delve a little deeper....
This weekend was Nottingham Womans Conference. One of the topics was sex work. They invited no sex work relevant organisations along- at least not ones that were anti criminalisation, made up of current sex workers or those who don't feel sex work is 'bad'. This link from the blog of SWOU (Sex Worker Open University) details the issues many sex workers have with the conference.
Three women from SWOU went along to the conference to try and gain entry to the conference and to try and put across their views. If you read the last two blogs from SWOU you'll see other organisations offered the SWOU women a place but this was refused by the organisers.
It's not my story to tell, but the women from SWOU spent the day talking to people from the car park. Last night Eithne Crow tweeted some of the things said to her:
The woman from POW Nottingham yesterday asked me if I use condoms after ten minutes of discussing my various qualifications.
"What should I do once my clients are criminalised?"
"You'll find something else."
"Sex can't be work, it's too intimate."
Me: "But my physio put her fingers in my vagina last week."
"Yeah but she didn't come."
Me: "Because of my health, and the debts that I have, I can't currently do anything else than sex work."
3 other women: "We think you can."
"Do you get condoms and get yourself tested?" A left-field and exceptionally inappropriate enquiry during unrelated discussion.
People are very keen to tell sex workers they are wrong, to ask invasive questions and what we do isn't work, isn't acceptable and so on.
On Friday these tweets from @allovrr amused me and make a great point:
Good tip: every time you say something with SW in, substitute "postman". If it sounds weird, it's probably wrong/ whorephobic.
"Does your partner mind you're a "postman?" "You can't be a postman forever." "So what do you do other than being a postman?"
Further to that, I got embroiled this morning in a series of satirical tweets reversing the notion of paid for sex and 'free' sex.
The ridiculousness of these statements highlight how annoying and offensive some of the assumptions and questions are to sex workers.
So there you go.
Have a think before you ask sex workers questions or try to save them and how you might be offended if the same thing was asked of you.
Thank you to all those who took part in the #banfreebies hashtag. There are more if you care to look!
"But if you do not heed me and do not keep all these commandments, if you reject my precepts and spurn my decrees, refusing to obey all my commandments and breaking my covenant, then I, in turn, will give you your deserts. I will punish you with terrible woes--with wasting and fever to dim the eyes and sap the life. You will sow your seed in vain, for your enemies will consume the crop.
I will turn against you, till you are beaten down before your enemies and lorded over by your foes. You will take to flight though no one pursues you.
Bullying has always been around and can be found in any area of the globe or period in history you might choose from. There are individuals and groups that target others with tactics designed to intimidate, coerce or harm them. In some cases bullying is used to maintain social order and ensure that no one acquires too much dominance, status or personal power.
According to psychological sources, bullying is a specific type of aggression in which (1) the behavior is intended to harm or disturb, (2) the behavior occurs repeatedly over time, and (3) there is an imbalance of power, with a more powerful person or group attacking a less powerful one. This asymmetry of power may be physical or psychological, and the aggressive behavior may be verbal (eg, name-calling, threats), physical (eg, hitting), or psychological (eg, rumors, shunning/exclusion). The key elements of this definition are that multiple means can be employed by the bully or bullies, intimidation is the goal, and bullying can happen on a one-on-one or group basis (Nansel et al, 2001).
Even animals can pick on each other. Research has shown that among baboons from sub-Saharan Africa groups of related females work together to compete over resources and in doing so regularly gang up on individual females. (Altmann, 1980). It has been observed that some individual rats and mice will repeatedly attack others and steal their food.
The mice that suffered repeated social defeats were more anxious and experienced changes in brain chemistry (Kinsey et al, 2007).
It seems slightly ironic that a week after David Cameron told us that "online pornography is corroding childhood" that the press is now full of stories about internet bullying. Is this the real problem with the internet or has the internet just given us a new outlet for those who wish to intimidate or cause upset to others?
