Dear Straight Talk: I often fly for work and my group recently had dinner at a strip club near the destination airport. Needless to say, I was surprised to see a girl my daughter went to high school with working there as a dancer. I don’t think she recognized me as the place was busy. She is only 19. I thought she went off to college. Since then, I’ve been torn wondering if I should say something to her parents. We are acquaintances through our daughters’ school, but we don’t know each other well. — Not Her Father in Santa Rosa
Brandon, 22, Mapleton, Maine: I suggest minding your own business. What if this girl told your family you were at a strip club? Drug dealing is illegal, prostitution is illegal, but stripping is not. If you think it’s morally “wrong”, why did you set foot in there? Once someone turns 18 and leaves home, their business should not become their parents’ unless their parents are providing for them. Moral of this story: Don’t go to strip clubs if you don’t want to see the reality that some kids would rather make more than $7.50 an hour.
Omari, 20, Washington, D.C.: I’d run this by your daughter. Working in a strip club is what some people, including college students, do to pay bills. It’s not as looked down upon today, but it is still demeaning. However, if her parents think she’s in school and she isn’t, they should definitely be notified.
Breele, 20, Dana Point: Please don’t say anything. I was in that environment, not as a stripper, but as a bikini waitress. Some girls do get caught up in bad stuff, but most dancers are just making more money, legally, than they can anywhere else. Some are in college. Most are good girls with no parental support who work there for six months. For that, do you really want her “labeled” forever back home? Try being 19, working retail and hostessing today. I could fill my car, that was about it. That said, I’m glad I got out because I started drinking a lot on the job, which is common. Plus, even in a bikini, you are treated like an object and I was feeling bitter toward men.
Moriah, 17, Rutland, Vt.: I honestly don’t think it’s a big deal. I don’t support how these clubs portray women, but lots of girls today know who they are and are strictly working for the money.
Ashley, 26, Auburn: Ahem, let me clear my throat. If this seriously bothers you, STOP GOING TO STRIP CLUBS! What do you expect to see? Someone your age? Someone you don’t know? Would that bother you less? It shouldn’t. If you don’t support your daughter and her classmates stripping, then don’t support anyone stripping! Regarding telling her parents, “Oh, I was at this strip club...” starts things off badly, don’t you think? If you seriously think they should know, tell them. But please make some lifestyle changes yourself.
Dear Not Her Father: I don’t recommend any young person work in these places. I know it’s done for the legal money, but the intense objectification takes a toll — leading many dancers and bikini waitresses to develop substance abuse problems. Since you aren’t close with this family, I’m surprised you can positively ID this young woman. The light is dim and many dancers wear wigs and disguising makeup. Unless your gut tells you otherwise, I’d probably recommend other positive actions apart from approaching the (possible) parents, like lobbying to double the minimum wage so young people can subsist on entry-level jobs, or — if you have the means — gifting her a cost-of-attendance scholarship for college. — Lauren
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