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Stripper Hadassah Grace is Reclaiming the Power of a 'Ruined Woman'

“It’s half warning, half celebration.”

Hadassah Grace made headlines in 2016, writing about her experience as a stripper following the Chiefs rugby team’s terrible treatment of a stripper at a team event. Her public statements demanding respect for sex workers—and all women—provoked both an outpouring of support, and of vitriol from the sad, angry men of New Zealand’s comment sections.

Now, she’s speaking out again with Ruined Women, a poem and performance piece reclaiming the ugly labels used against her. Grace started writing the poem around a year ago, with political rhetoric in the United States heating up, and the allegations of #metoo gaining momentum. “It started from a place of kind of hopeless rage,” she says, but grew into a more triumphant, celebratory—even slightly menacing piece.


The final video, made in collaboration with artist Audrey Baldwin, cinematographer Martin Sagadin and musician Ira Zema is “half warning, half celebration,” she says.

Image by Moana Minson

“Politically, we’re in a really interesting place were women and minorities in some ways have more power and representation than ever before,”—but also face new challenges in the realms of abortion access, violence against women, and human rights.

For those women and people viewing, she says, “I hope it makes people feel not just good but powerful.”

“On the flip side of that,” she adds. “I would hope that anyone who sees this and isn’t aware of that power feels a little bit of fear.”

As well as fighting the language of misogyny, Ruined Women is, for Grace, an act of reclaiming ownership of the labels intended to degrade. “There’s so much strength to be found in kind of relaxing into, or pushing into those things: yeah, I am a slut, I am a stripper, I eat too much and laugh too loud. And you can’t hurt me by labelling me that.”

Ruined Women premieres today on Youtube, and tonight live at Space Academy in Christchurch, from 7PM.