A Caring Profession

Some time ago the Birmingham Sunday Mercury had a sensational headline story. Apparently a woman who had a part time job as a carer in an elderly persons’ home spent the rest of her working week as a professional dominatrix with a dungeon not far from the home. I am unsure why it was necessary to out her and what anyone gained from this apart from selling a few more papers with titillating descriptions of thigh high boots and whips. The reporter must have felt incredibly brave going to the dungeon to confront the woman, reporting that he had escaped ‘without punishment’ as if dominatrices are in the habit of handing out whippings to random people whose path they happen to cross. This was journalism at its laziest and an appalling violation of the woman’s privacy. It also cost her her job at the home since, according to the home manager, being a carer is incompatible with being a ‘pervert’ (i.e. a person into kink in any form) even if, no-one knows about it, other than those who want or need to know.

I talked about this recently with my dominatrix friend over a glass or two of red wine. She told me how it looks from her perspective as an experienced professional. Most of the men she sees are regular clients, some of whom have been seeing her for all of the nearly twenty years she has been in the business. Over time she gets to know them very well, to understand what makes them tick as submissives, how she can best meet their deep seated emotional need to submit, be humiliated, punished etc. She learns things about them that even their partners don’t know, the fantasies, the demons, the often heavy emotional baggage from their past that she helps them to carry. Like a therapist I ventured  She agreed to a point but was reluctant to take the analogy too far. She is not a therapist but what she does is undoubtedly therapeutic for the clients. It is also a huge responsibility to accept the submission and, over time, the unconditional trust of someone who makes himself vulnerable in the context of a session. She cares deeply about her slaves a number of whom have become friends. I remember on one occasion as we chatted in a pub she took a call from a regular client, a man who had suffered a recurrence of his cancer. He just needed to talk and my friend was happy  to make time for him.

I find it easy to imagine that the woman in the press report was equally caring and that  her work as a dominatrix was simply another aspect of a caring personality, that washing a frail old person and ordering a slave to kneel before the throne have more in common than many people think.  That she should lose her job is a sad reflection on the immaturity of our society and its continuing difficulty in dealing with alternative sexualities

Looking Forward to Radfem 2013

I was, until recently, blissfully unaware of the existence of radical feminists. Having stumbled across the sex work debate I discovered that for those campaigning for sex workers’ rights radfems are Public Enemy Number One. They, I guess, wouldn’t see it that way. They are campaigning for women’s’ liberation from the patriarchy, from male oppression and prostitution is for them one of the most visible manifestations of the subjection of woman to man. Anyway I am not here to write about sex work again but rather consider what I have seen of radical feminism. To be honest I don’t like it very much.

They are having a conference in June Radfem2013 with a range of star speakers, none of whom I had ever heard of, with the exception of Julie Bindel. I had a look at the website the other day. It is heavy stuff. Apparently the radfems want to abolish gender which, they claim, is a male device to oppress women.  Here the doubts began to surface in my mind. Radfem 2012 was cancelled after complaints to the venue about anti-trans woman discrimination. The website for 2013 makes no specific mention  of trans women being excluded but it is clear from what has been said in various public forums that  Radfem 2013 would rather only ‘real’ women participated,  in other words, those who were born with two X chromosomes and the reproductive organs that go with it.  This is odd since, having implied that gender is a social construct they fall back on a narrow biological definition of what it is to be a woman. Instead of seeing trans women, that is women who have the dreaded Y chromosome but think, feel and live as women as breaking open the binary gender opposition, they reject them, often in vitriolic terms. The radfems reject gender but the binary opposition of male and female is at the heart of their self definition. As they reject gender they smuggle it back in to divide and exclude. I cannot think this is either radical or feminist.

And what of gender as a social construct?  If gender is indeed a thing imposed by men on women to ensure their subjection, we need to ask the question how this could, historically, have happened, through whose agency?  After all neither men nor women are an undifferentiated mass who all think and act the same way. They are divided by class, socio-economic status, culture, religious belief and so on.  Gender, in my view, cannot be considered in isolation from the wider structures of class and power. This implies that the struggle for women’s liberation cannot be separated from wider struggles for rights and justice. Gender can oppress men too as gay men, transgender men, submissive men have all found. Liberation for women is not the antithesis of liberation for men. They are two sides of the same coin

Radfem 2013 has a programme that makes no mention of the most important issues for many women, such as child care, employment rights, benefits, or the workings of a criminal justice system that locks up fewer and fewer rapists whilst continuing to put vulnerable women behind bars for offences that would earn  men a slap on the wrist.  No need to worry though because the radfems are going to ’critique’ (sic) queer theory. To test how relevant this is to women’s concerns I conducted a straw poll of twenty women I know aged between 23 and 77. The women were a mixture of single, married with children, married with grown up children, with one widow. Fourteen of the twenty were graduates. Only three had ever heard of queer theory and only one could say what it was. She was the 23 year old who happened to have covered it in her university course two years ago.

