In Defense of a Former Stripper

Monday, Apr. 2nd 2012 9:55 AM

Do you feel guilty about decisions you made in the past? Are there people who beat you up (or want you to beat yourself up) about your “questionable” choices? Have you made relationship decisions that plague your consciousness? If so, consider this: “right” and “wrong” are subjective, and guilt is a waste of time.

The lady of my house routinely subjects me to “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” “Basketball Wives: L.A.” and other similarly-tortuous reality shows. I am no victim though. I enjoy complaining about it to her, and I’m pretty sure she enjoys hearing me complain. And it occasionally gives me something to write about.

What I have recently found interesting is the controversy surrounding one of the characters on “Basketball Wives: L.A.” Draya Michele is an attractive, young lady (the youngest on the show, I believe). She is also a former stripper and is said to have had relationships with several different basketball players. Much of the show has been dedicated to talking about her sex life, her past as a stripper and even child endangerment. I have no information on the child endangerment piece so I won’t comment on that. But the remaining issues are fodder for this week’s blog.

Criticism of Draya has not been limited to the show. In a recent interview with Wendy Williams, the daytime talk-show host was a bit harsh. And in a post-show video blog, Williams even resorted to name calling, referring to Draya as “slutty.” Wendy has since caught her share of criticism from Draya supporters, and to that she responded in a recent blog:

If you’re going to continue to be on your back and only exemplify behavior that we saw on ‘Basketball Wives,’ or defensive, nasty behavior—which I don’t think you were nasty yesterday. I actually liked meeting you, and I loved your Fendi dress—but I don’t think that you did anything to defend your reputation of coming up lying down. That’s all.

I, however, don’t think Draya needs to defend herself. Her choices are her own, made for her own reasons and to fulfill her own needs and desires. And that is every person’s right – to live the life she wants to live, to be true to herself before anyone else, and to shamelessly pursue what makes her happy. These, in fact, are the makings of a Powerful Person in a Partnership. I have no disrespect for Draya because of the choices she has made (choices, incidentally, that almost never get men called names). In fact, I would love to hear Draya say, “I was a stripper and I loved it” (if she did), and “I would do it again if I wanted to” (if this is how she really feels). I, for one, would respect the heck out of such authenticity and disregard for the judgmental naysayers who want her to feel bad about herself.

Sure, some people would criticize her for such candor, but others be empowered by it, because they want the same things (or something else that might garner criticism). Instead, Draya gets quiet and hesitant when the subject comes up. Of course, I can’t blame her – given the less-than-nice reactions she has gotten for being honest about her past. It’s interesting watching and participating in a society which has supposedly become more accepting but would condemn a woman for owning up to (and enjoying) her sexuality.

Most criticizers attempt to mask their hatefulness with morality. However, their motivations are rarely that simple. Often, these judgments are rooted in jealousy of a woman’s courage to put it all out there, or fear that such highly-sexual women threaten their own relationships. Women who like sex are not predators. They’re just doing their own thing. And in my humble opinion, the world would be a better place if we all did our own thing – and stopped caring what everyone else does. Much of our current economic crisis was fueled by a desire to out-do, impress and/or keep up with our neighbors. And consider how many teenagers starve themselves, binge drink and mutilate their bodies because of the pressure to conform. There is no Power in pressuring others to share our values or our concerns. Let’s all just be true to ourselves, and let everyone else do the same.

So, Draya, if you enjoyed shaking your rear, say it. And if you enjoyed doing it for money, say that too. Let the people whose feathers you are ruffling be ruffled while you proudly flaunt yours as flamboyantly as a peacock. In doing so, you will liberate and empower others to follow their hearts – without shame or guilt. But don’t do it for them. Do it for yourself. We all are valuable enough to feel proud about our lives, no matter how we choose to live them.

Keep Rising,

Frank Love

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How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship

5 Comments on “In Defense of a Former Stripper”

  1. G.G. Says:


    You make a valid point. Too often hatefulness is masked with morality. Plus, the guilt that results in being judged for past decisions, whether you are proud of them or not, can get in the way of our self esteem. Unfortunately, moving past harsh criticism can be easier said than done.

  2. Valencia W. Says:

    Interesting article written by Frank Love. I agree with the fact that an individuals past decisions or choice can have effects on their self-esteem and relationships. However, looking at how one moves forward with emotional health is a process. When someone is trying to move forward with emotional health and leave the past behind they do not want to constantly be defined by their past. I find it interesting the Frank Love’s article focuses on this individual’s past as a “former stripper”. So, this raises the question should our past decisions still be part of our identity? I wonder how this individual feels being identified as a “former stripper” and all of the baggage that comes with that identity? I am sure the young woman in your article struggles with her own decisions and experiences that occurred in that dark world. As someone who works in the field of mental health and works with women and men dealing with sexual brokenness, I have seen the effects of various abuse on self-esteem and relationships.

  3. Quanah E. Says:

    Good article. While watching Basketball Wives LA, I found myself on Draya’s side. I don’t have much in common with her…only being a woman and that I’m not originally from LA. But, she’s a young woman taking care of her family.

    I don’t know why those other women vilified her so much. They too were involved with athlete’s, but they didn’t call each other gold diggers and what not.

  4. Stephanie A. H. Says:

    I don’t know that it is a matter of liking to “shake her rear.” There is a certain thrill to the attention and the compliments. But first and foremost, stripping is a JOB – one that unfortunately pays significantly better than the average office or restaurant job, making it a very tempting choice for a young woman trying to make ends meet. Ultimately, it is a SALES JOB and a lot of hard work, because you are selling the illusion of sex, involvement, and interest in the men. Men often go to strip clubs for the companionship of a pretty woman as much as for the T&A. Many of them come in week after week for the attention. Others appreciate finding a stripper who can make good conversation. It is a very strange dynamic.

    I have to agree with the article’s comment about the stigma not being on the men, anymore than it is with prostitution. Strip clubs would not exist if men were not willing to lay down hundreds of dollars in one night, night after night, to spend time with pretty girls. If you do add in the prostitution element, that makes it even darker.

    How do I know all of this? I am the mother of a former stripper. I’ve had to deal with the choices my daughter made that were far outside the moral standards my husband and I both hold and what we taught her. But we’ve stood by her, regardless of those choices. I sincerely hope that Draya’s family does the same.

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