Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

I was approached for a date by a man who seemed to me as though he might be below 18.  My gut instinct was not to accept the date, so to salve the pain of rejection, I tried to explain why we don’t see under 18.  He became very angry and said he was disabled, but judging by the way he sounded, I believe it was a mental disability rather than a physical one.  It feels kinda shitty to reject him for that, but if I saw him I wouldn’t feel right.  Are the consent issues with a mentally disabled adult the same as when a party is underage? justice

Whether he was under 18 or a mentally disabled adult, you were probably right to reject the date.  Our culture is, alas, in the midst of a new Victorian Era, in which there is tremendous cultural anxiety about sex.  And while it used to be not at all unusual for a young man in his late teens to be initiated by a sex worker, now that would be viewed as “sexual abuse” even if he’s above the local age of consent, due to the magical corrupting power of money.  If his parents should find out and extract your contact information from him, you could be in very hot water indeed.  Even if he could prove to you that he’s over 18, you’d have to carefully examine the circumstances: does he lives alone and manage his own finances, etc?  If so, it would probably be fine, though obviously you’d have to decide for yourself whether you’re comfortable dealing with the special difficulties such a client might present.  But if he lives at home and/or has some kind of guardian, he’d be considered a “vulnerable adult”, and you could potentially be viewed by the law as “exploiting” him just as though he were under 18.  While it’s true that we’re all viewed as criminals by US law anyhow, it’s not really a good idea to turn a misdemeanor into a felony, nor to compound that felony.  And when sex is involved, the mass hysteria that currently grips our culture will make sure that your life is completely destroyed if you’re found out.  It’s sad if you can’t help someone who might be desperately in need of human contact, but there are some things that are just too risky, and I think this is one of them.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)




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Fair Trade

I know a handful of people who have seen sex workers for trade.  I have no issue with the idea that sex can be exchanged for money or (as in “traditional marriage”) other benefits, and I’m not at all bugged by, say, a photographer exchanging website photos for a domme session; however, I get a little nervous when I hear about a lawyer or a doctor trading for some sexual pay-off.  I guess legal and medical coverage hint at a greater power differential; they are so expensive and so very important, and so many people need them who don’t easily have access to them, that my mind wonders when consent ends and coercion begins if one is charged with a crime or needs an appendectomy.  I certainly don’t think that just because a sex worker wouldn’t have sex with someone in their personal lives, it’s somehow automatically coercion when they are doing it to pay their bills/survive.   So when is one right to feel squicked out?  Is a for-trade situation ever just totally inappropriate?  Or is this some ghastly Puritanical reflex that I need to consider unlearning?

Though you may find it an interesting exercise in introspection to try to figure out why you’re squicked out by the exchange of sex for what we might call “high level” professional services, I don’t think you should feel compelled to do so because there isn’t anything “wrong” with your feeling that way.  Now, I suspect that the reason is some sort of entanglement with the idea of a powerful person demanding sexual services as payment for a favor; I think we can agree that a cop saying, “Give me sex or I’ll arrest you”, or a company boss saying, “Give me sex or I’ll fire you and destroy your career”, are forms of rape.  And though I don’t agree that for a professional who does not have actual power over a person to offer valuable and/or expensive services in exchange for sex is morally wrong, I can imagine circumstances in which the line would be mighty thin; for example, the only doctor in a remote village demanding sex and refusing any other form of payment from an extremely ill woman in dire poverty without means of travel to find a different doctor.  So it’s not at all surprising that the one type of interaction could “cross-contaminate” the other in your psyche.

However, it doesn’t actually matter why you feel squicked out by that particular interaction, as long as you respect the right of others not to feel that way.  As I wrote in “Out of the Dark”, “The human brain is not rational, and we don’t get to choose what turns us on….sexual likes, dislikes, kinks and fetishes emerge by mysterious paths from the murky swamp we carry deep in our brains, and there’s no known way to reroute those pathways once they’re established.”  Lots of people are squicked out by the fact that I have sex for money with strange men, some of whom may be extremely physically unattractive; others are uncomfortable with my bisexuality, or with the fact that I’m extremely turned on by some kinds of BDSM.  At the same time, I’m unmoved or even turned off by other kinds of BDSM, and also by some vanilla sex acts that millions of people enjoy.  And that’s all perfectly OK, as long as everyone respects everyone else’s right to have different feelings and refrains from inflicting violence on them or otherwise trying to persecute them, such as by lobbying for laws (enforced by violent thugs) to criminalize behaviors not because they objectively harm others, but merely because they don’t like them.  The most important thing to remember is that aversions and squickouts are properties of individual psyches, not of the things those individuals are squicked out by; they are personal idiosyncrasies, and therefore harmless and not really a cause for concern unless they cause one distress or drive him to act in a way that abrogates the rights of others.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)



