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 sex worker, 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.

I’m sorry I’ve been away – and how cool is it to be free to buy sex?

Those of you who visit my website regularly my be disappointed that I haven’t been posting here very much recently.  For that, I am sorry.  I intend to do better in the future!

To be honest, I have been distracted from writing for this site by a lot of things.  Traveling with clients for longer bookings has become a large part of my business.  I have also been dedicating some of my free time to photography and film making pursuits.  And most recently I have been spending time working on a series of daily short films about sex work advocacy.  It’s a topic that is very important to me and has become more so in recent times.

So all of these things have combined to leave precious little time and mental energy for writing these blog posts.  I intend to redress that balance and post more regularly.

Apropos my advocacy short films, we are living in strange times for sex worker, sex workers, and our clients.  Around the world regimes like the US, France, Canada, and others have been becoming more conservative about sex work, cracking down on it in the name of protecting workers (ironic I know) and fighting human trafficking (disingenuous at best).

Here in Australia generally, and New South Wales in particular we are incredibly lucky.  For reasons I can only partly explain, Australian politicians have become some of the most forward thinking in the world (along with our friends in New Zealand).  They have, for the most part, allowed sex workers and our clients to go about our business without judgement or interference (apart from South Australia where it is still illegal to sell sex and Queensland where, while legal, workers are harassed by police routinely).

I can’t express how important this is to women and to the industry of men like myself providing sex work services to women.  It’s a cliche that “men see sex workers”.  It’s something that society (sort of) accepts and generally turns a blind eye to – but definitely frowns upon.  But the idea of women seeing sex workers is still a “fresh” and controversial one.  To confirm that, just take a look at the tone of articles in the main stream media about the subject (it comes up semi regularly).  It’s usually somewhat breathless and lauds women paying for sex as leaders and ground breaking.  Which to some degree is true at the individual level – but the industry is well established and it’s really time that the conversation moved on from “Wow! She paid for sex…”.

For women in Australia and New Zealand, paying for sex is something they can choose to do at least without having to fear that they are breaking the law.  There are multiple reasons that some (most?) men may not be put off by barriers of legality, but I get the feeling that this is a bigger barrier for women.  So I am grateful that I live and work in a society that has removed another barrier from equality (or at least equal accessibility to sex work) for women.

As a result more and more women are choosing to explore their sexuality with sex workers (male and female).  A week doesn’t go by that I hear someone lament the failure that is “online dating”.  Tinder et al promised egalitarian access to sex for women, but in reality have just become deserts of bad male behaviour, even accentuating some of the worst traits.  Sex workers by contrast are a safe and convenient way to explore and learn when someone isn’t actively looking for a partner, or has a specific need to fill.

In recent times I have noticed and increase in the number of women looking for lessons on sexual techniques, like kissing, giving oral sex, erotic massage, and more.  This may be younger women with less experience wanting to improve their skills for potential partners – or older women, already in relationships who want to add some spice, or just be better lovers for their partners.

I think that it is fantastic that women are taking control of their sexuality, not just for personal pleasure, but as a means of improving their relationships.  Once again, sex work is showing that women not only love sex, but are perhaps *more* prepared than men to explore its possibilities.  I regularly hear clients say “I wish I could bring my husband to you to learn how to give oral”.

Well men – it’s time you lifted your game.  Your partners are out here, putting themselves out to learn how to give you better oral.  It’s time you returned the favour!  I can teach any man to give better oral sex.  To express more passion.  To be a better lover.

So while other countries are busy alternately deifying and vilifying sex and ultimately just leaving their citizens confused and unhappy about their sexuality, Australia and New Zealand are simply moving forward, making sexuality just another part of our lives.  Something to be respected, but also savored.

Thank you Australia.  I am lucky to live – and work – here.

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.

We need your help

If you are reading this, then it’s likely that you have at least contemplated purchasing the services of a sex worker.

If you live in NSW in Australia, then you have nothing to worry about – today – if however you live in Victoria, then your right as an adult to buy sex is under threat. The Victorian Liberal party has recently announced that they have adopted the “client criminalisation” model for regulating sex work (they call it “Nordic model” so it sounds nicer) and will take that policy to the next election in Victoria.

I don’t want to rehash why this is bad for everyone (including sex workers) in this post.  If you are interested, then google “why the Nordic model does not work”.  Suffice to say Amnesty International, the WHO, and basically anyone who values evidence and harm reduction has condemned it. Sadly, it’s popular in certain feminist circles that want to abolish sex work, and unsurprisingly with conservative and right wing political parties.

What’s happening in Victoria is the thin edge of the wedge in this country in what has, since the US recently past their FOSTA/SESTA laws, become an undeclared war on sex work.  NSW (and New Zealand) with our full decriminalisation of sex work sit, like calm little eyes, in a growing global storm.

Sex workers are uniquely vulnerable as a group.  Publicly supporting us and our right to work safely is very difficult for anyone given the stigma that surrounds our industry, so we tend to have to fight our battles on our own.

