My experience of Fat Activism. By an ex-Fat Activist.

April 1, 2014

I went to a talk last night about ‘Fat Performance’. As a Fat Performer myself I was hoping to come away inspired, motivated, and with new friends having networked my arse off. I packed everything I needed – a book and pen for notes, a wallet-popping amount of business cards, and exclaimed my excitement for it on all my social networking platforms. As a founder of a Size Acceptance club night and performer of a 5 star show, those are not insubstantial plugging platforms.

However, as I walked out at the end, I felt more alone, depressed and utterly despondent about the Size Acceptance movement – and what it was to be a part of it – than I had felt about anything I had achieved over the past few years. I went so far as to send a text to a friend saying it felt exactly like school – all the cool kids not wanting to let anyone in. How was it I was made to feel like this by the very people who were supposed to be on my side? With a subject that should have left me feeling breathless with hope for the future, rather than drowning in sorrow that I ever thought I could – or should – be part of this movement?

At the bottom of their press release was the tag line ‘What Weight Watchers and Slimming World don’t want you to hear!’ and the promise they would be flyering outside local groups. The ironic thing is that I’ve been made to feel much more welcome at slimming groups, and have left feeling more motivated by them than I ever have at any Fat Activist meet that I’ve gone to. And as for flyering outside groups? ‘Christ,’ I thought. ‘They just don’t get it.’

In order to promote Fat Activism and the Body Positivity movement, we cannot keep belittling and berating diet groups and those who go to them. The movement should be about loving our bodies, and accepting what a person chooses to do, or not do, to the skin they’re in. Fat Activism has to keep up with the changing attitudes of groups like these and see they are promoting a healthy mind and a healthy lifestyle, just like we are.

Let me explain a bit about myself – I’m an 18 stone stand-up comedian, wit a 5 star show that’s all about my 7 years as a plus size sex worker – we’ll come on to why that’s important in a bit.

I also run a Size Acceptance club night where we welcome anyone of any size to drink, dance and dress up. It’s fair to say that right now, at age 32 and a half, I am having the most fun I’ve ever had, and I am trying desperately to get as many people as I can in on the action!

My size is something that I have let define me. I couldn’t help it. Up until a few years ago, I would have been upset by that, but I’ve turned it to my advantage. I’ve travelled and seen the Size Acceptance movement grow throughout America, and I’ve tried to get more involved in it over here by starting Club Indulge.

I put off becoming a comedian for a long time as all I had was fat girl jokes. I didn’t want to go on a stage and just say what everyone was pretending they were thinking. (I say pretending, I am of course referring to the guys who blow out fat girl jokes to their mates, then rush home to spuff themselves silly over BBW porn) Brecht said ‘Theatre should seek to change the world, not to show it’, and in my 5 minutes of stage time, that was what I hoped to do.

I – and indeed many of the people who know me and have seen my work in action – would have said that these themes of changing societies view on weight in my comedy and my club night have made me something of a Fat Activist. But then I tried joining ‘the gang’ and it was obvious there was no room at the banquet. In fact, it seemed on more than one occasion that they turned the lights off and hid under the table in the hopes I’d go away. See, this wasn’t the first time I’d tried..

A few months ago there was a similar talk on Fat Sexuality. (See, this is where the Sex Work bit is important). Among the discussion table was a Sex Worker rights activist, a Porn site founder, and a blogger. All of them classed themselves as Queer women. Now, I have absolutely nothing against this. But I would have liked to have seen some variety. A straight man or woman might have been nice. I’d written to them a few months in advance so see if they would like anyone else on the panel – I think 7 years as a 25 stone escort would have sealed the deal. But they said they were full. But still, I was excited by the event and wondered what they had to say. I also wondered why they had chosen the speakers they had.

When one of them started speaking, she opened with ‘So..I’m not really sure why I’m here. But most of you in here know me. In fact, I think I’ve slept with half of you’

And a cheer went up.

My eyes rolled. I was hoping for a real discussion, I wanted a bit of a grilling. I wanted passion and argument and defense for the right to have a Fat Acceptance Movement. Instead, it felt like this was just going to be some people holding court in the pub with their mates.

It’s easy to preach to the converted. Sure, I’d love to get up in front of ex-lovers and tell them Fat is Sexy. But instead, I have to get up in front of Bob’s stag party, Dave and Janine from Slough, Debbie and her mates who’ve had a few, George and Javier who saw it in Time Out and thought it might be a talking point at their dinner party…none of these people know me. None of these people have slept with me. None of these people even like me. I’ve got 60 minutes to persuade them that fat girls are sexy, and that Sex Work needs to be decriminalised for the show to work. If I can change one mind, then I’ve won.

And I am winning. Like I said, 5 star reviews.

None of the Fat Activists have seen my show.

At the same discussion, someone asked the question of how to get involved in the Fat Activism movement. It’s really not that hard – support plus size designers, write about Plus Size things on your blog if you have one, or just come to a Plus Size Event.

My hand shoots up. I begin talking about Indulge. But I see eyes rolling. Interest faded. Is that a shuffle of embarrassment?

See, they have a problem with Indulge, mainly because of my predecessors within the ‘Plus Size Club’ circle.

Yes, there’s more than one. Unfortunately, they don’t have the best reputation. Seen as a cattle market by the girls, and an ‘easy place to pull’ by the boys, these nights consist of girls arriving in groups for solidarity, and men leaning against the bar, hawk-like in their determination to spot a fatty that’s come out from the herd. They prey on the weak, the young, or the desperately drunk. Eyes lift no higher than cleavage level, and when they spot one they like, they swoop in and cling onto their victim, only to discard them if something better comes along. Worsened by the anonymity of the internet, and the assumed desperation of the women, I have known men who have arrived with ‘girlfriends’ only to meet another ‘girlfriend’ there.

That is not my club.

My club is where men in three piece suits hand out homemade bunt cake, where living dead cheerleaders prowl at halloween. Great dresses and fab hair are rewarded, fancy dress and glam encouraged. My club is where I will drag single men away from the bar and force them to talk, and anyone with an attitude is left outside. This isn’t a club for single men, it’s a club to be Fat & Fabulous in. I don’t market it as a straight club, I don’t market it as LGBTQ, but I do have to market it as something, and that’s where it feels like I’ve been shunned as the Red-Headed Stepchild of the Fat Activism Community. What they seemed to have assumed is that I would want to make a facsimile of what I’ve experienced, and not think for myself and act out on plans to make something new and different.

Someone asked me what ‘the right term’ was the other day. It was an averaged sized journalist, and she said she felt weird about using the word fat. I asked her that if she ever finds the term we’re all agreed on using to let me know. I have to use all of them. Imagine marketing my club (for market I must. As much as I’d love to spend all the money I do on throwing a party, some cash has to be made somewhere) is like a game of three cups, one ball. Imagine each cup as a google term, and the ball is a potential customer. I have to use all three cups to make sure I’ve covered that one ball. Difference is that at the end, even I don’t know where the balls landed…

Are you ready? Round, and round, and round they go…

Cup 1 – The F word

So, in my experience, people over 40 don’t like the word Fat, because Fat was always used with a negative connotation. ‘Fat Cow’ ‘Fat Fuck’ etc. Still is, as you can imagine. So most people I know over 40 prefer the term BBW (Big Beautiful Women). In their (and my) lifetime, BBW was the one phrase, the one light at the end of the Fat tunnel. Let me tell you from my own personal experience that when I found out I wasn’t just fat, I was a BBW, it was like a whole world opened up! That term saved me, and it’s saved friends of mine, from thinking we’re alone.
However, Fat is now the word most people under 30 are trying to reclaim. But, much like the N word, is still something that ‘outsiders’ feel uncomfortable using. God bless them, it can be confusing. My heart went out to Wayne Sleep on ‘Big Ballet’ when he said ‘Well, we’re using fat girls – they won’t mind me using the word ‘fat’ – …’ Uh-oh…what happened the next day? Yep, they rallied against him. I sat agape as the whole saga unfolded.
I don’t know why I was so surprised though. I walk the same tight rope.

Cup 2 – BBW

Girls under 21 do not like the term BBW. It has been appropriated by the porn industry and as such they feel it has objectified fat girls and encouraged seeing us as a fetish. I was once accused of being a pimp because I had described it as a BBW club. Without ever stepping foot inside, they had become convinced it was full of leery old men who – when not stalking BBW clubs – did nothing but pleasure themselves over pictures of fat girls on the internet.
Now, I’ve been around long enough to know that pleasuring oneself over pictures of any girl on the internet is a major hobby for 99.9% of the straight men out there, so I thought it a bit unfair to hold that against them. Not only that, but it takes a lot of guts for these guys to turn up, often alone, and try and talk to ladies.
If they really were just fetishists, then surely they wouldn’t come to the club at all? It seems like a major effort, as well as a waste of money, to just come and stare when you could be doing that from the safety and anonymity of your computer?
I couldn’t help but think that by proclaiming clubs like this to be full of fetishists, she was doing her, and her fat sisters, a genuine disservice. Is it too much to think that for the guys in there that it’s a genuine preference, not a fetish?
I couldn’t help but think sweeping generalised statements like this only help to propel the stereotype that a fat girl is a fetish. If you don’t want to be a fetish, stop thinking the men who fancy you are fetishists!

