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.

John.

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:

http://www.ohjoysextoy.com/vaginismus/

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.

John.

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!

John.

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.

John.

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.

John.

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:

http://randwickcitytourism.com.au/sights/gordons_bay.html

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

John.

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:

http://cherryblossomsoap.com.au/2015/06/shaving-soap/

It gets my stamp of approval.

Breast reduction

Everyone loves boobs. I most certainly do. Big, small, it doesn’t matter. They are a panacea – they make me feel happy when I am sad, let me forget my pain when touched, and arouse passion in the heat of the moment. They truly are fabulous.

For many women though, they are a – literal – burden. Any woman with really big boobs will know the problems – back ache, the discomfort of wearing a bra, the pain of sport. The pain of trying to have a conversation without your boobs being stared at.

So. Many women opt for reduction surgery. It is something that I see a surprising amount of in my work. There are a lot of women in this country who are opting for it. The Sydney Morning Herald recently ran an article by Jo Hartley about it here…

http://www.dailylife.com.au/life-and-love/real-life/why-i-had-a-breast-reduction-20150817-gj0unv.html

It is her personal story of the experience of growing up to have a 34F bust, how that effected her life, and how transforming it was to have reduction surgery that reduced her bust to a more manageable 34D.

I expect that most women would be nervous, even fearful of having surgery on such a sensitive part of their body. It’s understandable. Not just the fear of the surgery itself and the risk of something going wrong, but of the results. Will they still look ok? Will they still be sensitive? All reasonable questions, and if you are considering this surgery, well worth talking to your doctor about before going ahead.

For my part, I can say that I have seen the results of many reduction surgeries and the vast majority are really very good. Some so good that I didn’t even notice until it was pointed out to me.

There are risks of course with any kind of surgery, but if your breasts are making your life difficult and painful, then I think that it is well worth considering.

John.

We need to talk about Ashley

In amongst the outrage, fear, and moral grandstanding over the Ashley Madison user database leak I came across this article:

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/ashley-madison-hack-what-if-you-find-out-your-colleagues-on-the-list-20150820-gj3i4y.html

It is about the most sensible and humane piece of journalism that I have ever read. In answer to the question: “should I look up the database to see if X is on it” the author just say “no, leave it alone”. There is wisdom here.

Women come to me for many reasons, some, because they cannot get the sexual satisfaction that they desire in their lives from their partners. Some do it with the partners knowledge and permission. Some do not.

But “cheating” isn’t the problem here. “Cheating”, with all of its derogatory overtones is what happens when we live in a society that is dysfunctional in how it handles sex and relationships. Why do people “cheat”? Some because they can. Some because they feel that they have no other option.

What we need to do as a society is collectively “grow up”. In an ideal world, there would be no need for a service like mine. But the truth is that there is no genuine attempt to teach children, teenagers, and young adults how to develop and maintain functional relationships, let alone give people space and acceptance as they work out what their sexuality is and what they need in their lives. We can’t even allow – in this country – that two people of the same sex can have a genuine functional relationship.

We are trapped in a social narrative that starts with fairy tales and “ends” with white weddings. Then we have to live the rest of our lives trying to live up to this impossibly high standard of happiness and reliance on one other person. In short, it’s impossible for most people. Just look at divorce rates. And just because people are still married doesn’t mean that they are happy and fulfilled, or wouldn’t like something more or different.

Which brings us full circle to Ashley Madison. It’s time that we left our moral outrage at the door. Recognised that people and relationships are complex, that judging others by our own morality is wrong and destructive, and that we need a new order in our lives that prioritises real human needs and wants, rather than religious dogma and social etiquette that is demonstratively harmful.

Recognising same sex marriage would be a good start, but a rethink of even the concept of marriage would be even better.

John.

Amnesty International votes to adopt policy to protect rights of sex workers

Following on from yesterday’s post about the NSW inquiry we (my industry) had a very exciting piece of news last night.  Amnesty International has voted YES to accept a policy that it has developed to protect the human rights of sex workers.  You can read about it here:

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/08/global-movement-votes-to-adopt-policy-to-protect-human-rights-of-sex-workers/

This is a significant step forward for destigmatisation of our industry and the people who work in it.  It also paves the way for more sensible and informed conversations about the problems of our industry and how to fix them.

It is very timely given the inquiry happening here in NSW and will hopefully go some way to protecting the liberal, tolerant, and effective laws that we have in our state.

John