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Sex workers’ rights will continue to roll on regardless.  –  Brooke Magnanti

Once again, we’ve been forced to endure another round of the press pretending that politicians paying for sex is somehow shocking.  I’ve got news for you, kiddies: virtually all of them do.  If I had to come up with figures, I’d guess that politicians basically fall one percentage-category higher than ordinary men, so that 20% of them pay regularly, 50-70% occasionally and essentially all of them at least once or twice in their careers.  Yes, this is a completely gut-level guesstimate based mostly on the number of politicians I’ve had between my legs and the secrets I know from having been around the block so many times I’ve lost count, but…is it actually so difficult for amateurs to believe, despite all of the known histories of courtesans throughout history, the frequent “scandals” of our day and the hard-to-miss fact that the client lists of prosecuted escort services are literally never revealed?keith-vaz  Throughout history, powerful men have lusted to keep all of the tail for themselves, and prostitution laws are just the latest incarnation of that; “democratically elected leaders” are just as keen as hereditary nobles to use armed thugs to keep the peons from getting notions that they’re allowed to have sex with other people merely because those others consented to it.  It’s just what “leaders” do.

This particular round of “BREAKING NEWS:  BEAR SHITS IN WOODS!” stars a UK politician named Keith Vaz:

A married Labour MP has stepped aside as chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee after allegedly paying two male escorts for sex…at his London flat eight days ago…Mr Vaz, a father of two…made it clear that he will step aside as chairman of the committee, which is currently examining prostitution in the UK, after the allegations were made public…he said: “I am genuinely sorry for the hurt and distress that has been caused by my actions in particular to my wife and children”…

First of all, what is this obsession the UK press has with reporting whether anyone involved in a news story has spawned or not?  Frankly, I fail to see how it’s at all fucking relevant; it’s like reporting how many bowel movements the subjects have had this week.  Unless the children are somehow involved in the story, why should anyone care about this?  I don’t fucking care what some politician had for fucking breakfast, nor where he buys his underwear, nor how many times he managed to impregnate some chick.  Second, are people so stupid that they actually think it’s notable that a sex worker’s client is married?  Because most of them are, you know; in my experience it’s about 70% or so.  If anything, being married makes a man more likely to come to us, not less, because there’s a greater need for his sex to be discreet and string-free.  And third, why is nobody commenting on the fact that the Sunday Mirror appears to have set Vaz up?  As he said to the BBC, “It is deeply disturbing that a national newspaper should have paid individuals to have acted in this way.”  That seems to imply that the paper was an active participant rather than merely paying two sleazy, unethical escorts (who ought to be taken out back and shot) to violate the most basic principle of our profession, and that breach of confidence could potentially end up hurting all UK sex workers.  Dr. Brooke Magnanti writes:

…This soon turned into calls for the Committee’s recommendation to decriminalise sex work to be discounted…If you think Keith Vaz is singlehandedly responsible for sex workers being treated like human beings, you are very stupid, stop writing now.  The “Swedish Model” favoured by anti-sex work campaigners complaining about Vaz kills women.  And y’all still go apeshit over who puts a consensual dick where and when.  The money governments spend on anti-trafficking  puts women in abusive jails and detention centres worldwide…Press, public, and governments put ideology before lives…People who weren’t there trying to rewrite Home Affairs Select Committee’s hearings on prostitution…Maybe you remember; it was in a lot of papers…All of the contact with the Committee before that hearing had been skewed  heavily towards the Swedish Model…Go on, watch the video.  This was not softball.  Paris Lees and I…got into actual arguments with MPs who…don’t seem to believe they answer to taxpayers or need input from sex workers, you know, the very people who would be affected by any changes to the law.  99.9999% of the people commenting on Vaz today weren’t in that room, and if they are saying the investigation was biased towards sex workers, they are lying…[we] had to stomp hard on bullshit lines of questioning to get any of our points across.  We went there fully expecting, and pretty much got, a beasting…Sex workers influenced the outcome of the inquiry in spite of, not because of, Keith Vaz…paris-lees-eyeroll

She concludes with the point that experienced activists knew that something like this would happen; prohibitionists are evil authoritarians who will stop at nothing to harm sex workers, and they know they’re losing so they’re going to get a lot more desperate in the months and years to come.  Lots of allies are going to be outed and worse in a prohibitionist attempt to put heads on poles to scare the others away.  But it’s much too late for that; the movement is past the watershed now, and the momentum will continue to build no matter how many bodies these sick control freaks try to throw in its path.  But now I’m guilty of the same thing I complained about at the beginning, namely feigning shock at the obvious:  Of course people who think “sending a message” trumps human lives aren’t going to care how many lives they need to destroy to advance their cause; it’s what they do.

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How do I hate myself less for only being able to feel intimacy with sex workers, due to a history of having been abused?

