Dear Pole Hobbyists,

I hope this letter finds you well, and I appreciate the opportunity to share my perspective with you. As a sex worker, I often find myself reflecting on the intersections between our worlds – the artistry and fitness of pole dancing, and the realities of sex work. I believe there are ways that we can honor and respect each other’s experiences while fostering a supportive community.

Firstly, I want to express the importance of educating yourself about the challenges faced by sex workers. By understanding the systemic issues, stigma, and discrimination we encounter, we can work towards building empathy and solidarity. Advocating for the decriminalization and legalization of sex work is crucial. It’s a step towards ensuring our rights and safety, and I urge you to join efforts in supporting this cause. 

As a stripper, it’s not uncommon for us to be assaulted at the club– during a lap dance, or just roaming the floor. Unlike the relative safety you experience at your local pole studio, we navigate a much more precarious environment. The privilege of attending your pole class and then going about your day without the constant threat of violence is something many of us in the sex industry do not have. We face heightened risks simply by doing our job, and the consequences of that reality extend far beyond club doors. It’s essential to recognize and acknowledge this disparity in our experiences, and to use your privilege to advocate for safer working conditions for sex workers. 

I cannot stress enough the importance of taking pole classes from strippers or former strippers! We offer invaluable insights, poise and expertise, and often possess unparalleled skill and artistry in pole dancing, honed through years of experience. By learning from us, you not only enhance your own abilities and sex appeal, but also support our livelihoods and honour the people who pioneered the art. 

Now, it’s crucial to recognize that the majority of stigma that is associated with pole dancing is not surprisingly, placed on strippers, and this is dangerous for those of us who pay our bills by stripping and doing other forms of sex work. This disproportionate burden not only perpetuates harmful stereotypes but also contributes to the marginalization and discrimination faced by sex workers. Challenging stigma and stereotypes is a vital aspect of allyship. By speaking out against harmful misconceptions and promoting understanding of our diverse experiences, you can help create a more inclusive environment for everyone. I encourage you to address and challenge internalized whorephobia within yourself and your community. This means examining your beliefs and biases, and actively working to dismantle stigma within yourself. It also means calling out harmful hashtags like #notastripper, even when they arise within your own circles. By refusing to participate in or perpetuate whorephobic attitudes, you can support a more sex work positive environment within your community, which makes more of a difference than you might even think.

Next, let’s talk about appropriating stripper culture by glamourising our aesthetic and mimicking “hustle culture”. This might seem fun or edgy, but it puts us in danger and perpetuates negative stereotypes that can lead to violence against sex workers. Also keep in mind that this behavior keeps you at a safe distance from the sex work community, while profiting non-sex workers at the expense of our livelihoods. The clout and attention you gain from this appropriation, only serves to further marginalize and exploit us. Consider buying your outfits from sex-worker owned companies, ditching your corporate owned pole studio for one that’s owned by a current or former sex worker, or pay a stripper. 

I urge you to use your platform and privilege to amplify our voices. Share our stories, perspectives, and advocacy efforts to raise awareness and challenge exclusionary practices. It’s heartwarming to see initiatives led by sex workers gaining momentum, and I encourage you to show your support! Whether it’s through donations to organizations run by and for sex workers or simply by listening to our voices and respecting our needs. Creating inclusive spaces within the pole dancing community is essential. By fostering an environment where sex workers feel welcomed and valued, we can break down barriers and build meaningful connections.

Finally, as a white cisgender female stripper, I too understand the privilege I have in being able to carry out my work in a relatively safe environment, and recognize that this safety is not afforded to all workers, particularly marginalized street based sex workers. Historically, it is the activism and advocacy of trans and queer sex workers of colour that have paved the way for safer working conditions.

I encourage you to join me in committing  to continuous learning and growth in what your understanding of sex work and allyship is. Stay informed about current issues and reform, engage in dialogue, and seek out opportunities for collaboration with sex worker communities. 

Thank you for taking the time to consider my perspective. I hope to see you at the rail with a stack of fives.


Anonymous Stripper