I am writing this though to ask for your support because it’s no-longer just about us.  If you would like to be, or are a client of sex workers, then the zeitgeist is trying to turn you into a criminal.  If you can publicly support the message that sex work is work (not abuse, not trafficking) then I for one will be very grateful.

If you can sign the various petitions calling for the protection of sex workers, that will definitely help.

You could also consider making a donation to the sex worker organisations that fight to protect people like me.  They do hugely important work helping to protect the rights and safety of sex workers, talking to government and media, conducting research, and more – all of it on very minimal funding.  In Victoria you can donate to the Vixen Collective and in NSW it’s Scarlet Alliance.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you too for any support you can give.

John

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.

Why – some of – my clients need cash

You may have noticed this article in Fairfax media recently:

In summary: the government wants to get ride of $100 notes to stop people working for cash and not declaring their income.

When you add this statement to the Reserve Banks recent statement about wanting to eliminate cash altogether, I start to smell a rat / feel the thin edge of the wedge. I have a very real worry that we are taking the first step toward losing cash completely, or at the very least the higher denominations.

As someone who is regularly paid in cash – for good reasons – it’s a worrying development. Not because I want to hide my income – I don’t, I put it in the bank, claim deductions for business expenses and then pay tax on any profit.

It’s worrying for at least two reasons. First: people use cash to pay me because it’s anonymous. Second: it’s easy and instant. Lets unpack those points:

Anonymity: when you do something that is legal – decriminialised even – but still the subject of stigmatisation and social disapproval, then having the name my business pop up in your credit card or debit card statement can be a HUGE problem. We don’t live in a society where people’s choices – especially about their sexuality – are respected. So cash allows people, who don’t want to have to answer to others about their choices, to purchase my services in private.

And that’s not even considering the consequences of malicious hacking of personal and business data about your spending habits – or its sale by banks to third parties to use in their marketing – just sit and consider the potential consequences of that for a moment. This kind of tracking and resale of purchase data has already had real world consequences.

Easy of use: our banking system is archaic – especially the electronic transfer system. It can literally take days for money to get from one bank to another. In short if you want to pay me electronically, then you need to do it in advance, in full – before you know if you even want my service. Cash on the other hand means that you can turn up to our date and decide that it’s not right for you and walk out the door. No harm, no foul, no trouble. But if you had to make an electronic payment in advance, then there is trouble, embarrassment, you have to give me bank details to make the refund, what about trust? What happens if something goes wrong?

If you can’t use cash, then paying for a service that is intensely personal and sensitive has another layer of stress and anxiety added to it.

In short, losing cash will hurt women’s ability to buy my services. To be sure, it will also be a problem for men as well, but men have significant advantages when it comes to social acceptance (or at least tolerance) of the things that they do compared to women.

Killing cash will make it harder for women to access legal services like mine. This is not a good thing for anyone.

John.

You have a right to expect a professional

It is a truism for me that change is the only constant in my industry. Every year brings new experiences and new groups of people seeking out the services of male escorts.

The most recent group I have met is women who have had several, or even many experiences with male escorts. This is new for me. Until recently, almost ever single client seeing me has never seen a male escort before. As such I have never really contemplated how I might stack up – so to speak. I honestly still don’t know, not in any objective sense.

What I have come to realise though is that my industry, which I love dearly is nowhere near as professional as I had assumed.

When I started promoting myself seriously several years ago I bought with me the lessons that I had learned about customer service, professionalism, and business from my many years working in I.T. It was in fact one of the reasons that very early on I created my guarantee. Perhaps it was cheeky and a bit boastful to offer women “an orgasm or your money back”, but it was meant to make a point – that is: your pleasure and satisfaction is my number one concern, and if you aren’t happy, then I will give you your money back. In point of fact, if you aren’t happy, then I would feel bad taking your money.

This doesn’t seem to be the case in the wider industry and I was genuinely saddened to hear from several different people how seriously un-professional some male escorts can be.

It did though leave me even more committed to the notion of fairness in my service, so I would like to state again for the record – if you book a date with me (whether it’s an hour or a day), and are unhappy in any way with my service, then I would rather refund your money to you in part or full as you wish and have us part on good terms. My business is only as good as my reputation and taking a person’s money when they aren’t satisfied is a great way to ruin it.

If for whatever reason our date didn’t live up to your expectations, then I would like to think that you would feel comfortable to tell me that you are unhappy. And if I can’t fix the problem – whatever it is – then rest assured that I would offer you a refund.

It’s one of the great benefits of decriminalisation of sex work in NSW that our industry is all above board and legitimate. That does however mean that all providers are governed by the consumer protection laws of this state. You as my client have a right to expect a service that matches how I promote myself. And if you don’t get that, then you are legally entitled to ask for a refund.

I know that it’s not necessarily an easy thing to do, but I strongly encourage everyone who sees me, or any other escort, to require us to be professional and deliver on our commitments, because it seems that is not always what happens. Our services don’t come cheap – I am very aware of that – whether you see someone through an agency, or an independent worker like me, so you deserve to get good value and to have the experience that you were promised.

John.

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.

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.