Repeal the Eighth

If there is an overarching theme to this blog it is that everyone should have the right to bodily autonomy and that consent is sexy. Yet millions of people across the world have no guarantees of bodily autonomy. This is particularly the case if you are female. If you are female and pregnant it is often the state that denies you that autonomy, and this denial occurs in many western democracies, and several members of the European Union. This is not a hangover from the past either. Social conservatives are active in many countries seeking to reverse the gains of the last 50 years. Who can say that Roe v Wade is safe from being revisited by the Supreme Court of the United States once Trump had packed it with right wing placemen, in a country where the lifestyle choices of women are being made to penal sanction because they happen to be pregnant?

Tomorrow, the people of Ireland  have the  chance to contribute to the fightback when they vote in a referendum to decide whether the Eighth Amendment to the constitution, approved by a referendum in 1983 and which gives the unborn a right to life on the same footing as the already born, should be repealed. They have the chance to say that bodily autonomy matters, that women matter, that bearing children is not the sole criterion of the worth of a woman.

And a yes vote in Ireland would be a big boost to women in other European countries fighting their own battles with the “pro-life” obscurantists. Poland already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws  in Europe, and it is sign of the prevailing political climate there that the 1993 legislation which does allow for abortion in exceptional circumstances such as danger to the health and life of the mother, is regarded as an acceptable compromise by many. It is not. Every year thousands of Polish women go to Slovakia and the Czech Republic for terminations just as Irish women get the ferry across the Irish sea. Yet for the zealots this is not enough. A citizens’’ imitative in 2017 originating with a crazy fundamentalist Catholic group attracted support from the ruling Law and Justice Party and draft legislation was drawn up only to be shelved when women took to the streets in their tens of thousands in a Black March. There were women’s strikes, a mass walk out from churches on the day a pastoral letter supporting the proposed changes was read out. The Government took fright. The threat has not gone away.

The current legal position in both Ireland and Poland has led to women either being denied treatment they need or, disgracefully, being forced to undergo medical interventions they have not consented to. I had the opportunity to talk to a Polish obstetrician about the possible impact of a total ban on abortion. He have the example of a woman with severe pre-eclampsia at 32 weeks. The only treatment is to induce the birth. This may led to the death of the baby (although doctors will do all they can to save it) but, if that is what has to be done to protect the health and life of the mother that is what will be done. Unless the laws are tightened further in which case the doctor inducing a birth may find herself jailed for up to 5 years for carrying out an abortion.

Doctors, he said, will become reluctant to carry out medically necessary procedures, and women will die. This is where pro-life legislation grounded in theology and not actual biological reality leads. Give a foetus which can have no existence independently of the mother an inalienable right to life and you deny this right to the woman who is carrying it.

I hope the Irish people will vote yes tomorrow. I hope too that such a vote will give impetus to efforts to change the unacceptable and totally anomalous situation in Northern Ireland. I know that the women of Poland will be watching with interest too. I hope that the message to the fundamentalists will be what many of us have chanted at demos over the years:

“Pro-life that’s a lie, you don’t care if women die”

Gavin Shuker Rides Again

The Nordic Model is a bit like Brexit. The more discredited it is by facts and evidence, the more tenaciously its advocates cling to it. It is not entirely surprising that The All Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution has recommended the criminalisation of the purchase of sex in its report on pop-up brothels. This group is chaired by Labour MP and evangelical Christian Gavin Shuker. This is the same Gavin Shuker who failed to answer any of the questions I asked him in this e-mail exchange 5 years ago. I doubt that he grasps the complexity and multi-faceted nature of the sex industry (if we can call it that)  or the way that high minded but simplistic solutions to complex issues will do more harm than good. The war on drugs hasn’t been a raging success has it?  This is a similarity to Brexit too isn’t it? And so is the shouting down of people who try to inject a little factual analysis into the debate. For “remoaner” or ”traitor” read pimp.

