BATON ROUGE, La. — A porn actress who claimed to have had an affair with President Donald Trump joined other women to voice opposition to a law that raises the age requirement for exotic dancers in Louisiana strip clubs from 18 to 21.
Stormy Daniels returned to her hometown of Baton Rouge on Sunday and joined dozens of other women voicing opposition to what they consider a "sexist law," the Advocate reported.
Daniels and more than 50 other people, mostly women who work in New Orleans strip clubs, stood outside the State Capitol as gusts of wind whipped past. Some struggled to keep control of their handwritten signs, which displayed a variety of messages from "Let us dance" to "Feminist power" and "My body pays taxes!!!"
The state legislature voted in 2016 to increase the minimum legal age for exotic dancers from 18 to 21. The 2016 law says "entertainers whose breasts or buttocks are exposed to view" in alcoholic beverage establishments must be no younger than 21. Louisiana outlaws full nudity for strippers in establishments licensed to serve alcohol, no matter what their age.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month that Louisiana can enforce the new age requirement, reversing an early ruling that deemed it unenforceable in response to a lawsuit filed by three young women who said the law had cost them the lucrative income they had as strip club dancers and unconstitutionally squelched their First Amendment rights to freedom of expression.
"Had this law been in effect when I was 18 and started dancing here in Louisiana, I would have missed out on many of the opportunities that I have been afforded," said Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. "This is an unconstitutional law. It eliminates the right of an adult woman to freely choose her occupation and express herself."
Although people 18 and over are often treated as adults under state law, Louisiana lawmakers have said they wanted the age restriction to help shield young women from the drugs and sex-trafficking sometimes associated with strip clubs.
"But common sense will tell you it's gonna have the opposite effect," Daniels said. "Many of these women who work this very legal occupation will be forced out of their jobs, unable to support their children (and) unable to make tuition payments."
Critics also argue the change will push women into pursuing more dangerous sources of income. They say that if people are old enough to join the military and consent to sex with another adult, they should also be allowed to perform exotic dance.
"Lawmakers, the media, the public — they tend to infantilize (us) because they don't approve of our choices (and) they make laws without our consent," said Sable Mongold, 30. "But there's a lot of humanity behind the heels and glitter ... and we will not retreat into the shadows any longer."