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Pitiful Princess club riles Portland neighbors

March 22, 2012

Pitiful Princess club riles Portland neighbors
by Milan Homola
Compassion Connect

Compassion Connect executive director shares his thoughts on a local business in his neighborhood. The Pitiful Princess is a strip club that screams in our faces, as neighbors, that women are items to be taunted and flaunted in the 21st century. What if we didn’t settle for status quo in Portland, OR in 2012?

I drive down the street, less than five miles from my home, staring off into space. As usual, I am thinking about an upcoming meeting while trying to pay attention to the road, of course. On this exact day, I notice a small, black and purple building, located just off the sidewalk.

Due to its blacked out windows and bright paint job, it doesn’t take me more than a second to recognize that place as a strip club. Sadly, there are so many in my neighborhood that one has to wonder about the principles of supply and demand. Nevertheless, this particular, purple building makes me gasp. The bright sign, atop the brick structure, reads, “The Pitiful Princess.”

I can’t think of any other business name that has ever struck me in the gut quite like that. It is akin to a slap in the face. But the question that has haunted me, and continues to haunt me as I drive by it almost daily, is “Whose face?”

I can’t help but be overwhelmed with emotion as I picture a woman searching for a job as she comes across The Pitiful Princess and decides to seek employment within. Without a doubt, I have no understanding of the pains and scars of her life that have brought her to the place where she would willingly work as a “pitiful princess.” I have two beautiful girls, five and two years old. I can’t imagine ever creating such a home environment that would drive them to that dark place later in life. It compels me to ensure they know just how beautiful and precious they are. I wonder if anyone ever told the women, currently working at The Pitiful Princess, they are beautiful and precious?

Not only do I struggle thinking about the individual women, I also feel lost when trying to pinpoint the societal evils that have birthed such a moral conundrum: A time and place where a business owner now can establish such a proprietorship and that he would brazenly call it such a thing as “The Pitiful Princess” and that it would find itself on a major street, showing the world that it is available to meet the “needs” of the community.

This particular business owner, most likely, possesses skills that could have been used for more noble means and yet, here stands The Pitiful Princess. Location choice is solid, as it shares a parking lot with a local, county health department where single moms can apply for health care and food stamps.

I digress. Back to the slap in the face. It is difficult to acknowledge this culture accepts such a pitiful business that so blatantly slaps its own women in the face by suggesting they are “pitiful.” But the slap in the face extends even deeper.

The Pitiful Princess is a slap in the face of God and His story.

“In the beginning God created…and it was good.” Those are some of the most recognizable pieces of God’s word, and yet, I look at a place, such as The Pitiful Princess, and realize this is in direct opposition to His statement that “We are created in His image.” There is nothing pitiful about being created in God’s image. Can you imagine the heart of God as He witnesses a poor, single mom, stepping through the doors of The Pitiful Princess, to seek employment?

God says to a woman, “You are beautiful. You are My precious princess.”

Instead, just down the street, my neighbors are saying, “You are pitiful.”

These are completely at war with each other. There is God’s truth and there is the process of the world coming to grips with that truth, but something in the middle is missing. Think about it in terms of an equation.

God says, “You are beautiful” + X = Women knowing God’s message

The missing X: it’s you and I. We know God says, “Women are precious.” We know God can’t stand such a place as The Pitiful Princess. There are questions which need to be answered. Who is ever going to communicate the truth? How will the women in our neighborhoods know this profound truth if we aren’t communicating it? Who will ever tell her she is precious?

As I try to wrap my head around this reality, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a Kingdom issue. You might wonder, “What does the Kingdom have to do with battling against a strip joint called ‘The Pitiful Princess?’”

We pray the Lord’s Prayer. How much do we mean it?

“Your Kingdom come, Your will be done ON EARTH, as it is in Heaven.”

Jesus, when asked about the Kingdom and His identity, gave evidence of the Kingdom and its nearness. His evidence wasn’t the number of fluffy Christian books or the number of healthy churches, which to some might suggest a healthy Kingdom presence. Instead, His evidence was this: the blind could see, the lame were healed and GOOD NEWS was preached to the poor.

Is the Kingdom present, not only in our hearts, but also in our neighborhoods? I once heard someone say, “The Kingdom of God is an alternative to what is.”

How can we show the woman, working as a “pitiful princess,” an alternative to what is? How can we show the business owners, who want to make a profit by itemizing women, an alternative? How can we show the struggling marriages, that “drive” a man to demand the supply of The Pitiful Princess, an alternative to what is?

Honestly, I don’t know how but I’ve thought about it.

– What would it take to get some signs that say, “You are Beautiful, not Pitiful” and stand out in front of the establishment?
– What are the busiest hours for such an establishment, in order to optimize my time standing out there?
– What are the laws about picketing outside a business, if you stand on public sidewalks?
– It can’t be about picketing or closing down a business but rather, telling an alternative story.

Contact our Abolition Now team if you are interested in doing something.

If you are interested there was an Oregonian article about this business in 2011.

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Discuss this article

carol fenton March 23, 2012

While the Portland-metro area may have more strip clubs than some people want to see, there may or may not be sex trafficking occurring there.

Sex trafficking can occur in various location, and the focus on one type of business can cause law enforcement resources and funding to be placed on one business/location when the crime could actually be occurring elsewhere.

The exploitation (labor and sexual exploitation) can occur to anyone – anywhere – and it is imperative to focus on the root causes (push/pull factors) to be the most effective in the community.

Compassion Connect is already doing a great job of addressing community needs with the housing and health initiatives, which are far more effective than picketing a business.

Lia March 26, 2012

Carol, why are you making excuses for strip club owners when the evidence is clear that SOBs (sexually-oriented businesses) are particularly concentrated hotspots for sex trafficking?

Who do you think you serve with your attempt to divert attention from SEX trafficking by telling people to not consider how SEX businesses contribute to the misery of slavery?

You couldn’t spare a comment on how the name “PITIFUL Princesses” is especially degrading and how no other businesses are allowed to mistreat their employees with such blatant verbal abuse that then extends to how they’re mistreated inside the building.


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