ADVOCATE: Being Sex-Positive in a World of Brett Kavanaughs, Donald Trumps

I shared a bed with another boy on a church youth trip when I was 12. He touched me, then pulled my hand to his underwear. It was my first sexual experience and one I’ve written about fondly. He was a few years older than me, never asked my permission, and I never gave it, but to call it an assault feels disingenuous, both to the many people who’ve come forward to tell their stories in the wake of #MeToo and to the memory itself. I don’t know if that makes me delusional or simply lucky.

The fact is, I’ve had to ask myself that very uncomfortable question recently. The looming threat of Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court and the devastating testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford have made people across the United States rethink our memories and face incredible pain. While it’s disgusting to watch a body of men attack Dr. Ford and work arduously to discredit her, such a public testimony charges us to ask vital questions — both of ourselves and the culture we all participate in creating.

What does sex-positivity look like in all this? With such dark headlines of assault filling the public consciousness, it might seem wrong — even distasteful — to remind people of the importance of sex-positivity. But the fact is, #MeToo has its strongest foothold in the sex-positive movement and in people like me who push for open, healthy discussion about sex.

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Being Sex-Positive in a World of Brett Kavanaughs, Donald Trumps by Alexander Cheves

Oct. 4th, 2018

MOTHERBOARD: Sex Workers Pioneered the Early Internet—and It Screwed Them Over

In the early 90s, anyone looking to hire an escort or track down an erotic massage parlor started by flipping through the Yellow Pages.

Maxine Doogan, a Bay Area–based sex worker, activist, and founder of the Erotic Service Providers Union, remembers placing print ads for her services in the back pages of “girly magazines” and alt-weeklies.

“We were the economic engine for those newspapers and those entities that paid the wages of the journalists,” Doogan told me. “They were making thousands of dollars off us.”

In the late 80s, California cracked down with stricter laws against “pimping and pandering” that targeted sex workers and punished anyone who accepted their money. Many print publications refused to print sex workers’ ads, and without ads, many had trouble finding work. “It's under that experience that people started to think about building their own websites, and how to advertise on your own website,” Doogan said.

These sex workers populated early chat rooms, fueled the rise of e-commerce that began with online porn, and later adopted cryptocurrencies as a means of survival long before they hit the mainstream. Though they were some of the first to use the internet commercially, legislation against sex workers continues to push them further into the margins. Women in the adult industry pioneered the early internet and made it profitable, until eventually, it screwed them over.

Kristen Diangelo, co-founder and executive director of the Sex Worker Outreach Project (SWOP) Sacramento chapter, told me over the phone that the internet spurred sex workers to explore other methods of advertising their services. “When the internet came up, we thought, ‘okay, there's another way to tell people we're around, and we don't have to deal with all these rules that they're making,’” Diangelo said. “We saw another opportunity.”

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Sex Workers Pioneered the early Internet - and it screwed them over by Sofia Barrett-Ibarria

Oct. 3rd, 2018

ALLURE: Kink-Shaming 101: The Stigma-Free Guide to Disclosing Your Sexual Kinks and Fetishes

Even the most compatible partners can have wildly different sexual preferences. In any sexual relationship, you're bound to be turned on by different things. That's why it's best to be kind about it when your partner tells you something they want to try in bed, even if it's not for you. Wouldn't you want them to treat you with kindness if you worked up the courage to admit you have, say, a gang bang fantasy, rather than respond in horror? However, kink-shaming, which literally means the shaming of another person for their sexual fantasies, may happen occasionally.

Being kink-shamed never feels good. For instance, once I asked a former partner if he would go to a sex party with me. Rather than politely declining or describing his reservations, he called me derogatory names, then shouted, "Go suck a bunch of dicks." It felt awful, and even if you're shamed in a less intentional way, it still can hurt. That's why it's important to learn how to avoid it, as well as how to get through it when it happens to you. Keep reading to learn exactly how to disclose what you're into, what to do if someone kink-shames you, and how to avoid accidentally doing it to your partner.

Let's talk about what often leads to kink-shaming: the intimidating process of talking about what turns us on. Every relationship has a different dynamic. For some couples, sexual fantasies are best shared as part of dirty talk during sex. Others may feel more comfortable bringing up the topic during more neutral times when sex isn't actually on the table.

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The Stigma-Free Guide to Disclosing your Sexual Kinks and Fetishes by Sophie Saint Thomas

Oct. 3rd, 2018


In Australia the majority of our states and territories have either legalised or decriminalised sex work, but in the US prostitution is only legal in ONE of the 50 states. This has pushed the industry underground, and has had significant implications for sex workers’ livelihoods and general safety.