All in all many of the discussions at Radfem2013 seem so far removed from the problems and concerns of contemporary women that they might as well hold the conference on Mars.  I personally find a load of middle class women parading their feminist consciences in pseudo-intellectual debate whilst doing nothing that could ever improve the lot of women in the real world, many of whom have not enjoyed the material advantages they have, dreadfully self-indulgent.

It all seems rather humourless too. If you went you would be treading on eggshells in case you breached the conference guidelines. Here’s what they say on the website:

‘Anti-female, racist, classist, disabilist and lesbophobic language will not be tolerated at the conference. Anyone found to be attending in order to be disruptive or to promote an alternative agenda will be asked to leave the conference. The organisers reserve the right to ask participants to leave at any time if they are not acting appropriately, in line with this agreement.’

Note the second point. If you dare to disagree with the line handed down from the platform you’ll be kicked out, assuming you haven’t first let slip an inadvertent classist comment, or blurted out  that you like wearing heels or enjoy baking cakes or, horror of horrors, that you like giving your partner a blow job. It promises to be a laugh a minute.

Twittering On

I went to a party last Thursday, a party unlike any I had been to before. The Valentines Day Feminist Love In was a Twitter party. I took a bottle of sloe wine and my home made coffee and walnut cake and sat down by my laptop. For nearly an hour I chatted listened to music and had a fun time. Afterwards i reflected on what I have got out of Twitter.

I was late to Twitter and, I have to admit,  shared some of the popular prejudices about it, dumbing down and so on. After all what can you say in a 140 word sound bite?  Then I thought that it might be useful to promote my writing or such of it has been published.  So I signed up tweeted a few times and nothing happened, at least not until I started tweeting more often, following people interacting with them, and slowly getting a few followers. Very little of what I tweet has much to do with promoting my writing. Instead I have had an education through the people, mainly women, I speak to in this virtual world.

I never considered myself to have led a particularly sheltered life but have had my eyes opened, for example, to the battle for sex workers’ rights or to the joy and the pain of being a submissive woman. I have learned too that there are loads of clever passionate and committed people out there writing about sex and sexuality  and the experience has changed me. I realise, as I didn’t before, how political many of the issues surrounding sexuality, male and female, are. I now find my views radically opposed to those of many people I socialise with and no longer bite my tongue at cheap comments about sex workers, gay men, submissives or whoever. I have been involved in more than one heated argument recently but don’t regret it.

Sexuality is a more wonderful thing than I ever imagined. I want to say thank you to those I talk to on Twitter, those whose blogs I read, for helping me to see this.  Our sexuality is so wonderful that I wonder whether I could ever do it justice in fiction. But I’m determined to try.

I thought I would reblog this. A really powerful description of the Government’s war on the poor.

the void

If you take a walk down Oxford Street, or any other busy Central London street, take a look at the pavement and you will notice an unusual shortage of discarded cigarette ends.  This has nothing to do with any conscientious street cleaning by Westminster Council, and is certainly not because West End shoppers are particularly conscious of littering.

The reason is that there is an army of urban scavengers patrolling the streets hunting for cigarette ends so they can squeeze the last little scraps of tobacco into a Rizla.  You need three or four fag butts generally to get anything approaching a reasonable smoke, and even then it’s likely to make your throat sore with it’s harshness.  Lots of people store it up in a tin, or empty tobacco packet.  It’s dry, flaky and smells predictably of ashtrays.  The smoking ban has meant the prime spots are outside pubs.  Bus…

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When Three’s A Crowd

As you may have read in a recent post I have had three in a bed sex with my partner and another woman and enjoyed it. When we were looking for someone for this we looked on the websites of several independent escorts and spoke to a couple of them. They told us that although they enjoy seeing couples  they always approach such bookings with caution. One said that she would never accept a couple booking from a man without first talking to the woman. This is because three in a bed with two women is a common male fantasy and some men pressurise reluctant partners into doing something they don’t really want to do. It is quite right that sex workers take this approach.

I am inclined to think that the reluctance of some women to engage in threesomes is nothing compared to the reaction of men to a two man one woman threesome.  I once suggested this to my partner. Now I am not sure that I would get turned on at seeing him with another man but it is something about which I am curious. So I broached the issue very gently suggesting that as we had both enjoyed sharing our bed with a woman it seemed like a logical next step.

