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Women Should Be Protected From Violence

By on November 5, 2012

Last month, Bad Kitty ran a blog about how the state of Illinois passed a “skin tax” to help fund rape crisis centers.  If you missed it, you can read all about it here.  Briefly, the law taxes strip clubs for each customer that enters the club and sends the fund to rape crisis centers in order to make up for the slash in budgeting.  The Coalition Against Sexual Assault approached a senator in Illinois to sponsor the Bill.  A similar law was passed in Texas.


I don’t think I have to tell you how backwards it is for a group that combats sexual assault to be reinforcing one of the oldest justifications for sexual assault: She is a slut, and it’s because of women like her that men rape.  This argument is a basically a variation on “She was asking for it.”  In other words, men are not ultimately responsible for rape.  If they were at a strip club, well then the poor things were being teased and tortured and OF COURSE they would go out and rape someone.  Blame the dirty whores who danced for them.  And then tax the companies that are responsible for creating such a situation.  It’s ridiculous.  Feel free to read more of my rant in my previous blog.  This blog is call to action.


Recently I completed an assignment in a Policy class for my MSW that focused on The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  Perhaps some of you have seen this Act discussed in the news, and know that for the first time in 18 years, it has come under fire.  The Violence Against Women Act has been around for since 1994, and it was spearheaded by then-Senator Joe Biden.  What it has done is create a systematic, coordinated community response to domestic and sexual assault as well as implemented Federal laws against domestic assault, trafficking, stalking and date rape. Prior to the passage of VAWA, states handled domestic assault cases and this made it very easy for perpetrators to move from state to state without repercussions.  It also meant that victims had less protection – if they moved to a different state they were no longer safe.  VAWA also created sensitivity training programs for law enforcement officials so they could identify and be responsive to domestic and sexual assault and started the first nationwide domestic assault hotline.  Prior to the passage of VAWA, there were more animal rescue shelters in the country than women’s shelters.  How do you like that?  Basically this bill took domestic and sexual assault and changed the perception that is was a “private issue” between a man and a woman into the perception that is was a national problem that needed to be addressed – much the same way that child abuse laws helped changed views on parenting.  Additionally, VAWA allotted block grants to states to fund things like rape crisis centers.  The Reauthorization of VAWA has been stalled for almost a year now.  This means that organizations that had previously been receiving Federal money to fund their services are now no longer funded – organizations like the ones in Illinois.  Many centers are being forced cut their services.  Others are finding creative funding solutions – such as the skin tax laws passed in Illinois and Texas.


So why am I talking about this? What does this have to do with pole dancing?   Well here is the thing: As a result of Congress’ inability to agree on the terms of this Bill, funding has been cut.  As a result of this loss in funding, organizations that fight sexual assault are resorting to other creative means of funding.  In the case of Illinois and Texas it is the “skin tax”.  These rationale behind these creative means of funding fly directly in the face of what many of us stand for and believe in as pole dancers:  the right for any woman to express her sensuality freely and without persecution or danger.   Ironically, they also fly in the face of one of the primary arguments that sexual assault coalitions make: it is always the perpetrator who is responsible for the rape.   Interestingly enough there have been a number of conversations amongst political candidates about rape in the news recently – usually connected to the abortion debate.  I’m not going to touch that issue, but I will say that the idea that there is legitimate rape and illegitimate rape – and that men feel as thought they can define it for a woman – is odious to me.  And it is a sad reminder of just how much misogyny is the still the common sense of our culture.

One of the wonderful things about the latest version of VAWA is that it implements a program that works with men to help prevent rape and violence before it happens.  I was thrilled to learn this, because I think raising awareness in men and educating them is the key to truly eliminating domestic violence and sexual assault and changing some of the deep-seated cultural beliefs men and women hold when it comes to sexuality.


If, as pole dancers, we truly believe in female empowerment, then we should believe that empowerment is the birthright of every woman, and seek to protect it. And if we believe that part of our responsibility – indeed our mission – is to help redefine the way our culture views women and sensuality, and to advocate on behalf of any woman’s right to dance sensually without danger of persecution, then it is also our responsibility to speak out publicly when we see these rights being violated.  And it is our responsibility to take action and put pressure on our political leaders to make changes, and pass bills that will protect our bodies, and the bodies of our sisters, our friends, our wives and our daughters.  As a fellow pole dancer and woman I urge you, not for political reasons, but for the right of women to be protected and to be free, to take action and spread the word.


To take action and urge your congress member to Reauthorize VAWA go to

All it takes is an email address and a click.



Claire Griffin Sterrett
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Claire Griffin Sterrett

Editor in Chief at Bad Kitty Inc.
Writer, pole dancer, teacher, social worker and editor of this whole awesome thing.You can find out more about me at
Claire Griffin Sterrett
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