Gloria Steinem and Las Vegas

Vegas wears glittery eye shadow, expensive clothes and is friends with everyone. Who doesn’t love Vegas? You go to Vegas to get lost and there’s an expectation that Vegas is willing to take you and love you. In the minds of men Vegas is a willing women, but for women? Vegas is a pimp in the eyes of women, just another man in a garish purple coat, driving a Cadillac and selling sex for money.

I went to Las Vegas for the first time this past weekend and it wasn’t what I expected. I knew it wound be glitzy and glamorous but I didn’t think of the sex appeal or just how much of a focus it is not just on streets but everywhere. I saw signs for orgasm clinics and strip clubs, I saw billboards with half naked women that would supposedly be “delivered” to you. I saw women young and old dressed as pin up girls selling everything from sex to pizza. It made me sick. I felt worthless, violated and dirty walking the streets of Vegas. Where was the empowerment for women? Where was the equality?

Maybe I’m being harsh, maybe the reason I’m hating so hard is because on the plane to Vegas I started to read Glora Steinem’s, My Life on the Road. Some would say I went to Vegas with my feminist glasses on but they would be wrong. I went to Vegas with my human glasses on and what I saw made me take a step back and think about what we value as humans. If Vegas is any indication, humans value sex, money and expensive clothes. 
There were two moments that stuck out the most for me. The first was while strolling towards the Bellagio fountains, much like everyone else we were stopped by club promoters. Since it was our first time and we didn’t know any better, we stopped to talk with one young man.

“Listen you bring your girls, they free and you get $10 off”

He was a young guy, well dressed but speaking in the clichéd way that men of this generation speak; quickly and without much thought.
No thanks we said and walked away. I wanted to turn around, I wanted to talk to this young man who thought he was just like any entrepreneur and tell him that the message he’s sending out is wrong. Why am I as a woman free? Why am I not worth anything? Or wait, is my presence in a club my only worth because it guarantees that the men will have someone to ogle.
But what would have been the point of dressing down this young “entrepreneur” he’s speaking a truth that society is teaching him, that women are sex symbols and little else.
On our way home after dinner one night, we came across a young man talking to a women dressed as a police officer. I say police officer because that was the intent but of course no officer wears fish net stockings and short shorts.

He asked, “Can I take a picture with you for free?”

“We’re not standing here half naked for free” she said and the grim disapproval on her lipstick smeared mouth was enough to scare away the man.
Life in Vegas isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a cemetery of dreams that never came to fruition. It’s a depressing hell hole of hope that will go nowhere. Mostly, it’s a place where all of the hard work of the feminist movement goes to waste because the human instinct for survival wins. This instinct in this world teaches us to sell, exploit and to keep on keeping on. Welcome to Vegas.


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