The death of 14 year old Hannah Smith this week who was relentlessly sent abuse via ask.fm has opened up yet another storm about how websites manage cyber bullying, abuse and trolling. Last week it was Twitter under pressure to change how it deals with bullying after campaigner and journalist Caroline Criado-Perez was put under what she described as 'a tidal wave of abuse' with rape and death threats. Threats were also made to MP Stella Creasy and Classicist Mary Beard.
Of course these are three well known people and what they received was a fraction of the abuse, bullying and harrassment found across the internet and poor Hannah Smith is one of many children across the world to have become suicidal over online bullying.
A man has been arrested over threats made to Criado-Perez, but of course the cynic in me wonders whether this was due to the fact she has a public profile (and even more cynically if because she is white, straight, middle class and nice looking).
However, today after the death of Hannah Smith pressure has been put on Ask.fm. Ask is a site that allows people to join and offer anyone who wants to ask questions anonymously- in that they don't have to sign in or provide an email address.
David Cameron has talked about irresponsible websites and asked people to boycott such sites if they don't 'clean up their act'. The Sun described ask.fm as a "suicide site" and said said the men behind ask.fm were "troll kings" on its front page. The irony of The Scum taking the moral high ground here is not lost on me. Several advertisers such as Vodafone, Specsavers, Save the Children and Laura Ashley have also moved to withdraw their adverts.
Following the pressure of Twitter to review their report policy and the frankly pointless 'TwitterSilence' on Sunday spurred on by Caitlin Moran to show some sort of protest (I never did quite get the point) it feels the blame for all ills of society is to be put onto the people who run websites.
Just because a car may run someone over the blame isn't put on car manufacturers? It's not down to them to ensure people either drive safely or not walk in front of a moving car. The onus has to be put on ensuring people drive safely, children are taught their Green cross code and harsh penalties for those who drive dangerously.
Ask.fm has around 8 million accounts and Formspring (a similar site) 29.5 million. Facebook has 1.11 BILLION users and Twitter 140 million users and sees 340 million tweets per day. Whilst all these accounts won't be used that is still a massive number of people to manage.
All these sites have processes to block, delete or report abuse and there are moderators who respond to this. Ask.fm have said they have a team of moderators present "around the clock - 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days per year" who manually check all content posted to its site.
Like with the porn issue, parent's need to know what their kids are doing online, children need to be educated. They need to know the consequences of bullying online, the law with regards to making threats and of course how to respond when someone threatens or taunts you. This kind of thing has to start happening now. The internet has grown so fast and changed our lives so quickly, almost too quickly to manage and all of a sudden we find ourselves with 24/7 access to almost anything you could possibly want (or not want) to view and a new, more underhand way to hurt, abuse, insult and goad others.
I find it hard to comprehend why anyone would return to their ask.fm site once bullying started. Of course I'm not critisising Hannah Smith or anyone else who continues to read hate hurled at them or tries to fight back, but a simple lesson in life is that bullies like a reaction- any reaction. Silence bores them. Responding angrily or trying to argue against a viewpoint feeds them. Indeed, you'll often read 'Do Not Feed The Troll!' posted on forums when someone is spilling their venom or posting ridiculous or controversial view points. I think they are right. Responding to someone who is out to cause trouble won't make them stop and think about what they have done or change their views (unless you happen to troll Mary Beard and someone knows their mother!).
I'm not saying everyone should keep quiet about this kind of behaviour. The Twitter Silence day was met with a ShoutBack day by those who felt that being silent was offensive to those who don't get their voices heard often enough, whether it be women, sex workers or trans* women and men. Many see Twitter as a platform where they can be open about their life and experiences and by shutting up plays into the hands of those who don't think certain groups should have a voice. I certainly can attest to that and I do think that whilst there is no point engaging with trolls or hateful people I do think if you have the clout or the support network in place you can make others see what you are subjected to.
Freedom of speech is important though. I can shout pretty loudly about sex work and why I am not more inferior to anyone else and I have a right to do that, and I can do it in a reasoned manner. The person who thinks I should get a proper job or am letting all women down has the same right to make their views heard as me. However, once that crosses the line into personal abuse I'm shutting up. There is no point if you can't have a reasoned debate or exchange of views.
