Friday, April 09, 2004
Books I'm reading; Non-fiction
Nathanial's Nutmeg, by Giles Milton. The book deals with the competition between England and Holland for possession of the spice-producing islands of Southeast Asia throughout the 17th century.
An Anthropologist On Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales, by Oliver Sacks.
Neurologist Sacks presents seven case studies of people whose "abnormalities" of brain function offer new insights into conceptions of human personality and consciousness.
The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship And It's Cargo Of Female Convicts. This riveting work of rediscovered history tells for the first time the plight of the female convicts aboard the Lady Julian, which set sail from England in 1789 and arrived in Australia's Botany Bay a year later.
The Art of the Steal : How to Protect Yourself and Your Business from Fraud, by Frank W. Abagnale
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. A vivid retelling of the story of Anne Boleyn.
The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. by Sandra Gulland. A fictionalized account of Josephine Bonaparte's life in the form of diaries and letters.
You can see a trend there, hmm? I'm a popular-history fan. Not American particularly, more European and some Asian. Also, human-behavior stuff is fascinating to me..
Whoops, gotta go, someone's finally calling back!
Thursday, April 08, 2004
I read one of those "human interest" news stories yesterday about prostitution. Purportedly an interview with a woman who'd been in the business, it was the usual bird-in-a-gilded-cage nonsense about the plight of the high-class (their phrase) call girl. Oh, poor girl – she was trapped by all that money and independence. Gah. I don't really want to link to it, because it's a stupid piece and it pissed me off. But I suppose if I'm going to rant about it, you should be able to read it. "Pity Me! I'm a Victim Of Myself!"
Look, I don't object to having this one woman's individual experience portrayed in the media, if they really think it's newsworthy. But the newspaper and the interviewee are not representing it as one individual's experience. They are saying: "this is the definitive experience of sex work." Fuck that, it’s not my experience! They never run the opposite side - a woman who says "yes, I did sex work and it was fine. No big drama, I made some money and now I'm doing something else..." That's not news, apparently. (Except that it would be to some people.)
The woman said things like,
"The reason I'm single and childless is because of the business…It also kept me from forming real relationships. Ladies who are in the business make a conscious decision to avoid intimacy."
No, the reason you're single and childless is because you chose to be that way. Lots of women in the sex industry have children – even in the middle of a sex work career. I myself don't want little rug-rats, but I do have a wonderful lover who adores me, and I certainly haven't made "a conscious decision to avoid intimacy" - quite the contrary.
It’s her insistence on assigning her experience and her choices to every other woman in the sex industry that bothers me. Would she feel okay about making such sweeping generalizations if she were in any other line of work? Or has she just bought into societal preconceptions about who she is?
She also trots out that "all women in the sex industry have been sexually assaulted" line. (The implication being that they became sex workers as a direct result of being assaulted.) Guess again, honey – I haven't been. And I know of several other sex workers who haven't been, either. But the fact is, approximately 683,000 adult American women are raped annually, and so, yes, statistically, some of those women will go on to become sex workers. And some of them will go on to work at Wal-Mart. But I don't think anyone's going to posit that being raped inevitably leads to working as an underpaid drudge at a soul-destroying corporate monolith. It's false logic.
Here's what I, personally, have observed about the sex industry: If, before she ever enters the sex industry, a woman is an emotionally troubled person with poor self-esteem and a history of bad decisions, she'll continue making bad decisions and suffering the negative consequences while she's in the business. But now, some of them will be sex-work-related decisions and consequences, so it's easy for people to say, "Well, obviously it's because she's a sex worker. See what an unhappy, damaging life it is?" And she'll probably agree with them, because it's easy for a troubled, low-self-esteem person to buy into the victim mentality. That way, she can then avoid taking any responsibility for her choices. So she's tucked neatly into the victim pigeon-hole, and everyone thanks goodness they don't have to examine any potentially unsettling ideas any further. Their pre-existing beliefs have been confirmed and they feel righteous.
Now, she could fuck up her life just as badly if she were a waitress at Denny's. But that's not as sexy, so no one writes newspaper articles about that.