Cup 3 – Plus Size.

I can’t say this without thinking of my nan.
Plus Size is Evans in the 90’s for me. The only place I could shop for clothes, and this was well before they had figured out that people under 55 need clothes bigger than a size 18 too. My family were also very poor, and the plus sizes were always a lot more expensive than normal ranges, as such most of the things I wore were hand-me-downs….yes, from my nan. My early teens were filled with a haze of pastels and polyester, my wide feet demanded nothing but sandals, with socks in the winter.

It would make a modern-day blogger cry.

(We didn’t have internet shopping. The high street was bereft of anything over a size 16. I resorted to clumsily making my own clothes when I hit college, becoming a goth because it was easier to hold things together with safety pins than actual hemming.)

What is plus size anyway? Size 18? 16? Christ, I’ve known people a size 12 convinced they’re plus size!
Plus size isn’t your body. Plus size is an intangible concept that changes from shop to shop. You might as well ask what time you are. I have clothes in my wardrobe that are size 14. I have clothes that are a size 24. Each fit just as comfortably. I see people who have lost a massive amount of weight – either through dieting or weight loss surgery – and rather saying how they feel about the amount of weight they’ve lost, they look disheartened because they’re not at the size they wanted to be.

However, plus-size seems to be the winning phrase…so far. But again, it will no doubt ignite hostility in someone out there because…well, why sit back and enjoy a good thing when you can have an argument about it on facebook?

This issue is my real bug-bear. It’s this inability to take something and make it ours, and make it work for the whole community that annoys me. There is a community there, we just have to work together and make compromises. Don’t shun something just because of the way it’s described. See it, experience it, read it…whatever it takes, but try and understand it before automatically assuming what it entails.
I raised this question of community at the Fat Performance talk (again, fully stocked with ‘Queer’ women. My services once more declined – even having had shows at the same festivals and on the same stages as one of the performers. And also as someone who spends each night in a car with a different selection of comics, discussing performing to a finite detail. I perform on a nightly basis. I am paying my dues) Someone had just finished speaking about it so it was hot on my mind and I blurted out a half phrased question before I was brusquely told ‘Let’s keep this to performance only questions.’

Ummm.. it is performance based. But it’s also community orientated. Because there is a community, I just don’t see Fat Activists trying to be part of it. I see Fat Activists being part of the Fat Activist Community, but not reaching out to the general Fat Community at large. Like I said – they’re preaching to the converted.

I was trying to find out if this performers’ experience of ‘the community’ was based on age range. I was genuinely interested to know if he had received backlash from using the term Fat, and I was hoping to find out if it held true with my theory – that it was a generational thing. He said his negative experience of Fat Community had more been based on jealousy. ‘Oh, I’m fatter than you’ was more the game. I tried to explain a bit more about my experience of ‘the community’ to get across more what I meant, but was shot down by the chair.

But at both of these talks, none of their experiences reflected mine, or my friends, or even my customers. I didn’t feel like they were connecting with the average Fat Girl On The Street. They were connecting with their audience of friends, but it feels distinctly counter-productive, and margionalising an already margionalised section of society. ‘Because that’s just what happens. In every ‘community’ there’s always groups’. I’d been told that twice now. Both time by Fat Activists. Wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of saying ‘That’s just the way it is.’ they said ‘Hey, I’m sorry you feel like that, what can we do to help? How can we change this?’

Overall, when it came to fat performance, ‘Just Do It Yourself’ was the end message, topped with ‘Fuck everybody’ from one of the panel. I don’t think fucking everybody really is the key to being a fat performer, or even gaining confidence as a fat person. I think it’s small, positive steps. I think it’s reaching out. I think it’s talking to someone and starting a dialogue with somebody when they’re obviously trying to reach out to you.

As it is, ‘Just Do It Yourself’ has pretty much been what I’ve been doing these past few years. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to carry on like it though. I was hoping to build relationships with other performers, other activists, maybe collaborate on some of the big dreams I have when it comes to fat performance. But with cards still in my wallet, I walked out disheartened that it’s a motto I’ll have to keep living by. Such a shame. As one, I can only show the world. As many, we could have changed it.

Fat Performance and F.A.F.A.F.Rs

March 31, 2014

Tonight I’m off to a talk on Fat Performance by Scottee.

I’ve always been interested to see the break-through performers who are larger than average, as back in my day the only people I got compared to was Dawn French, Jo Brand and – once – Hattie Jaques.

All comic actors. There were no serious, larger female actors. For a man, it was never newsworthy, but for a female? It always seemed to hit the headlines. And even when it was one of the aforementioned plus size alumni, the papers would always have to describe them. ‘The rotund actress plays a vicar…’ ‘The curvy brunette appears in this theatre…’

When I auditioned for drama schools at 18, I was told it would be pretty useless as I’d never get a lead role. It took me until quite recently to figure out that actually meant ‘You’d never get a lead role on anything so we’ll never get recognition for training you.’

It’s Ok. It only took me 12 years to get my confidence back to get on a stage…after realising I was just going to have to make my own leading role.

But there just weren’t lead roles for fat girls. I’ve been in three performances of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, and I played Bottom every time. Because that was the funny part, that was the big part… (Even though if they wanted to be historically accurate, larger girls should have been playing all the lead roles as the Greeks thought fatties were Da Bomb, yo.)

Even now it’s hard to find fat actors appearing in anything that aren’t F.A.F.A.F.R – Fat Actors For A Fat Reason. Especially when it comes to the humble featured or guest part.

Y’know the ones…the extras who have a couple of lines, or the Victim/Baddy of the week. They’re not repeating characters, and they’re certainly not main. They’re just the one’s who pop up. For A Fat Reason.

I notice them.

I notice them because I know, I just know that their first scene isn’t going to be their only scene. We’ll come back to them, and it will be For A Fat Reason.

Case in point -

So I’m watching House of Cards last night, and some people are demonstrating against an educational bill. Lead character Zoe pops over to get an interview, and she heads straight to a specific one.

‘Hello,’ thinks I. ‘A fatty on the front row?   photo 1

‘Hmm… my spidey sense is tingling…’

And right enough! A few minutes later, our dastardly hero comes out to ruin the protest by offering free food from the opposition. And who’s the first person to cross the picket? That’s right…

 

photo 2

Bad Fatty!

photo 3

There’s a few others that they’ve scattered in for good measure. But this girl obviously ignored the brief and decided to just look fabulous. Good on you…

photo 4

And lo…HollyUnderwood is happy.

 

photo

 

This kind of F.A.F.A.F.R shit happens all the time. Next time you watch anything with a plus size woman (yes, woman. Again, being fat is something men can totally get away with. Like going out with skinny girl and not get accused of being someone’s fetish), just wait for the storyline that meant they had to specifically get a fat girl in.

Cos heaven forbid we have a fat girl on TV just because she’s a good actor.

 

 

 

Boy for Rent (BBC Documentary)

February 2, 2014

This wasn’t a documentary.

This was – at best – an opinion piece.

At worst, one’s mans struggle to overcome his preconceptions and prejudices

**SPOILER ALERT**

He never manages it.

I was looking forward to this. I enjoy documentaries about sex workers. When I was working it was a great way to hear a) if I was doing it right and b) know that I wasn’t alone in the various daily joys and frustrations. It’s still a feeling that sticks with me when I see something coming up on TV or – like this – radio. However, I’m always let down when they refuse to see Sex Work as Work, and this was no exception..

This was one of the worst pieces of ‘journalism’ I have ever heard in my life. The whole thing is just one man completely unwilling to let go of his prejudices. The BBC is supposed to broadcast balanced opinions, non-biased reporting…but this? Puh-lease…it might as well have been presented by a 18th century puritanical Bishop screaming ‘Heathen! Heathen!’ and demanding our execution at the gallows.

There is a tone of condescension throughout. an air of unwillingness to believe what he is being told, even though it comes straight from the horses mouth…Ok, getting carried away…

Let’s start at the beginning.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01pcwzd

BBC reporter Mobeen Azhar meets Josh Brandon, our hero in the story because Josh is a male sex-worker. (Not only that, but he’s actually Male Sex worker of the year, although at no point does anyone mention that. No, it can’t be possible for us to have actual acknowledgement of a job-well-done) (BTW – My heckles are already up at this point having read the description on-line, and their insistence of putting speech marks around ‘brand’ and ‘service providers’. Would it have made any difference to have NOT used them? No..)

bizarre_magazine_42214_7(Image from Bizarre Mag)

Mobeen explains that Soho is the heart of theatreland, trendy bars, great clubs etc. Finishing with ‘It’s also home to London’s sex industry.’ Well, Mobeen, it might interest you to know that the reason why it has theatres, trendy bars, great clubs..is because the sex was there first. So..first request…could you not make it sound like it’s a blight on the landscape, and not one of the main reasons why tourists flock to the area – bringing in their cash – every day?

