Double standards and #MasculinitySoFragile

I tend to avoid the parts of the Internet where men (and women) say dumb things like “oh she’s hot, but you wouldn’t want to marry someone who gives it away like that” alongside a photograph of a random sexy selfie.

Today however that part of the net popped into my life in a rather nice way in the form of this thread (below) on Twitter. It’s a great piece of social commentary on the way that women, expressing their sexuality, and enjoying and celebrating their bodies are shamed, while men who do the same thing are either ignored, or lauded for it.

It’s a pretty nasty double standard, and one that has been exposed to the cold hard light of day by Twitter user Hetero Meg. The thread is long with a range of photos and comments that mercilessly mock the very real misogyny that so many women experience from day to day.

hetro-megI am lucky to be living and working in a time where women are being given more freedom in society – enough freedom in fact that some, feeling the need for intimacy and pleasure in their lives that men can’t or wont give them will reach out and book a date with me or another sex worker.

Not that it’s easy for women mind you. When men visit brothels, strip clubs, or escorts it’s ignored, or even lauded. But most women coming to me are very, very keenly aware of the approbation that would rain down on them if friends or family knew. I am sure you can see the parallel here…

The response to this thread has been educational. Firstly, tears of laughter from the majority of the women in my Twitter feed, followed closely by the expected snarky comments, attacks on feminism, and general unpleasantness of a bunch of men who immediately respond to feeling threatened by what? Harassing the women who make them feel uncomfortable about their own behaviour. No wonder women are reluctant to tackle inequality, sexual harassment, and the host of other challenges that they face every day.

Anyone who thinks or says that feminism has achieved its goal and is no longer needed is wrong and I would suggest that they look a bit harder. Misogyny is all around us and it will only go away when the searing wit and voice of women like Hetero Meg calls it out and burns it down.


Porn and same sex marriage

I don’t think that this will sway the “anti-porn” campaigners out there, but you never know. Those who also support same sex marriage are going to find themselves on the horns of a particularly uncomfortable dilemma.

A study, reported here has shown that men (especially with low levels of education) who watching porn regularly are more likely to support same sex marriage. That is undoubtedly a surprise to many people, but a welcome one.

The question of course is “why?”. There isn’t a good answer to it, but the authors surmise that men regularly exposed to porn are simply being given a broader education in sex and sexuality. Exposed to different kinds of sex (lesbian, gay, group, bi etc) these men appear to lose some of the prejudices that they might otherwise have held.

As I pointed out in my post titled Pawn Sacrifice last week, education is what lets us make better choices in our lives. Who would ever have guessed that mainstream porn would have fallen into that category of education? Certainly not me – I see most mainstream porn as boring though, not inherently bad.

So, hurrah for science, and discovering that a daily dose of porn is helping men accept the fact of same sex relationships!


Harm reduction, not abolition – is the moral and humane thing to do

This article is a little different to my usual writing. I have been in an introspective and philosophical mood in recent times and when I heard the news that California had recently refused to implement new rules that would reduce adult films shot in that state to little more than this:naked-gun-safe-sex

I felt compelled to write about it. While it may not directly touch on what I do as a male escort, I hope that on reading it people will understand the broader point and how it relates to sex work – and in fact pretty much all of our lives.

The Californian Occupational Safety and Healthy Standards Board recently failed to pass new regulations that would force porn performers to use condoms, dental dams, and even goggles to protect them from the risk of sexually transmitted infections while making films and images about sex.

It was a win for that most elusive of beasts: common sense and incidentally for the concept of “harm reduction”. Even if only marginally (the board failed to achieve a four to one majority by just one vote).

The adult film industry in California already has a system for ensuring the health and safety of its performers. It is called PASS (Performer Availability Screening Service) and is administered by the Free Speech Coalition. It provides bi-weekly STI testing for performers, the results of which are held in a secure, private database, and allow producers and agents to see the availability of performers (but nothing detailed about their health information). It also provides performers with access to both testing, and – in the case of an infection being detected – support and treatment services.

It’s a good system. From what information I can find online, it works. Under that system there hasn’t been a case of HIV transmission on the set of an adult film in California in over 10 years (2004 was the last recorded time in California, which prompted the shift to bi-weekly testing with higher sensitivity testing methods).

