Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Power of Woman

Gorgeous readers, I don't know who you are or where you are or how you may stumble across my page, however, welcome....pull up a chair, pour yourself a wee whiskey and let your mind meander through my words, my world, for a moment or two.

Today sees your divine hostess Claudia pondering the incredible power of WOMAN and women's sexuality when it is free to express itself as it can and should. But what does this freedom involve and is it any different from the freedom of women to express ourselves in general, as we see fit? I remember reading a while back several passages in my Virginie Despente's book King Kong Theory about how she struggled to reconcile the false teachings of what is was/is to be a woman with her own real experience of it. For Virginie, fitting in with any ideal of femininity was early on dispensed with as a pointless exercise likely to lead only to bitterness and disappointment. She knew that she did not conform, did not look like any average girl and was neither classicly beautiful nor moderate and demure in demeanor and this caused problems for her.

For many women, those of us who do not conform to societies 'normal' values for 'ladies' or other people's idea of what it is to be feminine, we become typecast very quickly; we are 'ballbreakers' 'bitches' and 'sluts' and 'whores' (god forbid that we actually choose to be those last two things and enjoy it!!). We find that as women comfortable expressing the more yang side of our natures, it is as threatening as it is for men who desire to express their more yin side too. For years I have known the currency of the feminine ideal. I've known what it is like to sell myself, to give myself away 'freely' (the cost has often been higher than when I've traded honestly in what men have wanted from me), and to have that taken from me in one way or another without my conscious consent. Now I find that the only freedom lies in being true to oneself, in being "impeccable with ones word"*, yet it would seem that this all too often monumental task is tantamount to the holy grail of most relationships and we're generally not very good at getting there

Since the earliest days possible, women's sexual power has been known to be vast, extensive and when left to itself, unbounded....and then came religion where women began to be subjugated beyond belief, culminating in one of the biggest violations to womanhood known in our time, the burning of witches. Women who were sexual, who were midwives and healers, women who had esoteric knowledge, women who painted, danced and sang, who loved their nakedness and their wildness, were accused; a single look could turn a man's penis to dust. Women, it seems, fornicated with devils. Women were not God/Man-fearing enough and so we paid.

Interestingly, Lilith, who was seen as Adam's first wife, was reputed to have refused to have subjugated herself to Adam, instead choosing to fly off and fornicate with demons (aka have fun). In many biblical images, the serpent is represented as Lilith, which I actually quite like as at least it portrays one sister speaking to another in offering up the hand of 'temptation' (freedom?). In order to heal from the fundamental gender imbalance, and in every wrong done to woman a wrong is automatically done to man, we must refuse to compromise our true wild woman nature. We must become the witch, the healer, the crone, the whore, the virgin, the slut, the Goddess and more. We must embrace our vast and animal natures and be honest about who we are. We must relinquish the grip that shame, guilt and false idols hold over us and be true to our instinctive selves. Whether our lovers are men, women or both, we must find our integrity and stand with it. It may be a bumpy ride but jailers can only hold the keys as long as we believe in the bars.

*The Four Agreements ~ Don Miguel Ruiz

Monday, 17 October 2011

Why Consent Is Key

The video above, made by the incredible Serpent Libertine of Red Light Chicago, highlights a really important piece of activism. The fact that most sex workers with any political savvy at all not only want to distinguish between trafficked sex workers and those who elect to work by their own choice and will, but recognise the fundamental importance of this distinction, are only all the more frustrated by the fact that current bad laws make it almost impossible for sex workers to assist lawmakers in tackling the most serious areas of concern.

Of the women and men who choose to work in this industry, most of us still find ourselves at the mercy of antiquated laws which do absolutely nothing to help forward engaging adult intelligent debate, truly useful service provision, effective policing and to hold any modicum of faith in the upholding of fair and just civil liberties. Many countries make prostitution illegal, in others it is legal all but in name as the surrounding laws and loopholes still render it impossible to work safely (UK is a prime example). It seems that we are still stuck in Victorian values when it comes to thinking about sex, the trading of it, and the free giving of it where it does not fit in with societies 'normal' value definitions.

As a woman who has explored many aspects of my own sexual expression over the years via fetish clubs and websites, BDSM practice, research, service provision, several areas of sex work (escort, phone sex operator, street worker), open relationships, tantra other expressions of my sexuality (which I see as inherently connected to my creativity), I am still staggered that the fundamental concept of FREE CONSENT seems so hard to grasp.

When it comes to the trafficking debate, this has been used for years to discredit sex workers who work by free will, who choose to sell sex, and who are conscious about how they work and within what boundaries. The trafficking issue has perhaps been the single most loud voice in the polarisation of the debate around sex work and feminist discussion, capitalist discussion, and the concept of how race, gender and social class impact upon the sphere of work and sexuality.

Work of any kind cannot be separated from capitalism it's true, however it seems that sex workers advocating for their right to decide what to do with their own bodies and incomes are the thorn in the side of the moral and ethical 'police'. It is dis-empowering and arrogant to sex workers to tell us that we do not recognise our own oppression; that we are complicit in it, whilst suggesting that you who work for large corporate companies or publishing houses etc, are not! Why are we so damn twitchy about the sale of our bodies? Would we abolish work because some aspects of capitalism leave a nasty taste in the mouth? why try to abolish prostitution because some aspects of that do the same? Why not invest in and lobby for workers rights, better policing, fair laws; the things that will help sex workers on a global level tackle the real issues; violence, exploitation and abuse.

