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punters: please, come out of the closet, for all of us

I was in Edinburgh and did a talk on sex work and feminism.

I discovered that the study "Challenging Men's Demand for Prostitution in Scotland: A Research Report Based on Interviews with 110 Men who Bought Women in Prostitution" was inherently flawed, and that, if you were one of the punters who was interviewed, there is a complaint going to the NHS Ethics Committee about how the research was carried out.

You can read the rebuttal here- http://www.scot-pep.org.uk/reading.html#clients

An example of how the punters words were twisted-

"Another punter was a frequent prostitution tourist in Asia. He detailed the harsh conditions women were subject to in Thai and Cambodian prostitution. Exposing his narcissism and his sadism, he rationalised the commission of sexual violence against women and children.
'I don’t get pleasure from other people’s suffering. I struggle with it but I can’t deny my own pleasures. In Cambodia I knocked back a lot of children; it makes it hard to sleep at night. But I don’t see the point in making a moral stance.'" -http://www.genderberg.com/phpNuke/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=160

Never mind that in Scotland, "knocked back" means "said no to". The researchers didn't bother to clarify, they made assumptions. Assumptions about you guys.

The article I quote above also states, specifically about the men here at punternet-
"These men’s contempt for the women they are paying for (and by extention, all women) could not be clearer. They are deluded, self-important pricks. They are also rapists, but, hey, let’s not be too inflammatory here. No, let’s. They are rapists, and “masturbation man”, who just came right out and said if he’s fed up of masturbating on his own, he’ll go out and buy a woman to masturbate into, admits it, whether he knows it or not."

This is why it's important for you to speak up and speak out, anonymously or not. You need to make yourselves heard, both for your own sakes and the sakes of the women you meet. Currently the climate is moving closer and closer to criminalizing clients, which will mean that WGs like me will be stuck with clients who don't care about the law. This will create a dangerous situation.

I listened to a group of women tell me that I had no agency and no choice, that all penetration was violent, that I was being raped. I listened to them tell me that punters had no respect for me, or for women in general. I listened to things like what the Herald said:

"Extensive interviews with 110 men between the ages of 18 and 77 who had paid for sex found that prostitution adversely affected their behaviour towards other women, and one in 10 said they would go as far as committing rape if they were not caught."

I know this isn't true. Most of you, I should think, know this isn't true. But as long as you stay silent, you will be turned into monsters.

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jumbled thoughts

-It's funny to look up a blog called "PostModern Courtesan" and have it pop up with career building sites. There's not really much in the way of skill training for sex work yet, unless you do it undercover... though I will say, ethics and speech gives you an edge for sure.

-Heart of Gold, Firefly- "Every well-bred petty crook knows that the small, concealable weapons always go to the far left of the place setting." Hah!

-Note to self- lunchtime bookings seem to be a lot of book-then-cancels, so don't take them seriously til they book via the system. Not that I'm bothered- I feel perfectly content as I've already covered my expenses- but it's something to keep an eye on.

-About to watch "Memoirs of a Geisha", and will likely blog about what I thought- I read the book, which was all right, but I hear this is another falling-in-love-with-a-client sort of thing. Meh. We shall see.

-Ok, again, there's this whole "What, you think geishas are free to love?" thing. I forsee a blog about sex work and love.

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Roxanne, and the Moulin Rouge

"We have a dance in the brothels of Buenos Aires. It tells the story of the prostitute and a man who falls in love with her. First, there is desire. Then, passion. Then, suspicion. Jealousy. Anger. Betrayal. When love is for the highest bidder, there can be no trust. Without trust, there can be no love. Jealousy, yes, jealousy will drive you mad."

"The show must go on, Satine. We're creatures of the underworld. We can't afford to love."

-Both quotes, from "Moulin Rouge"

The thing that strikes me about this movie, though I love the musical numbers, and the costumes, is that Satine, as a high class courtesan, is somehow ruled by three men- the Duke, the writer, and her manager/pimp.

The Duke and the writer both believe they have claims to her- the Duke, in some ways, I feel is more honest, as he's clear about feeling that he's bought her body, asshole-ish though that is. The writer feels as if he owns her because he loves her, and when that turns out to not be the case, he publicly humiliates and degrades her, causing her to try to win him back (?!?)