This doesn't help much when it comes to children being bullied on social media though. The answer isn't to limit the internet or reduce the ability to remain anonymous (in sex work circles for example staying anonymous is of paramount).
It's a change in education, it's making sure children (and maybe even adults) know the consequences of bullying, teaching them to stay safe, how to report bullies and where to get support and yes, maybe even teaching them to walk away. I really do believe sometimes silence is the right response. Retaliation only fans the flames of many who bully and abuse online.
There isn't a simple answer though, but screaming at the website owners isn't it either.
I followed someone new on Twitter on Friday night. She was a follower of a follower, I was just being friendly. Didn't think any more of it.
Then on Saturday morning she tweeted me to say: I would prefer that you don't follow me please. Some of your photos are totally inappropriate.
Oh. Oops. I know some people don't wish to follow me because they don't want questions raised over why they are following an escort. I get that for some chaps there may be an uncomfortable line of questioning from their partner even if they are not actually a client or have no intention of booking a sex worker. I don't *just* tweet about work or pictures of my tits! Some people follow me for other reasons.
Anyway. I assume if I have followed someone who is appalled to have me following them they just quietly ignore me and don't follow back or just block me. I have friends who I have discussed twitter with and they don't follow me because they don't want to see/hear about some of the more naughty side of my life. That's fine, in the conventional world it's not usual to see your friends tits or hear about her kinky habits. It's fine. and besides my actual real life friends and I stay in touch by other methods and it helps not blurring lines between the side of me that isn't Minxy.
I was however, a bit more offended by this woman's next comment: I also understand that you are an escort- really not what I was to have following me.
I'm a what? not a who? I'm an inanimate object? A disgusting concept? Snotty cow! Now trust me, I came up with all sorts of scathing comments to retaliate with but decided I would leave it and simply retweet her second comment.
I guess I thought a couple of followers might comment to me about how rude she was or maybe some of my non whoreish followers would learn that as lovely as they think I am, others do not think the same and that some people forget we sex workers are actually real rounded people. So, I retweeted, went for breakfast and I didn't think any more of it.
However, a couple of people did pick up on it, mainly Violet Rose, a lovely escort based in Scotland. She questioned both the tweets and then Dr Brooke Magnanti waded in with;
'Let's all follow her! All of my photos are appropriate.'
Lots of people took notice then!
I was truly amazed, amused and genuinely touched so many people were sticking up for me! It didn't help that my cross non follower decided to retaliate by telling my sex worker chums and allies (including Dr Magnanti!) to get a proper job! She said:
If any escorts follow me, I will block them. Try to get a better life. Try working hard.”
By now tweets were popping up all over the place from all over the world saying they would follow her and being angry that she seemed to think that we were all lazy and that we should try working in the City to see what hard work really was. One of my favourite tweets was from @fornicatrix who said:
Trust me, I did some serious work with city traders last couple weeks. About 15 of them actually. It's pretty hard work.
Hee hee! Several people questioned how being a city worker could possibly be considered better than sex work, @bustysarita said:
Love the notion that working in the city is somehow a more 'noble' way to earn money than our profession.
So, I expect she spent the afternoon blocking a huge number of sex workers and not only that but anyone else who followed her, assuming they were sex workers. I would love to know how many people she had to block!
Later on in the afternoon my train family (I have a huge number of followers who work in the rail industry and no it's not because train drivers are more inclined to see escorts!) jumped on board (ha, see what I did there?) and started to critisise her actions and question whether their jobs were worthy enough to be followed too! It was a lovely show of solidarity from them who have no agenda or connection to sex work, just that they are sweet decent people who do not like to see prejudice and rudeness.
I didn't approve of some of the tweets that were a bit mean and personal towards her, but I felt warmed that so many people responded and it felt like I was part of a big gang who had my back. Working alone often means you miss out on the same camaraderie that you get in a conventional workplace.
I was sad to be reminded that there are plenty of people out there who do not like me on the basis of what I do for a living. One gets used to reading the bile of the feminist anti prostitution movement and whilst they make me angry, I sort of accept their existence and accept that *some* of the things they say about the nasty side of the industry are true.