The report is actually quite long on sweeping statement but short on hard fact and .as the ECP has noted, the growth  in popup brothels may have rather more to do with austerity induced poverty and police crackdowns on more permanent premises  forcing ladies to move on regularly. The group has taken no account of the submissions of both sex workers’ groups and academics or indeed anything that didn’t fit their pre-packaged view of the matter.

 know anecdotally that trafficking does take place and I have heard some shocking stories from current and former sex workers. However the available evidence suggests that a large majority  of sex workers are not trafficked or otherwise coerced.  Many of them have taken up sex work because of their economic circumstances and would, in many cases, much rather be doing something else, but that is another issue. It is also not clear that those who have been trafficked are going to be helped by driving prostitution further underground. Clients and other sex workers can be, and on occasion, have been a source of assistance to trafficking victims and a source of intelligence to the police, a point made by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in their response to the consultations on Lord Morrow’s proposals (since enacted) in Northern Ireland.

The Nordic Model will not “end demand” any more than any other legislative prohibition in the past has ended demand  for whatever it was the social improvers decided wasn’t good for us. It will not help anyone who has been coerced into sex work. What it will do is bring in even more patriarchal state control over women’s bodies. It both fascinates and appalls me that so many so-called “feminists” are happy to go along with that.

Orgasm Fun – The Finish Line

I went to the doctor this morning and changed my anti-depressants. I will be interested to see how I get on with the new ones. I know I am not the only person who has suffered from anti-depressant libido suppression and not even the only one taking part in 30 Date Orgasm Fun. But it was a massive disappointment to me that  I didn’t come yesterday as a club, with my male lover, watched by two gorgeous dominant women who cropped and flogged him into greater efforts and kissed me in between. It was a gloriously sexy scenario I dreamt up for Day 29, a mix of rough sex, BDSM and exhibitionism. But my libido wouldn’t play ball.

Tonight, I will round the month off with a solo sex session. I may even fantasise about yesterday as I play with myself, for often the fantasy is better than the reality. But I will not try too hard ( maybe the problem yesterday) and be kind to myself. I haven’t had a lot of orgasms but those I have had have been mind-blowingly good. So fingers crossed.

So what have I learnt?

I have learnt that my body is beautiful, just as it is although It could be made more beautiful ( and will be!)

Sexual partners (and prospective sexual partners) find my body beautiful.

Sex toys designed for cisgendered women can work for me with a little imagination. More on this to follow in future blogs.

Sexuality is much more in the head than in the genitals.

Following on from that my sexuality is a driving force in much that I do, including in inter personal relationships Sexuality in fact is at the very core of my being (which is why I am here!)

I am loved and have a lot of love to give that those who love me (whether sexually or otherwise) .

Orgasms are therapeutic.

And finally:

However dark the place I am in at any particular moment, there is always a way out.

Tabitha, thank you so much for coming up with this awesome idea. This was my first year and I have learnt so much about myself.  And that, at 56, is a wonderful thing to be able to say.

Body Love

In the first five days of #30DayOrgasmFun I have only managed two orgasms. This was not unexpected and does not make me the West Bromwich Albion of wanking.    As I wrote earlier, Citalopram is doing its thing on me, and , I know, a couple of other participants. Failing to come is, however, not failure. For each time, I have pleasured myself with the vibrator, wallowed in my fantasies, helped myself along with the odd visual aid, I have enjoyed my body and reconnected with it. And this is massively important.

There is a thing called body dysmorphia which many transgender people suffer from, or are diagnosed with (not quite the same thing)  and  the man/woman born in the wrong body is a common trope as much as that of little boys who knew at the age of 3 they were really girls and longed for pink dresses and dolls rather than the toy cars they were actually given. If this is the experience of some trans people it is not the experience of everyone. It is certainly not mine.

I really enjoyed being a boy, I loved the rough and tumble of the games I played. I loved climbing trees, I loved playing football at the recreation ground using jumpers as goal posts and I can bore for England about rush back goalkeepers. Oh and I had a pair of  ball of white Alan Ball football boots which were THE thing to have in 1971/ Neither do I believe I am trapped in the wrong body. I have a body. It is the one I was born with, it has performed reliably enough to get me to the age of 56 in good health, it responds well to my mad urge to run half marathons. It is the body with which I have had great sex with some lovely men and women, it is the body from which my lovers have derived great pleasure. It is not the wrong body. If I believed that I would either have to deny myself or embrace mind-body dualism and make more than a nod in the direction of gender essentialism. Emotionally and intellectually I cannot do any of these things.