But he doesn’t like to beat around the bush, we’re straight into how much money Josh makes. A nifty £30,000 (props to Josh!) for a month in New York. Well, he is an award winning sex worker so..why not? Mobeen is amazed by this, but the documentary doesn’t go into what Josh would have had to pay for out of that – accommodation, flights and advertising are the first things that come into my mind. All a hefty sum. And, let’s not forget, throughout all of this every worker in Soho needs to pay for their ‘lush central London flat’. That’s going to add up..

And tax.

Our reporter is ‘astounded’ by how much money Josh earned when he went to Germany and asks ‘Can that really be the case for a typical male escort working in London?’ Well, no. Because that was made by the Male Escort of the Year when he wasn’t in London. He was in Germany..There’s a clue there. Also, our Josh seems pretty business savvy – he’s set up a loyalty scheme, and seems to have a close connection with clients – as we’ll come on to. Being a sex worker isn’t just about putting an ad in the paper and hoping people will show up. Many I know of have great regulars because they’re happy to talk to them outside of ‘office hours’.

Sex Workers get more when they’re in a new place. They’re a fresh face, at it were.

So he goes to meet Tommy, from Sao Paulo. Tommy’s a party boy, who loves a bit of clubbing and parties, and he’s also gone into sex work of his own free will, generally to make enough money to keep up his partying lifestyle. And why not?

Again, he asks how much he makes, how many clients he’s seen…reiterates that Tommy’s already seen two clients today (again, in his ‘amazed’ voice.) And…this is where it gets a bit weird..asks him to show him the money, not only that, but to count it. Errrr…bit weird, Mobeen. Not entirely sure why that’s necessary. Maybe it’s for dramatic purposes, but I’m left more with an image of him sat, pimp like, cigar in hand as he leans forward….’Count it.’

Awkwaaaard Peeeenguuiiin….

We leave the piles of awkwardly counted cash behind to meet Del from the Terrance Higgins trust, and they’re discussing the increase in foreign nationals and immigrant workers turning to sex work.

I like Del. He speaks with impartiality and experience. He also – quite rightly – points out that they’re a charity, so they don’t always see the positive side of sex work. However, he’s not dismissing it in any way, he’s speaking quite positively throughout the whole interview. Unlike some people I could mention..

‘For months now, I’ve been asking Josh to introduce me to one of his clients..’

BACK THE FUCK UP!

HOW is that any of your business?? Why can’t you – as a reporter – go out and find clients willing to speak? Use the might of the BBC to put out an ad somewhere saying ‘Hey clients of sex workers, come speak to us!’. Don’t spend months asking someone to introduce you…that’s both rude, and lazy. And what comes next is just…unspeakable.

And goes a long way to explaining why clients wont want to speak to the media..

(As a side note, please note the way he phrases it – ‘For months now, I’ve been asking Josh to introduce me to one of his clients..’)

So, this chap is one of Josh’s most loyal customers. Bill. He’s an older guy and our reporter assumes he has money just from his clothes. He was married, and has adult children. Bill’s telling him that homosexuality was illegal when he was young. I feel sorry for Bill – of course it was. We have a tendency to take these things for granted now. In a world where homosexuality is open, free, being fought for, no less, Bill comes from a time when getting married and having kids was how he spent the best years of his life. Now he’s older, he finally has a choice..! Hooray!

Oh, wait..

‘Do you feel like you’re genuinely Josh’s friend?’

What??

Where does this question even come from?! Bill’s told him part of the payment is for the company. If he’s one of his most loyal regulars, then yes – company is part of it. But does Josh now have to start asking him our for a coffee? Take him to senior citizen sundays at the cinema? What do you want him to say to this? It seems like such a bizarre question that doesn’t need to be asked. We all know this is a transaction. Would JOsh say hi to him on the street? No..because he may not want him to, and both SW and client know this. It’s part of the deal! Would Josh call him an ambulance if he suddenly had a heart attack in his flat? Yes! Because that’s a) being human and b) part of the ‘friendship’ that does actually exist between a SW and a regular. But to sit there and ask ‘Do you feel like you’re genuinely Josh’s friend?’ just seems like he’s deliberately trying to stir something, and disprove the affection Bill obviously feels for him.

‘Do you think it’s fair if someone called you a Dirty Old Man?’

FUCK OFF. JUST FUCK OFF. Get the fuck out of my ears. How dare you a) ask that, of an old man whose just spilled his heart out, telling you why he feels the need to see a Sex Worker and b) Have absolutely no thought for how any of these questions would impact on him seeing Josh again. This is still we’re livelihood we’re talking about. You spent months asking for a client to speak to, and you practically call him a dirty old man?! I’m filling out the Ofcom form right now. What a horrible way to treat an obviously nervous interviewee. I object.

Bill, to his credit, comes back with how everybody’s having intercourse. He agrees he’s a dirty old man, but I think that’s more because he’s been made to feel that way. After all, his generation would think he’s being dirty, just by seeing another man. I, however, think he’s being rather brave.

Again, another ‘Some people’ question..

‘Some people might see it as being exploitative..’ Do you mean you, Mobeen, do you mean ‘I see it as exploitative, but I’m saying ‘some people’ so it sounds like I don’t have an opinion and we can broadcast this’? Jesus, stop saying ‘Some People’. Who? WHO would say that Bill, who grew up bi-sexual, and never had the chance to explore his sexuality until he was a lot older and finally got the chance buy paying Josh (someone he wouldn’t be able to without the money element, let’s face it) who would say that’s exploitative?

I’ll tell you what’s exploitative. These fucking questions!

‘He obviously feels there’s an emotional attachment than just sexual gratification.’ You know why? Cos there probably is. We do have those, you know, emotions. It’s not all about just opening legs or bending over.

Urgh, and now the usual ‘Does having sex with strangers take an emotional toll on him?’

No. Simples. Can we move on? Seriously, does a chef follow his best made meal out, watch people eat it and ask about it afterwards? No. Josh equates it to a one-one-stand, Mobeen – for some reason – wants to equate it with having sex with a partner. Garghghgh!

Josh explains that he let’s clients go if they fall in love with him. Again, Mobeen uses his best ‘amazed’ voice. Not sure what he’s expecting..that we get married and present them with an invoice? No, Josh knows it stops being a positive experience for them so quite rightly sets things straight. Again, props. He also says – and this is the bit Mobeen really could have taken note of when he was talking to Bill – ‘I love being friends with my clients’. And that’s why you have a flying penis, Josh.

Mobeen seems to reluctantly admit that Josh has it all pretty sewn up. But rather than focusing on the positives of this, we’re back to Tommy (whose only been in England three months, and doesn’t have English as a first language. I think anyone would find any job tough in that situation) who has – apparently – found it hard since day one. Hmm….

I would suggest he found his first appointment tough (only because the client didn’t want to use a condom, so Tommy told him to leave. He did. I’m struggling to find the drama) but obviously not the whole time he’s been working otherwise…wouldn’t be working. But Tommy seems ok to just chuck ‘em out.

‘Josh has gone out of his way to portray a positive picture of his work’

What?! Wait.. how? How has he gone out of his way? By finding the client you asked him for? By answering your questions? I have no idea in what way he went ‘out of his way’. Maybe he’s just trying to reiterate that he’s not being exploited, and he’s enjoying his work because you seem so dead set on not believing him.

‘Although it’s tough to overcome my own preconceptions…’

NO SHIT SHERLOCK.

I really don’t think you should talk to any sex workers ever again.

Back to Dell, I’m clam. Dell explains it’s harder for SW to tell friends about a ‘bad day at the office’ because of the stigma. Yeah.. in a way, it’s true. But that’s what twitter, blogs and SW friends are for :D Dell is a hero, and explains that male SW are very clued up and organised (so are females Del, but it’s OK. I’ll let it slide)

Mobeen has left Del (all too soon, I want Del! I want Del!) and says he met one escort in a cafe who begged him for money, saying he’d do anything for a tenner so he could get a hit of meth. Well – and this is not a great leap here – I would say, Mobeen, that you met up with a drug addict there, not a sex worker. Drug addict. You can tell because he would have probably stabbed his gran if he had the option.

And now we’re on to part two where we’re going to ‘see the bad side of escorting’

WHAT?! You mean… you’ve been trying to portray the good side all this time?! This was you being positive?!

Poor Josh just doesn’t seem to stand a chance. You’ve accused him of ‘going out of his way’ and being ‘evangelical’ about the positive side. Maybe he has to be, because you’re not listening to him. Because he knows that ALL reporters try and spin sex work into a negative.

Jesus, I don’t think I can stand part two. Not when there’s been absolutely no recognition of the positive aspects..

And note – part 1 = 20 mins. Part 2 = 30 minutes.

Yeah, really fair and impartial, that.

Part two opens in the HIV clinic. Josh reiterates he always uses protection and seems in fine feckel throughout the whole thing. Maybe this wont be so bad after all! Oh…wait…

Mobeen’s spoken to a nurse and he has the audacity to say ‘But surprisingly, a majority it seems, are keeping safe!’