It's quite odd to be reminded that I am hated and judged purely on what I do for a living. As a white, middle class Brit whose sexuality is generally judged as straight I am in a position of privilege for the most and have never really been discriminated against. Even as a woman I have worked in industries that aren't sexist and being female has never been a barrier for me so I guess I had a small taste of what other people receive every day of their lives. Gosh. It was quite thought provoking.
Anyway, the lovely Violet Rose blogged about this too and she also explains whorephobia much better than I could so do have a read! This is the the link. Do also read this article Violet links to at the bottom of her blog post here.
Some of you may have seen the Channel 4 documentary (Sex on Wheels- link to 4oD here) last night which followed four disabled people and their quest for sex. It's always fascinating for me to watch things about sex and sexuality and even more so when escorts are part of the mix.
I don't think many people really understand prostitution to be about something more than trashy looking, down on their luck types desperate to make money or the beautiful, glamorous 'high call' call girl types who get jetted round the world, so anything that changes those perceptions is a good thing. Rarely are escorts viewed as girl next door types, motherly, intelligent thoughtful or kind. We tend to be slotted into desperate crack whore or beautiful but manipulative pigeon holes. But this documentary wasn't really about us hos, it was about people who aren't able to have a conventional sex life for various reasons.
John is 26 and has learning difficulties, his mother booked him an escort to enable him to spend some time with a woman and lose his virginity. I can understand how having your mother book you an escort can be considered weird and creepy, but in John's case his mother has had to guide him through life a little more carefully than those with less vulnerable children. As much as she wants John to have a 'normal' life she will be aware that his vulnerability could lead to him being taken advantage. The fact she can bring herself to consider his sexual needs too, something most parent's don't really want or need to think about makes her pretty remarkable.
Carl was a self confessed stud in his time. He talked candidly about the kind of sex he used to get up to (lot's of and in as many places as possible!). He was then rendered paralysed from the waist down in an accident and all that changed. He is now in a wheelchair and can not get an erection or ejaculate. However, the feelings and urges a man (or woman) gets do not necessarily change due to disability. Carl is still the same person and it appeared that losing his sex life was something he coped with less well than he ability to walk.
I once did a survey (not a very scientific one) and asked lots of men if they had to lose either a leg or their penis which would they choose. The result was overwhelmingly high on the losing the leg side! Most men didn't have to think for a second to answer that losing their cock would be much worse than losing a leg!
The documentary showed Carl undertaking various forms of drugs and therapy to try and stir his penis back to life. He had a session with a psychosexual therapist (they used another title for her, but I can't remember what it was) who was attempting to find new ways of arousing him. From what they showed it was very much about sensual body to body contact and not focusing on the penis. Whilst she did not have full sex with him and it was billed as therapy I don't think what she did was very different to how a good escort would deal with the same situation. Pete said at the end that it was the first time he had had a proper hug his since his accident. That I think is probably as much what he missed as full sex, but hadn't realised it.
Anyone who has been in this game will know that whilst caressing and sucking the penis is what most men ultimately want body contact and a more sensual approach is often what is required and what many men miss when they pay for sex. It's not all about the assumed 'fucking a hole' thing many assume sex work is about.
The third person who appeared on a documentary was a young man called Pete with cerebral palsy who dreamed of becoming a porn star. He obviously had the usual urges a man of his age has despite being physically very limited. He was shown going through escort websites and discussing the kind of woman he liked- no different from the process many men go through- is it less palatable because Pete was operating his computer mouse with a stick in his mouth?
Finally Leah was a young woman with brittle bone disease and wheelchair bound. She said she was looking for a husband. Whilst she had had lots of sex she was aware that many men choose to sleep with her because it was something different for them to do, ticking a disabled woman off their tick list. She really wanted to change and meet a nice man rather than a one night stand. All her good intentions went to pot as they showed her on a night out, pissed up and going home with another man whose attitude reeked of using her as a novelty shag. I'm sure some will critisise her of being a bit of a slut, but actually she does no different to many young women and if showing that disabled people are actually the same as the rest of us in many ways was an aim of this programme then that was achieved.
