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A Stripper Tells Us Why Professional Rugby Players Make the Worst Clients

I'd like to see society, and the people who pay their wages, expecting more of them, even if they are really good at chasing after a ball.
Image by Jake Guild

I've been a stripper for over a year now and it doesn't surprise me at all that members of the Chiefs rugby team allegedly threw gravel, exposed themselves, touched, licked, grabbed, and short changed another stripper at their end-of-season party. Professional rugby players have consistently been some of the worst customers I've ever dealt with.

The first time I encountered a bunch of rugby players, they joked about spiking my drink. A friend of mine had just been drugged the week before at a concert and I was, understandably, touchy about the subject. I told them it wasn't funny. They continued to have a good laugh about what they would do to my various holes if they had me alone and roofied.


The next time I told a player he would have to pay for my company like everyone else, and he grabbed my wrists and pushed me into a wall while an excited drunk fan slapped his back. The fan turned to me and elatedly slurred, "Do you know who this is!"

I've avoided rugby crowds since then, and I know I'm not the only one. I asked women I work with in Wellington about their experiences with players and their fans. They wanted to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons. One stripper told me a player once demanded she get down on her knees and "suck his dick 'like the ugly slut I am' for a $2 tip." Another was too terrified to go back to work for a week after a player told her that if he saw her outside the club he would rape her, "because that's what I deserve." Another of my co-workers said she had only once dealt with a rugby player. "He kept slapping my breasts, no matter how many times I told him to stop," she said. "We were supposed to be booked for fifteen minutes, but I ended it after only three because he was such a cunt.'

For a bunch of guys who are used to following rules on the field, too many think that club rules don't apply to them. One stripper told me a player had grabbed her and attempted to hump her. Another said, "I had these two [players] tell me they would only tip me if I had sex with the both of them, on each of my tip rounds. When I told them we didn't do that, they called me a whore."


"I won't ever work a rugby crowd again."

And from my experience the fans are just as bad as the players. I know so many strippers who refuse to work weekends when a big game is on, even though the money is usually great. "A few things that happened to me after the Wales versus All Blacks game that means I won't ever work a rugby crowd again," one stripper said.

In all my time stripping I can count on one hand the number of times I've been violated, harassed, or assaulted. Most of them happened on nights when a big rugby game was on in Wellington. This behaviour is not the norm. Men and women I interact with are generally respectful, and if they ever start to step out of line it only takes a sharp word or a reminder of the rules to get them to behave again, no matter how drunk they are. I've seen men so drunk they could barely stand, straighten up to tell their mates off for bad behaviour.

I don't accept that it's alcohol or my bare breasts that make men go mad. I say we look at the people who are currently making excuses for the Chiefs. We Kiwis just love our sports, don't we? Recent events lead me to believe that we love sport a lot more than we love women. This year Richie McCaw won New Zealander of the Year over Louise Nicholas, a woman who has helped countless survivors of rape, and improved our justice system immeasurably. Journalists list the accomplishments of rape-accused cricket player Scott Kuggeleijn, and his cricketer dad, in the same article as describing the reported victim's breasts.


We love sport so much that when a player does something awful, it feels a lot more comfortable to pin the blame on a nameless complainant: to say she's making it up for attention, even though she's stayed anonymous. Or for money, even if she's not asking for any. Or that she just should have kept her clothes on, even though stripping is a legal profession that many women do safely and happily, and that many men are happy to pay for.

As strippers our "standing in the community"—as Chief's boss Andrew Flexman puts it—is already suspect. I know what people say. That we're all gold-diggers, and attention seekers. Cracked out nut-jobs with daddy issues. Liars.

Well, I know strippers with Master's degrees, working on their PhDs. Who work with intellectually disabled children and study clinical psychology. Who are training to become doctors. Most of the women I work with are students. I'm a campaign writer for one of Wellington's mayoral candidates. I organise fundraisers for Women's Refuge and volunteer for Rape Crisis. Somehow, we're still seen as less worthy of respect than someone stomping around in the mud, simply because we dare to take our clothes off.

I know a lot of women like Scarlette. Women who have been treated badly by people who knew they could get away with it, simply because they think what they do for a living trumps what we do. Because for every brave Scarlette there are more Flexmans, Margaret Comers and Facebook commenters waiting to throw their hands up and ask what anyone could possibly do about it.

For starters, we could stop assuming men are animals, incapable of self-control, and that all it takes is the mere sight of a woman's skin to unleash the beast. We could stop saying "boys will be boys" and then wagging our fingers at women doing perfectly legal jobs which they're entitled to do without fear of harassment and assault. We could acknowledge that when a person, regardless of their profession, tells you not to touch, grab, or lick them, and you go ahead and do it anyway, the word for that is not "shenanigans" or "a bit of fun." The word for that is assault.

I know for a fact that men, even drunk men in the presence of naked women—even women of ill-repute—are capable of more than launching their hands and mouths on everything sparkly they see. I'd like to see society, and the people who pay their wages, expecting more of them, even if they are really good at chasing after a ball.

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