Oh DO FUCK OFF!!! Of course they are!!! Sex workers aren’t stupid, or willing to risk their health! ‘SURPRISINGLY….’ what’s so surprising about it?! Do tell me.. WHY IS IT SURPRISING? Why is it SURPRISING to YOU?!

Micheal, the nurse who sounds like Morrissey, says he hasn’t seen a rise in HIV with the sex workers/gay porn star etc..but he has in the general clinic.

HA!!

WE WIN!!

Fuck yeah!! Go Sex Workers and your sexual safety! High fives all round!!

The rest of you gen-pop, USE MORE CONDOMS!

Urgh, now we’re on to bare-backers. Mobeen goes to the internet for bare-back sex. He wants to know how many will do it so he makes calls. Well done rent boys, and especially the one who hangs up and gave him the lecture! ‘Now, if you want to look at that positively’… yes, yes I do, because you obviously don’t. It shows that when you call them up they say they’ll do it. But…well, some can be tricksy little hobbitses, and not always keep their promises…

But no, instead of saying ‘Hey, only a few said yes’, he’s gone to the safety of sex work bashing and focusing on those 12…Why didn’t he go to the one who gave him the lecture?!

Nope, he’s gone off to Paris for the obligatory sob story…from a guy who didn’t see he had any other option as he had a medical condition, so couldn’t work. Finding himself in a job he didn’t enjoy, he took to drugs.

Seriously. This could be about any job. I don’t know anyone who gets through a job they don’t enjoy without something. My call centre days are a blur of ‘2 4 £5′ bottle of pinot.

Anyway, he’s addicted, and still has to sell sex. But can’t be too down on it if he keeps going back and fourth between London and Paris. To me, this all seems more like a damning indictment on the health care industry and the lack of decent rehab for the poor guy, rather than sex work itself.

Josh is back, and he’s got it sorted. Clever boy has his exit plan all sorted. Sex work is WORK after all. Personally, I think that whole part could have been a documentary in and of itself..!

Another sex work entrepreneur explains about ‘Hook-ap’. Another guy I’m liking, completely shot down by a question of morality.

Urgh.

Seriously, this app, and this guy, sounds so much more interesting than that question deserves!

Ohhh maaaaan… Josh is taking Mobeen to meet his family. I don’t want to listen anymore :(

I have every faith in Josh and his family, but if this goes the same way as the interview with the client..then…

Before I can finish the thought, Josh snr has his head totally screwed on, and Mobeen could seriously learn from him. Same as the brother. But the ‘Some People..’ questions are back! *Takes a shot*

‘Some people would say it’s irresponsible..

Some People…

Some People…

But where are those people? Where have those people been throughout this whole documentary? ALL the people (bar the French guy who hates escorting so much he does it in both London AND Paris) have pretty much said ‘It’s good, I like it.’ Or ‘Let them do it if they want to’.

These ‘Some People’ of which you speak…they’re not sex workers. We are, and we’re fine. YOU, however, seriously need to look at your prejudices before making a documentary like this. srsly

Penultimate word goes to Del, who wants more sex workers to pay taxes. Fair enough Del, some do, some don’t. I can say the same about a lot of self-employed professions. But he points out that in order to do that, they need to feel like they’re more free to do so. Good point.

Mobeen seems to have gotten the point, at last. He’s seen the days of pimps and managers are dwindling as we manage ourselves via the internet. This seems like one drop in the ocean though…his condescension throughout the whole thing has left a big black mark.

Finally to Jos-

Oh no… a ‘Some People…’ question.

*Takes a shot*

This was painful to listen to. Sex worker or not, I could still hear the tone of voice, the attitude, the condescension throughout, and it made me…not angry, just annoyed. Annoyed that even with a whole hour of people saying ‘Hey, we quite like it’, the BBC still think they can that this was ‘balanced and un-biased’ programming. That even a podcats about sex work has to be filled with ‘Some people would say…’ questions, without actually talking to ‘Some People’ to see if they would say it. And when they do talk to ‘Some People’ they don’t actually say it at all.

The rudeness to the client, the shock at finding out more gen-pop has HIV than sex workers. The leading questions. The sweeping statements. All of it…just…

Close your moth, your prejudice is showing.

Wood for the trees…

February 2, 2014

So, this happened -

 

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Two of the biggest misogynists to hit our screens this decade were voted as winner and runner up in 2014 Celebrity Big Brother.

What’s that you say?

Who cares about Big Brother? It’s just a reality TV game show for people desperate for fame and with no self-respect. It is an exploitative celebration of unjustified vanity, and I shall have no truck with something so tawdry having been made from one of our finest works of fiction!

Well, you could look at it that way, but I suggest you don’t.

Oh I don’t watch TV, let alone Big Brother. It doesn’t fit in with my painfully hip Hoxton lifestyle.

Big Brother has got nothing to do with feminism!! YOU’RE a sex worker, YOU’RE the one bringing down the sisterhood!

Well, I put it to you that you – indeed, we - dropped the ball on this one.

Whilst activists, mansplainers and radical feminists were trying to throw more sex workers under the #questionsforamnesty* bus, mainstream media was proving that mainstream sexism is back. Not the everyday sexism we’re all used to. Not the sexism we know will happen at the garage, in the taxi, at the pub… but mainstream stuff. Where it’s right in everyone’s faces. 

And it seems to have been the target audience of Big Brother that helped it along – women **

How the fuck did that happen?!

Let’s take a look.

Suspect 1 – ‘Dappy’

Performer and producer in the group ‘N-Dubz’ (so called after their Camden Town postcode of NW1. But don’t let this guttural abbreviation fool you. He has a B in English, y’know. Or was in an A+?). His recent hits include -

* Pleading guilty to assault after spitting in a girls face when she and her friend declined his generous offer to get into his car in a petrol forecourt and have sex with him.

*Making death threats..complete with gun.

*Being dropped from a government cyber bullying scheme after he text death threats to a woman who had the audacity to criticise them on a TV call-in.

*Arrested on suspicion of assaulting the mother of his two children.

*Posting a picture of himself naked to ‘sell more albums’ on twitter.

Sadly, it’s fair to say that he still seems to be popular with his own target audience. Again, young females. As well as getting number ones, a sweet deal for Tulisa to be an X-factor judge, a host of MOBO awards, they’ve also been asked to help with charities and government funded schemes.

How is that OK?? How are we holding someone with a record against him of violence against women on such a high pedestal?

But it’s just someone from a mainstream hip hop band…on a mainstream reality TV show.. we don’t care about that when we’re having REAL discussions over feminist politics with our friends from the warehouse squat in Hackney. Instead we’re battling sexism with an instillation and performance art piece that we’ll only show to our friends and a select audience of bloggers.

This is important!! This concerns a lot of young, impressionable girls who are obviously watching this and seeing their heroes being held up as shining examples of humanity. Being rewarded, paraded, and basically winning a massive popularity contest, and having no retribution for their actions. This concerns how young girls think they will get boys to like them. This concerns how young boys think they should act towards women.

This is my case in point. This is basically an argument between Louisa (A former Apprentice contestant, who has apparently since been making headlines/minding her own business at sex parties) and Dappy. It starts with him saying the words we all love to hear – that it’s ok for a man to sleep with 5 women in one night, but if a woman did the same, it makes her a slut.

Now, can we all agree, every single one of us – no matter where you are on the feminist scale – that that is a sexist thing to say. THAT is an unacceptable way to think, and an unacceptable thing to call a woman in 2014. When it comes to sex, women and men have every right to sleep with however many people they want to. One is not a ‘stud’ whilst the others a ‘slut’. One is not a ‘player’ whilst the others a ‘slag’.

Here’s the video, just in case you really want to see it.

He goes on to follow her around the house, repeatedly asking how many men she’s slept with in one night (how is that an OK thing to ask?) she resists, so he makes up a number (it escalates from 5 to 10. B in maths.) and claims that she’s ‘loose’, exclaims (in the diary room) ‘God knows how many STIs she’s picked up!’ and tells her  ‘Your daughter would be ashamed of you!’

This is all his opinion, of course. But – in the past and indeed, in this series of Big Brother – housemates have been warned when their opinions have been seen to possibly be offensive.

  1. Evander Holyfield was given a warning over his comment about homosexuality – ‘ain’t normal…that ain’t the way nobody is made,’ and adding: ‘If you were born and your leg were turned this way, what do you do, you go to the doctor and get it fixed back right.’ That’s his opinion. He was repremanded. The warning shown within minutes.
  2. In the last series, housemate Jemima was warned when she was explaining what her preferences were – “I go for darker looking, not black, but darker features, Mediterranean. I wouldn’t generally go for a black guy’ Now, I wouldn’t said that was racism, just her preference. Again, warning given and broadcast within minutes.
  3. Dappy had actually recieved THREE warning by 7th January – although the only record I can find is of him using homophobic language – it’s unclear what the other two were for. But none of them were broadcast. Now, I’m not saying there was some kind of conspiracy to keep the horny little ferret inside the house, but when the argument happened on the 10th January – and a warning from that would have meant his eviction from the house – then all I can do is shrug my shoulders and say ‘Just sayin’ ‘

Surely you’re taking this all too seriously? His opinion, and his attitude was offensive. He wasn’t given any kind of warning. Instead, he came second. Instead, he’s out and his reputation as some kind of ‘role-model’ will – inexplicably – be reaffirmed.

