After a video of Genea Sky falling from a two-story pole went viral and resulted in sever injuries, the issue of sex workers' rights was brought to light.
Recently, you've probably seen a video of a stripper falling off of a 15-foot pole - and then twerking - floating around on various social media platforms. Quite quickly, the video has gone viral and become a meme, with many internet users making light of the whole situation. The video features dancer Genea Sky, who works at the Texas club XTC Cabaret. Though she seemed to be okay after the fall, picking herself back up and continuing to dance, she clarified in a tweet that the accident has left her in a lot of pain. The dancer's experience has sparked quite the debate online.
She posted in a tweet, calling out those who laughed at her plight, "Yes, I fell off the pole. Yes, I fractured my jaw. No, I’m not f*cking okay. And there’s absolutely NOTHING funny about this situation. This is the worst pain I’ve ever felt and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone." She continued in follow-up tweets, "Literally have to get surgery tomorrow. So please, if you don’t have anything nice to say just leave me alone... As for everyone else, I appreciate the love and concern. It means a lot. Thank you." Needless to say, the situation has been difficult for Sky and users on the internet haven't exactly been empathetic.
Later that same day, she posted a tearful video explaining her injuries. In the two-minute clip, she provides an update about how she has been doing since the accident took place. "I pretty much broke my jaw and I have to have surgery on it tomorrow," she explains. "I broke some teeth and I have a sprained ankle. I also got some stitches. But aside from that, I'm good; I have no broken limbs, I walked away myself, I got up right after it happened. I'm just really overwhelmed by all the messages and everything. I'm so thankful, though, for all the positive messages I've been getting." She shares how it has been a humbling experience to just be alive after the traumatic incident.
Her video, like the original clip, has also gone viral. Since it was first posted, it has received 2.9 million views. Furthermore, for the most part, individuals have been supportive. For instance, one user responded, "GIRL. You are a WARRIOR. You got up after breaking your jaw and did a headstand... That is unbelievable. I’m so happy you’re alive and well! Hopefully, nothing but positivity and opportunities come out of this experience! Good luck [for] your surgery and a speedy recovery." However, several people have been quite nasty, criticizing her for her profession. But it is those who have highlighted the club's responsibility in the matter that has sparked a debate about the importance of sex workers' rights.
Medicare for All — a case for sex workers' rights! https://t.co/4KgJoiNqk3— Sam (@samoriginals) February 12, 2020
One individual posted, "That club is responsible for your safety. Even independent contractors can sue. They are supposed to have safe workspaces. They have not reached out to you about any assistance... Sue [the] club." Another added, "If your club isn't covering expenses then seriously consider getting a lawyer because this was bound to happen to somebody with a [pole] that high and no padding on the floor." At present, the CEO of the club has taken no responsibility for the fall, arguing that Sky was aware of the risks when she signed up to perform on the pole. But this has led to immense outrage online.
I support sex workers' rights and protections (and you should, too) not only b/c sex workers are good hardworking people who enjoy none of the labor protections of other American workers, but b/c of the implications for the health and safety of women. [2/4]— Carsie Blanton (@carsieblanton) February 13, 2020
A fellow sex worker chimed in on Twitter, "This is exactly why they keep strippers as 'independent contractors.' So they don't have to take accountability for anything that happens to us, including assault and injury. It's to protect men, not the dancers. This is why labor rights are important... Decriminalization will not automatically give erotic laborers labor rights and protections. Because of how labor laws have eroded over the past few decades, hence the rise of the gig economy, we will need to join forces with other groups of workers and fight for labor justice." Unfortunately, injuries like these are common in the profession and venues rarely take responsibility. While activists push for legislative action, Sky's experience has raised awareness about the poor treatment of sex workers. If you would like to help her get back up on her feet, you can donate to her crowdfunding campaign so she can pay off her medical bills.