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Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Woman in The Strip Club

"Treat her nicely!" the woman pointed out to my (then) husband, still in striding position over his lap. We both looked at her, pretty shocked. "Uhh.. okay," he finally said. I was still at loss for words. "I mean it. She is a good woman," she exclaimed, her bare breasts in front of our faces.

Yes, a stripper did tell my (then) husband to treat me nicely, at a strip club. Aren't girls awesome? 

Whenever I hear women empowerment, my thoughts always went to that night in Arizona. You don't call out your customer like that, yet she felt the need to speak out and made safe her fellow Southeast Asian woman. If that is not empowering, I don't know what.

You need to understand why I am in awe of her, and why she is such an inspiration for me. When I met her I was still blissfully married and I and my husband were madly in love, yet there she was, already rooting for me. In comparison, after the divorce, I was pretty much left to fend off myself alone in the US.

Today is the anniversary of my official divorce decree. It feels weird, to be honest, to say I am divorced. As time passed, the marriage period and my short stint as a Stepford Wife seemed more like a dream. Memories held, but the pain slowly ebbed away.

And these are all thanks to the people around me, the smiles and kind words that made me through the days, one at a time. Especially the women. My boss whom I hug tightly when my world crumbled underneath my feet. My coworker who was ready to call the cop when she saw I was scared.

Then there are the women who stood up for me and listen to my woes. There are new friends who took me under their wings. Women who, after reading my article, come in droves to wish me luck. And of course, that woman in the strip club.

A friend and I had an argument on Azis Ansari's case. She called it sexual assault, I said it's not. What was unsaid in the argument is: had it been someone I know, be it man or woman, I will be at his/her side in no time at all to comfort him/her and make sure he/she doesn't feel alone. No question asked.

Isn't that what we need? Put out the fire first and assess the damage before assigning blames and playing Captain Hindsight. I may not agree with your actions, but I will not turn blind eyes when somebody needs me. So much easier for everyone than the usual "Well you should…"

It's not always easy, though. Especially if that person keeps making the same mistake or just plain annoying from the get-go. It's hard to sympathize, let alone empathize, with someone whom you are just dying to b*tch slap from sheer frustration. 

The moment I felt I can't do that, I try to remember her. Maybe she saw something that I failed to see. Maybe she was hurt before. Maybe she was intoxicated. Whatever it is, she was the first person in the US that actually say: "Treat her nicely!". I am grateful for her presence. Now it's my turn to do the same.

We all deserve to be treated nicely. We all obliged to treat other nicely as well. Men, women, genderless, everyone deserves this, everyone is obliged to. This is what empowerment feels like. This is what decency feels like. This is what we need to pursue.

I hope she is well. I hope life treats her good. I hope the universe keeps her safe, just as she tried to keep me safe. Because caring and empathy know no border, it flows freely to those who are in need. We're long overdue for that river to flow and cleanse us all.

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