And you’re all going to let that happen. Cos it’s only Big Brother. It’s not hip. It’s not cool. It’s not on some kind of socio-political agenda. You’re all a bit worried people will roll their eyes and sigh and say ‘Oh, I don’t have a TV simply because of that kind of nonsense’. Even though it’s this kind of nonsense that’s influencing more people in the nation that you’re little twitter battle or hipster knitting-coffee-morning-with-wheatgrass-shots ever will.

Anyway, suspect Number 2.

Jim-Davidson-stand-up-and-007

Surely, I don’t have to explain this one, do I? Google him…and ‘Jim Davidson Racist’ is the third one down.

His comments in the house were of the ‘everday’ sexism variety, and we’ve all learned nothing happens with those, so why bother fighting (doing the classic talking over the older women, all very Germaine Greer. Telling the single girls they should get hitched etc). But they were still there. Daily.

Now, I won’t bang on about him too much, because..well…it’s all been done before.

I recognise that he is ‘of an age’. He belongs in the past, and should now be retiring, or performing in labour clubs and in smokey members bars. He’s one of those comedians who older people still like.

But he’s not a 2014 role-model. Hell no!

So HOW THE FUCK DID HE WIN BIG BROTHER?!

Whilst looking for articles and references for this post, lots of opinion peices (including tweets from the final night) started with ‘It’s embarrassing to admit this…’

‘I wouldn’t normally watch something like this…’

‘I accidentally flicked the TV over and saw…’

All embarrassing confessions as to why and how they ‘caught themselves watching’.

So…this massive slap of homophobia, sexism and racism happened because you were just a bit too embarrassed? Too cool to watch? Too busy taking the piss out of people who were?

Well, if that’s the case, well done you. It’s done now. All you had to do was maybe talk about it, discuss it. Pick up the phone and think ‘Hmm…maybe I should vote for a girl to win, and not two massive homophobic misogynists..’ Seriously, no one would have deducted any cool points, or told anyone in Shoreditch.

You didn’t need to go to a book fair, or a political talk. No rallies, cup cake stalls or art collectives. You just have to notice this is happening. This is who young people are voting for.

This is not a passive action. It’s not them being bombarded with pictures, images and ideals. This is who they are actively voting for.

It takes about 5 minutes to complete an Ofcom form (I know, because I sent two). It’s a protest in itself. It’s saying ‘I don’t think men should talk or act that way towards women’.

Whilst I’m sure you are all doing great stuff out there to help the world of feminism on a global scale, I can’t help but think you missed the wood for the trees on this one…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* A hashtag on twitter aimed at Amnesty after they concluded that sex workers are humans to their stance on the current push to ban the buying of sex isn’t totally determined yet. (If you want to help them, and are an amensty ember, pleeeaaase make your voice heard and send them an email with your support of Sex Workers rights.)

** Well, the ratings research shows that ‘ the majority viewer is female, between 16 & 44 and is ABC1.
If you go into the details, you actually find that the 25-34 female age group is the most active viewer and that she is most likely to be in the C1 demographic group (ie professional and lower to middle class

 

Sex Work Twitter

October 16, 2013

I honestly don’t think I’d be here today without Twitter.

I’m not being dramatic or saying it saved my life, but I certainly wouldn’t have made some of the Big Decisions in my recent life without it; the friends I’ve made, the inspiration they -and complete strangers – have given me, and the resources I’ve found within it’s free flowing timeline.

A few years ago, it was just another social media tool to dick around on with my friends, I used it to advertise and as a way to tell people about appointments I had free (when timewasters booked without turning up, and I was all dressed up with no where to go) and just a general way to chat. Now, it’s become something a lot more important.

I use it as a way to talk to people who have seen the shows, get feedback, and stay in contact with the many people I’ve met on the comedy road without having to nervously ask them for their email.

But in the last few weeks, I’ve also seen the major collaborative effort and work that goes into ‘Sex Work Twitter’ – a loose collection of even looser women (and men) who have worked in or support Sex-Work in many various forms. I feel ashamed at having come so late to the party. Weirdly, I never really thought about SW rights until I stopped being a sex-worker. Now I look around and see all the people who are making money on the backs of people in Sex Work, whilst also misrepresenting us, putting us in danger, and – frankly – it’s pissing me off. I know more people who have made money writing the classic ‘She was forced to take drugs and sell her body!’ with a black and white picture of a crying female of indiscernible age (or maybe just a teddy bear, with one eye. And a heroine needle in it’s arm. You know the type.) than I’ve ever known pimps/madams/agents or people who worked for them.

See, what Twitter does is it allows us to have a right to reply instantly. It means we can contact and immediately communicate with those who would seek to put an end to our profession, or misrepresent us in harmful and dangerous ways. We can talk directly to them/their followers/members directly and say ‘Hey! We’re here! That person is wrong, so here’s some stuff you SHOULD look at/think about/talk about.’ All with just the click of a button, and 140 well organised characters.

Back in the day if someone had written something you didn’t agree with, it would be a case of sending an email (or a letter), and hoping they didn’t just junk it. And you’d feel alone, wondering if you’re the only person who thought that way. Now, I can watch a whole ‘twitterstorm’ rumble around, and marvel at how they can express the noises/grunt/headdesking I’m feeling into such eloquent words and quotes.

Not only that, but we can instantly see who is willing to listen, who will talk, and who will just block us instantly and remain in their own bubble of ignorance.

I think the easiest way to explain is with an example. Sorry in advance if I’m hashing up old issues – it’s not my intention, it’s just an example I’m using to demonstrate.

A few weeks ago, a feminist conference was organised in a town about 2 hours from London. Some members of the Sex -Worker Open University had previously written to them with many wonderful reasons as to why they should attend. After all, plenty of people were going there to discuss them and their job, so why not let them in? And it’s a feminist conference, for women. So, you would have thought, all women could go, no?

They weren’t let it.

They weren’t really acknowledged in any way, shape or form. They spent the day in the car park, freely discussing and talking to people who were genuinely interested in what they had to say and were equally bemused at why they weren’t let in.

Now, like I said, I’m using this as an example so I shan’t get into the ins/outs/wrongs/rights of the situation. All it basically comes down to is three women left in a car park, exposed and – I imagine – humiliated whilst their very profession is being slammed and misrepresented a few yards away from them.

Man, I was aaaaaaangry!

I wanted to go up and support them – at least bring cake and a pat on the back, but I had an Indulge to do that night, and there was no way I could drive there and back in time. Plus not everyone is in my position. Not every Sex Worker is ‘out’, we don’t all want to descend on conferences and debates with a big neon sign saying what we do. So I and others took to Twitter. We could send messages of support, send out pleas to people in the area, or who were at the conference. We could keep up to date with what was going on and be a virtual crowd of support. God knows that if I had been sat in a grisly car park with two other people, I would have needed it.

And I like to think we helped make a change. There was a statement sent out by the organisers, and the hashtag was quickly overrun by Sex Work Twitter pointing out how wrong this whole situation was. Obviously, we can’t take the credit. The heroes of the day were definitely The Ladies themselves (the NCP3, as I like to call them), who weren’t dissuaded from their cause, who made the best of a bad situation, and ploughed on in the face of extreme prejudice. But it certainly opened my mind – and my Twitter feed – to what we can do, and what we need to do in order to…well…make some goddamn changes and open a few minds.

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while as I think it would be really beneficial for anyone stumbling onto this blog through my show to see who else is out there, who is so eloquently shaping sex-worker rights and standing up for our right to – basically – mind our own business. Also I’ve seen requests for people looking for writers and speakers etc, so I thought a ‘Who’s Who’ might be handy. Now, this will be updated and amended as time goes on. Also, I may get some details wrong as there are quite a few ‘collectives’ and sometimes I get confused as to who belongs where, so forgive me if it’s a bit wonky, just let me know.

A small introduction first, just in case you’ve stumbled here, there’s me, who you can follow on @bbwmelody. Sex-worker turned stand-up. Basically happy to stand up and talk about anything, with a bit of wit and laughter. Currently organising a tour for ‘Coin-Operated Girl’ – a comedy show where I talk about my 7 years as a sex worker (everyone’s bored of hearing this, but it got 5 star reviews in Edinburgh. *buffs nails*)

Now I need the proper activists. So if you, or anyone you know, would be up for getting into the big wide world and discussing what we do, let me know. Cos god knows it has to be better than some of the people who are out there doing it right now. Just leave me a comment, or drop me an email – melody@melodybbw.co.uk. Yup, the ol’e email still works!

