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,

By Leandro Neumann Ciuffo from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Mina da passagemUploaded by Markos90, CC BY 2.0,

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.


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!


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.


Sense8 sex

I don’t mind a bit of television in my down time, and I have been interested to see over the years how the depiction of sex has evolved in popular culture (like TV). Sex in mainstream movies is still very tame – hamstrung by the need to meet sensors requirements, directors tend not to risk too much, lest their work be shredded under the sensor’s knife. Television though, with its long format, high volume, and (relatively) low cost can try things that are more risky.

netflix-sense8So. I recently started watching the series Sense8. If you liked the series Heroes then Sense8 may appeal. It is written by the Wachowski siblings (who are more commonly known for movie scripts and directing), and as a result has a really interesting relationship with sex, sexuality, and gender identity. There are gay male characters, lesbian characters, a transgender character, a straight woman who loves gay male porn, the list goes on. It has to be the most sexually diverse range of characters ever assembled.

This is not so surprising though since Lana Wachowski, one half of the Wachowski siblings (born Laurance), underwent gender reassignment to become Lana around 2008. As such, I am sure that the transgender character in Sense8 will be at least in part auto-biographical. And there is nothing like an intense personal experience to give a story depth and impact.

What was most surprising though was a sex scene that (without giving away too much I hope) involved at least eleven characters. Yes, it was basically an orgy that included full frontal male and female nudity, female masturbation, gay male sex, lesbian sex, heterosexual sex. And more cross-gender and inter-gender kissing, cuddling, groping, and orgasms than you can handle.

It was seriously hot. And very, well done. Perhaps just the shock of what was actually being shown was part of why it worked so well. I have never, ever seen anything like it outside of porn – and then the production values, acting, and direction would not come close. It was genuinely interesting sex that made sense in the story without being gratuitous at all really.

So while Sense8 is mostly just fun action drama type television, it also has a very serious side. It is challenging perceptions about gender, it is challenging perceptions about what is erotic and when and where it is appropriate to show. And best of all I think, it is showing that sex is (or should be) a part of everyone’s life. It’s not something reserved for porn stars, or for actors in movies, and it doesn’t have to be the peak of some plot point. It’s for everyone, regardless of how you see yourself and how others see you. It’s for first thing when you wake up in the morning. Or last thing at night. And really any time in between. All you need is to feel that it’s right, be that solo, with a friend, a lover, or more.

It’s not about conforming to other peoples’ ideas of “sexy”. It’s you experiencing your body, your desires, you mind, and other bodies, other minds, other desires and finding out how they work best for you.

So I am saying thank you to Sense8 and the Wachowski siblings, the cast and crew. It takes guts and determination to make something that pushes boundaries. I am sure that much of conservative America (and Australia) will have real trouble with it, but I am hoping that the show will sell well, the studio make its profit, and subsequent seasons be produced.

I have a strong desire to see sex portrayed in a more realistic and well produced way on screen and I think that this is a leap (not a step) in that direction.


It’s time that we had REAL sex education

Following on from my recent post about beauty in our society I want to write something about sex education. It’s a topic that I have cared about since my ok, but rudimentary sex education in high school. I was prompted today by this article in the local paper. From the article:

So it is not uncommon then for a female student to graduate high school having never received any formal education on topics such as natural lubrication, the clitoris, female masturbation or the female orgasm, even though the male equivalent of these topics were first broached way back in primary school.

The inherent asymmetry this creates then stigmatises female pleasure, while reinforcing a phallocentric model of sex. Thus male pleasure is centrally coded into the experience and attributed hyper significance, while the female orgasm is treated as taboo, embarrassing, irrelevant or even non-existent.

Worse still, by erasing female needs and prioritising male needs as paramount, the current model of sex education normalises male entitlement and perpetuates female voicelessness. At a fundamental level, this reinforces the same gender stereotypes and patterns which give rise to sexual violence and intimate partner violence.

For Manon and Lyndsay, this all points to a need for urgent reform, starting with more consultation with young women.

I couldn’t agree more about the need for reform. Also for the participation of young people (girls and boys). And that when we neglect to make sex education broad and inclusive of both genders (and a range of ages!), we help to entrench stereotypes that marginalise women and their right to self knowledge and sexual pleasure.

It is a regular occurrence for me that I meet women who have little connection with their bodies and their sexuality, who have difficulty achieving orgasm, and generally have a hard time enjoying sex. It happens so often that I specifically offer “therapeutic” services to try to assist women and give them a better sex life. It is enjoyable and rewarding work for me, but in an ideal world it would not be necessary.