In April 2018 a bill was passed into law in the US known as FOSTA SESTA. The aim was to curb sex trafficking on online personals sites like Backpage- a popular site for posting ads, especially for sex work but also for sex trafficking. Previously Backpage and other websites could not be held responsible for sex trafficking content posted by their users, but now due to FOSTA SESTA - they can.

The law allows greater policing of these sites and opens them up to lawsuits from trafficking survivors.

However, language of the law is broad, penalising all websites that “promote or facilitate prostitution”. That means a lot of sex-related content and websites are disappearing and sex workers around the world using US-based sites are being cut off, including in Australia.

FOSTA SESTA has been harshly criticised by sex workers, credited with a spate of disappearances and violent incidents. A lot of people who used to be able to work online and able to screen clients for safety have been forced onto the streets to source work, making them more vulnerable to violence and abuse.

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Shutting down websites to curb sex trafficking has life threatening consequences for sex workers by Laura Murphy-Oats

Sept. 25th, 2018

LV: What even the most vanilla among us can learn from the BDSM community

“Sex is not what you do, it’s a place you go.” —Esther Perel

Americans carry a lot of anxiety about having an exciting sex life. This anxiety inspires Cosmopolitan, Redbook and the like to publish a steady stream of articles flouting “100 ways to spice up your sex life!” and “The top six ways to add more color to vanilla sex!” Shame about having “boring” sex is used to sell magazines as well as drive sales of sex toys, fluffy pink handcuffs and sexy nurse costumes, bought in half-hearted attempts to “spice things up.”

But these articles and products usually fall short of providing real avenues for change because they don’t address the mindset we need to have a fulfilling sexual experience. Many of us are afraid to ask our partner for what we are interested in exploring, or don’t know how. We need to feel safe in order to have a positive sexual experience, and sometimes “safe” can be limiting to sexual expression.

Insecurity around sex is a common issue I see in my psychotherapy practice. My friend Alison Oliver (sex educator and all-around epic woman) and I discussed the results of an exercise she has asked her students to complete in which they describe an average sexual encounter from start to finish. The formula was most often as follows: touching, kissing, light petting, heavy petting, oral sex, penile/vaginal contact, coitus, orgasm.

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What even the most vanilla among us can learn from the BDSM community by Natalie Benway

Sept. 19, 2018

THE CUT: Julia Salazar’s Win Is a Huge Victory for Sex Workers

Julia Salazar’s victory in her State Senate primary last week felt noteworthy in the way many recent progressive wins have felt noteworthy: Despite a campaign marked by intense scrutiny of her background and upbringing, she easily ousted Martin Dilan, a 16-year incumbent who has been criticizedfor his connections to the real-estate industry, joining the ranks of young, left-leaning women who’ve successfully challenged the Democratic Establishment. For sex workers, though, the night seemed particularly historic. That’s because Salazar openly and unabashedly advocated for their rights throughout her primary run, making her one of the first-ever politicians to campaign on a pro–sex worker platform and win.

“This is a game changer for the movement because it shows that voters are ready to talk about policies on the sex trade with complexity and care, rather than based in pure moral presumption,” Lola Balcon, a community organizer for sex workers’ rights who worked with Salazar on her campaign, told the Cut. “We hope more people running for office will see the example that Julia set taking a principled stance and follow in her lead.”

Salazar, a 27-year-old Latina socialist who is now running as the Democratic candidate in an extremely blue district that encompasses large swaths of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick, championed sex workers throughout her campaign. Balcon, who was introduced to Salazar’s campaign team via the Democratic Socialists of America, says she found her “extremely receptive” from the moment she first approached her several months ago.

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Julia Salazar's win is a huge victory for Sex Workers by Callie Beusman

Sept. 19th, 2018

CAFE MOM: Being a Sex Worker Doesn't Make Me a Bad Mother - It Actually Made Me a Better One

Sometimes it’s hard not to laugh when I stand over a “toilet” slave and let it loose all over them. They don’t know my 3-year-old did the same on my leg about two hours ago. In retrospect, toilet training my toddler has transferable skills I use at the dungeon I work at as a dominatrix three days a week.  And yes, that means I am an actively employed sex worker, who is married with two beautiful children.

I am lucky enough to have the support of my partner in my endeavors with ProDomming. Since I have become less quiet about my “newest” line of work, we have had "friends" ask all kinds of intrusive questions about why I do what I do. But the answer is pretty simple: I want to.

