Is it dangerous to play rugby hooker?

A stripper explains why rugby players are her worst customers

I've been working as a stripper for over a year now. And when I heard that players from the Chiefs (a famous rugby team from New Zealand, editor's note) should have thrown pebbles at a colleague, I was not really surprised. Not even about the fact that they shouldn't have shrunk from undressing themselves and grabbing and licking my colleagues. Rugby pros are some of the worst clients I've ever had.

The first time I met rugby pros they joked that they wanted to put Liquid Ecstasy in my glass. Since this happened to a friend of mine just a few days earlier at a concert, I was relatively thin-skinned on the subject. I told them it wasn't funny. They kept laughing and told me in detail what they would push into the orifices of my drunken self.

Another time I explained to a player that he had to pay like any other customer if he wanted to keep me company. Then he grabbed my wrists and pressed me against a wall. At the same time, a totally drunk and crazy fan of the guy came up from behind, patted him on the shoulder and yelled at me: "Don't you know who that is?"

I've since avoided rugby teams. And I'm not the only one. I've asked other women I work with in Wellington to share their experiences with players and fans in the rugby scene. They asked that I not reveal their name. Here were her answers: A stripper told me that a gambler ordered her to get on her knees and "suck his cock for a tip of two dollars, like hookers like me do." Another didn't dare to go to work a week after a player told her, "If I run into you outside the bar, I'll rape you because you're no longer worthy."

Those guys who know how to obey the rules on the pitch believe that they are above the law as soon as they enter a strip club.

"I'll never work again on match days."

In my experience, the fans are just as obnoxious as the players. I know an extremely large number of female colleagues who refuse to work on weekends when rugby matches are scheduled. Even if that usually means to forego lavish tips. "After the All Blacks game against Wales, I saw things that made me believe I never wanted to work on matchdays again," one of my colleagues told me.

I can count on one hand the number of times I've been raped, molested, or attacked as a stripper. But every single incident always happened on the evening of a rugby game in Wellington. This behavior is not normal. My customers, whether men or women, usually appear respectful. And if someone goes overboard, a dry saying is usually enough to call him back to his senses, no matter how much alcohol is involved. I've had customers who were so drunk that they couldn't walk, but who still told their assaulting buddies to keep their hands off me.

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I refuse to believe that it was the alcohol or my bare chest that caused men to become animals. I am addressing these words to all those people who keep finding excuses for the wrongdoing of Chiefs players. The latest developments make me believe that New Zealanders love sports more than women in their country. Most recently, ex-captain of the All Blacks, Richie McCaw, was named New Zealander of the Year, beating Louise Nicholas, a woman who has helped countless rape victims and has helped improve the New Zealand legal system.

Sport is so loved in this country that many people are inclined to put the blame on the woman, even with disgusting allegations: she only does it for the sake of attention - even if she wants to remain anonymous. She only does it for the money - even if she doesn't want any. What many forget: Stripping is a legal profession that many women can safely do and that many men willingly pay for.

As for us stripteasers, our reputation is bad anyway. I know what people are saying about us. That we are all for sale, that we would only seek attention, that we are poor lunatics with an unresolved fatherly conflict. And the classic: That we would only lie anyway.

I know strippers who have a master’s degree and are currently working on their doctoral thesis. I know strippers who work with severely disabled children and others who are studying psychology or medicine. Most of the women I hang out with are students. Personally, I write campaign speeches for a local Wellington politician, organize fundraising campaigns for Women's Refuge and volunteer for an organization that helps rape victims. I demand that strippers, just because they take off their clothes for work, be treated no less respectfully than guys fighting for a ball in the mud.

I know a lot of colleagues who have been mistreated by guys because they believed they had extra rights because of their job.

To solve this problem, one could perhaps stop arguing that men are animals who cannot control themselves and who are simply insane at the sight of a bit of bare skin. You could stop saying bullshit like "Men will never change". Or point the finger at women who only do their (legal) work - without having to fear being harassed or attacked. You could agree that it is no trivial offense if you touch a woman, even though she has explicitly said that she does not want to.

I know very well that men - even when they are drunk and have a naked woman in front of them - can hold back and do not have to lick it out of their minds. I would just like our society to share this conviction - and to criticize those who cannot adhere to the simplest rules. Even if they are capable of great things with an oval ball in hand.

This article originally appeared on VICE Australia

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