullet points are elaborated by anecdotes further explaining how “cheap” strippers are, and that “strippers don’t even like being called strippers.” SHE ACTUALLY SAYS THIS.
As a stripper, I have found life, and everything around me, to be like one giant strip club. I look at my relationships as if they are something that will either waste my time, or add value. The same can be said about dating- but the parallels in the dating world and the strip club world are scathingly similar. It is totally ironic that books like this are telling readers to go through the same motions as an on-the-clock stripper, yet they are not interested in strippers. Apparently, men are not interested in someone who is walking around wearing nothing- a dead giveaway for a woman who has “no respect for herself.” Strippers look at this perspective and CACKLE into their money (that someone’s husband gave them) because we have found tangible ways to view respect. Money is in no way the end all be all signifier of respect- but it is material evidence that this viewpoint is nothing but a fallacy. We hold our time and ourselves in such high regard, to the point that we refuse to leave forming a symbiotic relationship up to chance, and demand it up front. We are the confident women who these books are really about, in or out of our sparkly, cute little g-strings! Dating shows and culture would be nothing without strippers, who create the ACTUAL blueprint on how to read men and date like a professional.