Letters to the editor

Not sold on Sellers’ minimum-wage solution

In your fine stripper article, City Councilman Tommy Sellers stated that single mothers should work two minimum-wage jobs instead of dancing for good wages. He doesn’t understand that minimum wage is not just about pitiful pay. It is also about minimum self-esteem and minimum hope for deliverance from a minimum existence. Every boss and customer can treat you as if you’re worth less than a living wage — and they often do. Endless, repetitive, boring tasks remind you that society thinks you’re a simple machine. After 16 hours of this brutal, underpaid humiliation, it is amazing that some people expect a woman to still have enough resources to nourish a child.

If Mr. Sellers had to work two minimum-wage jobs as a single parent with a minimum chance for escape, he might be on his knees modeling BVDs like Ronald Reagan, or don a thong and get on at Chippendale’s. We might even have to see Mr. Sellers going for the full monty.

— Bill Branyon
Asheville

Women can change the economic culture

I want to thank the woman whose letter to the editor in the March 4 issue of Mountain Xpress was titled, “Women strip when they’re powerless.” I hope the writer will continue to make her voice and her story heard.

The writer points out that when stripping is a woman’s only way to earn enough money to live a decent life above the poverty line, there’s no choice involved. To put it bluntly: The economic oppression of women creates the conditions for exploiting women’s sexuality.

Nationally, recent statistics regarding year-round, full-time workers indicate that women earn 66 percent of what men do. In the South, women’s income is 55 percent of men’s.

Statistics also show that women own about 75 percent of the nation’s stocks and bonds. Largely because women outlive their husbands and inherit accumulated wealth, women own 70 percent of the nation’s capital. What’s more, women control 85 percent of consumer buying power.

What would our lives be like if women used our capital and our purchasing power to create the well-paid, self-respecting, meaningful jobs we deserve? Perhaps it’s time for us to form the alliances we need across race, class, age and gender to create a woman-affirming economy.

Money and sex: Our culture can only value the commodities it can buy and sell. What our culture reduces to “cheap sex” and merchandises in pornography, advertising and strip clubs is, in fact, women’s pro-creative power. The life force generated in our bellies is kin to the power to promote creation that births, nurtures and regenerates the world. It is sacred power.

It’s up to us to create decent economic opportunities for women, and we have the resources to do so. Likewise, it’s up to us to reconsecrate the pro-creative power abiding in our body’s center. As we do so, we’re creating greater integrity and freedom for ourselves in every dimension.

— Lisa Sarasohn
Asheville

Tommy Sellers doesn’t speak for everyone

This is in reference to your article “Stripping for Success” [Feb. 18]. I am not a stripper and have mixed feelings about exotic dancing for many reasons, but I do strongly agree with what the ladies in this article are saying.

In the article, Tommy Sellers says, and I quote, “this form of entertainment contributes to an attitude that is conducive to behavior that promotes molestation, rape, sex crimes and sexually transmitted diseases. These establishments discourage the channeling of sexual energies toward the constructive ends of marital fidelity and family commitment. … These businesses attract and encourage gambling, prostitution and drunk driving, and will put an undue burden upon the Police Department Vice Division. …”

It is not strip clubs that promote molestation, rape or sex crimes, but, rather, seriously disturbed people. Nor are sexually transmitted diseases promoted by strip clubs, but, rather, by people who do not practice sex in a safe manner, such as not using any protection. I think there should be more focus on the people who actually commit these acts, rather than blaming it on the exotic dancers. For it is not the dancers who promote this type of behavior, but the perverted people of society who attend strip clubs, bars, movie theaters, amusement parks and restaurants.

Also, it is not the dancers nor the clubs who are responsible for marital fidelity, but he who commits the infidelity. A man or woman who is happily married will not go into a strip club and leave his/her spouse, nor is he likely to commit such sexual acts as molestation and rape. There are more people attending strip clubs to have a little fun and spend some money than there are those with the intent of going home and raping someone. I found Sellers’ remarks and opinions to be ignorant and unjust. However, just as every other American citizen, he is allowed his opinion.

He also said, “if the choice isn’t there to begin with, there won’t be that temptation. I think eliminating the choice in the first place is the answer.” I disagree, and being a citizen of the United States, I feel that one of the things that this country really has going for itself is the freedom of choice. Our community should be able to choose whether or not to go into a strip club — and not have Sellers or anyone else decide that for us. You, Tommy Sellers, take away the very seams that hold this country together: freedom.

Lastly, he also said, “We, the community, strongly object and consider such businesses to be immoral, obscene and a public nuisance and should be closed.” Well, I am also a member of this community, and I don’t ever recall him or his associates asking me how I felt about this. I do not object, and I do not consider these businesses to be immoral, obscene [or] a public nuisance, and therefore I do not appreciate him [representing] his opinions as those of the community, because I am an equal member of this community, and I don’t want someone else speaking for me.

I feel that Article IV, Section 9-171, in relation to the Senate Bill 452, should be appealed and completely destroyed.

— Emily McCarthy
Asheville

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