I think the documentary gave a great balance between showing the difficulties disabled people face as well as showing they also have some of the same issues, concerns and needs in life as non disabled people.
The worst thing last night was reading the twitter feed connected to the programme. The #sexonwheels hashtag really brought out the nasty, rude and heartless scum that the internet seems to breed. Of course there were some very supportive tweets about the individuals shown on the documentary but also many horrid ones. I was actually shocked at the language used (cripple, mong, spastic to name a few) and the disgust over John's mother assisting him booking Laura Lee (the escort featured in the programme).
I can not see how anyone could fail to see why John's mother chose to do what she did or that she did it with love and compassion for her son. It didn't come across as weird of creepy in any way. The grief Laura also got was pretty hideous and she is obviously much tougher than me, I could never 'go public' and face the kind of abuse she has. She was sneered at for only doing it for the money and not really caring. Really? Do you think nurses, paramedics, rape counsellors, physiotherapists and others who use their skills and compassion in their job do it for free? The notion that us escorts are 'only in it for the money' was well and truly alive. Jesus, how do you think we should pay our bills, with rainbow dust and fluffy clouds?!
The fact that many people 'hate' sex workers is one I still have a bit of a problem with. I know mostly these people are keyboard warriors and say such things online because it makes them feel big and tough and cool but it does hurt a bit. I don't like being a whole sum based on my profession.
I am no more a typical sex worker than a school teacher is typical. There are good and bad in all professions, everyone has different work styles, ethics, enthusiasm, commitment and integrity. I suppose it's no different from being considered a sleazy estate agent or a ruthless banker or a bastard tax inspector. I think it's because I have never been in a job before that incites any sort of negativity!
And, in the same way that someone with a disability isn't 'typical' it can't be assumed because they are physically or mentally impaired they have no sexual urges or a need to be hugged.
On the plus side, I was pleased that the documentary showed that escorts do offer a wide range of services and are capable of dealing with all types of clients in a caring professional manner. It reminded me why I enjoy meeting virgins and those who don't fit into the typical client category (whatever that is!) and why much of this job is about making other people feel good and not just about hot sex and a pile of used notes.
If you or someone you know has a disability and would like to read more about sex and the disabled or find an appropriate sex worker do visit the TLC trust site
The Scene: Daily Mail offices
A group of white heterosexual men in suits sit around a board table.
There is an air of unease. Circulation is down, The Mail Online aren't getting the hits they used to, advertisers are getting twitchy and rumblings from Dacre were getting louder...
'Any ideas anyone?' a white heterosexual man said hopefully.
Everyone looked thoughtful.
'Any gays died lately?' another white man asked 'We could get Moir in, she gave us no end of publicity when the poof from Boyzone copped it'
The room fell silent...
'You would have thought Littlejohn finishing that tranny off would have worked' someone else added.
The room filled with murmurs and headshaking. They were all most disappointed that that one hadn't made more of an impact despite the best efforts of those liberal lefties on Twitter.
'I suppose there's only one thing for it!' a white man who occasionally liked his bottom smacked by his Nigerian gardener announced. 'We'll have to get Brickie in!'
As she entered the room, the atmosphere changed. Air was sucked in through teeth, hard ons were hastily rearranged and the sound of wildly beating hearts could practically be heard as sweat glistened on many an upper lip.
'Fuck, she's so beautiful' one white man who had spent the night wanking over the Evening Standard's Thatcher pull out special said breathlessly.
She was a vision. She sat at the head of the table, her blonde hair spread across her shoulders like an angel. Her perfect legs crossed and the vacant look in her eyes was quickly changed with the smug self satisfaction that all these men would leave their wives for her.
'What can I do for you boys?' she said knowing the words on her lips were like a summer breeze across their fevered brows.
'We need something from you, we don't care who you upset but we need more readers, even readers who only read us because they hate us.'
