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

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.