I told my boyfriend I wanted him to buy me a lap dance, and he obliged. I “picked” my candidate, although I don’t remember deliberating very much. She was young, young, young, couldn’t have been more than 19 or 20. And she was sweet, or she acted it. The lap dance was bizarre–I didn’t enjoy it. I don’t know why I thought I would. It seemed so strange to be just sitting there, doing nothing, while this person rubbed her body all over me. This young woman was gorgeous. She had long straight hair. Her makeup was perfectly applied. She was thin and looked like she worked out a lot. Her skin was incredibly soft. She smelled amazing. She made jokes and was complimentary to me.
When she was done, I asked her how much I owed. She smiled sweetly and said “Oh, it’s 10 dollars.”
I felt like I had been punched in the gut.
Later, as I cried my eyes out on the couch in my apartment and my boyfriend soothed me, I tried to make sense of it. Here was this incredibly beautiful woman, who did everything, everything that a woman was supposed to do to make herself appealing to men. She was thin, she was compliant, she was beautiful, she spent probably hours every day shaving and lotioning and applying makeup and picking out clothes and pouring what was surely substantial cashflow into maintaining her appearance. She was, in a word, perfect. And then, this perfect woman would go to work, and rub her impeccably maintained and beautiful body all over any patron, at his or her request, no matter whether she liked the person or not, for TEN FUCKING DOLLARS? I mean, TEN DOLLARS? Less than I would spend on a pair of shoes. Less than I would spend on a motherfucking hamburger.
I was able to buy access to this woman’s body and (very convincing) pretend affections for less than I would spend picking up a couple of last-minute things at the grocery store. It was worth almost nothing. Less than an oil change. Less than someone cutting my hair. Less than getting a decent tailor to hem a pair of pants. Less than a bouquet of roses.
And that’s the day that I realized we were all the victims of a sick joke. A despicable charade where so much is demanded of women, so much compliance and poking and prodding, so much effort to make ourselves beautiful and radiant and perfect, so much forcing of square pegs into round holes, just so we could meet it all, do it all, get close to the apex of perfection and still be worth nothing.
And she doesn't even know about the women actors out there who get naked for the gratification of creepy misogynist middle-aged douchebag filmmakers for abso-fucking-lutely free. She'd cry a goddam river over that.