Rachel Wotton from Touching Base and John, star in Scarlet Road, a documentary about Sex Work and Disability
Sex, is a basic human desire that we all want to experience in our lives and this includes those of us living with disability. I am a sex worker here in Cairns, Far North Queensland, Australia and I work with those living with a wide range of disabilities, as well as my own. Today, I am grateful I am only contending with frozen shoulders and progressive nerve pain which, in the grand scheme of things could be a lot worse.
I am mindful of my pain when I’m working with clients. Obviously I don’t do anything that is going to exacerbate my pain. On the whole, it doesn’t really affect the quality of my performance as a sex worker, but rather enhances my compassion and ability to adapt to working in different ways in order to achieve the same results. Most of us have experienced at least some sort of pain and disability at different times in our lives. It does not mean we are any less desiring or capable of performing or having sexual pleasure and release. Quite the contrary. Those feel-good feelings of pleasure offer a much needed reprieve from pain, even for just a moment. Relief doesn’t necessarily mean having a physical ejaculation either. The mind is a most wonderful place to visit. Most of the people I see have no idea I live with pain and for those who do, we share a common understanding that only deepens our experience. I am not alone.
At the moment, New South Wales is the only state or territory that has a decriminalised framework but it is not completely decriminalised. Decriminalisation is being fought for in Queensland right now. Respect Inc, Queensland’s sex worker organisation, is challenging the Qld Government to replace existing sex work legislation with complete decriminalisation. Queensland can learn from New Zealand and New South Wales’ history of decriminalisation, and improve on the legislation in those places. Northern Territory and South Australia governments are also considering decriminalisation of sex work. This will mean more opportunities for clients with disability to have access to sex work providers.
In 2016, I did a sex work disability workshop with Rachel Wotton who delivered the Touching Base, Professional Disability Awareness Training (PDAT) at Respect Inc’s office here in Cairns. It was invaluable training and I recommend you check out their website and watch the Scarlet Road documentary featuring Rachel Wotton, a co-founder of Touching Base. Scarlet Road offers an opportunity to take a sneak peek inside the sex industry and see how sex workers work with clients with disability. Resources are available for sex workers, clients, their families, educators and caregivers working for and in the Aged Care and Disability Services. Yes of course! Our elderly have sexual desires too and also experience difficulties. It is imperative that we champion decriminalisation of the sex industry and raise public and professional awareness of the issues surrounding access to and provision of sex industry services for people living with disability.
For myself personally, living and working with pain in the sex industry has meant that I have had to expand my awareness of myself and others, in the context of self care and in providing sex work services to my clients with disability. In this regard, the main learning curve has been in communication. Learning to ask the right questions, listening to the needs of specific clients and adapting my services to suit. Not everybody wants or needs the active, energetic, stereotypical role sex workers may be perceived to provide. An intellectual, sensual, visual sexual escapade can ignite all of the senses equally and this can only mean a delightfully erotic time for all to enjoy, comfortably. I am mindful of my authenticity when I sex work. My presence and state of mind is vital in working with any client, disabled, elderly or not. Matching my specific services to a client’s desires and abilities is also imperative. Many people with disability are quite capable of enjoying sexual intercourse. Relationships are built on trust and reciprocity and for me to work well, I need to be able to relate to myself and others in a holistic way.
In closing, having sex is a fundamental human right and one that does not discriminate between able bodied, disabled or aged clients with clients of all abilities or ages. We all have the right to seek out and have sexual relations with consenting adults including sex workers especially when our physical, mental or intellectual circumstances may make this difficult to obtain in other social ways such as dating or meeting in work situations. Decriminalisation of the sex industry is the only way forward for all of us. In the modern world where sex sells everything from a toothbrush to a bar of soap, the only real barriers to a sexually fulfilling life, are other people’s ignorance that sexuality has a shelf life. This is far from the truth. Don’t be one of those critics who views sex as a means to an end for procreation. That would be a travesty of sexual justice.
At the end of the day, it isn’t that hard to imagine what life might be like for us when old age creeps up or we find ourselves disabled. We live in an aging population and the chances are, we may be old and horny, bent and broken and seriously sexually frustrated, unless we take steps to actively assert our sexual rights. Some clients may simply want to just get off, while others might want general affections and touch. Many others may grow older and not want to be sexual at all any more. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived in a world that see’s sex and sexuality as a virtue and not something only available to the young or able-bodied. When decriminalisation comes in, in Queensland we will all be one step closer to creating this reality. In the meantime, do whatever it takes to have your sexual needs met. There are plenty of us sex workers out there who are more than willing to offer our services in a friendly, respectful way. Get online and see who is out there, and never look back! Jx
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Scarlet Road Trailer
Respect Inc Queensland