In ancient times, if a culture was going to survive and thrive, it was vital that its people “be fruitful and multiply”.  Social pressures evolved to encourage people to marry and have children, and laws were designed to encourage this as well, and over the millennia we managed to trick ourselves into a mass delusion that lifelong exclusive monogamy is “natural”, despite the fact that it barely even exists at all (and then largely due to the existence of my profession).  So even though we are no longer in danger of civilization collapsing if women aren’t popping out babies as fast as they can, a lot of people still act as though that were the case: older parents gripe if their adult children aren’t giving them grandchildren; the entire GLBT rights movement got sidetracked into a quest for official government fucking licenses; and expressing aloud a lack of interest in coupling will generally elicit either a stare of the sort otherwise employed when meeting someone with two heads, or else a smug reassurance that one simply “hasn’t met the right one yet”.  Even many people who recognize the inherent instability of monogamy go instead for polyamory, an attempt to fix the problems inherent in ongoing committed relationships by multiplying them.

All snark aside, committed relationships work for many people, and emotionally-monogamous but sexually non-monogamous ones work for many others; hell, even actual monogamy (or a reasonable approximation of it) works for roughly a third of the population.  But there are also a lot of people who are unable or unwilling to maintain romantic partnerships for one reason or another.  Some may suffer from mental health issues; others like their sexual freedom too much to commit to a partner; still others simply feel it’s not practical; and many would love to have a partner, but are too shy or unpleasant or socially-awkward to attract and keep one.  And some, like you, have suffered too much at the hands of people who professed to love you to ever give that level of trust again (not for the foreseeable future, anyway).  And how does society respond to the (voluntarily or involuntarily) unpartnered?  By telling them that there’s something wrong with them, or at least with their situation, and that the condition is one to be cured, shunned or even mocked.  And sexual prudes and control freaks of every flavor want to add still another level of torment by declaring that sex is only for the coupled, so that those without the comfort of a partner should also be denied the simple, natural joy of feeling their skin against another’s.

Given those pressures and messages from both the well-meaning and the authoritarian, it’s no wonder you have succumbed to self-loathing, but I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to feel that way.  To Hell with those people who are telling you, directly and indirectly, that there’s something wrong with you for preferring your sexual intimacy unspoiled by the fear of getting hurt again.  Those who judge you don’t understand what you’ve been through, and they don’t want to understand because having to admit that a large fraction of so-called romantic relationships are abusive to one degree or another, some severely so, would upset their pretty little happily-ever-after weltanshauung.  You still need sexual intimacy, so you get it from people with whom you have no personal connection, and can therefore trust not to hurt you; I think that’s a brilliant solution, and anyone who encourages you to hate yourself for it is an asshole who deserves only scorn.  Fuck them and their fucking rules about what you “should” do with your body, money and time.  Perhaps one day you’ll decide to trust a romantic partner again, and perhaps you won’t; either one is perfectly OK if it’s what you decide is right for you.  But one way or another, sex workers will always be there to provide sexual intimacy without judgment, entanglement or the danger of falling into another abusive situation.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Diary #321

selfie 8-13-16Last week was…intense.  Unfortunately, at the risk of being repetitive, I really can’t tell you about most of that due to issues of confidentiality.  What I can tell you is that I had a lovely dinner with the young escort I mentioned last week, and I think we’re going to be very good friends; I invited her to relax with me on Saturday night, which turned out very well because we both needed it.  And yes, gentlemen, we will see you as a duo if you like!  Speaking of duos, I’m looking forward to another one this coming Saturday with the lovely and brilliant Lorelei Rivers, whom I always enjoy working with.  And in just a few weeks, I’ll be in New York City; as of right now I’ll be available for bookings on Thursday, September 15th, Saturday the 17th and Sunday the 18th, but obviously that will change as my schedule fills up, so if you’d like to see me it’s best to book right away (and ask about my tour special).  Speaking of being booked up, I’ve recently tried a new method of advertising which I’m very pleased with so far; if it keeps being this productive, I will finally be able to complete some improvements to my ranch that have been in limbo for years.  And that, dear readers, will buy me a considerable amount of satisfaction.

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Age Before Beauty

I’m thinking about calling an escort for the first time; do they take young guys seriously?  Or would I be treated differently from older men?