As much as I like the prettiness of this movie, that really horrifies me. How does THAT demonstrate Beauty, Truth and Love? Satine spends most of the movie trapped in the chains of male privilege and jealousy, and somehow, because Christian is the "hero" of the tale we're supposed to be pleased that he gets the girl in the end, even if it's just for a moment.

Now, before you say "god, Kitty, it's just a movie!" I just want to point out that this confirms what the media keeps saying to us. This suggests that sex workers cannot afford to love, can't do anything but offer up their bodies for meaningless sex, because we're sex workers and it's part of the job.

Somehow being in this industry people expect you to resent and dislike your work and the clients you have. Clients expect that you won't really enjoy it, that you're lying to them. Everyone expects that you can't have a partner of your own, a lover, because he wouldn't "allow" it, or would "rescue" you from it. Or he'd be violently jealous. That jealousy, usually male jealousy, we're encouraged to watch out for and be scared of. And when a sex worker gets beaten, raped, or killed, society blames the profession, not the attacker. That is in part what makes sex work degrading- I feel sometimes as if, as a sex worker, I'm both expected to be in need of protection and also less than human- a creature of the underworld, as it were.

Granted, I've never had a punter that made me feel like a commodity. I never felt like I couldn't say what I liked or disliked. But I've also violently shaken off the chains of fear surrounding male jealousy, and am confident I can take care of myself. Not all women share that feeling. Hell, not all sex workers share that feeling.

Maybe that's why I'd saddened that when someone thinks of a sex worker in media, they think Satine or Vivian, not Inara from Firefly. Inara had what I admire in a courtesan, what I would like to see in the future of sex work. She had power in her own right, dignity, and had agency and then some. Clients didn't buy her, they petitioned her, and she chose from among them. If there was ever an example of the difference between a fee and a tribute, this is it. Why is that so rare...? ::sigh::

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Hi, I'm a feminist. And a whore. Suck on THAT.

"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a door mat or a prostitute." ~Rebecca West, "Mr Chesterton in Hysterics: A Study in Prejudice," The Clarion, 14 Nov 1913, reprinted in The Young Rebecca, 1982


Ah.


See, I had seen this quote before. had heard it before. But only recently did I know that "or a prostitute" was part of the sentiment expressed. Lovely.


Well, guess what, world. I'm a feminist and a prostitute. Yup, I peddle in sex and sexual expression. I spread it for money. I wear red lipstick and high heels and talk dirty. Sometimes I wrap my body in corsets and leather- like Bitchy says, I come wrapped, like a present. Or, to quote-



"Which is why sex working/burlesquing/wearing lipstick is somehow (mis)construed as *gaining* *power* because that’s where you get if you extrapolate far enough from female-worth = female-beauty. Even though nothing could really be less empowering than that central underlying fact that you are worth what men decide you are worth."


Ah.


Unlike retail, where I'm worth what the manager of the company (usually male) thinks I'm worth, according to my resume. Or unlike my lover, who decides how much I and our relationship is worth through his or her commitment. Funny, I think in a consumerist society we tend to judge people on what we think they're worth an awful lot, whatever your profession.

But- sex work is older than consumerism. It used to be sacred. And honestly, if I was in an environment where my housing and food needs were taken care of in a quality way, and if I didn't need money to get by the way we do now, I'd be a sacred whore, doing it for the energy and the exchange, not for the money.

But I don't live in that society. I need to put food on the table. If I want to be able to improve my life and quality of living, I need to make moolah. I choose to do sex work, where I set my price myself. I say, "This is what an hour of my time is worth to me," and if a man disagrees, he calls someone else. That's ok. It narrows down who I see into a bunch of men who appreciate me in ways I would never be appreciated in the working world.



And I am sick and tired of having to explain that, yeah, I do all that, AND I support womens rights. Yeah, I do feel empowered. I put on my lipstick, not as an expression of femininity, but as a femme. I put on lipstick, not because I feel less sexy without it or because men insist (I don't see the sort of men who would, though they do exist). I put on lipstick as an accessory, a piece of armor that tempts and marks me as "other". Lipstick is just the beginning of how I mark you as mine, before I strike you or piss on you. It is part of my ritual. It is as much a part of calling down the Goddess for me as my bath or meditation before a session.