It is true that I have a complex relationship with my body and there have been times when I have hated it more than I have loved it. But this is not an exclusively trans experience. I guess most people are unhappy with their bodies at various times in their lives and negative body image is particularly an issue for many women . We all need to learn to love our bodies. And masturbation, particularly slow extended session of self love are a great way to do this. I remember a few years ago BUPA ran a series on ads on television, focusing on a remarkable fact about the human body with the slogan “You are amazing”. Solo sex leads to the same conclusion and, unlike BUPA, it’s free.

I had planned to be a bit adventurous but all my sessions this week have actually been in bed. No matter. I began on Sunday with the scented bath and the lingerie and came to a filthy fantasy I will write about in a future post, suffice it to say it involved me being used as a sexual plaything.  On Monday even Marlene couldn’t’ help me and I fell asleep, vibrator in hand. Come Tuesday it was an old sex issue of DIVA that came to the rescue (why do they no longer do them?). Since then I have not come but have explored my body in new and enjoyable ways.

Of course I am looking to change my body. My tattoos are part of the feminisation .as is laser hair removal. Further changes lie ahead. But these are not a rejection of my body. For it is my body. The right body. The body I am learning to love.

Biting The Bullet

I sometimes eat out alone. There are times when I want an evening in a restaurant with nice food, a glass or two of wine and I don’t have anyone to go with.  So I take a book and my phone, resist any attempt to seat me in an inconspicuous and cramped corner as if I had a nasty disease, and enjoy my time. I don’t usually read or tweet much as I am too busy people watching, thinking, reflecting and gathering material for new stories. I am also enjoying the sensual experience of the food and the wine. I see no reason to forego these pleasures just because I am on my own and my friends are busy. In fact it is an essential part of self care, self love.

It is the same with masturbation. Although I have three and a bit regular sexual partners most of my sex is solo sex. This too is necessary and is good for my state of mind, my sometimes fragile mental health. Tomorrow I begin the month of April with the aim of having an orgasm a day. 30 days, 30 orgasms or as many as I can manage. .

In the masturbation month of April I intend to have solo sex in all the places I might have sex with a partner, in the loos, outdoor, a quickie in my car, at a swingers club, but also of course in bed. Tomorrow I will start off by making it special. I will have a bath, put on some sexy lingerie, apply a little fragrance, retire to my freshly made bed, light a scented candle, put on some mood music, take out my bullet vibrator, some of my favourite porn, and play with myself, slowly, gently, forcing nothing, aware that my anti depressants might make climaxing difficult, but being in the moment, enjoying my body and finding it beautiful. And if I don’t come I will not consider it a failure. I will practice self care. I will love myself.

I will post weekly about my adventures. For the final day I have something special planned but you will have to wait to read about that.

Loving Eroticon

Once something has passed it has gone for ever, and what happened in London just two weeks ago is seemingly as irretrievable as that day in 4004 BC when God created the world, at least according to Archbishop Ussher.  Yet irretrievable does  not mean lost. The past lives on in  us, seen through the often distorting prism of our memories in, but shaping us in ways we are often only dimly aware of. I carry five Eroticons inside me, each in some way better than the previous one, each bringing friendship, fun, inspiration, consolation and, not infrequently, hot fantasies to take back to my hotel room.

It is difficult to know where to begin my review this year. If 2018 was not life changing in the way that 2014 and 2015 were, it led, unlike 2017, to a couple of decisions. The first relates to the focus of this blog and I will say more about this in future posts. The second is to change my BDSM focus. I am about to rebrand myself as a pinup mistress, abandoning traditional fetish wear for 50s frocks of various kinds with pink and leopard print and hair flowers,,,and a couple more awesome tattoos. In this way I will link my win passion of kink and vintage and get to wear my awesome vintage wardrobe more often. And if anyone fancies joining me for a role play with a difference, do get in touch. You know where to find me.

Here are few random thoughts and impressions. In no particular order.

