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An interview with Alexandra Hunt

A former stripper wants to spur transformative action

Editor’s note: The following is an interview with Alexandra Hunt, a former stripper running for Congress.

Roxborough resident Alexandra Hunt, 28, is running for the PA-03 Congressional seat, an oddly shaped district that contains large swaths of Philadelphia. She decided to run, she says, while at a food distribution event, one of her many volunteer projects. The pandemic laid bare the failures of the government, she says, inspiring her to act.

Her campaign has garnered national media attention, from viral video site Now This to Washington Post women’s edition, The Lily. The media coverage showcases her progressive platform but always starts with the same focus: that she would be the first former stripper to serve in Congress.

In this interview with Philly Weekly, the public health researcher, girls’ soccer coach, community organizer and “dog mom to Kota Hunt,” discusses whether the focus on her previous career helps her win over more voters or overshadows her policy positions. The interview has been edited for brevity.

 

PW: You have a widely varied policy platform that touches on the Digital New Deal, healthcare, income equality, reproductive rights, climate, etc. What would you say is the number one priority?

AH: It’s hard to have a “number one priority” when every issue is intersectional. But if I have to pick one, it would have to be tackling the climate crisis. Without a livable world, having healthcare and reproductive rights becomes moot.…In less than 20 years, we’re due to see ocean levels rising to a point where parts of Philly will be underwater. The heat, fires, and droughts we experienced this summer are only going to get worse. Bold, transformative action to address the climate crisis is our only option.

 

PW: Much attention has been paid to your previous work as a stripper, do you think that in this era of sex workers rights, it gives you a leg up with young voters and/or do you think it overshadows your policy positions?

AH: I don’t think it overshadows my policy positions at all. I think it informs my policy positions. So many of our current policies and politicians dehumanize everyday people – I know what that feels like. I have a human rights-centered platform, so even if it’s an issue I haven’t personally experienced, I can empathize and recognize when people are being dehumanized because I’ve been there too. That being said, I do get worried that young voters glamorize my experience as a stripper and don’t understand the stigma and violence that is associated with sex work. I get very torn between the work of destigmatizing sex work and not overshielding young folks from the hate that that brings to my candidacy and person.

 

PW: How much do you think your experience in stripping will impact your governance? Do you have skill sets and experiences from that job that translate well to politics?

AH: Well, let’s just say that I wasn’t too concerned about whether or not I had the ability to fundraise… which is actually a very unfortunate part of our current political climate. I think it will allow me to keep it real with colleagues and with constituents. I’m hoping that it’s going to help me navigate relationships and network once I’m in the House because working at a strip club is a lot of networking, navigating relationships, and forming boundaries.

I have a human rights-centered platform, so even if it’s an issue I haven’t personally experienced, I can empathize and recognize when people are being dehumanized because I’ve been there too.

PW: You have said that you don’t want to be the face of sex workers rights, but that you will still advocate for them. What are some specific policies that you support or oppose, related to this issue?

AH: I support decriminalizing sex work, decarcerating all sex workers, and expunging records. SESTA-FOSTA needs to be repealed and protections need to be passed giving users rights to online platforms including for the use of sex work. We need to ban all loitering laws. The legalization of sex work is a different issue because bodily autonomy is a human right. There needs to be legal ramifications for discriminating against current or prior sex workers in the workplace, in the healthcare industry, in housing, etc. On top of these issues, I believe we need to be providing sex education during school so we can have healthy adults understanding consent and ways to have consensual and safe sex.

 

PW: You would be one of very few public health experts in Congress, if elected. How do you think having a public health background would influence you as a representative? What are the biggest issues in public health right now, in your estimation?

AH: I think having a public health background could form some of the strongest, most policy-oriented representatives….It’s crucial to have representatives who specialize in prevention rather than intervention. Interventionists slap Band-Aids over bullet holes. Preventionists take bullets out of the gun. The biggest issue in public health is still the environment, but let me explain how it plays out from a public health standpoint. The climate crisis is why we have a pandemic – we’re going to see a rise in viruses as we face rising temperatures. We need a nationalized public health system to be able to respond to natural threats and disasters (caused by the climate crisis). We also need to take off the weight we put on schools while underfunding public education and underpaying teachers. We essentially rely on schools to provide educational daycare so parents can go to work and keep the economy running. If we need to shut down to prevent the spread of disease (which is very much spread through schools and children), we need parents to be able to stay home and tend to their families, so we also need a better balance of life and work.

 

PW: How has it been speaking openly about your experience as a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence? Why did you share this information?

AH: It has been very, very hard, but I knew I needed to share it in order to start to open people up to what is restorative justice and to understanding how these types of violence are systemic issues. Ending domestic violence is very much an economic issue. We have widely accepted the prevalence of sexual assault in our everyday lives and we need to be speaking up loudly and consistently if we want to get to a point where it’s completely unacceptable. I also wanted to confront the stigma of being a sex worker or labeled a slut/whore/hoe doesn’t make me “down for anything.” My no means no. That being said, no one owes anyone else their trauma. When it gets too difficult to talk about or share, I don’t.

  It’s crucial to have representatives who specialize in prevention rather than intervention. Interventionists slap Band-Aids over bullet holes. Preventionists take bullets out of the gun.

PW: Another thing you’ve shared is your experience with abortion. What do you have to say about the ongoing encroachment on abortion rights, including the recent Texas ban and the proposed Ohio one?

AH: I think we’re witnessing all the ways an oppressive system tries to protect itself from being dismantled. I think this is a Republican flex after Democrats took the majority in the federal government. The attack on abortion rights is against women and the attack on voting rights is against minorities and it shows how far away this country is from being a democracy. Forced pregnancy is considered a crime against humanity under the Geneva Convention.

 

PW: What do you say to criticism about a white person running to unseat a Black congressman representing a city with a large Black population? Have you spoken to Black community leaders about this? 

AH: I have. Representation absolutely matters and that includes ideological representation and experiences representation. I don’t want the first woman president if she’s a female version of Donald Trump (yes, this is a stab at Tulsi Gabbard). Dwight Evans is very conservative in his politics and it’s had a big impact on Philly during his four decades of elected office. The struggles of our public schools today are because Dwight Evans sided with the then PA Republican governor and helped set up a system that would defund them during his time in the state house. He doesn’t support Medicare for All. He helped pass SESTA-FOSTA and is now co-leading a tough on crime bill in the House. He voted to reinstate ICE. PA-03 is a majority Black, majority women, majority impoverished district. These systemic issues that we’ve been talking about sit heavily on Philadelphians’ shoulders. We need every person of every race fighting to lift this city. And if you’re not fighting for the people in this city – you’re part of the problem. Black community leaders know this.

 

PW: Why is it important to you to have a youth advisory committee? What kind of contributions do they make to your campaign?

AH: We need to be building our policy priorities around our young people. Our young people have the biggest possibility at impacting positive change, so we need to make sure their voices are heard, represented, and have a say in the direction we’re heading. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves repeating the same cycle 20-30 years from now of the younger generations feuding with older generations about what needs to be our number one issue. The youth advisory committee has their own social media accounts and focuses on the issues that are most important to them – several of which are outlined in our campaign. They volunteer with us in different fields and capacities and are working to get more young folks into politics.

Have a question for Dr. Timaree? Send an email to asktimaree@philadelphiaweekly.com.

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    • Timaree Schmit Headshot

      Timaree Schmit is basically an episode of Adam Ruins Everything, but in the shape of a person. She has a PhD in Human Sexuality Education and years of experience in community organizing, performance art, and finding the extra weird pockets of Philly.

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