During my sessions, we tend to explore queer sexuality. Rarely if ever has it been about penis in vagina sex- men don't come to me for that, because I demand more out of them (and, Bitchy, it's not that I don't like being fucked- I do, but really, I need sex to be more interesting to be hot for me, partner or punter). I expect them to challenge their assumptions of what makes male and female, what is appropriate and what isn't.
We discuss and explore power- who has it, and how, and why. I enjoy demonstrating that penetration is not a male act, or even something only men enjoy. I enjoy discussing sex, and gender, and class.

And yeah, I also like sex, and I like sex with men. How does that make me less of a feminist? As a sex worker, I set terms, I create clear and defined boundaries. Sex work has taught me how to say "no" and stick to it. I don't see how that can possibly not be empowering.

Frankly, it doesn't really matter whether someone else wants to "approve" my feminism. I don't need anyone's approval. But I demand acknowledgment. I am a feminist, and a whore.

And I exist.

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sex worker on the move! Edinburgh

"So" I said to myself, "I need a break. Clear needs a break. I'd like to go to Edinburgh. Hey, there's a sex work discussion going on end of May- why don't I go to that? And hey, while there, why don't I do some work?" Oh, self, you're brilliant. One day, 2 awesome Domme sessions with excellent people in this AMAZING flat that cost me only £50 a night for a two bedroom, two bathroom with kitchen and separate living room (dishwasher! dryer! I don't even have these in my flat!) , and my trip has been paid for and then some. I will feel cheated in hotel rooms from now own. This place really rocks my socks off- even though it's furnished in Ikea, it's in a way that really works, nice and minimal. There's SO MUCH SPACE. And I'm dorky enough to have made a video of it to remember it by. There's a TV and dvd player, too, and I can see the city from here. It's right by the water. And did I mention the space? At first, I felt lonely and small in here, but now I'm reveling in it. Only thing that's missing? A working enter key on my laptop. <3

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sex work is not equal to immoral

I was on a forum where the poster was discussing how, if his daughter became a WG, he'd want to kill the punters. He said he knew this made him a hypocrite.

My response was as follows.

I became a pro Domme and then a WG because I hated retail. Yes, it was "more decent" by society's standards, but I was never that fussed with their morals anyway.

Instead of slaving away 20 hours a week as a food service worker or a retail worker, to get a barely livable wage, I work maybe 3-6 hours a week and earn at least half again more. This allows me some time to focus on my studies- I can read textbooks on the train as I go from a booking, for example, and I have a lot more off time.

As I enjoy my sexuality and that of others, and I can afford to pick and choose clients, I have a safe experience in the WG world.

Now, I think part of the reason I felt free and comfortable making this choice is because I was brought up to have agency and to make my own informed decisions. My parents know I do sex work, and support me doing what it is I love as long as I'm being healthy and safe as I can be about it. I'm grateful they know, because if something traumatic happened, I could discuss it with them. I don't have to hide, which in turns makes me feel safer.

But then, my father isn't the sort who feels the need to disembowl my male lovers for "violating his little girl". My mother enjoys attempting to embarass them, but that's as sinister as it gets. I would suggest you explore why you feel your daughters should not be in a position to make their own choices, why you feel these men you don't know are responsible for her choices, and reflect some on the fact that it's easier to strike out at the stranger than to calmly discuss things with the one you love. That sort of attitude is common, also, with cheating- it's easier to hate the other woman or man than the partner with whom you have an agreement, but that doesn't make it ethical.

When I look back on having been a sex worker, I will be very proud. I have had quality experiences with excellent men and women. I have helped disabled men and women rediscover sexual pleasure. I have helped men with erectile dysfunction find other sexual activities they can enjoy, and thus helped them relax enough to help with their erections. I have helped trans people understand their new genitalia, or come to terms with their current set. I have helped women find pleasure after traumatic sexual experiences, and reclaim their bodies.

How could I not be proud and honored to have been a part of that? How is that less meaningful to human happiness than being a lawyer?

I feel so strongly about this that I'm getting my PhD in Sexology. I've seen enough data to back up that sex is important and pleasure is good for you. It's healthy. And I want to help people reclaim their eroticism after eons of having it repressed. I'm sure others may not find that a higher purpose, and to them, I say- get a vibrator. ;)

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I will add:

Dr Byron did make up for it a bit with the episode "Am I Normal" about religion, where she keeps saying "so, are you religious, do you think, or just crazy?"