To this end I have often thought about (collaboratively) writing a set of ebooks for young (and not so young) people about all aspects of sexuality. Not just the biology of reproduction like I was taught at school, but about relationships (straight, gay, bi, open, closed, and poly), kissing, masturbation, oral sex, contraception, consent, peer pressure, penetrative sex, breaking up, emotions, porn, and anything else that people wanted to hear about.

Importantly I think that this sort of material shouldn’t be “one size fits all”, but revised or expanded for gender, orientation, and age. Young people need access to this information, but even us adults need it too some times.

And we now live in an age where (thanks to the magic of computers, smartphones, tablets, and the Internet) we have the ideal means of distribution and totally private viewing for this sort of material. In short the time has never been better to solve this problem.

Having said that, I guess it’s time to put my money where my mouth is and write something. So, a question for my readers: as a young person (or as an adult), what aspect of sexuality would you have liked most to be able to pick up a short e-book and read about?

In hindsight, as a teenage male, I would have benefited most from a book about masturbation for boys/men. I suffered for many, many years with premature ejaculation (ironic I know, given what I do now!) and I can absolutely attribute that to having no idea about how I should have been learning to masturbate – with a view to having a healthy sex life once I had a partner to share sex with. Just a few basic tips would have made my sex life (and that of my first three partners) much more enjoyable.

So, please let me know what you think. I am very interested to hear your thoughts.


The Petra Joy – Joy Awards … first prize!

Back in April a client asked me if I would help her to make a short erotic film about her experience of hiring me.  Our date was one step in moving forward in her life and getting over a bad marriage.  The film was to be entered in the Petra Joy – Joy Award, a short film contest for first time female directors of erotica.

The journey through script writing, storyboarding, filming, post production editing, sound recording, score production, and then rendering of the finished movie was an amazing experience.  Not something that I have ever done at such a serious level.

The result was a short film (3 minutes 40 second long) that was unanimously voted to be the best submitted to the award this year.  Interestingly the second prize went to a woman in Melbourne!  So Australia was well represented in the Joy Awards this year.


101 Vaginas – a pictorial project to change perceptions

I came across an interesting project today on the Pozible crowd source funding website.

About the project: What is 101 Vagina?

Please see the main project website here:

“101 Vagina is about breaking down the taboos and shame around our bodies in general and vaginas in particular, to celebrate diversity and generate dialogue.

It will be a coffee table photo book with 101 black & white photos and an accompanying message from or about the woman’s vagina.”


Ok, firstly, I am not going to take them to task (too much) about the name.  Really, it should be 101 Vulvas, since thats what they are talking about.  It seems to be a very common misconception.  A woman’s external genitals is called her vulva.  The vagina is all internal.

While I am all for breaking taboos and setting people straight on what a “normal” pussy can look like, I am also big on getting the terminology right!

Still, this strikes me as a good project.  Something to strike a blow against the airbrushed anonymity of how pussies have been made to look thanks to John Howard and his ilk passing laws preventing a woman’s inner labia being shown in R18+ rated material sold in this country.

This kind political and moralistic insanity has resulted in countless women undergoing unnecessary surgery to have the size of their inner labia reduced because they have been made to feel insecure about the way that their pussy looks.

I have written about this issue before here, but I love the idea of this book and now that I have a coffee table (!) I most definitely want to have this book on it.

I have pledged $100 to the production of the book, so fingers crossed that it hits its target!


What is 101 Vagina?

Please see the main project website here:

101 Vagina is about breaking down the taboos and shame around our bodies in general and vaginas in particular, to celebrate diversity and generate dialogue.

It will be a coffee table photo book with 101 black & white photos and an accompanying message from or about the woman’s vagina.

Fifty Shades …

Ok, it’s time to talk about Fifty Shades of Grey.

Note: this post talks about BDSM and actual experiences of this fantasy.
If you are not comfortable reading about these concepts then please don’t continue reading this post.

I have stayed away from this topic since Fifty Shades exploded into popular culture because I haven’t been clear in my head about how I feel about the books and their portrayal of BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism). Last night though I had a conversation with a friend that set it all in perspective for me.

As with any work of fiction there will be people who love Fifty shades, people who hate it, and people who just don’t care much.

What has become clear to me though is that regardless of Fifty Shades merit (be that literary quality, BDSM accuracy, psychological etc) it has tapped into something profound in the psychology of many women.  A book doesn’t need to be great, or even good to inspire people, get them thinking, and open new doors for them.  Lets face it, no-one is actually going to live out the story of Fifty Shades in real life (if for no other reason than young self-made billionaires are hard to come by and are pretty hotly contested property).

But this is the point.  Fifty Shades, like all erotica, is about fantasy and what it inspires in you, not about slavish re-creation.

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