I received an email recently from Sydney therapist Tanya Koens about a course that she is running for professionals in her field to help treat patients who are dealing with sexual pain. So while this workshop is not for people seeking treatment, i thought it was worth writing about because I may have readers who have issues around painful sex, but don’t know that there are professionals who can help them.
Hello Lovely Colleagues
I’m just dropping you a line to let you know I am running a workshop for those working with clients who experience sexual pain. This group of clients has a particularly difficult time finding practitioners who will believe them and be able to help them. I’m passionate about helping people get the help they need and keen to share all that I have learned in 15 years practice as a sexologist.
The workshop details are here:
I would be ever so grateful if you could share this with colleagues. Social media don’t like things to do with sex and ban most of my workshop promotions.
Tanya’s last last sentence is particularly important I think – in this day and age of (most significantly) American fear and paranoia about sex and sexuality – especially on social media – it’s actually really hard for individuals who have problems around sex and sexuality to get the information that they need to be able to find the treatment or services that they need.
It never ceases to surprise me how many women who book sessions with me tell me that until say, seeing an article in the news paper, they didn’t even know that straight male escorts for women were a thing that existed – let alone were a service that they could use. Sex work has few places to exist “publicly” on the internet (meaning communal spaces like social media) and we can debate the merits of that censorship. But it is without doubt wrong that matters of sexual health be excluded from these spaces.
If you have a need for sexual health services – don’t despair. There are professionals like Tanya out there who can assist you and it’s worth investing the effort to find them and make a start on improving you life!
You may be aware that an Australian woman living with multiple sclerosis challenged our National Disability Insurance Scheme and won when they rejected her request for the NDIS to fund a therapist to provide her with regular sexual release.
This is a huge step forward in the recognition of sex as a natural and fundamental part of the human condition and that people with disabilities deserve it too.
Sadly though that is where the politician stepped in (from the article).
“Minister for the NDIS, Stuart Robert, said that ruling was out of line with community expectations.
‘The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) intends to appeal the recent decision,’ he said.
‘The current position continues to be that the NDIS does not cover sexual services, sexual therapy or sex workers in a participant’s NDIS plan.'”
First – can I just say that it is nice to see a politician (particularly a conservative one) using the term “sex worker”. It’s rare and appreciated.
Sadly though Stuart Robert then fails to be a leader and reverts to nebulous conservative morality to justify appealing against the decision.
He claims that the NDIS funding sexual service for people who cannot experience sex because of their disability is not in line with “community expectations”.
There is a lot to unpack here.
The first is the idea that “the community” has a right to tell people what they can and can’t do in the bedroom. I think that we have, through things like the decriminalisation of homosexuality and indeed sex work here in NSW (and the Australian Capital Territory, and New Zealand), established that “the community” has no right to tell consenting adults what they can and can’t do to each other.
The second is that a minister of our government is hide bound to follow “community expectations”. This is absurd. Ministers make unpopular decisions regularly, they do so – they will tell you – for the good of the nation, to protect minorities, the environment etc.
So Stuart Robert claiming that he is duty bound to challenge the ruling because “the community” wouldn’t like people with disabilities being able to enjoy basic sexual release is nothing more than abdicating his responsibility as a minister and failing to be a true leader. Stuart Robert – if you are listening: man up and do your job.
Also – has Robert Stuart actually asked “the community” what we want? I’m fairly sure this question has never been polled anywhere, that being the case it’s even worse than abdication. He’s just deflecting and using the presumed moral authority (of “the community) to avoid having to take a stance that his party and his (presumably conservative) electorate might not like (read: he’s afraid he won’t get re-elected if he lets people with disabilities have an occasional shag).
As a straight male sex worker (escort) for women, I have been working with women with disabilities for almost my entire career. I know absolutely how important having intimate touch and the ability to enjoy and experience their sexuality is.
But personal experience shouldn’t even be necessary. Do we – does Stuart Robert – have no ability to empathise? Has he ever stopped to imagine never having someone touch him again in a sexual way? How about never being touched and being unable to even touch himself?
This is the reality of life for many of my clients with disabilities. And it’s not their fault. It’s just what they live with because life dealt them a shitty hand.
We happily fund or subsidise (through the NDIS) education, physical therapy, medication, accommodation, travel, and more for people who we as a society recognise are unable or disadvantaged to get those things for themselves because of their disability.