He was reluctant even to talk about it. I asked him if seeing me with a woman had turned him on? Yes, it was something he had long fantasised about. So, my argument continued, what if I found seeing you with another man  a turn-on erotic, what if I soaked the bed as I watched you? Answer came there none, just embarrassed silence.

I could see the conversation going nowhere so dropped it. Yet this is man who is open to so much, who likes to cross dress, who has visited a dominatrix and who tells me he has fantasised about engaging in forced bi at the command of a dominatrix, dressed up as a slut. It seems, however, that there are some fantasies that some men want to leave as just that, fantasies. Yet they expect the women in their lives  to act out their other fantasies.

So what do I do? Actually it is not something I am desperate to and I can live without it. But I would like to try at least once and I would also like to understand  the double standards that even sexually liberated and open-minded men apply.

Why I am not a Twunt but am a ……………

I love the word ‘twunt’. It has a lovely feel in the mouth. It is, however, a term of  abuse coined, as far as I am aware, by Jemima of the itsjustahobby blog. The reason for this is that she loves the word ‘cunt’ and does not see it as a term of abuse. I mention this because it reminded me of a beautiful recent post on The Lady Garden Project, a celebration of the word ‘cunt’.

http://www.ladygardenproject.com/2013/01/15/cunt-celebrating-the-word-and-the-women/

I like the word too but I have my own favourite, the Polish ‘cipunia’ pronounced ‘cheepoonya’ which is a word of incredible warmth and softness. I am my cipunia. I am my cunt.

That is what I like about this blog, its joyous celebration of the cunt. No two cunts are alike but every cunt is beautiful, every one a source of delight to us and to our lovers, just as no two red roses are identical, but each makes the garden more beautiful.

When I finish this post I will lie on the bed in front of the mirror, speak to my cipunia in words of love and think of those I have the joy of sharing it with. And I will say a word of thanks to Anna for her writing and for putting such lovely thoughts in my head.

How I Promoted Trafficking and the Global Sex Trade

The title of this post is, of course, ironic. I write about sex work issues from time to time and am asked on occasions what I know about it. The answer is not as much as many other people who write in defence of sex workers’ rights but, I suspect, more than a lot of those who post from the other side. I have never been a sex worker, although I have a good friend who works as a dominatrix, but I have been a client. For some this makes me an incarnation of evil, accessory to trafficking etc. etc. I just want to say a little about my experience and the impressions it left me with.

A few years ago I was working away from home on an interim contract, in Manchester to be precise. I loved my time there. It is a city with a vibrancy I find rather lacking in Birmingham where I live. Every other week my partner took time off work and came to visit. We had great sex, somehow being in another city, in the impersonality of a hotel room took us out of ourselves and encouraged us to try new things. In short we were uninhibited.

Then, for my birthday we decided to do something we had often discussed and booked a girl from a local escort agency for some three in a bed fun. I felt nervous but once the girl arrived and the money had been handed over I relaxed. She was friendly and chatty and put us at our ease. As she slipped into something more comfortable, we slipped into ……nothing and the fun began. I quickly relaxed and found an enjoyment I had not known in being kissed and touched by a woman. I felt an incredible high after she had gone.

Some months later we repeated the experience with a different girl. A longer booking this time as my partner wanted to explore his cross dressing urges. I dressed him ,made him up and together with the escort we walked the short distance to the safety of the gay quarter for a drink. He had been very nervous as we walked through hotel reception and into the street, where he felt very vulnerable but we placed him between us, put our arms round him to give him assurance. We would look after him, keep him safe. It was  a wonderful moment of trust, a giving of himself. Back in the hotel room he remained dressed and gave himself to both of us in turn. It was another beautiful moment.

You may ask why we had to pay to do this. Surely we could have found someone to play with us? Yes but that would have taken time, involved getting to know the person and possible emotional entanglements  To pay someone was easier on both counts. Both the escorts we saw opened doors for us, helped us to explore our sexuality. Apart from that we enjoyed their company and they, I hope, enjoyed ours.

So I am a sex worker’s client. I do not regret it one bit. The girls we saw were bright and attractive and fully aware of what they were doing. Everything we did was discussed beforehand and a price agreed. We paid them well and they provided us with what we wanted. It was, in other words, a business transaction of benefit to both parties. No coercion, no exploitation, no rape. There are those who would make what we did a criminal offence. I would have a criminal record and the girls would be forced underground and exposed to the dangers of real criminals. So I say thanks again to Christina and Alex and I promise I will continue to do my little bit to defend your and other sex workers’ rights.     .