You see, the work itself doesn't fuck you up - it just magnifies what's already there. If you love yourself, and believe that you deserve to be loved by others, when you choose to become a sex worker, then you'll probably be just fine. But if you don't, then you'll probably run into trouble.
Exhibit A: This woman details a conversation with her father in which he sounds pretty harsh. I'm thinking there's some bad history there that dates back to before her sex work career began. Clearly she learned some of her core beliefs about how she should expect men to treat her from an unloving man. That's a emotional time bomb waiting to go off.
Bottom line: If you don't already have a basic belief that you deserve safety, and respect from other people, in your working environment, you'll bring that mindset to your sex work job and you'll accept being treated badly. If you don't already have a basic belief that you deserve love and respect and safety in your intimate relationships, you'll attract people who want to treat their lovers badly, and you'll let them tell you that you don't deserve better because you're a whore.
To be a happy, healthy and successful sex worker, you have to be inwardly defined. If you accept external definitions, you will become filled with self-hatred. It's the same with most marginalized subcultures, like being queer, or kinky, or transgender. You have to be strong enough to throw off the shit that people would like to heap onto you.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of not-so-emotionally-healthy people in the world, and some of them become sex workers. So all of us get tarred with their brush, because society finds it convenient. And I personally get really tired of constantly picking the sticky black shit out from between my toes.
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Today was one of those days where I really enjoyed myself at work. Two clients, both excellent regulars. The first of them was a very sweet man, over fifty, who has an infectious laugh and blue eyes that sort of twinkle when he's having fun. He's relatively new to me – meaning, less than a year – and I'm the first pro dom he's seen. But he's taken to it like a duck to water and he's become a fan of rope bondage. That makes me happy, because I like doing it, and I don't get to so very often.
So he was laughing that unmistakable "wow, I'm really endorphin-high" laugh while I tying him up in various positions, and it made me laugh, too. I'm sure that if you asked some random person to describe what a session between a professional dominatrix and her client might be like, they most likely would not say, "Well, they'd probably laugh a lot." But it's not unusual. I like people who laugh when I'm playing with them. I especially like it when I make them sort of laugh and wince at the same time. That's a favorite of mine. (Not to sound like a commercial, but if you'd like to see a great example of a laughing-and-wincing scene, buy my video and watch the second vignette, with Rose Algren. She laughs a lot, even though I'm doing some pretty serious stuff to her. Plus she's a flaming babe.)
My second client I've known for several years, and while he's also over fifty, he's kind of a health-and-fitness nut like I am, and he's so springy and muscular I think if you dropped him off a four-story building, he'd probably bounce. And he'd smile, because he's an unsinkably cheerful guy.
He likes intense sensation (pain, for those of you not up on this lingo) and we did some play with sounds. I'll now explain what "sounds" are, but if you squick easily, you should skip this next paragraph.
A sound is a medical instrument, a long slender metal rod that's designed to be inserted into the male urethra. Click on this link if you'd like to know more. This is advanced play; please don't do this unless you've been taught by someone knowledgeable, or you could really damage someone's body.
So there I was, sliding this metal rod into his dick, thinking, "What a magical thing this is." And that’s how it seems to me when I'm playing – like it's magic. Like I'm magic. I love that I can do these intense things to people's bodies, and somehow, through some alchemical transformation, it's not a bad thing. Instead, it's wonderful. That's where the power comes from, for me. Not in making people endure something nasty – that's just bullying someone. No, the magic is doing fierce things to people and making them like it. That's the magic.
I can do that kind of magic.
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Good gentlemen, I completely agree with you that most would-be clients are nice people. I have said positive things about my clients here many times. But if you're going to read me, you're also occasionally going to hear about the minority of would-be clients who are not so nice, and you will have to learn not to take everything I say here about them so very personally. After all, one of the purposes of me having a blog is so I can vent.
So we're agreed, then, yes? You're a nice guy, I like you, this is about someone else. Great. On with the rant.
Let's talk about the annoying phone call du jour.
Caller: (loudly) Heeeeeeeeeeeeeey! What's hap'nin, baby?
