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?
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
I want to share two blog posts with you. It is written by an older woman who I recently had a date with.
She was generous enough to share her writing with me and I wanted to give my readers the chance to see another woman’s perspective on sex and sexuality and the experience of visiting a male escort like myself.
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.
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.
Looking back, I can see that I haven’t made a post to my website since last December!
I have been distracted by several things – not least of which was the need to have a jolly good break from work. This industry takes it’s toll on a person and with such an intimate job, you need to be fit, healthy, and in the right frame of mind to give it your best.
I’m pleased to say that I am in good shape once again and ready for the challenges of the year ahead.
One of those challenges unfortunately is STIs – if you follow any sex workers on Twitter then you may be aware that there is currently an outbreak of gonorrhoea that is worst in Melbourne. Thankfully it can be treated easily with anti-biotics, but this is not a good reason to ignore it. I am told that some people can be symptom-less – therefore, not having any symptoms is not an indicator that you are negative.
There is only one thing that you can do to be sure – about any STI – and that is: get tested! It’s easy to do, costs nothing under Medicare, and it gives you and anyone you might have sex with peace of mind.
As I have regularly said: if everyone was tested for STIs even once a year, we would end them. There would simply be no place for them to hide. As it is, people who think “I couldn’t possibly have something” unwittingly become the hiding place for infections.
It may be embarrassing for some people talking about this stuff – but we have to do it!
Sex is a fabulous experience, but it’s also one that comes with consequences and responsibility – like contraception, consent, and sexual safety. The last one may be the most hassle, but it’s not hard to ask your GP or health clinic to order testing for STIs – just to be sure, whether you feel you are at risk or not.
If we all did that regularly, then we could stop worrying about STIs and get on with enjoying healthy sex lives.