World Mental Health Day, 2013

October 10, 2013

Goddammit, I was doing really well for a minute there! I was proactive, I was writing, I even went to the gym and bought salad. Then it all went slowly into shit.sticker,375x360.u2

It happens. Shit happens. And as I see the hastags for WMHD2013, I realise that whilst I may be under the Black Dogs Paw for a while, it’s not as heavy as some. But it’s there..just a bit.

 

I don’t think it’s depression, or at lest, I don’t like calling it depression. I think that’s a disservice to people who lives are destroyed by it. It’s just a little moment of the blues, a dead duck day, the curse of being eccentirc and outgoing 90% of the time, but still feeling like you’re alone in a full room the rest. See, whilst I’m lying in bed refusing to believe there’s a world outside of my duvet, my cat, and the closed curtains, I really don’t want to kill myself. I like my life! I like my duvet, my cat, and my closed curtains. The problem is I like them too much for about two weeks solid.

 

It almost always happens in September. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the changing seasons, the rough ride from the world being doused in yellow (well, as much yellow as you can get from an English summer) rays to surrounded by brown and orange (never anyone’s favourite colour scheme. It reminds me of curtains in 80’s primary schools)

But I sit and look at what I’m doing, and realise I need a change. A ‘real’ job. A holiday. A boyfriend. A new business. This always leads to trouble.

 

I apply for jobs, fuzzily filling in the 7 year gap with ‘Freelancing’ and ‘Volunteering’ and ‘Work Break for Family reasons’. I then send it to positions well below or well above my paygrade. I start with the admin assistants; realise way too many people are going to go for that job, so I humbly work down to switchboard operators. Then I decide that minimum wage isn’t for me, so I head up to CEO. I get invited for zero interviews (because, ultimately, no one ever got a job from applying on job sites. Imagine how many hundreds of emails must they get? Whatever happened to walking into a temp agency, smiling and giving a bright hello before they think ‘Yeah, that’s our gal!’ Instead, you have to get your whole personality over in 2 sheets of A4. How depressing.) and go back to bed for another two weeks.

 

Slowly but surely, my finances drain. This leads to even more duvet time – or an overwhelming desire to just spend, spend, spend! Cos.. y’know…YOLO!

Yes, yolo. That one phrase that ensures countless of skint OAPs in the years to come. So I buy a holiday, something to look forward to. Last year it was a trip to the West Coast of America. A road trip down the Pacific coast highway! Yeah-boi! We were gonna be Californian girls and hit the surf! Only when the time actually came, it was the last thing I wanted to do. A script still had to be written for the show, sketches for another show. I was celebrating my friends 30th the day we left -during which I’d had a massive row with the girl I was going with – and had to go straight to Edinburgh from the flight home.

All of which made for 2 weeks of..well… regret, really. It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, but booked in haste whilst the September black dog panted over my shoulder.

 

Speaking of panting, that leads me to my third ridiculous coping strategy – dating. I decide ‘No-one loves me!’ so I scrape the depths of dating sites and wonder a) Why the hell no one is replying to my pithy messages and b) Just where the hell are these guys going to find the Supermodel with a PhD they so obviously desire. I quickly grow bored/infuriated/sorry for the girls who actually reply to the more moronic messages (and, indeed, the men who send them) and just go for a date with the first sucker who can string a sentence together.

 

I realise 5 minutes in this whole evening is going to be a bit of a chore, as they’re looking at me with a mixture of pity and regret, we both get smashed to make things run smoother, end up in bed, I die in the morning, and try to explain that I have a hangover the size of Mount Fuji and morning breath that’ll kill a man at 20 paces. So romantic. I never hear from them again.

 

So I figure the best way to get out into the world, make some cash, and possibly meet the Neil Gaimen to my Amanda Palmer, is to be an entrepreneur! To start a new venture. It’s always awesome, something no-one’s done before. It’ll be the best because it’s so in demand. There’s a whole world out there who needs this, I promise! Then, when it fails to take over the world and land me on the front of Time magazine in two weeks, I’ve failed (I haven’t)

This means the world to people! (It doesn’t)

They’re relying on me to make it good! (They’re not)

I totally fucked up (I haven’t)

There’s no coming back from this (There is. It’s not gone anywhere)

My whole reputation is ruined (It’s not. I don’t really have one)

So..back to the duvet.

 

I kind of have to go through all of these things to come out the other end and realise it’s OK to fuck up. It’s OK to just want to turn it off, as long as you turn it back on again. Really, there’s things that I need to keep myself buoyant. I need to excersise. I need to eat right. I need to be a bit creative now and again. And I need to sit down and start typing. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse of my mind. The four things that’ll make everything stop, and go back to normality. Also the four hardest things to do in the world at that time.

 

But having a blog helps. Just sitting and writing a stream on consciousness like this is a way to start. I’ll make a cup of tea, and move on to the next Well Overdue Thing To Do. And good friends. I know I can call on mine to shake me into a pro-active writing session, a swim, or bully me back to some slimming club we’ll join for approximately 3 weeks.

 

So wherever you are on the scale, and whatever you might be doing right now – whether it’s taking over the world or sitting in your pyjamas – there’s always help. I’m not an expert, but I see so many supportive sites, schemes and societies out there that I think that should I fall, there’ll be someone out there to catch me.

 

 

Why selling it is easier.

September 17, 2013

So… I have a couple of profiles on some dating sites around the place.

One of them is my happy-clappy ‘Hey! This is me! Here’s some fun stuff, here’s all the pictures of me doing things’ and the other is ‘Hello, I’m just looking for fun. NSA, no drama, no games. Here’s my mysterious brooding picture’

And I can’t win with either of them. In fact, my slut profile has just raised such hell from one guy, it’s actually just given me a headache.

His first email went on at length to say how he’s easy going, take it as he leaves it, not bothered. Asked my name and location.

I replied, saying that’s good, and what I’m looking for, because most of the men on here have been a bit mental

Him – Well, with a profile like that you’re inviting the mentals in.

Me – *Blink* Hang on, did I just read that right? Sooo… by me saying I’m not after a relationship, I’M the one inviting the men to become crazy, I’M the one whose made them have pictures and profiles that make them look like a serial killer? I’M the one inviting them?

HIM – So what’s your name. I’m from londonplace, you?

ME -DO YOU NOT SEE ANYTHING WRONG WITH WHAT YOU JUST SAID?!

HIM – FFS! If you’re not going to tell me you’re name and where you’re from, and have a profile saying you’re looking for something casual, then you’re obviously a man.

Yes. I’m a man. I make a feminism stand point and pretend to be a 17 stone BBW because I’m a man.

And my other profile does no better.

‘Hey, U hav greet eye. i lik ur profile’

‘bbe, u n me’

‘U look so sexy do u now that?’

‘Hi, what’s up. I like your profile. Fancy a chat?’

‘Thanks, what did you like about it?’ Que endless silence.

‘Hey, I like your profile. But your humour is quite intimidating’

What does that even meeeeaaaan?!

‘Hey, I like your profile, but I’m not after anything serious.’

Well, I’d show you my other one, but you’d think I was a dude. Or you’d turn crazy at the mere sight of a woman wanting to express her sexual freedom!

Image

Come one, come all! Hide your eyes, cover your babes lest the sight of her drive you to the nut house!

Woman, like you’ve never seen here before – wanting sex without a relationship!

She’ll drive you wild and make you forget how to use both vowels AND consonants!

You’ll never be the same, from now on you’ll only communicate through BBM. Like a 14 year old without any credit!

 

Enough! You cry.. get off the dating sites!

And I do! Honestly, I’m not on them all the time. I just dive in every 6 months or so to remind myself of what I’m missing out on. Not. Fucking. Much.

I rely much more on real life. But when a boy approaches me in real life, there is way too much room for manoeuvre. And when I say ‘room for manoeuvre’, I mean ‘wine with the possibility of throwing up in my shoe’.

 

A Dry Spell

September 15, 2013

Something’s happened to me. I don’t know what it is, but I suspect astronomical forces are at work; planets have aligned, secret conglomerates have met, and something is very definitely in my water. I seem to have hit 32, and become an 18 year old boy.

An outbreak of spots, increase in appetite, unwillingness to get out of bed, and the kind of sex drive that can move mountains has hit me. Sex. Sex. Sex. It’s all I can think about. Sex. Sex. Sex.

Is it reaching the ‘dirty-thirties’? Is it some slight twist in medication (I’m on The Pill, god knows that can do crazy things to you)? Is it magnetic forces and leylines? Is it just going from a daily life of it to just talking about it? God knows, but it’s right there – everytime I close my eyes there’s a new position, a new cock, a new fantasy rearing it’s head at me and inviting me into it’s soft, moist, welcoming embrace….forcing me to loose at least 5 minutes of the Eastenders plot line.

I wouldn’t mind, but finding men to have sex with is hard.

I’ve been trying for a while – I want nice, sober, friendly sex. Not drunken fumblings – which is about the best I’m getting – but good quality, exploratory, do-it-in-the-day sexual contact. It’s just not happening for me. And hasn’t been happening for a while.