Yes, as a  mother I love my kids more than anything and will do anything for them. But I'm still my own person. And too often we are told that our lives are no longer ours when we have kids, that it's inappropriate to act or even like a certain thing. We deserve devices in which we reclaim our powers as a woman, not just as a mother. And for me, being a dominatrix does that.

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Being a Sex Worker doesn't make me a bad Mother - it actually made me a better one by Kristina Rodriguez

HUFFPOST: Sex Worker Activists Support Democratic Socialist Julia Salazar’s Primary Win

Sex workers’ rights advocates are celebrating Julia Salazar’s win in New York’s  Democratic primary for a state Senate seat on Thursday, saying that they have an ally in the 27-year-old Democratic Socialist.

Salazar included the decriminalization of sex work in her campaign platform. Her platform included plans to stop massage parlor raids and unnecessary “loitering” arrests that predominantly affect women of color. No other politicians, including any in the Democratic party, have made sex workers’ rights such an integral part of their policy.

“Julia is the first ever vocal advocate for sex workers’ rights to run on the issue and win,” Lola Balcon, a community organizer for sex workers’ rights, told HuffPost on Friday. “That’s so big for us,” she said. “It shows that voters in New York are ready to talk about this issue.”

Sex workers have historically not trusted politicians, especially Democrats who boast progressive policy ― like calling for affordable health care, reforming the criminal justice system, and legalizing marijuana ― but who continually leave sex workers out of it. Salazar’s background in community organizing with the Democratic Socialists of America set her apart from veteran state Sen. Martin Dilan, who she defeated in the primary. To many sex workers, she represents what a progressive candidate can truly look like.

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Sex Worker Activists support Democratic Socialist Julia Salazar's Primary Win by Jenavieve Hatch

Sept. 14th, 2018

NYLON: Why Decriminalizing Sex Work Is A Life Or Death Issue

Earlier this month, Lily Allen issued an unusual public statement via Instagram: Four years ago, during her ‘Sheezus’ tour, she slept with female escorts “cause,” she wrote, “I was lost and lonely and looking for something.”  Allen concluded, “I’m not proud, but I’m not ashamed. I don’t do it anymore.”

According to Allen, the Daily Mail had obtained copies of her forthcoming memoir, My Thoughts Exactly, which includes a section on that experience, her deteriorating marriage, and her postpartum depression. In order to prevent the tabloid from making the situation “sound worse than it was,” Allen wrote, she’d rather have people hear it from her first.

As Jezebel’s Tracy Clark-Flory wrote last week, Allen’s announcement prompted “an avalanche of tabloid stories” about what happened on the singer’s 2014 tour. “I’m assuming that Allen paid consenting adult sex workers for their time,” Clark-Flory wrote. “That she has to ‘admit’ and ‘defend’ that, particularly within the salacious tabloid realm, is unfortunate.”

If the media frenzy surrounding Allen’s announcement revealed anything, it’s that sex workers—and their clients—are still deeply stigmatized. More often than not, though, that stigma has more harmful consequences than a few invasive tabloid stories.

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Why Decriminalizing Sex Work is a Life or Death issue by Gaby del Valle

Sept. 13th, 2018

REFINERY29: How To Make Consent Sexy, According To A Dominatrix

When Mistress Velvet, a BDSM dominatrix in Chicago, spanks a client, she demands that they tell her how much it hurts on a scale from 1 to 10. "I have to be careful and not just ask them, 'Do you like this?' Because I need them to feel submissive to me," she says. That means she's continually asking clients for their consent to hit them and tie them up, which can be tricky when the whole point is that they feel submissive to her. "When I ask for a scale, I'm gauging where they're at so I know how to play with them next time.”

Mistress Velvet calls covert questions of this sort “consent training,” because even though people seek her out to dominate them in a sexual manner, getting consent from her clients is paramount to everything that she does. People who don’t engage in BDSM may assume that consent isn’t a huge part of bondage and masochism. How much can you really care about what a person feels if you’re intentionally causing them pain, the thinking may go. But purposely inflicting pain is a delicate task, especially when struggles, shouts, yelps, and begging someone to stop are all part of the experience. That’s why dommes and their submissives establish safe words before a BDSM scene even gets started, and why consent is so vital to the work Mistress Velvet does. It ensures that both she and her clients have a safe and satisfying experience. The argument that asking for consent “ruins the mood” is infuriating to her. There’s never a reason to risk someone's bodily autonomy, she says, and it's 100% possible to ask for consent while keeping the sexy mood alive — in fact consent can heighten the erotic energy in both BDSM and non-BDSM exchanges in ways you might not expect.

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How to Make Consent Sex, According to a Dominatrix by Kasandra Brabaw

Sept. 10th, 2018