I was so disappointed to find out that I had missed Mia More. Shew was the first person at Eroticon to change my life and she probably doesn’t know it because I haven’t seen her since Bristol 2014. I so want to introduce myself and say “Thank You”  and buy her a drink…..gin maybe?

Which is a segue into funniest conversation of the weekend which, no surprise, was with Violet Fenn who told me the story of the aggressive driver who forced her over on the M40 sped past and, slewed across 3 lanes of traffic to hit the barrier.

“Karma” I suggested.

“Serves him right for driving a f**** Peugeot”

I loved Lori Smith’s talk on the history of the bra and loved the fact that the first ever sports bra was made from 2 jockstraps and was originally to have been marketed as the Jockbra  before being launched as the er Jogbra.

I loved meeting the other Eve who gave a talk on disability and sex work and loved her reflections on the event.

I loved the fantasy I had early on Sunday morning that broke a Citalopram induced dry spell orgasmwise. I have told Tabitha and a couple of other people about it but will keep the rest of you in suspense as it will form the basis of a blog post, probably in April for obvious reasons.

I loved talking sissification with a Dutch dominatrix in the pub on Saturday night..

I love that I have so many ideas for blog posts. I just need the time to write  them.

I love that Drew grew up in South Worcestershire and knows a lot of the places I do……Wyre Piddle we’re talking about you!  …….and I loved his incredible story….. .

I love Eye for showing us all that age is meaningless and we can all get sexier and hotter as we get older. I am 56  and find her an inspiration..

I love that Katy Swann  is into Joy Divisoion.

I love that I have friends who are too young to have heard of Joy Division…….Coffee and Kink remember? I also love you both for being awesome.

I love Confess Hannah and Livvy for beautiful words of support to me on my journey.

I love the vibrator I won.

I love the fact the Zoe King and I have a mutual acquaintance (a Head of House at Cambridge no less!)

I love Eroticon.

I love Sarah, Molly and Michael for making it happen and making it awesome.

And finally, after years of struggle, I am learning to love myself. Eroticon has helped me to find my truth, that precious jewel I will carry in me for ever. ..

 

 

Remembering Laura Lee

It is, I guess, not unusual to hear bad news these days but this week I heard news that truly shocked me.  This was the death, at the scandalously early age of 39, of Laura Lee. Laura had acquired a significant profile over that last couple of years as an articulate and determined sex workers rights activist both in Great Britain and in Ireland, where both Northern Ireland and the Republic have recently introduced laws to criminalise the purchase of sex, both, incidentally, without lifting existing criminal sanctions against the sex workers themselves despite this being part of the sales pitch for the so-called Nordic model which politicians claimed as their inspiration.

I never met Laura. But I came across her back in 2012 when I started blogging and tweeting and stumbled across the debates raging in Scotland over the attempt by MSP Rhoda Grant to introduce a criminlisation law north of the Border. Laura was prominent in this battle as, although originally from Dublin, she lived in western Scotland (hence her Twitter handle @glasgaelauralee),and so I discovered her on social media and we soon followed  each other on Twitter, became friends on Facebook and we chatted quite a bit about the various issues.

I blogged a lot on sex work in those days. I don’t really write much now as I have said all that I had to say and where more needs to be said, there are many others better placed than me to say it. Nonetheless I am FB friends with a number of sex workers and activists from around the world and really value my little online sex work community. Laura was very much part of that

Laura was about to fight her biggest battle yet, to get the criminalisation law in Northern Ireland, (introduced two years ago on the initiative of Lord Morrow of the DUP and against the advice of the Police Service of Northern Ireland) overturned as a breach of the ECHR. Sadly she did not live to see the outcome of that fight.

Those who knew and love her will grieve as they must. Those who did not know her in person will be saddened. But all of us who value the safety of vulnerable women, all of us who value policy based on evidence and not on ideology, all of us who believe in the bodily autonomy of women, must fight on.

None of us, and least all Laura, would ever say that sex work is never exploitative, that many sex workers would not prefer to make their living in other ways, that many want and need exit strategies. What we do say is that the way to make life better, safer, for sex workers, those who want out as much as those who want to remain, is to remove criminal sanctions, to get the state out of all our beds. Continuing the struggle for this is the way to honour the memory of Laura Lee.

Rest in Power.