Minister Stuart Robert! The NDIS should fund sex services

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.

You can read about the case here:

https://www.google.com/amp/amp.abc.net.au/article/11298838

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?

John.

I’m a male sex worker for women – but what is my purpose?

The obvious answer to this questions is: to give pleasure, sex, companionship, and comfort.

I do all of these things and those things as goals in and of themselves are perfectly reasonable and valuable.

But.

The longer that I do this job, the more I realise that for the women and couples who come to me, I am doing those things, but I am also doing something deeper. I’m helping them to find a way to live better lives.

It’s a rule (sort of) in writing dialog for a story that the characters never just say what they are thinking, or what they mean. Because in real life we don’t do that. Human beings are complex. We have fears. We have desires and needs. And these are things that we often cannot just say out loud for fear of judgement. Of loss. Of embarrassment.

So rather than saying what we need or want, we say what we think will help us get what we want without exposing our vulnerabilities.

In a similar way, people who come to me may not be able to say to their partner, or perhaps even articulate for themselves that what they need is a certain kind of human connection. A certain kind of fulfillment. But they know that having sex, spending time with someone who won’t judge them, being able to release the things that they normally feel compelled to hold in, will give them something that they don’t otherwise get.

It will make them happier, more fulfilled, more relaxed, and able to live their lives a little better.

I have the privilege to be able to help people to do that and while the giving of temporary pleasure is rewarding, what is even better in the long term is seeing people grow and find a better life. Not everyone who comes to see me has such catharsis – and not everyone even needs to. Sex can just be sex. But it can also be much, much more.

John.

“I never thought that I would be doing this…”

John Oh portrait

A regular refrain that I hear from new clients is: “I never thought that I would be doing this…”.

Growing up, we are fed narratives about how life is going to be, from before we can even understand the concepts. Fairy tales are full of “happily ever after” tropes that the real world simply cannot ever deliver to us.

I want to talk about who we are as humans and how finding yourself in a situation where you are considering paying for sex – that while it might feel like a kind of failure, if we listen to the fairy tales – is in fact the exact opposite. It represents personal power, choice, and liberation. Not lack of choice and failure.

But that’s not how society at large sees the choice of buying sex. Most of my clients won’t confide in anyone that they are seeing a sex worker for fear of judgement. And that is a very reasonable assumption to make. People, especially when they are unsure if they themselves may be judged, will revert to expressing conservative values to be safe.

If you are having a conversation with a group of people about sex and possibly sex work, then the group assumption will be that expressing an overt interest in sex is a bad thing. So everyone will try to avoid sounding too interested.

However, there may be one person who is prepared to take a bit of a stand and challenge the group narrative. And while you can be sure that some people in the group really are conservative about sex, you can also be certain that some, like you, aren’t!

It is a sad truth that many of us (most even?) live our lives wanting to explore our sexuality, but not having people to talk to about it, let alone do it with.

This really needs to change. There are some small signs that things are changing – like therapists starting to refer women to me. But in general, we remain conservative and cautious about sex and sexuality when we are in groups.

For some people though – the women and couples who I meet through my work – they reach a point where they need to act. They don’t want to upend their lives, marriages, or family to be able to explore their sexuality further, but they also don’t want to live their lives wonder “what could be…”.

So, like most problems these days, people turn to Google and some of them land here on my website.

If you have made it this far – congratulations! – that is I think the hardest part. Once we realise that we can take control of our sexuality, then it’s just a matter of finding the right solution for you.

For some people it’s Tinder. Or that person at work you always felt was interested. For others though, a sex worker is ideal – we are safe, we are discrete, we are convenient, we are experienced, and most of all we are non-judgmental.

So what is the lesson here?

For me it is: “society” doesn’t want you to own your sexuality. It definitely doesn’t want you to explore it in ways that don’t align with “traditional values and systems” (like marriage and monogamy). And it will always try to police you to make you conform.

The good news is that once you realise that you don’t have to comply with society, then the options available to you to find sexual fulfillment are wide open – and if sex workers are appropriate for you, then we are here and ready to help.

John.

Sex and bullying

It is not an overstatement, I believe, to say that for many of us, society often bullies us out of having the sex that we want to have.

My memories of my late teens and twenties was of profound curiosity about sex. Granted, it was a relatively shallow, mostly hetero curiosity – but we can only be curious about the things that we know exist, so I don’t beat myself up about that. If society refuses to educate you, then ignorance isn’t your fault. Just your challenge to overcome.

As a straight male sex worker for women, I am exposed to a far wider variety of sexualities than I ever was growing up. It’s something that I am very grateful for. Even though I have no interest in and get no arousal from most of them, it has made me a more worldly and (most important) tolerant person.

I would derive no pleasure from ball busting. And have no interest in sex with another man. But I FULLY support the rights of other people to indulge in those things – even if just the thought of some of them makes my eyes water!

So it’s saddening to look around at society and see so much judgement by people of others just because of what turns them on.

It’s frankly disgusting that people think it’s ok to police other people’s consensual pleasure.

This of course dovetails neatly with sex work. I love my job. My clients enjoy a service that fills a need in their lives that they cannot satisfy another way.

But always there are people braying on about how all sex work is exploitation, or abuse, or immoral. They seek to police what two (or more) consenting adults can do together in private, with no more authority than saying “I think this, so you must obey me”.

It is the most shallow of thinking and the most self-indulgent kind of activism that, while denying sex workers their autonomy and livelihood also tries to bully clients of sex workers into doubting themselves and the things they feel they need to make themselves whole.

John.

“Virginity” and having sex for the first time – ShortTakes

Having sex for the first time is rarely not a “big thing”.  For some people though it can become a huge thing in their lives.  Sex workers, are here to help.  In this series of ShortTakes I talk about how being left behind sexually can impact a person’s life – and how sex workers can help set things right.

As as straight male escort for women, I see up to half a dozen women a year who want to have sex for the first time – and to take control of that experience by seeing a sex worker like me.

We are here to help and we understand just how hard it can be getting over that hurdle of having sex for the first time!

Continue reading

Sex work and disability – a short video series

I have recently started posting a daily micro video blog to Twitter. This is the first series that I made and posted.

If you have a sex work topic that you would like to see me talk about, please feel free to let me know in a comment, email, or tweet.

John.

Enjoying a beautiful day

The last few weeks have been pretty rough for the sex work community world wide.  You may not be aware of this, but the US government has created new laws that make promoting sex work a felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

Sex work is still decriminalised here in NSW, Australia, but the ripple effect (more like a tidal wave) has effected sex worker even here through uncertainty, the closure of advertising platforms, and the creation of a climate of fear.

It’s been a stressful time watching friends and co-workers, both here and abroad losing their incomes, being persecuted, and generally having a very bad time.

It’s times like this that self care becomes important.  And while you may not be in my industry, I think that the lessons still transfer.  We all encounter stress in our lives and our jobs.  And that stress can be very damaging if we don’t recognise it and give ourselves the time and space to recover from it.

I know that many of my clients come to see me for exactly that reason.  You don’t need to visit a sex worker though – it can be as easy as getting out in the sunshine – which is what I did today, taking my camera with me.  So here are a couple of photos of me from sunny Darlinghurst in Sydney for you.

Sex work, disability, and public discourse

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:

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/sex-and-relationships/i-learned-through-my-sons-autism-diagnosis-when-it-comes-to-sex-we-all-have-special-needs-20170426-gvssam.html

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.

John.

The joyful nude

It’s not that often that you come across an article that is genuinely positive about body image in a non-preachy, no agenda kind of way. But this one fits the bill.

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellbeing/can-spending-time-naked-really-improve-our-selfesteem-20170329-gv8yxx.html

It’s nice to see a journalist writing about personal experience and taking a risk themselves. And that’s not to disparage journalists – I know it’s a tough industry, especially these days – but I am still waiting for the journalist to write a piece about sex workers from a position of personal experience, and really own it – yes people pay for sex. Yes, it’s ok to like it, or not – whatever, this was my experience.

Anyway, back to the article – it’s great that someone is saying hey it’s ok to be nude, it’s good to get in touch with your self, experience some vulnerability, and grow a little as a person.

Everyone has issues with their body and self image – doesn’t matter what our age is, young, old, in-between – there will always be something that we can find to be unhappy with. But it doesn’t have to be a problem. We don’t need to be perfect to enjoy our bodies. And we certainly don’t need to be perfect to enjoy sex. Being more comfortable in ourselves though will definitely make the latter easier and better.

John.