Friday, November 16, 2007

New Orleans, Day 2: LYNN

Lynn, 25, meets us in the Marigny for some lunch. A self-proclaimed "army brat," she's gotten around but considers New Orleans her home because she spent a bunch of formative years here. She feels such a connection to the city that she abandoned her full scholarship to college in Philly because she hated the east coast so much. "I was a weird kid because I actually talked to people and looked them in the eye," Lynn says.

Lynn (left, in front of an abandoned mansion on Esplanade) became a feminist in her early teens. "My parents started telling me to look for a husband in 8th grade," she confesses. "They told me that college is a waste of money for a woman because I should be a wife and mother. Feminism made sense to me when I was told that simply because I was a woman, I wouldn't have a home." After Katrina hit, her sense of being a woman became even stronger. "At one point there was one woman for every 25 men, and everyone tried to grope you. There was an extreme intensity in the air."

Lynn's "live-in-the-moment," plan-phobic attitude also coalesced after Katrina, since after the Storm, "locals realized that there was a big bad world out there...I gave up on the planning, because if you can't take joy out the moment, then why do you bother?" But, she says, "If I had one life goal, it would be working in sex education and sexual health." Lynn gets to talking about her two jobs--being a bartender at a Hustler strip club on Bourbon Street, and a saleswoman at a sex toy shop. "Sex work is an inherently feminist act," she proclaims. "Working voluntarily in the sex industry is lessening the gender dichotomy and reclaiming something that patriarchy has made us shameful about." She tells us that most women at her club love what they do. Lynn sees burlesque troupes like Big Star in Austin or alt-porn sites like Suicide Girls as no more or less feminist than mainstream strip clubs and porn. "The industry has really high standards, very regulated. Also, a lot of women are turned on by mainstream porn!" She also describes the everyday triumphs of working at the sex shop, telling us about how just the other day she enlightened a 60-year-old woman about her orgasmic clitoris.

Imagine our surprise, then, when
Lynn suddenly says, "Feminists are such in a rush to be inclusive that people make too many things fit with the feminist movement. Sex really shouldn't be important." But didn't we just spend the last 45 minutes talking about Lynn's sex-positive attitude, how stripping is a feminist act, how women should know how to give themselves an orgasm? We are confused but Lynn stands her ground. "Talking about sex is treating the symptoms and not the disease. Until we change society's views, we will still have to be teaching 60-year-old women how to get off."


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