When “Chivalry” is a Mask for Coercion

By Elle Stanger (March 2, 2020)

Standing outside a downtown bar and a gal beside me shivers and a man offers his coat and she says: “No, thank you” but he’s disregarding her No, and so she says it five more times in various polite ways.

And he’s insisting because “chivalry” and he’s taking it off and taking steps closer as she backs away, and he’s trying to put it on her shoulders, and I step in between and told him:

“IF YOU CARE ABOUT HER NEEDS AND RESPECT HER, PLEASE RESPECT HER NO – SHE DOESN’T WANT YOUR COAT”, and then he blinked and repeated monotone like a zombie fukboy, “I respect her”.

And she says ‘Thanks’ and I tell her to have a good night, and Boyfriend and I leave before I get too depressed on how passively rapey this culture is.

It sucks watching dudes get coercive as they attempt to be their own idea of a Hero or Nice Guy.

Anybody else ever force shit on you “for your own good”, but really because they are trying to ingratiate themselves to you?

If I ever get stabbed by a man, it will because of shit like this, I swear.


The Everyday Gray Areas of Harassment Toward Women

By Elle Stanger (January 29, 2020)

When I was a teen-adult, I worked in mall jobs for a couple years. One day, a twenty-something man talked at me for thirty minutes in an empty store while I set up the t-shirt displays: He followed me around explaining in GREAT DETAIL all of the tattoos he planned on getting, where and what and which scummy bro of his was gonna “hook him up”, he even told me his plans to file his teeth into fangs.

Literally thirty minutes. He didn’t buy anything.

Six months later and I’m working at a different location of that retail store, fifteen miles away. And the SAME dipshit comes in and starts reciting the exact same script of all his supposed tattoo plans and fangs, and it was at that point that I realized he didn’t recognize me.

Then I realized that he actually spends his time Doing That to women, all the time.

Things I learned:

-Some people need friends real bad
-Most employment jobs don’t give you tools for dealing with people like this
-Grey areas exist in terms of harassment
-It’s perfectly OK to ignore someone who is ranting their bullshit at you while you’re working
-I never care/enjoy hearing from someone about their tattoo/plans

I wonder if he’s out there, somewhere, STILL doing this.


On Women Who Get Mad at the Removal of Pink and “Feminine” Markers from Menstrual Products

By Elle Stanger (October 26, 2019)

On Women who get mad at the removal of pink and “feminine” markers from menstrual products*:

Many assigned-female-at-birth (AFAB) children are pushed into liking pink and flowers from the time they are born, so when you base an entire identity around gender roles, it’s going to be very upsetting for people who have strongly attached to those roles.

Example: ‘Pink things have always meant for-girls and I’m a girl and now that’s going away! Women = Pink! I’m being erased!’

Like men who are angry that they are being asked to rework behaviors showing entitlement and aggression (the Gillette razor ad, for example):

You told these boys to act a certain way their entire lives and now taking that away or altering expectations makes them confused about their role in society.

Look around for people who raise their kids on “How to be a Man/Woman”; it’s often rife with double standards and specific themes.

Gender roles are garbage and ascribed activities and tastes based on sex/gender are one example.

*Some people are just transphobes though.


Men Being Able to Express Vulnerability Will Help Erode Rape Culture

By Elle Stanger (October 9, 2019)

I’m a sex worker who recognizes that many of my man clients are afraid to express their discomfort or pain because it makes them seem less “manly”.

Before I begin touching someone of any gender presentation I always say,

“Let me know if something is uncomfortable or you need to adjust”, and cis men usually are the ones who scoff,

“You can’t hurt me”, which is untrue because I could very easily and accidentally hurt someone; like pinch your scrotal skin under my body if I shift a certain way on your lap. Or what if you have a fresh tattoo?

I have met so many men who would rather suffer pain silently (and do) than vocalize their needs for comfort and safety and security, because they’ve been raised to believe that expressing those needs makes them less valuable in a society that praises stoicism and aggression in men.

Quite often these same men will thank me after the touch interaction, for allowing them space to express their needs.

“I actually do have a bad knee” or “I kinda hate my ears being touched, honestly.”

I truly believe through experience that ending rape culture in this country is about allowing people to be vulnerable and communicate their needs, and that this is teachable and healing.


This is Why Women Stay Silent When They Are Uncomfortable

By Elle Stanger (January 23, 2019)

I asked a man to stop bothering the three women at the table across from him while they were trying to eat; he was asking about their work, clothing, and the final straw was when he asked if they wanted to date his friend or him,

They were giggling and trying to shut down the conversation but obviously didn’t want to be “rude”

So I leaned over and said “hey can you leave them alone, they didn’t come here to talk with you — they came here to eat”

and he told me I was probably a feminist

and I told him he’s acting like a misogynist

and then he called me a cunt and a bitch

and then I asked him if he puts his hands on women also or just acts entitled in public,

and he told me to shut my mouth

I asked him if he’s a rapist too

And said that I will remember his face

Then four other women from another table came over and said they would kick his ass if he kept calling me cunt

He did not finish his food and he left quickly,

Then the women at the original table thanked me for intervening, and all eight of us nodded and thanked each other for looking out for each other.

…and then we all stared at the door for the next 10 minutes in case he would reappear with a gun like some typical white angry male who was just rejected and embarrassed because he was acting predatory in the first place kinda shit.

Anyway, this is why women usually stay silent when they feel uncomfortable.