'But, I already gave you my IVF trauma and heartbreak piece last week when you wanted me to do an obit of that IVF man who didn't give me a baby'. The pout on her lips was like the sweetest cherry.
'We know most pretty one, and we appreciate that but we need something more. Something to get the femin-lezzies going'
Samantha Brick looked thoughtful. The collective of white heterosexual men all waited, cocks still hard, pulses still racing.
'Well, you know how beautiful I am?'
'Yes!' a loud cry in unison was heard, each man hoping his affirmation was loud enough for her to notice him, even for just a second.
'Well, I thought I could share my secret of how one stays so beautiful. It's all about being thin.
The white hetreosexual men all removed the passing thoughts that they liked women with a healthy appetite, how they adored to see a pair of big bouncing boobs, slap a round peachy arse and any worry they had about their teenage daughter's eating disorder.
The beauty continued.
'Yes, that shall be my gift to you. I shall tell the world that being slim is the only way to be. Everyone should realise that only fit women will do well at work, I mean...'
She laughed daintily like a twinkling fairy flying by a crystal clear waterfall.
...'we all know dear Maggie never would have done so well if she'd been a lardy heffalump. I shall share the secret of my special polo mint diet and that it's OK to faint from hunger.
Samantha stood up, her dress rippling across her creamy (not that thin actually) thighs. She was getting into her stride now.
'I shall tell them to choose houses without kitchens, to holiday in predominantly vegetarian countries! I shall tell them to pick men who will DUMP them if they gain any weight!'
The white hetreosexual men all stood and cheered! Not caring that their trousers were still bulging and ruining the line, they whooped and yelled and cheered for their goddess!
'I don't care if even more women hate me, it's only because they are jealous of me, the fatties will all die of a cardiac arrest soon anyway!' she trilled like a bluebird on the first day of spring!
'Teenage girls need to know they won't be loved or get a job if they get fat. Starving yourself is the only way to be as perfect and beautiful as me!'
The cheering reached a crescendo. The white heterosexual men all knew that this one would be a winner. Tweets would be tweeted, blogs written, links posted on Facebook, commentary made in the lefty commie press (aka The Guardian) and general loathing and criticism across the land would fall at the feet of dear, beautiful Samantha and the advertisers and Editor would be happy again.
For those who are hard of thinking, the Daily Mail articles relevant to this post will not be linked here.
Read this today somewhere on the internet (probably Twitter because I have become addicted and even did a happy dance when Caitlin Moran replied to one of my Tweets!)
"I like my coffee like I like my men; first thing in the morning before I'm barely awake"
Amused me, nothing nicer than slow, sleepy, warm cuddly sex and more original line than 'I like my coffee like I like my men; strong and dark'
Although I do quite like 'I like my coffee like I like my men; ground up and kept in the freezer'
So, how else can I compare how I like my men to coffee?
Hmmm, well I limit my coffee to two cups a day which is close enough to how I work, but I could easily have more men! I couldn't manage seven coffees at once, but I could certainly handle seven men! I don't have coffee after 4pm which is most definitely not how I like my men!
After much thought, here is my top ten of how I like my men and coffee (in no particular order).
I like my coffee, like I like my men...
1. ...Sitting on the kitchen counter
2. ...with a good head
4. ...every morning without fail
5. ...available on my whim
6. ...able to perk me up in an instant
7. ...with a teaspoon sticking out of them
8. ...to smell good
9. ... spilled all down my tits
(I got stuck at number 7)
Ok, so I have joined Twitter having been convinced by the lovely Rosalie and a couple of chaps who use it too. Honestly, I pop into a well know punting chatroom for a bit of morning banter and all of a sudden I am plunged into a new scary world!
OK, am being a drama queen now, but I can't quite get my head around it, although I am sure I said that about this website and Facebook (in personal life, so no point trying to find me there!) when I started them!
So, now I have to think of interesting things to tweet about and get my head around the strange things coming up on my page- I think they are retweets from other people. Am about to learn about hastags...
SO, if you are on Twitter and want to follow me please do, maybe tell me you found me via this blog?
Any advice also muchly appreciated!