There was an on-set transmission of HIV between to male performers in Nevada in 2014, however it appears that it happened under less stringent testing standards – which really just re-inforces the point. PASS works, less rigorous testing does not.

So what has all of this got to do with sex work and my blog? The short answer is: the PASS system is a good demonstration of sensible, tolerant attitudes toward dealing with a real risk (STI transmission between performers).

It accepts that there is a risk and that it needs to be taken seriously, and it sets out to minimise that risk without creating unintended adverse side effects. This is classic “harm reduction”. Continue reading

Performance anxiety – it’s not just for men

Today I read an article in the local paper written by sexual health therapist Matty Silver. You can see it here.

It’s a good article focused on male sexual performance – or lack there of. It’s something that rarely if ever sees the light of day in the media. After all much of the time the media wants to paint men as either macho machines, or one dimension slaves to their penis, so talking about men feeling intimidated by, or unequipped for a healthy sex life rather breaks the stereotype du jour.

In reality men have their own issues around sex. Plenty of them. Personally I fought premature ejaculation for many, many years. I was lucky to come across a book by Canadian doctor Sy Silverberg. Along with some assistance from a kind partner, it changed my sex life forever, and allowed me to enjoy sex in a way that I had never been able to before.

All in all, I think that this article is a step in the right direction – it demonstrates that we are all complex, emotional, and more or less fragile beings. Something that should be respected.

What jarred for me though was the second last sentence:

Women don’t need to perform – they can just lie down and don’t need to do much – they can even fake an orgasm!

I understand what Matty Silver was trying to say with this, yes, there is a very obvious difference between men and women, women don’t need to get an erection to participate in sex, yes they can “just be there”.

But really?  An otherwise sensitive article that accepts that stereotypes about male sexuality are damaging then goes and drops another unhealthy stereotype on women. It seems wrong.

Not all women can just “lie back and let it happen”. Nor should they. And it’s a bad message for anyone with a platform like a major newspaper to be sending.

What I would rather see is the acceptance that women and men both can have performance anxiety. It may not be so clearly evident in a woman as in a man, but for a caring lover it should still be obvious through body language, through lack of vaginal lubrication, and lack of relaxation. These are all things any partner who cares to look for them can see.

I often meet women who come to me because they need a chance to explore their sexuality and build their confidence in themselves and their body and their ability to enjoy sex in a non-stressful, non-judgmental situation. It is something that I can offer, being an escort that (to many people’s surprise) women often can’t get in a relationship.

This really is the problem though, for both men and women, often regardless of age. We are never given the opportunity by life to develop the skills and confidence with our bodies that we need to have a healthy sex life. I do what I can through the services that I offer, but really there needs to be a community wide change in attitude to sex, sexuality, and relationship.

Personally I think that it is time for these issues to be given as much attention and priority in our society as learning maths and (in Australia) English.


Oh Joy and John Oh on vaginismus

My favourite sex blog Oh Joy Sex Toy has a fabulous article today about vaginismus. What is it you ask? Sounds painful right? Well yes. It can be. But I won’t go into detail. Read the post for an excellent description of this entirely fixable problem of painful vaginal penetration:

What I wanted to say on the subject is that it is one close to my heart. Over the years of me working as a male escort I have been contacted by a number of women who had vaginismus and were looking for a safe, professional way to treat their condition. Some had spent time working with a therapist, doctor, or physio prior to contacting me, others had not.

The Oh Joy article has it right though, vaginismus is usually a mental condition with a physical symptom. So the first thing to do is talk. Try to understand its origin. After that, progressive gentle stretching exercises that allow you to retrain the automatic muscle spasm that is vaginismus are the key. This can be done using medical dilators that get progressively larger, or something as simple as a partner’s finger (and eventually fingers).

Some women would rather have the assistance of another person (such as myself) to work through the physical stretching exercise. I usually recommend that we arrange a number of short (one to one and a half hour) sessions to work slowly and allow you to relax progressively to the point where full penetration is possible.

For some women just one session can be enough. For others it may take several. But the important thing is that no matter how bad your vaginismus is it can be fixed! See your gynecologist and they can start you on the right path. If you would like the help of a professional with the actual exercises and to allow you to even try sex when you are ready with the safety of someone that understands your situation and the need for care and patience, then please feel free to contact me.