And before you say it, no I cannot have sex anytime I want to Just Because I’m A Woman. It doesn’t work like that. Men, too, can have sex anytime they want to, we all can. But it means a) lowering your standards or b) paying for it. Sometimes men do both, just because it’s cheap. And that’s where they end up moaning about it on review sites.

And the few times I’ve found a willing participant, things just haven’t gone to plan. And that’s what I’m going to be discussing today kids. This isn’t a bemoaning of my dry, bereft sex life. This is calling to attention something that I’ve wanted to write about for a while, wanted to ask advice about but have been too scared because I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s my fault.

But there it is, reassuringly there on google predict to show I’m not alone.

Image

 

(No, not men who can’t love. Men can love, they just don’t love you. If you need to ask google about love, then you have way more problems than that. Now get out of that relationship and find the man you’re supposed to be with. Run. Go. Christ, even getting a cat and a mild drinking problem must be better than asking google why men can’t love!)

I mean the second one down. Men who can’t ejaculate.

Because…that’s unheard of, right? Men are supposed to be the ones coming left, right and centre! That’s what sex is all about, isn’t it? Just a brief moment before they spunk their load! In fact, the common thing is cumming too quickly! So not coming at all? Pfft!! There’s something wrong there!

And that’s what I thought. But I thought the Something Wrong was me. It’s happened to me with the last 3 guys I slept with…there, I said it.

 Three. All three just couldn’t give the money shot.

With number 1 we could talk about it, we figured out why, and found solutions. Number 2 I couldn’t figure out, he was so totally different to number 1, and when it happened to no. 3, I started realising the only common denominator in all this is yours truely. Now that, that is a real bummer of a conclusion. So much so that I’m at the point where – if it happens again – I’m just going to burst out crying. I’ll cry, whilst sewing up my defective vagina.

Although I’ve been wanting to talk about it for a while, I didn’t want to blog about it for many reasons. Mainly because I worried something was wrong with me, but also I think the men I’ve had this kind of encounter with might dip into the blog. If so, I want them to know I’m not writing about them, I’m writing about me, my experiences with it and how I feel inadequate, and I’m trying to help other people who may be feeling the same.

So let’s look at the reasons why this might be happening, because I hope – I really hope – that if this is happening to anyone out there, they can find some kind of solice, or advice, or just the realisation they’re not alone. Because even after escorting for 7 years and never leaving anyone unsatisfied, I still can’t help but think -

1. It’s not you. It’s me.

I have to thank AskMen for their honesty. Sometimes, a guy just doesn’t like you. Just because you’re willing, it doesn’t mean they’re totally on board. It would be easy to bitch and moan that they’re being mean, but they’re not. They’re being frank. But it’s so easy to jump to this conclusion. For a woman it would be our number one hit which is why no-one talks about it. Is it different for a man? Can it be spun into a prowess thing? ‘Aww yeah, I can go for hours!’

As a woman, I feel the absolute pits. I feel defective. I feel like I’m at fault. What happened between us smooching with our clothes on and full-on naked penetration that has left you not-so-keen? Is it my body? My face? Oh god! It’s my cum-face isn’t it?! Now I have to practice it in the mirror..!

Chances are, it’s not. If the stiffy is there, then there’s a pretty good chance he’s turned on with or without the bag over my head. And Ladies, remember, 7 years I had sex with absolute strangers. 7 years where each one was left satisfied, and if they couldn’t produce, they’d tell me why..which we’ll come on to. But first, let me introduce you to my new favourite words…

 

2. Idiosyncratic Masturbation Style.

I’m also going to champion this as another good reason to sleep with escorts.

Basically, they’ve been spanking the monkey in their own way for such a long time, that to actually do The Sex with a Real Person takes them totally by surprise. Women don’t feel or fuck like a hand, or whatever device they may be using. They may be used to fwapping furiously at a speed that would make a freight train worry, and we are somewhat much more laid-back. 

I think I notice it a lot more in men in their late 20’s/30’s because they’ve had a lot more practice. So I would encourage them to save the lube, and just hire someone instead.

Gents, I’m afraid the best thing you can do is have a wank-break. Please. You can try a few days, a week, possibly two. It depends. Put a parental lock on your computer to stop you being tempted by the porn (and leads to Sexual Attention Deficit Disorder – where you’ve basically watched so much internet porn that real life just seems a bit dull. How awful) and avoid sitting at the back of busses. I know it sounds harsh, but do you want to keep finishing off in your hand for the rest of your life? No, we don’t want that for you either. That sounds like some kind of hellish ironic punishment.

And do you know how bad it sounds? How rubbish we feel? How hurt when you turn round and say ‘Sorry, I don’t think I can do it. I’ve been wanking too much.’ Well, don’t wank then. That’s what I’m here for! Ok, ok.. I know people in long-term relationships may be grateful for the moments of self-pleasure. I’m just talking about when it’s become a problem. When your partners frustrated that you seemingly prefer a hand-shandy to the soft, warm embrace of her body, the body she has so kindly invited you into. She’s spruced it up, cleaned it, done a bit of tidying around the place so you feel warm and at home, but in actual fact you’d rather be doing D.I.Y in the shed whilst watching a load of strangers. What an absolute cunt you are!

Sorry, got a bit angry there. But it’s just…selfish, isn’t it? Am I wrong? Don’t wank. Don’t watch porn. Do it with me instead because I’m the one whose here and who likes you. Not much to ask…

You know how we used to say wanking made you go blind and have hairy palms? We need a new Old Wives Tale for Internet Porn. Too much internet porn will stop you from having sex with girls. True, on many, many levels.

3. Medication

As an escort, men could tell me anything. They weren’t out to impress, there was no future, just the hour we had together. So on the initial phone call, straightaway there would be the confession of ‘I’m on medication that makes it a bit tricky for me to get hard/ejaculate/whatever’. I didn’t need to know that, but very nice that they told me. But In Real Life, it’s a lot harder for someone to admit to when they’ve only know the other person a limited amount of time. Would I want this person to know I’m on anti-depressants? To open up that line of questioning before we’ve even had dinner? No, probably not. Do I want to admit to being older, more fragile now I’m on heart medication? Not really.

So, sometimes, we have to figure it out. Or sometimes we worry that you don’t actually fancy us, so we don’t text you back, or answer your facebook messages because we feel unattractive to you. It’s only months later when we find out it’s because you’ve been on pills that we think…Ok, that’s fair enough. But by then, everyone’s moved on.

In my reality, it was medication stopping numbers 2 and 3 from reaching a satisfactory conclusion, but I didn’t know it at the time. And, as an ex-sex worker, I have that arrogant little voice in my head that says ‘Surely, a little pill won’t stop ME!‘. But yes, yes it does.

So..solution? Maybe just don’t be having sex with people you don’t feel comfortable talking to about it. I think that’s a pretty decent way to live anyway. Obviously, it’s not always that easy. You might find yourself in bed with a 32 year old whose libido has taking on the form of a raging bull, so it would just be dangerous not to. 

I guess what I’m saying is that not ejaculating, not orgasming isn’t just your problem, it effects your partner too. Yes, I’m sure it can be frustrating and bewildering for you and I have every sympathy, I do. But if any of these examples ring true, then think about how it will make that other person feel if they don’t know this about you. It’s daunting to be faced with a raging hard-on that’s just not doing anything. I can understand if there’s nothing happening at all, if the flacid little fella just ain’t playing. But in society we’re so used to the Captain Come-Quicks, that this can take us by surprise.

Take steps. Prepare. Communicate.

I’d be really interested to hear any similar stories or advice. This isn’t me bitching and moaning, I’m genuinely at the end of my tether on this and feeling…well…feeling like my vaginas broken, really. So please feel free to leave comments. 

 

 

 

Rad Fem

July 23, 2013

So, here we go.

A few months ago we had the Rad Fem conference – remember the one? Where anyone opposed to Rad Fem or wasn’t born with a vagina (no matter how much they wanted to be) couldn’t go. It’s taken me a while to figure out what – underneath it all – really bugs me about these people. I met one a few months ago, and she identifies with every label going, whilst still throwing her hands in the air, crying ‘Don’t Label Me!’

In a little flash of inspiration, I just thought/remembered what it is I don’t like about rad fems; they take all that’s good, and fun and joyful out of being A Girl.

We’re allowed to have girly moment’s! We shouldn’t feel like we’re Betraying The Sisterhood because we like pink, or sex, or men, or baking, or step aerobics to make our bums look good, or bras, or shaving our legs, or rampant rabbits or high heels, or short skirts, or make-up, or perms, or glitter, or smiling when a man opens a door, or getting butterflies when they walk on the right hand side of the road, or do that thing where they guide you to a spot by putting their hand in the small of your back. (Don’t you just love that?). We’re not betraying ANYONE if we live out a prostitution or rape fantasy with a trusted partner. I don’t think it’s killing anyone that I enjoyed sex-work, or straighteners, or crimping my hair, or hair extensions, or false lashes, or Geordie Shore.