(No regrets)


Elle Stanger: Sesta/Fosta Is Dangerous for Sex Workers and Everyone’s Privacy Rights

April 12, 2018

Elle Stanger recently spoke at the Opening Spaces for Radical Imagination Conference at Oregon State and mentioned federal legislation targeting sex trafficking that would, in effect, place sex workers into more dangerous working conditions.  Upon the signing of this legislation by President Trump on April 12, 2018, Stanger prepared several short videos calling for its repeal and asked that they be shared.


Video:  Fosta/Sesta does not distinguish between sex trafficking and consensual sex work

Video_1:  Why the removal of online sites will push sex workers into trafficking and more dangerous situations.

Video_2 Why Fosta/Sesta will make the lives of LGBT sex workers and people of color even more dangerous. It will also erode privacy rights for the general public.

Interview: Elle Stanger


Elle Stanger has been a nude internet model for over a decade and an Oregon stripper for almost a decade, and she occasionally sells homemade porn and does webcam work. She has a B.A in Criminology from Portland State University, and has written about sex and relationships and parenting for various outlets like Men’s Health, Romper, Thrillist. She is currently finishing her training as a Certified Sex Educator with the Institute of Sexuality Education and Enlightenment. She also co-hosts a podcast called UnzippedPDX, which was nominated by the Willamette Week as Portland’s “Best Local Podcast”.

How would you describe your work?

My secret power is that I’m able to find teachable moments with my clients, especially around boundaries and communication. I’m basically a femme queer tattooed-Barbie that blends into the mainstream when she wants to, in order to make money or to educate. I’ve been so informed by my work with people, and I’ve learned that most mainstream Americans are looking for permission to be vulnerable, kinky, and intentional with their sexuality.


What are the sorts of experiences that led you to organize for better protections for sex workers in Oregon?

In 2014, I had worked in six different clubs, and been stripping in total for about seven years, and I had been horrified by some clubs, and impressed by others. Adult environments are like any other type of industry; there’s going to be a spectrum of minutiae that to wade through. Management and staffing is the biggest part of what determines a safe working environment, and infrastructure maintenance is important. If the venue owners don’t’ give a shit about their dancers, it is more likely that things like dancer abuse or injury will go undealt with. I and dozens of other strippers were contacted in September of 2014 by lobbyists and social workers from NASW and PacWest; they wanted to know if any strippers in Portland had workplace concerns.

About forty live entertainers gathered in a room at PSU, and we told them some of our needs: “The bouncers don’t kick out people who assault me”, “Our roof leaks water on to the stage when it rains”, or “I have a hard time finding housing that will rent to me”, “I pay $50 a shift to work and I leave with $20”. Everyone in the room eventually realized that the concerns were so wide-ranging, that it would make sense to create a hotline where live entertainers could find resources for their needs.

TL;DR is that we created one with bi-partisan support, Gov. Kate Brown signed HB 1359 in June of 2015, and a hotline was created, but within two years it was dismantled due to Oregon’s $1.8billion debt. The hotline only required $50k annually for staffing, but they killed it anyway.

 The only reason that I’m not saddened by this is because I heard from many people that the hotline wasn’t being managed well. But I figure that it was worth the fight just to prove that things like this can be built.


Who would you consider your organizing/social justice heroes and what did you learn from them that inspires you?

I’m inspired by every single social worker I’ve met. They don’t get paid enough, deal with highly sensitive and charged situations, and juggle so many clients. These humans truly must have an altruistic souls if they’re consistently carrying with that much emotional labor.


What gives you hope for the future in the work that your do?

I’m only 31, and whores have existed for at least a few thousand years, so it gives me comfort to know that bodywork and sex work is a constant and that workers can adapt to changing times. I have hope for the future of sex work because the proliferation of social media has made our voices impossible to ignore. And things ARE getting better, especially as more young radicals do their work to influence young moderates.


What do you think are the most significant obstacles to social justice in your field in the future?  Do you think that any of those obstacles are due to some people’s denial of sex work as work?

The most significant obstacle to social justice and equality is the continuing whorephobic attitudes that we hold for women who work sex. Stigma kills: we raise our children to think that violence against sex workers is funny and acceptable. Family Guy, 30 Rock, many shows and movies reinforce these ideas.

Then there are abstinence-”educators” that travel throughout the country, telling children that sex stretches our vaginas, or that multiple penises inside of a woman is like “multiple feet in a shoe”, and bad, inaccurate information like this reinforces the idea that sex is dirty or unhealthy.

Additionally, politicians and actresses make laws and films about sex trafficking, which is not the same as sex work. These people are not experts in these fields, and often do greater harm by confusing people between the issues of choice and consent. These things need to be addressed, and that’s partly what I’m here for.


What books or movies would you recommend people study to learn about social justice or organizing for sex workers?

That’s a great question, and can someone please email me when you find some answers to it! I haven’t yet found any books or movies about this particular intersection of topics. I would look for the writings of Audacia Ray and all things RedUmbrellaProject.org, she’s been a vocal and longtime organizer of sex worker rights.

Please don’t organize for sex workers unless you are one. If sex workers have concerns, please do ask how you can help facilitate their fight, if they want to make one.


We sometimes ask people to think about what things would be like “after the revolution”, meaning a really big change in which all the obstacles to social justice are demolished and social oppression is eliminated (obviously, an imaginary world!) After the revolution, do you think there would be sex work?

After the revolution there certainly wouldn’t be capitalism or commercialism in the way that it exists now, but people would still be working and making in order to live. There will always be activities that some people will be eager or willing to engage in, whether or not your rent depends on it.

I think it would be more of a “sex barter”. If someone wants to do my dishes in exchange for a handjob or a neckrub, let’s talk.


(Interview with Joseph Orosco, March 2018)