The only way that we can justify not funding sexual services as part of an NDIS plan is if we believe that sex isn’t an integral part of the human experience. I know that I personally need sex in my life to be a happy and fulfilled person. If I don’t have it, then it seriously impacts on my quality of life.
This is a message that I hear from my clients – able bodied or otherwise – regularly.
So why would “the community” have a problem with the NDIS allowing people with disabilities to occasionally enjoy what most of us take for granted?
My entire life society has been telling me a lie. I’m sure that you have heard this lie too. And if you are aware of your needs as a sexual human being – and especially if they are not being fulfilled – then you are probably acutely aware of that lie.
Sex doesn’t matter. It should come after every other responsibility in your life.
We hear this lie all the time. Everywhere. It usually won’t be explicit – unless we actually say that we want and need the sex that we are not getting – it’s usually a more subtle pressure…
Study has to be your priority, you don’t have time for a girlfriend/boyfriend.
Work comes first – you have to build a career…
As a parent you have to make sacrifices…
Each of these things are important. We do have to study if we want to improve our chances of getting the education and job that we want. We do have to build a career to provide for ourselves and our family. We do need to look after and provide for our children.
But these things shouldn’t always come at the expense of having a rewarding and satisfying sex life. If they do, then where is the room for having a sex life at all? Because we can always study more. Always work harder. Family will never stop making demands on us…
Part of the problem is that society tells us that we are only allowed to have sex under certain circumstances (in a relationship primarily). But what if we don’t want to have a relationship? Or what if we have a relationship, but it’s sexless? What if we are trying to find a relationship, but we can’t?
Why should a person be excluded from having physical intimacy just because we can’t be what society wants us to be?
At the end of the day, if you are a person who likes and needs sex in their life, then being denied sex will have real consequences emotionally. I know this, because I have been there. For much of my life I couldn’t have the sex that I wanted to. Now as a male sex worker for women, I have enough sex that I am satisfied – and I can see how it makes a difference to my mental health, my ability to concentrate.
Having a fulfilling sex life has literally changed the way my mind works, where once sex was a distraction that ate into my attention every day, now it is something that is in balance with the rest of my life. Letting me concentrate on other things as well that bring joy to my life that may once have been excluded by an unsatisfied need.
I know that I am not alone in feeling this way – because it is something that I hear semi-regularly from the women I meet through my work.
So, if you feel that you need more sex in your life – don’t let anyone tell you that it is not a valid way to feel. It’s ok to own your feelings. And it’s ok to want sex
A former client sent me a link today to an article in the Canberra Times about a (UK) woman struggling with the lack of sex life and the sexuality of her autistic son (hi S – thank you!). You can see the article here:
I’m extremely sympathetic to the family. Autism is not something that I would wish on any one, and I am sure that it presents a unique challenge when it comes to dating and relationships.
I was however disappointed by the language and tone of conservatism of the article (written by the young man’s mother). It was a sharp reminder that prejudice against my industry – despite being variously decriminalised (as in NSW and NZ) or legal (as in many other parts of Australia and the UK, where the author lives), the average person’s opinions seem to be stuck in the ’50s.
“Kerb-crawling to pick up a prostitute was definitely not on my to-do list after “Buy hummus, sort sock drawer, do Pilates”
Come on – it’s 2017, you do Pilates, and have raised an autistic child (and no doubt dealt with issues of discrimination and disability phobia for much of his life). Street sex work (not prostitution please – it’s a pejorative term) is mostly a thing of the (certainly in Australia, although it does still happen in the UK) past in this country. The Internet and mobile phones have seen to that – and sex work is safer and easier because of it.
“Our female friends were furious that we could even consider condoning prostitution. I tried to rationalise it by saying that I thought of a lady of the night more as a “sex care provider who is presenting herself as a commodity allotment within a business doctrine”. But it didn’t convince them.”
For everyone out there still stuck in a time warp, let me say it loud and clear: “sex work is work”. The author actually has it right here. Yes, sex workers (and we aren’t all women and we even work during the day) like me are people engaged in a business that isn’t a criminal enterprise – and seriously you need to check your moral outrage.
The irrational discrimination against both sex worker’s and the people who choose to see them is never more clear than when you are dealing with disability. There are people out there (male, female et al) who find it very, very hard, or impossible to have a safe, consensual sexual experience because of their disability. Yet these moral authorities of the community would deny the opportunity for disable people to ever experience something that these moral arbiters take for granted? Shame on them. I thought that we had evolved socially past that kind of behaviour.