Please share this video on your sexual freedom websites, social networking sites, sex worker rights pages, spread the word...without changes in the law, we, the vast resource with access to the greatest information cannot help.

This is 2011 ~ Time For Change!!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Sex Worker Open University 12-16 Oct 2011

This week sees the return of the incredibly inspired Sexworker Open University. This year will be the third SWOU program which it seems just gets better and better; more speakers, more subjects, more activism and more information sharing. A healthy balance of serious conversation and grassroots sharing is intermingled with a whole lot of pleasure and fun. The program is out and you can find it here

Were I not working and if I lived closer to the capital, I'd be there and I'm damn sure I'll be there next year as forewarned is ready and prepared and I think this collective is doing some amazing work raising awareness of sex worker rights and key issues faced by those of us who work, and those who support us.

There are no stereotypes in this line of work. The number of reasons people enter the profession are as diverse as the kind of people and the ethnic, social and political origins of those who choose to engage in sex work. A friend recently showed me his photography portfolio; he'd done some really poignant photographs (without faces) of people in attendance at AA (alcoholics anonymous) meetings. He'd done it to highlight the fact that people with alcohol problems or dependency don't all look like "dirty drunks" and the images were incredibly sensitive. My point is that stereotypes of any kind are all too often born of ignorance and it's time for us to rise up and be heard. SEXWORK IS WORK just like any other kind of work, and it's workers deserve all of the same rights as one may expect in any other profession or industry.

If you're able to get to the London SWOU, I highly recommend it. Some workshops are for sex workers only but there are as many open sessions for advocates running alongside the sex worker only sessions. Speakers include the inspired Audacia Ray of the Red Umbrella Project , sex positive pioneer London Faerie, The English Collective Of Prostitutes , the incredible Laura Agustin, William Takahashi, and many more! There's also a march this coming Thursday to highlight the campaign to decriminalise sex work. If you're on facebook and you can find out more here

There's also a whole host of really informative international sex worker rights activist presentations on the Friday night. More here.

Seriously NEED to be there! Don't miss out!!

Sunday, 2 October 2011


"Ecstasy n. A feeling of elation. From the Latin ex-stasis, standing outside oneself."

Many people search for it; through substances, work, fitness, meditation, and of course sex. What is it to be able to 'stand outside oneself'? Is it the thought of being able to view ourselves more objectively (too 'heady'), or is it simple a hedonistic pursuit of an ultimate feeling of bliss/pleasure? Are we so locked into our sense of self via the Ego that the moments where the ego disappears, or rather quiets down, give us that sense of ecstasy? Busy lives, busy world, busy minds. For many of us a moment of true calm is a rare thing.

Sex can certainly provide us with many opportunities to reach heightened states of bliss, but that said, the shadow side of sexual expression seems to me to be far more prevalent in our modern cultures. In countries where Tantra and Tao first originated, women are as repressed as they are in any other, so it's not simply the roots of a philosophical or spiritual practice that honor it's original meaning, it's the understanding of and practice of it thereafter surely that give it it's potency and true potential.

What's happened to us when it comes to sex? Violent one moment, guilt ridden the next, we seem to have forgotten the easy and natural pleasures of being a fully em-bodied sexual being. New age sexuality cuts the balls off sex, and the media gives us ten overblown botox-injected pairs on the other end of the spectrum, but it's all screwed! Sex education, for what it's worth focuses almost entirely on warning, prevention, protection from disease and pregnancy, or if you're luckier than that, how it should be saved until after you're in a deep and committed relationship (judgment).  You see where I'm going? Where are the teachings that our bodies and our sexuality are to be celebrated and enjoyed despite all of the finger pointing moralising? We don't talk about sex in celebratory ways, but far more often in taboo ways, if we even get to talking about it at all. It's like the big global secret that ever remains behind locked bedroom doors. Bad girls enjoy sex and need punishing and boys are 'just being boys' and we should turn a blind eye right?

As children we are rarely taught about what happens to our blossoming bodies and emerging sexuality and resort to awkward shame-laden fumblings beneath dark covers in the deep silence of nightfall. I've often been chastised by lovers for being "too noisy" when I cum! "What will the neighbors think?" Um...that I'm enjoying my sexuality maybe?

Sex is NATURAL! It's FUN! It can be immensely healing. And when it is suppressed, repressed, judged or flung into the arena of a moral high ground, it can be dangerous, destructive and scary. There are so many myths spread about sex, so many deceptions, so many lies (Cosmo hold your publishing hands up please!) We are made to feel that we are generally "getting it wrong" or if we're not, that our lovers therefore must be, as lofty ideals that paint pictures of perfect sex being hot and sweaty with orgasm as the ultimate goal are held ever before us as the Holy Grail of sexual fulfillment. Yet for many men and women, sex is something that causes great anxiety either before, during, after or all of the above! It is rarely seen as an opportunity for a spiritual experience yet to the Tantrics and the Taoists that's exactly what it was. The conscious channeling of sexual energy is seen as an opportunity for the dynamic integration of mind, body and spirit and for prolonging and improving drastically our health, vitality and longevity. So what could be better? So why do we think there is so much resistance o this natural state of bliss? It costs nothing, it improves much and we could become powerful, strong human beings by re-connecting with this very primal energy....and who could possibly be threatened by that right?