Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A prominent downtown Toronto strip club is seen on Sept. 29, 2020.

Colin Perkel/The Canadian Press

Marci Warhaft is the author of The Good Stripper: A Soccer Mom’s Memoir of Lies, Loss and Lap Dances.

“Gentlemen! Put your hands together and welcome Cassidy to the stage!”

Wearing a black-lace teddy that fits my body perfectly, I strut onto the stage. My curls are wild; my lips, cherry red. I move to the front of the stage and swing my hips from side to side, scanning the roomful of strangers looking up at me.

Story continues below advertisement

That was me, 15 years ago. By day, I was Marci, a 32-year-old mother of two; by night, I was a 28-year-old exotic dancer named Cassidy. It was not the life I’d imagined I’d be living, but it was where I found myself during a challenging time in my life.

In the aftermath of a series of traumatic events, including the deaths of my mother and brother, the arrest of my bank-robbing stepfather and a near-death experience that left me hospitalized for months, I found myself in a twilight zone of sexual misadventures that included stripping, swinging and sharing my body with numerous questionable men in an effort to feel some sense of control or self-worth. I confused using my body with being used for my body; it nearly destroyed me.

While there are definitely experiences I regret being part of during that time, dancing wasn’t one of them. I danced naked, I made money, and then I went home to my family.

Sadly, one of the things my stripping experience taught me was that, despite working for a business providing services that are always in high demand, the sex industry remains demonized.

Up until a week ago, when I published my memoir, I had kept my stripping past and the subsequent rabbit hole a secret. The thought of people discovering that I had been involved in the sex industry had terrified me for years, and that fear is too common among strippers. And now, sex workers are forced to see this stigma play out in Ontario’s response to the COVID-19 second wave: Even though the pandemic is wreaking havoc on all businesses right now, the province’s strip clubs are the only ones that, after being allowed to open at the start of Stage 3, have been ordered to shut down.

COVID-19 numbers are surging, and I completely understand the need to tighten our restrictions until we can get things under control. However, the callous way in which these restrictions are being enforced seems thoughtless and even misogynistic.

Ontario strip clubs, worker advocates say provincial shutdown is unfair

The province’s focus on strip clubs further perpetuates the negative stereotype that dancers are dirty and deviant – stereotypes that are unfair and disrespectful. How else can you explain why restaurants and bars are being allowed to stay open, but clubs with all the same safety precautions in place – Plexiglass barriers, mandatory masks for customers, temperature readings at the entrance – are being told to shut their doors and put their employees out of work?

Story continues below advertisement

While people tend to feel empathetic when they hear of people losing their jobs during this pandemic, there is a lack of concern for the dancers, bartenders, DJs and bouncers who have their own bills to pay. In fact, in their place, there are often wisecracks about all of the husbands who are going to have to actually work late or stay home with their wives now that they have nowhere to escape to any more. Indeed, last month, when Torontonians learned about a large number of patrons of a downtown strip club who may have been exposed to COVID-19, there were a number of childish jokes – but strangely, there were none to be found during reports of infections connected to restaurants, bars, nail salons and other businesses. That’s telling.

In our society, a stripper is often seen as little more than the service they provide, offering entertainment and escapism. But they are more than that: They are living, breathing human beings with the same financial responsibilities as everyone else, and they need to be treated that way. It’s easy to dismiss strip clubs as unnecessary; I mean, who needs to watch women take their clothes off for money, right?

But then, who needs to eat out at a restaurant or have a beer inside a bar?

The value propositions being placed on businesses appear to be different depending on what service is being provided – and that kind of discrimination is patently unfair. Restrictions need to be based purely on health facts, and not moral perceptions.

After all, as Rudyard Kipling said, sex work is the oldest profession in human history. Those workers need support as much as any other.

Keep your Opinions sharp and informed. Get the Opinion newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies