The condom conundrum – and how to fix it!

Women of the world, you need to know something about guys, sex, and condoms: men are caught upon the horns of a dilemma – and it matters to you as much as us.

2016-10-21-12-18-18Background: I talk to a lot of women. It’s literally my job. And what I often hear from women who are participating in The Dating Scene is: guys hate condoms and will try to get out of wearing them.

That is fine if everyone is consenting and everyone is getting tested regularly for STIs. But that’s rarely the case and so there is general unhappiness and often bad behaviour.

This post is about trying to understand one of the (probably) multiple reasons that guys have an issue with condoms – and most importantly, what can be done to help. First off, many guys are just selfish and uneducated, they don’t perceive, or understand the risks of unprotected sex, they just want sex on their terms. I am not talking about them.

The specific issue I want to address is about sensitivity and maintaining an erection. Most men are literally in a no win situation here. If a man has a well balanced level of sensitivity that during unprotected sex allows him to go for as long as he and his partner desire, then it’s a safe bet that when he puts on a condom for protected sex, that he is going to have trouble maintaining an erection – and even achieving orgasm.

This is not his fault – it’s not even a failing. It’s a perfectly normal biological response. Male arousal is a constant act of balance (between staying hard and coming too quickly), one that is affected by myriad factors – and putting on, or taking off a condom throws that entire balancing act out of whack.

Now imagine going the other way: a man who can last happily wearing a condom, has sex with his partner without one. It’s like having the pleasure dial turned ALL THE WAY UP TO TEN. Condoms cut down the intensity of sensation. They also decrease the exquisite detail of sensation that comes from unprotected sex. That man isn’t going to last. He is going to orgasm in minutes, or even seconds.

Having lived with and overcome premature ejaculation, I can say from experience that you can’t just “adapt” to condoms one day, no condoms the next. Our arousal pattern and sexual response is a learned skill. One that is deeply tied up in things like self image, emotional and physical maturity, ego etc. Changing it takes time, effort, and usually help (ideally from a caring partner).

So there is the dilemma: if you are good with condoms, you will have trouble with unprotected sex. If you are chilled out and can savour unprotected sex, then condoms will be a nightmare of limp dick and disappointment all round. There is just no winning.

There is however a solution. The solution is that well known, but little understood friend of erectile dysfunction – Viagra (or one of it’s off label equivalents).

But say the name and men and women alike often get very uncomfortable… from “You can’t have sex with me without taking Viagra? Then you must not find me attractive”, to: “If I have to take it, that means I must be a failure – there is something wrong with me…”

Neither of these things are true, but we are talking about human psychology here. We are all slaves to our subconscious fears until we educate ourselves.

So, here’s a little background on Viagra:

  1. It’s not a magic pill that gives you an erection. What it does is allow you to sustain an erection more easily IF you can get one. So, if a guy isn’t turned on by the though of sex with a woman then Viagra or not, he will not get an erection. If he is aroused, then he will get a bigger, harder, longer lasting erection if he has taken it
  2. Because it increases the hardness of an erection, it also increases sensation and sensitivity (an excellent side effect if you have to use condoms!)
  3. It has side effects if you don’t use it correctly, like headaches (it’s a vaso-dilator, so take too big a dose on an empty stomach and it will basically give you a migraine headache), it can also cause elevated heart rate (again, vaso-dilator, so your heart has to work harder to keep your blood pressure up). Disturbed vision (people report getting a blue tinge to their eyesight as the blue light receptors in the eye ball become more responsive when blood flow in the retina is boosted). Like any medication, you really need to talk to your doctor about it and make sure that it is safe for you too take
  4. It’s pretty cheap now that the patent has expired
  5. It takes between half and one hour to take effect
  6. The dose (between 25mg and 100mg) will depend on your size and weight. If you are 80 kgs or so, then 50mg should be enough. Bigger or smaller, then adjust the dose accordingly
  7. Take it with food for slower, longer lasting effect and less chance of side-effects like migraine

You have probably already guessed where I am going with all of this, so here’s the “money shot”:

If you are having sex with a partner with condoms and he can’t keep an erection (possibly leading to bad behaviour and pressuring you to have unprotected sex when you are unsure about your respective STI statuses) then he may not just be a jerk. He may actually have a genuine issue that he doesn’t understand very well and is self-conscious or embarrassed about.

If that is the case, then you need to talk to him about Viagra. I know that this shouldn’t be your responsibility, but you can help turn a huge issue for both of you into a non-issue that gets everyone most of what they want, safely.

Needing to take Viagra can seem like a blow to the ego – for both men and women! But I have come to see it as being almost as essential a part of anyone’s “safer sex kit” as condoms. Why? Because just like good personal lubricant (I recommend Sylk) it makes it easier to use condoms effectively. And if they are easy to use, then they are more likely to be used.

I am not going to recommend that ladies keep their own personal stash of Viagra to give to partners – because it’s a prescription drug that should be used under medical supervision.

But I can say: ladies, if you have a partner who can’t keep an erection with a condom, then you should encourage him to see a GP and ask for Viagra, because practicing safe sex makes it difficult for him to keep an erection. GPs will love hearing that and will be more than happy to help him have good sex safely.

For any men reading this: if you carry condoms because you might have sex and are worried about keeping an erection, then get Viagra and carry both.

More importantly: if you don’t carry condoms, or refuse to use them because they feel bad, or you can’t keep an erection, then you seriously need to try Viagra. It’s not a magic solution, but it makes condoms perfectly acceptable to use, and it’s the sane, safe, sensible thing to do for your health and your partners.

John.

Yoga and being over forty

Seven Reasons Why Every Man Should Take up Yoga” – it’s the title of an article I read today. It could have been an average puff piece with little substance, but it turned out to be a worthwhile read. And I am certain that every reason is as much applicable to women as it is to men.

What really caught my attention though was that the article was written by a former cricketer Andrew May – and it focused on how yoga is especially beneficial to older men.

2016-09-08-14-29-42Everything that he said I have either experienced or could could relate to – specifically as a man who is now 44 years old. I’m not twenty-something (this is a good thing really) and I don’t have a young man’s body. Like Andrew May and his professional sporting colleges I have a legacy of injuries, large and small, I don’t heal as rapidly as I used to, I am not as flexible as I once was, my skin isn’t as elastic as it used to be, and I now tend to gain body fat more easily around my middle. All typical aspects of aging for men.

But that doesn’t in any way mean that I dislike my body, or feel bad about it, or don’t feel attractive. On the contrary, I love my body. And being older has actually brought some improvements. When I was in my twenties, I was always very lightly built. I’m no heavy weight now, but I have “filled out” you could say. My upper body is larger and stronger and I build muscle much more easily and quickly than I ever did in my twenties.

Anyway, for many people – male or female – aging is a huge challenge for our perception of self. We are no longer the person we feel we should be. Our body is busy betraying us, and of course work and family life make it all so, so much harder.

Andrew May’s response is that yoga is the answer – and I honestly can’t disagree.

I personally prefer pilates to yoga, but they share enough basic principals (like flexibility, core strength and stability, and control) that I personally feel they are interchangeable. 10 years ago, pilates gave me a solution to a lifetime of back trouble that started when I was 15 years old.

Andrew May observed that doing yoga bought him “better mates”, better mood, and better sexual function (amongst other things). Unexpected benefits perhaps, but I would say that it shouldn’t be a surprise really. Undertaking a discipline like yoga is completely at odds with the permanently busy, consumerist lifestyle that so most of us are ruled by. Taking time out to stretch, to breath, to extend our bodies and our awareness of ourselves forces you to stop, to disconnect from the rest of the world and to just be, for a time at least.

It is no wonder I think that in doing so we can find broader benefits than being more flexible – and of course there is nothing here that says women can’t benefit just as much as us men!

John.

Being nervous is really good

Nearly every email or text message that I receive from a someone contacting me for the first time includes in it somewhere:

“I am quite nervous about contacting you”

It’s entirely understandable to be nervous contacting me. After all, it’s not every day that we break societies (mostly) unwritten laws that women aren’t meant to prioritise sex in their lives, let alone go out and seek it – especially from a male escort. Doing so is definitely pushing boundaries, and whether we are comfortable with our personal choice or not, going against the social norm and contacting a stranger to arrange a date – for sex – is almost certainly going to bring out the nerves and the butterflies in the stomach.

We can experience nervousness and treat it as a bad thing and let it make us question ourselves and our choices, or – and this is my favourite – we can embrace it. Being nervous is I think part of the fun of doing something that pushes your boundaries. Being nervous gives you energy, gives you a kind of excitement, it’s recognition that what you are doing isn’t just another hum-drum part of the every day – it’s new.

So let go of the doubt, let go of the desire for control and certainty and do something that’s a little bit scary, something new, something different. Stretch yourself. Challenge yourself. There are so many benefits to be had. And I’m not just talking about seeing an escort like me, or having sex. There is a whole world of challenges – big and small – out there. Why not take one on? There is so much to gain, and really, so little to lose.

John.

Have you ever wondered?

I semi-regularly meet women who have only ever had sex with one partner in their lives. It’s not at all surprising, as most western cultures are (still) quite big on chastity and monogamy.

The reality of course is that very few people – let alone couples – are able to live happy fulfilling lives this way. So women will sometimes contact me asking for help to expand their horizons and give them a new experience of sex with another partner.

As the saying goes “You don’t know what you don’t know”. This is especially true of sex. Experience is a good thing. And you truly can’t imagine what sex can be like having had only one partner.

That’s not to say that the sex with your first and only partner is necessarily bad. Just that having nothing to compare it to, you really can’t say, one way or the other. Even having some not great sex with some other people can be beneficial – it lets you know exactly how good you already have it. There is no “grass is greener” quandary. You know which side of the fence is best.

My personal observation is that sex is always different with different people. It’s never the same – and with good reason. Different bodies, different desires, different experiences, different places in our lives. All of these things go toward the experience that we have of sex with different people.

So I am all for more experience – and it is of course something that I specialise in. If you have ever wondered what sex could be like with another man and you have reached the point in your life where you are ready, and need that experience, then it would be my pleasure to help.

John.

This image used in this post was created by Leo Hidalgo and is licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Australian census and sex work

A lot of people have been talking about the census and the ABS’ decision to retain our names and addresses and to use them basically as they see fit to link to other information and databases.

It’s a privacy concern for everyone, but for me – and all other sex workers – it’s immediately worrying.

I just completed the census – and did so honestly.  But by doing so I have put myself at risk.  I stated that I am self employed, and that I am a sex worker providing companionship and sexual services for women.  And I had to put my name and address on that information.

By doing so I created a real risk that one day that data may be used against me in some way.

Living in NSW where sex work is legal, I have less reason to be concerned.  And Australia in general is fairly tolerant of sex work.  But we live in a time of creeping conservatism. Of governments and people becoming less tolerant and more judgmental.  And while today’s government may not care that I am a sex worker, what about next years?

And who knows in the future what data our government will share with other nations like the US in the name of chasing terrorists.  The US, where sex work is a matter of near hysterical fear.  Will my name end up on some TSA watch list in the US to prevent me entering the country?

This sort of thing may sound far fetched.  But really that’s the point.  We fight hard to win our freedoms, but just because we have them doesn’t mean that will always be the case.  So it’s important to think about all of the bad things that can come from giving our governments more power over us.

We were lucky this year, with the state government inquiry into the sex industry.  The government chose not to listen to the conservatives who hate sex work, the churches who hate sex, and the sex work antis who can’t or won’t believe that people can make informed choices about doing sex work.

Instead they listened to the voices of sex workers, scientists, police – and I expect the politicians and public servants who remember the bad old days when sex work was illegal and corruption was rife in the NSW police force because of it

My fear is that one day the census will become a treasure trove for a less benign government who sees a few votes in punishing sex workers, or excluding known sex workers from their country.

Paranoid?  Perhaps, but that is how we prevent overreach by our political class.

John.

The sex bots are coming (again)

It seems every year or two we see one of these articles: “THE SEX ROBOTS ARE COMING!” shout the headlines. Read the article though and it’s usually about one or two people working in the industry of robotics, or robotic research talking up the technology or spruking their products.  See here:

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/how-sex-robots-could-revolutionise-bedtime-20160609-gpfy6b.html

The story is changing though, gradually. As per this article (complete with smiling women smooching very plastic looking sci-fi robots) there are interesting and disturbing nuggets of information. for instance…

“Companion devices such as the Pepper robot are increasingly being used to provide company to elderly people, particularly in Asian countries such as Japan”

and…

“Prof Sharkey said there was evidence that companion devices were also being use by parents to keep their children company. Research from California indicated young children had emotionally bonded with the machines”

Now, it’s a vast leap to go from companion devices for the elderly to a robot who rocks your world in bed, but if you grow up as a child with ever more sophisticated companion devices (robots), then perhaps you will grow up to be an adult who is more comfortable with machines and machine sex than dealing with the messy, complicated, often painful world of sex with other humans. It could well happen. In fact I expect that it likely will happen.

But all of this – in my opinion – misses the point. Click bait headlines aside, it makes me ask the question: “what do we want from sex?” and ultimately “what does it mean to be human?”

I am regularly contacted by women who have difficulty in reaching orgasm, or difficulty being “in the moment” and enjoying sex. Our consumer society responds to that by saying that the solution is a new vibrator, or a more powerful vibrator, or an AI vibrator! And that may actually work for some time. Powerful stimulation that simply CANNOT be ignored may get you there for a while. But it’s really only a band-aid, over-riding the basic problem, and potentially causing more of it’s own (as your body decreases clitoral sensitivity in response to the very strong stimulation).

So my response is that if we can’t be “in the moment” for sex, if we can’t reach orgasm easily, then the answer lies not outside of us, but in our heads. We need to go back to basics – work out what is causing the problem in the first place: too busy and stressed with work? Unhappy in our relationship? Tired and stressed by family and commitments?

We need to either change our lives to reduce of remove the cause, or we need to learn how to be at peace anyway. A combination of both is, in my opinion, ideal.

So where does that leave sex robots? Honestly I’m not sure. Until such time as robots are intellectually and emotionally equivalent to humans, I can’t see how a robot can ever be a substitute for the sexual arousal that comes from the close physical and mental stimulation of another person. But if we reach that stage, then what really is the difference besides a synthetic body?

So basically we come full circle. If you want a healthy, satisfying sex life (with a human or a robot) then you are probably going to have to sort out your own head first. A task that I am always happy to help people with in the pursuit of better sex.

John.

Politics of the bra

As a man I will never need to worry about bras – proper fitting, discomfort, and – most of all – the politics of wearing or not wearing one. This article:

http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/why-is-my-choice-not-to-wear-a-bra-still-taboo-20160304-gnawq5.html

Was a surprise to me, but I guess I have to say, not too much of a surprise. After all, we are all human and people will always find a reason to be uncomfortable with other individuals around them. It’s sad that when a woman chooses not to wear a bra (which is a medically sound decision) she will be subject to public critiscism, by other women.

Just reading this article highlighted the complexity of the way human psychology works. Most of us, most of the time, don’t make decisions that are rational. We are for the most part reflexive creatures. Acting on our instincts before we even realise it, then creating justifications to defend our actions.

We can see it in the people who attack sex work as an industry. They have a problem with commercial sex and they try to hide it behind rhetoric about “saving” sex workers. We can also see it in people who attack, or denigrate the idea of a woman seeing a sex worker. Most of my clients are very selective about who they tell that they have or are going to see a sex worker like me.

There is always the fear that friends and relatives will disapprove and they will suffer from social stigmatisation as a result. It’s a very difficult situation.

In the years that I have been working in this industry I have seen it change – a lot. A big part of that change has been because of positive media attention, in this country. Articles published a few years ago about women buying sex transformed many people’s views. As a result, the industry grew significantly and many women started thinking about and making choices about their sex life that included being able to pay for sex and have it on their terms.

Women are choosing the see sex workers like me to have sex for the first time, to rediscover their bodies and their sexuality, to fill a need that the pressures of life and work prevent them from doing in traditional relationships – or just because they want to!

At the end of the day we can find all of the good reasons under the sun as to why a woman should be able to choose to pay a sex worker for their time and skills, but much like choosing to wear a bra, or not, it should be her choice, free of stigma. Free of judgment. And supported as her right.

John.

A study into women who buy sex – please help!

In recent times the global battle over peoples’ right to sell and buy sex has come to the shores of Australia. It’s been a difficult time for sex workers (male, female, and trans alike) in Australia. The media has mostly ignored us, preferring to print splashy pieces about “sex trafficking” and abuse from a vocal minority, rather than having an adult conversation about the realities of sex work, why we workers do it, why clients buy it, and what the harms and benefits are.

A big part of the picture of sew work that is missing is the story of women who buy sex (or might want to buy sex). The moral panic is always framed as “abusive men using womens’ bodies” – an untruth of it’s own – but it also (ironically) silences the voices of women who buy sex.

Part of the battle to debunk the moral outrage being spread in Australia by organisations like Collective Shout (who are vehemently opposed to sex work in any form) is hard data. To this end, if you have ever paid for sex, I would invite you to participate in this University of New South Wales study into women who buy sex. You can find more information and a link to participate here:

https://csrh.arts.unsw.edu.au/research/join-a-study/

Or you can email Hillary Caldwell directly: h.caldwell@student.unsw.edu.au

The only way to make good decisions about our society is to have good science, based on real data – something that this study will help provide.

As a sex worker who loves and values his job and – more importantly – sees the value of sex work to both provider and client, I would like to request anyone visiting here who buys sex to take part in this study. Yes it’s an imposition and it’s personal. But it’s necessary!

There is a high likelihood that NSW, one of only two places in the world where sex work is fully decriminalised will introduce a system of licensing in the near future as was done in Victoria and Queensland. And that’s a slipper slope, because the people who oppose us want sex work abolished, not regulated, or licensed, abolished entirely.

If you value being able to freely and legally buy the services of me and my colleagues, then we need – as a community – to take action to protect sex work from people who set their morality and opinions about sex and sex work above the truth, the evidence, and the greater good.

John.

Data mining and learning new tricks

Mastercard have been mining the data and come to a disturbing conclusion: people are buying memorable experiences, rather than goods in the post GFC world.

By Leandro Neumann Ciuffo from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Mina da passagemUploaded by Markos90, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19967318

By Leandro Neumann Ciuffo from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Mina da passagemUploaded by Markos90, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19967318

Aside: whenever someone talks about corporations data mining, it makes me think of this – thank you Scott Adams!

Anyway, that’s great if you are in the “memorable experience” business like me, but I guess that it sucks if you sell things for a living, or are part of the supply chain for making and selling things. As a one time industrial designer, I am feeling just a little bit smug about my career change!

It does however make me just a little bit hopeful for humanity to hear this news from Mastercard. Checking off “See the Eiffel Tower” on one’s bucket list may not lead to enlightenment exactly, but it’s definitely better than just buying more “things” to fill up the cupboards with.

At the end of the day, it is experiences that make our lives rich and open our eyes to possibilities that we would not otherwise have considered. This is especially true of our sexuality. Even my society spend a lot of time and effort trying to prevent people from having and enjoying sex. But, I know absolutely that it’s never too late to learn. Be it mathematics, cooking, music, or sex. We all have the ability to make ourselves better. It just takes the right moment and the right teacher. And as adults, we have a lifetime of experience and maturity behind us to make good use of the things we learn.

If you have never had an orgasm. Or you have difficulty reaching orgasm reliably. If you want to broaden your understanding of sex and what it can be. Or perhaps explore your kinky side. Then drop me an email, or a text and tell me what you would like to learn. It would be my pleasure to be your teacher.

John.