The Futility Closet

Twitter has a habit of bringing interesting things into my life, such as the Scarlet Alliance sex work conference late last year, interesting people, the occasional client, and today, a new podcast!

Introducing the Futility Closet podcast.  It is an interesting mash up of historical stories and facts.  Here’s the synopsis for todays episode:

An amazing tale of interspecies friendship

The lyrebirds of Australia were highly mysterious and rarely seen until one fell in love with an elderly widow in 1930. In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll trace the development of their surprising friendship and how it led to an explosion of knowledge about this extraordinary species.

We’ll also learn how Seattle literally remade itself in the early 20th century and puzzle over why a prolific actress was never paid for her work.

It was the story about the lyrebird that caught my attention, but on closer examination there was a lot more interesting information to be had too.  I have had it playing in the background most of the morning as I have worked my way through my list of new years tasks (like catching up on banking).

If you have a more science oriented mind, then you could also check out the Radio Lab podcast.  It’s one of the best that I have ever heard, but then I am a bit of a science geek/nerd!


Oh Joy Sex Toy

My fellow sex worker and acquaintance Lucie Bee recently made a post on Twitter about a different and entertaining web comic of sex toy reviews (and more).

It’s called: Oh Joy Sex Toy and it is a bit of fun for a rainy afternoon. Or to give you some insight into the pros and cons of various sex toys. I like it. It’s a different approach to toy reviews and web comics alike.


Sex, disability, and humour

I noticed an article in the Sydney Morning Herald today that looked great.  The headline is “Sex, disability, and humor”.  That’s really good I thought.  Too often people with disabilities are seen as asexual, or unable to enjoy, or uninterested in sex.  This isn’t the case, and is more likely to be a reflection of the person’s own ignorance, or fear of sex and sexuality.

So great!  Here’s an article to help dispel that myth.  And it was good as far as that goes.  However the final paragraph left me staggered.  It said:

“Unfortunately, no comparable organisations or publications exist in Australia – yet!”

This is absolutely not true.  As a sex worker who works with Touching Base and women with disabilities, I can tell you that there absolutely IS an organisation that helps people with disabilities explore and enjoy their sexuality. It’s Touching Base.  From their website:

Touching Base Inc is a charitable organisation, based in Sydney NSW Australia, that has been active since October 2000. Touching Base developed out of the need to assist people with disability and sex workers to connect with each other, focusing on access, discrimination, human rights and legal issues and the attitudinal barriers that these two marginalised communities can face.

It’s disappointing that the article failed to mention Touching Base.  Really disappointing. I don’t know if this oversight is deliberate, but hopefully it will be corrected in the future.


Gordons Bay

I wasn’t aware of Gordons Bay until I stumbled across it in the paper today.  It’s a nice find with what looks to be a long hot summer on the way.

I love the ocean and snorkeling, so I think that this might be on my list of things to do this summer (perhaps more than once).

It has an underwater “nature trail” marked by chain between concrete blocks to lead you around the bay.  It really does sound like a fun experience.  You can read more about it here:

If you would like to try this with me, then drop me an email or text and we can do it together.


Shaving soap

Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t have much in the way of whiskers, in fact I couldn’t grow a beard to save myself.  However, what I do have still needs regular shaving, and along with few whiskers I also have quite soft and sensitive skin.

As a result, shaving (with anything other than the sharpest razor) is likely to result in not the closest shave, and plenty of razor burn.  My face is smarting a little just at the thought.

Commercial shaving foams are an effective solution, preventing the burn and giving a closer shave, but I have never really liked the idea of buying pressure packed foam just to shave a bit of stubble.  It seems wasteful, and I have no idea what they put in the stuff.

However my soap making friend Chelsea (of Cherry Blossom Soap Company), recently gave me a sample of her new hand made shaving soap.  I was skeptical, but decided to give it a go.

The results: I am really quite surprised and delighted with this soap.  It gives a soft, slippery lather that allows the razor to really glide over the skin.  I get a very close shave, and almost no razor burn.  In a word, I am impressed well beyond my expectations.

And I am sure that it would be just as good for shaving legs and bikini-lines as it is for my chin!

You can buy Chelsea’s shaving bar here:

It gets my stamp of approval.