Who are these faceless “female friends” – and why do they get to determine whether a 21 year old autistic man (or anyone else) gets to have sex and under what conditions?
“all my 50-something, divorced female friends are chewing holes in the furniture with sexual frustration”
Yet, I’m guessing that many of those same women would join in the condemnation described above. It’s dysfunctional and it hurts all sorts of people – especially those with disabilities – for no good reason at all. We really, really need to grow up.
As to the author’s dilemma, I am saddened that she, nor any of her friends with autistic children, ever thought to type the following into Google…
“sex for disabled persons UK”
If she had, she would have seen these links at the top of the search results…
There are many, many people out there in the world working hard to give disabled people access to the sexual experiences that the rest of us take for granted. Organisations like Touching Base here in Australia do a fantastic job of giving people with disabilities access to safe, consensual sex.
Despite all of the (often valid) criticism of western culture, lets not forget that our various societies have done many, many good things. I have heard it said that you can measure the worth of a society by how it treats its most vulnerable members. I am proud to say that I live in a society that is beginning to tackle and resolve the issues of sex and disability.
There is a long way to go, but just being able to say that in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK among others, that a disabled person can choose to engage the services of a sex worker like myself – that’s a huge victory for acceptance, respect, and compassion.
I wish Kathy Lette and her son well, and hope her book is a success, but I would also like to see her educate herself further if she is going to be a public figure in the discussion of sex work and disability. There is a lot riding on these discussions for a lot of very disadvantaged people.
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.
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.
I think that the article is a reasonalbe and sensible wrap up of sex work. In summary “sex workers are people too, so why not be nice to them”. Ok, that might be a little glib, but you take my point I hope.
For the first time every I have managed to get a comment published. I was prompted to firstly by the question raised in the article of whether male sex workers (like myself) and their clients have a different experience of the industry and the general “shaming” that goes on against sex workers.
What has delighted me constantly over the years that I have worked as an escort is the huge amount of support that I have had from both clients and from the few people in my life who I have told about what I do.
So here’s my point, amplified by the many mindless comments on the artile linked above that dismiss prostitution out of hand: being able to come to someone like me for companionship, intimacy, and sex is a vital option for both men and women to have in our society. Why? Because all too often the nature of our society doesn’t provide those things for people. Perhaps they have been in an abusive relationship (emotionally, or physically) and need someone they can absolutely trust to help them repair their self-esteem, or accept intimacy again, or have a disability that prevents them from forming a conventional relationship in the first place. Or perhaps they just want and need physical company right now, but don’t have a socially acceptable relationship to provide it.
The reasons are many and varied, but you can be absolutely sure that when people start making blanket statements about prostitution being bad/demeaning/imoral etc that the person has never worked in the industry, and probably never actually needed the services themselves (“need” being distinct here from just having indulged).
This isn’t to say that a person has to have a specific need to use my services. But it begs the question of why can’t we treat sex as something fun to do? People in relationships have sex for fun all the time, so why shouldn’t someone who isn’t in a relationship choose to buy sex for fun?
At the end of the day I like seeing discussion of sexuality in the media. It may attract the trolls and nutters to denounce it as evil, but every article raises questions and gets people thinking and talking about the issues. Which has to be a good thing.
This is just a quick post to say thank you to the very generous ladies who have contributed donations to my fund to make my services more affordable for people with disabilities.
The total raised so far is $330, which is quite amazing for so short a time. I am just $170 off my second $250 goal which will allow two people with disabilities to receive a discount on my service in the new year, so please keep the generosity flowing :-)
I have started the fund off with a donation from myself and my partner of $100. That means that we just need another $150 to reach the first goal and give someone who really deserves it the Christmas present of, well, me! So, drop me a line, or send me a text and give a few dollars. As worthy causes go, it is one that very few people even know of, let alone care about. People with disabilites deserve the oportunity to experience their sexuality, just like the rest of us!
The Australian organisation People With Disabilities contacted me recently to ask if I would be interested in providing escort services for the people who they represent. I am told that sadly there are very few male escorts for women who provide services for the disabled.
I have to say that I feel quite honoured to have been invited by PWD to assist them. I am looking forward to working with their staff and clients and taking my services to a group of people who are so often overlooked in our society.
So thank you PWD for this opportunity, I look forward to making a difference for some deserving women.