I’m going to keep on wearing spanx, and giving blow-jobs, and – when the time comes – stuffing so much botox into my face you could smash a bus on it. I’ll pick up a mans pants, give a girlish giggle at his jokes, and make compromises if I ever have a relationship because that’s equality. That’s being human.

And I believe all this because, when I look back at my life, I can’t see a thing that Rad Fem has done for me.

The Suffragettes sorted out the vote – nice one girls. And lots of lovely ladies have done things for other lovely ladies to come. But being so ‘radical’ that you start to exclude people, you exclude other women because of what they enjoy just makes me want to exclude them, because I won’t miss them and this supposed ‘Sisterhood’ we should be so fucking proud of.

Where was the sisterhood when I was growing up? Where was it in my all girl’s school when I was being bullied for being fat, wearing the wrong shoes, or generally just not being good enough? Where was the sisterhood when I was being pushed over, kicked and poked just because of my size? Where was the sisterhood when I stood up to them, told teachers (female teachers), and it ended in more suffering? I’ll tell you where the sisterhood was – smoking behind the bikesheds and glaring at the boys. Because that’s it, isn’t it. It’s so much easier to lay blame at someone else’s door than look at how you, yourself, might be damaging someone else.

I had no sisterhood growing up. Instead, I grew up with my dad, and the one thing he didn’t know what How To Be A Girl. So he didn’t even try and pretend. He just told me I could do whatever I wanted to do – no matter how ridonkalously ambitious (although, he put a cap on ‘Fire Engine’). So, I grew up with pretty much no female interaction, other than Bad Interaction until I was in my final years of school. And – apart from the whole sex-work thing – am pretty sure it didn’t do me any harm.

It’s not radicalism we need, it’s humanism. We need to be able to look at a 40 year old dad and his 14 year old daughter and not say ‘Hmm…something funny going on there’. We need to look into his eyes and see the same petrified expression any dad would give (although, lets times it by 10,000 as there’s no mum around right now) when she tells him she needs a bra, or might be having her period, or thinks she’s got a boyfriend, or when she find’s out she hasn’t got a boyfriends, but it’s too late….

 

I just can’t identify with rad fems. I’m sorry Ladies.

Thing is, you just weren’t there when I needed you, and I’m not sure if your daughters will be there for my daughter. When she’s in school, will Jocasta, and Violet, and Lysandra take her under their wing? Or will they denounce her for being my daughter? Will they bully her for being overweight, or not wearing the right shoes? Or coming from the wrong background?

Or will they do what my Rad Fem did – bully her about not wearing the right clothes, and then go on a ‘Journey of Self Discovery’ using her dads money – the same money that bought her nice clothes, and the right shoes – and coming back and screaming ‘AREN’T YOU DOING WELL?!’ before putting her arms around me, 18 years too late, and just forgetting – because we’re all part of The Sisterhood, right? – that she was a complete bitch.

I’m glad she feels the need to have hairy pits, just to prove a point.

I haven’t told her about the show, she just bumped into me at Latitude where I immediately thrust my ‘Performers’ wristband in her face, and wandered off to use the nice backstage toilets whilst she collected her she-wee.

I hope it broke.

 

 

You’ve gotta fight, for you’re right…

February 24, 2013

Ok, so something quite exciting has happened in the world of Sex-Worker rights activism! Well, I think it’s exciting as I’m still very much trying to keep up and catch on with what’s happening.

(I’m a terrible activist. I don’t make clear arguments and have a terrible habit of needing flip-charts and marker pens to make a point rather than lovely, big clever words. If I tried to debate anything, the team I’d be on would just end up with their heads in their hands, and ask me to go and make the tea before quietly apologising to the opposition whilst I’m out the room.)

But allow me to do a basic (and I mean basic) summery of wha’ gwan in the world of Sex-Worker Rights and Why We Need ‘Em.

So, we the so-called ‘happy hookers*’ of this world believe sex workers rights should be debated, decided and discussed with real sex workers. Y’know, the ones who are actually doing the job.

However, some people think it should be decided by ‘Others’. Be they unions, churches, councils, refuges..even people who stand to make more money the more illegal the purchasing or selling of sex becomes. Who’d have thought!

It’s about this time I’m going to start using everyone’s favourite Epic Space Opera to make comparisons (this is the bit where my debate team start rocking in their seats)

Much like when Trade Federation set up a blockade around the peaceful planet of Naboo, the sex-workers of Ireland are being threatened by the same. As we all know, the only reason the blockade was set up was so that Darth Sidious (a.k.a Senator Palpatine, the baddie) could take over as Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. Boo!

So in the Federation, we have the typical religious anti-sex work companies like Ruhama, and campaigns like Turn Off the Red Light (I’ve linked straight to their ‘who we are’ page so you can see exactly the total lack of actual Sex-Workers they have working with them) who believe that sex-workers who enjoy their work don’t exist. They even say it on their website -

Some argue that prostitution is a harmless, commercial transaction between consenting adults. That women choose to become involved in prostitution and should have the freedom to do so. We refute this.

Well, we do exist. And we’re awesome.

We’re basically Jedis.

We’re the ones you want on your side, and the ones you should be rooting for. I’ve been many things in my life, but Totally Fictional is a new one! Anyone else find it a bit ironic they’ll believe in an omnipotent being controlling their every move who has never actually given any concrete proof of his existence, but there are several escort out there explicitly saying they enjoy their work? No?  (OK, ok… I have no doubt they are doing great work with women who need it, but tarring us all with the same brush isn’t helping. I applaud their work, I really do. Even if they don’t applaud mine. Still, they’re morally obliged to forgive me. It’s in the manual.)

Step in The Rebellion, with campaigns like Turn Off The Blue Light (nice!), several bloggers, columnists, and escorting alumni of note who are using the internet The Force to stand up for Sex-worker rights, real rights, so that they can work in safety. Cos that’s what we want, right? That’s what everyone should want…for sex-workers to be safe. They have the right to not be afraid of pimps, ‘managers’, clients, and especially not the law.

Anyway, the Galactic Senate (i.e – the Irish Justice Committee hearings on prostitution) has been meeting to discuss using the Swedish Model. Sadly, this isn’t a leggy blonde, it means making the purchasing of sex illegal – thus pushing it further underground, making more women reliant on pimps and brothels, harassing clients , and further stigmatising sex-workers. I did a really quick google, and found this document from The Global Centre for Womens Politics, and makes the arguments for and against a lot clearer than I can -

http://www.glow-boell.de/media/de/txt_rubrik_2/160305LLVortrag_Eriksson.pdf (If anyone has any further documentation, please add a link :) But it includes how police had to video not just the purchase, but the actual sex itself. Fucking. Disgraceful. )

Basically, making the purchasing of sex is just not going to help anybody.

Ok, I totally understand that the girls who are being trafficked and used against their will need protection, but this is a blanket law that effects everyone. They need to concentrate more on the helpless victims of sex crimes, not alienate and stigmatise women who work hard to provide a consensual service.

So, you would have thought the Justice Committee would have asked Sex Workers what they think, wouldn’t you?

But no. No they haven’t. You can see all the commentary on what’s been happening through Jedi Sexwork.ie and Jedi Brooke Magnanti who, like many other Sex Workers and activists, have been trying to get the people the senate need to hear from. As it is, only a few of them have gotten through the blockade and their transcripts have been kept private, so no one knows WTF is going on, only that many of the women who need to be heard from, aren’t.

And tonight? It turns out that one of the women – a prostitution ‘survivor’ – has been to the committee on behalf of Ruhama/TORL, and giving her ‘harrowing’ account of being a prostitute (fortunately, she’s got a book out in the spring, so we can all read about it then! Ain’t that lucky?!)

But it turns out she’s been a brothel owner. Twice!

So…can’t have been that bad then, eh?

So it’s been a twitter flurry of Retweets as many brilliant people place the importance of this into a mere 140 characters -

Summing up why this whole hearing is important quite nicely -

False Consciousness@pastachips - Er. Exploitative managers *don’t want* decriminalisation, geniuses. D’you think the mafia want to see an end to the War On Drugs?

And on why this is an important discovery -

False Consciousness@pastachips - Let’s be real, this is significant because HYPOCRISY, *not* significant because “brothel-keeping” is a meaningful conviction. IT ISN’T.

Gaye Dalton@mechanima  -There is a bigger problem with her being put before the media and committees with a totally fictional “harrowing life story”!

Banjaxed Brehon@belowcontempt - Great weekend, and now a huge hole in Ruhama/TORL credibility before the Oireachtas Committee.

And finally – please, please read http://sexwork.ie/ for more information if you haven’t clicked already. None of these people are making this kind of fuss for fame and attention, they’re doing it to help others. They’re doing it because they have intelligence, a voice, and they are standing up for people who don’t..or even those people who may just take their rights to work safely and legally for granted. Just like I did, for a very, very long time.

*Urgh, I hate that phrase. There’s no other career choice where you have to put an adjective in front of it to show you’re actually OK with what you do. I’m yet to hear anyone say ‘Hi, I’m a miserable admin assistant’ or ‘I’m a nonchalant retail manager’.


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