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"Am I Normal", the Sex edition- my thoughts

Having a psychologist analyzing sexuality and sexual taboos on TV (the show "Am I Normal?") is... interesting, to say the least. There's no doubt in my mind that when Dr Tanya Byron says "if it's sex between consenting adults, who can judge?" she's mentally adding "Me. I can."

It's a lot in the way her voiceover responds. When talking to a man about cottaging (sex in public toilets, for those not in the UK) she nods, but the voiceover says "why would you want to have sex with strangers in a place that smells like piss?" It took me 2 seconds to think of the following-
-some men like the smell of piss
-some men feel it's degrading and get turned on by that
-some men identify as straight and don't know where else to go
-some men aren't ready for intimacy with other men, or don't want it
-some men are closeted
-some men think homosexuality is disgusting but still feel pulled to do it, so they punish themselves or reflect their inner thoughts about it in their surroundings
And that's just a start. How could a psychologist not have picked up on at least some of these things? You can even find nights devoted to watersports in any area with more than 3 gay clubs. It's not that hard to figure out... is it?

Or when she talks about dogging. Sure, sometimes people want to have public sex because they want attention. But sometimes, it's just fun to have sex with other people watching. Sex in a car gives some clear boundaries, for example... washable boundaries. :)

I've gotten a pretty clear impression that Dr Byron thinks that men just feel the need to have sex as often as possible with as many people as possible, but that women, if sexually liberated, won't need sleeping around... or want it.

Huh?

Ok, so sometimes women don't want sex as much as their male partners. But guess what? Sometimes women want sex more than their male partners as well, and there's not a lot of support for women who do want more sex... or men who want less.

I like what this article said:

"In the hard-core rendering of inherent male-female discrepancies in promiscuity, gay men are offered up as true men, real men, men set free to be men, while lesbians are real women, ultrawomen, acting out every woman's fantasy of love and commitment."

The whole article is good, but I think that that sums up what this show was implying. Another excellent quote:

'"It seems premature ... to attribute the relative lack of female interest in sexual variety to women's biological nature alone in the face of overwhelming evidence that women are consistently beaten for promiscuity and adultery," the primatologist Barbara Smuts has written. "If female sexuality is muted compared to that of men, then why must men the world over go to extreme lengths to control and contain it?"'

I think, if I wasn't so busy ranting, what Ms Smuts says is exactly what I spent this show thinking. Maybe women have lost their sex drives because they get beaten, killed, vilified, and told constantly that "good women don't really like sex".

Dr Byron is obviously looking to confirm her suspicions. This show could've been great, but instead, she's making snap judgments. I think it says a lot that she keeps asking about intimacy- not everyone CARES, lady. I don't. I enjoy casual sex for completely different reasons than I enjoy intimacy. I can have both, and it pisses me off and seems ragingly anti-feminist that I keep hearing this implied belief that if I was truly liberated I wouldn't enjoy women showing off their bodies, or "molding my sexuality to match that of a male stud". I guess i'd lie back and think of England. What complete bullshit.

I also think that it's interesting that it sounds like everyone Dr Byron speaks to, from a paedophile to a dogger to someone uninterested in sex, have thought long and hard about their sexuality and their sexual choices. Therein is what I think is the secret- knowing about your sexuality, looking at it within the tint of your culture.

I like what Lindsey Ashford (the paedophile) said in his interview- he informed her that it didn't matter what her degree was, after an hour she isn't qualified to make these assessments of him. I think that could be said for anyone she interviewed. It seemed like she went digging for trauma to justify sexual deviance... not much change from the beginnings of sexual studies like Krafft-Ebing, frankly. Or like when I was told that I was kinky because I was raped- a trendy theory that didn't fit, as I can date my first fantasies to around 5 being about knives, 7 years before anything happened.

Why are people so reluctant to just encourage education? Convents and similar "protections" have never worked. Education, a supportive environment to explore your sexuality, and access to safer sex supplies and information has. Am I really the only person who sees this...?

(I just wanna point out that when she talks to British 11 year olds, they seem to be vocal about fake boobs being weird and variation in sexuality being normal, even if there are pole dancing kits being advertised in the kid's toy section of Tesco.)

So, there you go- I think if kids and teens are given the tools to make informed sexual choices, access to adults who are open to discuss sexuality with them, they can lead healthy and varied sex lives, and become adults who enjoy sexuality in many forms.