Some ladies have a lower age limit of 30 or even 35, but if one does it’ll be marked clearly on her website.  If a young man wants to see an escort, there are some very simple steps he can take to ensure she takes him seriously:

  • Read her website carefully and approach her exactly as she says she wants to be approached.  If you don’t have references, you need to find a lady who specifically advertises as “newbie friendly” or else you’re just wasting her time and yours.
  • Be clear, honest and polite about being young, and understand that this is a liability for you rather than an asset; one of the most asinine and annoying things a would-be client can say is something like “I’m young and good looking, so you’ll enjoy it” or “Do I get a discount because I’m young and fit?”
  • Don’t ask prying or lurid questions, and don’t try to get dirty talk for free; be polite and respectful.
  • Be patient if she expects you to jump through some hoops; give her whatever screening info she wants.
  • Read my “Advice for Clients” column and follow it.
  • If she won’t see you, tell her you understand, thank her for her time & try another lady.
  • If she does agree to see you, make sure you’re on your best behavior and tip her extra; the next time you want to see someone you’ll be able to give the first lady’s name as a reference, and she will speak well of you.
  • Treat all the first few escorts you see this way, and I promise you won’t have any trouble after that as long as you respect the wishes of those who have a posted lower age limit.  If you try to approach one of the ladies who do, she will take your ignoring her boundary as a sign that you’re impolite & disrespectful, and you still won’t get in to see her.

Good luck!

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Last Friday, Dan Savage tweeted a question he’d received to get the opinion of several sex workers, namely Mistress Matisse, Mike Crawford and me (plus anyone else who cared to chime in).  The question itself is interesting, and I found it fascinating how much the answers diverged.  So although Dan already published the question and answers on his Stranger blog, I’d also like to feature it here:

man courting womanI’d appreciate your thoughts on a matter of sex worker etiquette and social boundaries.  Someone I’d describe as an acquaintance/casual friend recently let me know that she is working as an escort.  I’ve known her for a few years, and have always been more than a little attracted to her.  We dated very briefly when we first met and have had an intermittent friendship in the years since.  We’re close enough to talk about subjects like sex work and our mutually non-judgmental attitudes toward it, though this is someone I bump into fairly rarely—maybe a couple of times a year.  If there’s an appropriate and respectful way to bring up that I’d be interested in her professional services, I’d love to do it in the right way.  Or would you advise me to leave this alone?  We’re well enough acquainted that I could broach the subject in an in-person conversation or by text (as opposed to, say, booking an appointment anonymously and saying “Surprise! Remember me?”).  Any thoughts?  –  Friend In Favor Of Compensating For Benefits

My answer:  It’s a delicate one. If they had never dated I’d say it was pretty straightforward. But as it is she could conceivably feel awkward. My advice: He should tell her he’d like to see an escort and ask if she has any recommendations. Then IF she’s comfortable, she can volunteer her own services, and if not he’ll get a very good recommendation to another.

Matisse:  I personally do not accept people as clients if I’ve been friends with them socially. But that is partly because I’m a dominatrix and some fantasies and D/s rely on a certain level of mystery and distance. Definitely via email, NOT in person. Tell her it’s cool if she doesn’t feel comfortable. And accept it will change things.

Mike Crawford:  “How’s business? Are you taking new clients? Would you be open to seeing me professionally?” Best approach I can think of. As mentioned, the prior relationship could make it awkward. As any client should, if she declines to see him, FIFOCFB should accept that graciously.

Lara Belle:  I would choose one of the zillion other SWs where boundaries are not an issue. The question can be broached: “Are you open to seeing clients who are part of your personal life,” etc., but don’t even go there at all if he expects her to keep it a secret and have a whole range of new pressures forced upon her with her other friends/acquaintances.

Conner Habib:  Yes, he definitely has the right to ask! But I want him to ask himself why he’s asking, too! I’d ask: Out of all the escorts in the world you can hire, you chose one whose boundaries may be problematic for you and would need negotiation. What does that tell you about yourself? Self-investigate & move on.

Rosemary Lashes:  I had a friend ask this of me when I came out and frankly I find it insulting. For me, I want compartmentalization. I do not mix business/clients w friends. It complicates too much, and $ creates power dynamics regardless of intention.

Ava Grace:  Definitely don’t surprise her with a booking without notice. But considering the history of the friendship you can always ask the question. If she’s not ok with it she will say no. And you need to be prepared for and ok with accepting that no if it comes. Good luck.

Daddy’s Princess:  It would be awkward to see him professionally & maintain a friendship.

Melodie Nelson:  Sex -paid for or not-can change relationships. But he should ask simply. No more stigma 1 day.

Sensual Muse:  IMO no on this-personal life is sep from work: 2 mix risks never having down time.  it’s personal I think…just my boundary pref. no clients in personal spaces

Mandy Mitchell:  every SW is different but to me the “used to date” part gets a little dicey, there are plenty of other pros to seek, always

Sophie Darling:  I NEVER EVER mix business into my personal life. Just my MO though…

Buttercream Bombshell:  My view is to face to face express interest politely and let her decide.

Violet Baudelaire:  IF she says yes, he needs to realize that all her normal work rules still apply, even though they know each other.

There were also a good number of conversations on the topic; Matisse especially had some good discussions with a number of the respondents, as you can see by following the links.  It just goes to show you:  everyone’s different, and on matters of sex work etiquette there’s sometimes no one “correct” answer.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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