Me: (wondering if Huggy Bear has decided he needs a spanking) Hello?
Caller: Whas'sup, mama?
Note: it's fairly clear this caller is white. And rather young.
Me: (in a frosty voice): Can I help you?
Caller: Yeah, I wanted to see, you know, whatchoo were doin'?
Now, I know what I'm doing: I'm talking to a very irritating person with poor mental organization. But I don't think he'd understand that if I told him. So I try redirecting him, on the million-to-one chance that he might somehow metamorphose into someone I'd even remotely consider seeing. Besides, if I simply hang up now, he'll just call right back, I know it.
Me: Are you calling me about my professional services?
Caller: Your services?
Me: Yes, my professional services. I'm a dominatrix.
Caller: A domi-what?
Me: (heavy sigh) How did you get this number?
Caller: Oh, um, yeah, I saw an ad, you know…(trails off)
Me: Okay, you saw an ad for me, Mistress Matisse.
Caller: Yeah! Yeah, that's right, the ad.
Some days, I think Sisyphus had it easy.
Me: Yes – that's my ad, I'm a dominatrix. Is that what you're looking for?
Caller: Uh, I don' know….what d'ya do?
My patience has reached its end.
Me: You know what - if you don't know, then it's not what you're looking for. Goodbye.
This kind of phone call happens about three times a week, minimum. And it isn't only twenty-two-year-old boys pretending they're rappers, either. Grown-up men do this as well. I mean, hey – they called me. It wasn't like they didn't know the conversation was going to happen. (Yes, maybe they were expecting the voicemail. But I think if you're going to dial someone's phone number, you should first take a moment to prepare yourself for the fact that they might, actually, pick up the phone!)
My point is that if you were calling about an apartment for rent, or a car for sale, the conversation would go something like this:
Caller: I saw an ad saying you've got a car for sale?
Me: Yes, that’s right. It's Toyota Civic, blah blah blah.
Caller: Right – what are you asking for it?
Me: Oh, $$$...
Caller, Option A: Sounds great, when can I come by and take a look at it?
Option B: Thanks a lot, I'll have to think about it.
Now, is that so hard to do with me? Be polite but to-the-point when you call, have your questions more or less ready, and just generally regard both our time as a resource. Is that so unreasonable?
Thank you. I didn't think so.
Okay, the rant is now over…we will return to our regularly scheduled program.
Monday, April 05, 2004
There's this thing that keep happening to me where I'm talking to someone about my life – my life as a pro dom, my life as a kinky person, my life as a poly person, whatever. And they say to me, "You're so lucky."
This happens to me fairly regularly, either in-person or electronically. I know they don't mean to be rude – but it seems rude to me, and I really don't like it. I'm trying to figure out a response I can make to these folks that isn't nasty but expresses how I feel, which is something like this:
"This is not luck. I am very lucky in some ways – I'm lucky in the fact that I have two smart, healthy, pretty parents who got together and made a smart, healthy, pretty baby – me. That's sheer luck on my part, I didn't have a thing to do with it.
But luck has nothing to do with the fact that I have created the life I wanted for myself. I got it because I made a choice, I gave up the other, safer, options, and I did the work to get it. Nothing I have fell into my lap like a lottery prize. It was hard, lonely work - I hit a lot of dead ends, and I took a lot of wrong turns. Sometimes I met people who helped me, more often I had to deal with people who wanted to discourage me. But I kept trying because I refused to believe that I could not manifest what I wanted.
And I am not, by any means, finished. There is so much I want to do that I haven't achieved yet. There are ambitions that are still taking shape in me, goals I'm in progress towards, and some big, scary-looking shit I'm just flat-out not ready to tackle yet.
I know it would be easier to believe that you couldn't create your life the way I've created mine, but that's bullshit. You make a choice every single day about what kind of life you're going to have. Whatever you choose is okay – but don't tell yourself that you shouldn't bother to try to get what you want because you aren't "lucky". The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in your stars, but in yourself. Create what you want. Or else don't. But stop invalidating my power to do so by telling me "you're so lucky".