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I left my exhibitionistic streak in SF

Sometimes, I miss San Francisco. Often, it's when I'm looking at the blog Nude in SF, an awesome site with a bunch of naked women wandering through San Francisco. I particularly enjoy the photos of Marie on there, who looks impish and lovely, almost always half cracking a smile.

But even more than the girls, who are very pretty and look like they're quite enjoying themselves (a big turn on as well as creating some cute photos), is the fact that the passersby really express to me San Francisco's attitude.

There aren't big crowds of men around these girls. There's no pointing that I saw, no real judgment- the expressions you see are more "Huh. Naked girl," than "OMFG NAKED GIRL WHAT??" That's really cool. And the girls aren't posed, they're just doing their thing, walking around the city they love.

And I remember why I love it.

I love a city where you can do that and it's ok. In fact, people don't bat an eye.

And while I like attention as much as the next exhibitionist, sometimes it's nice to be free to be naked, or even just sexy, and not be worried about being attacked. Sometimes it's nice to just be yourself without it being a performance for everyone around you. And this site really gives that natural nudity that I miss so much.

Til I get home, I'll just flip through the photos and sigh dreamily.

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circumcision, yay or nay; and subsequent prejudices for women's sexuality

Circumcision.

I'm not really a fan of the practice, and to be honest, I've read a lot of stuff about how it doesn't desensitize, and I think it's bullshit. If you take the clit hood off a woman, it's very sensitive for a little while, and then loses a lot of sensitivity. How would it be any different for a man?

Both types of penises look pretty to me. But then, I've been exposed to both growing up, seen both in porn and in person, so I never preferred one over the other. As long as they're clean, it's go-go-go!

I remember reading that the #1 reason people circumcise their kids is because they want them to look like all the other little sheep kids in school. I think that's a stupid reason to cut off a foreskin. When people do that with women's genital cutting, it's a huge outrage, so...?

But whatever. Different strokes.

What really struck me going to Jewcy to read their comments on the subject, pro and con, via Calico's blog, was the attitudes people had about the women who were writing. While the pro-foreskin one only had one comment suggesting that she was perhaps a bit slutty ("Judging from your sexual tone, you had definitely seen some jew dick before this gentlemen"), the girl who was anti-foreskin got a lot of comments focusing, not on the foreskin debate, but on her sexual behavior.

For example, she mentioned in passing how she gave a hand job to a stranger in an airport, and she got judged about that. Told how it was unsafe, offering herself up to "any schmoe on the street". Never mind the implication that she should be a hooker instead, cause then she'd be paid, right? Cause women being slutty for the fun of sex is just WRONG, you're either being paid for sex or you're not doing it with strangers.

As someone who has done something very similar (ok, he jerked off on my tits in an elevator instead), I object. A hand job or a tit job is fairly safe sex. In fact, I might argue that a hand job with a stranger is safer than unprotected sex with a partner who may or may not be cheating on you. I don't see how that's dangerous, really, especially in a public place. I certainly don't see how that would indicate that she's mentally unstable (" Hand jobs for strangers in airports says more about your emotional issues than it does about your cock preferences"). To me, it just says she likes a little unattached play with strangers. So what? People go to sex clubs and swinger clubs for a similar rush.

Now, when I decided to let this hot stranger on a train seduce me with kisses and calf massage on the rainy streets of Boston, I decided with a few things in mind.

-Someone knew where I was, and I was due home at a certain time.
-It was public, so if it went too far I felt I could get help.
-I was wearing flat boots, so wasn't worried about a) running or b) kicking ass.
-I was in an area I knew very well.
-I decided if it was safer sex play, that was ok with me, but not anything involving fluid exchange.

This wasn't any schmoe on the street. This was a really hot guy I enjoyed chatting with. There are lots and lots of people I pass every day that I don't want to engage in hot stranger safer sex. Why do people assume if you play with a stranger you're open to everyone at any time? Or that if you do it once, you're playing with danger? Every sexual encounter should be negotiated in some way, whether it be flirting with a partner or saying "this is ok, this isn't" to a stranger in a glass elevator.

I'm going to have to post a bit some other time about sexual women being viewed as guaranteed eventual victims of sexual assault. For now, let me just say that's ridiculous.

But the point is- they were discussing MALE FORESKINS. Why does it matter if she saw 3 penises or 33? It's a personal piece on personal experience, yet a lot of people jumped on her sexual practices instead of the issue at hand.

That's just... grr!