birth day

writing last week was intense.

I went to counseling. J and I had sex. I talked with a few close people about my initial realizations. I coped so I could get through my work week. I took some time off.

I felt off on my birthday but not so off I couldn’t enjoy it. We soaked in a hot tub, went out for fancy dinner, and then to our club. It was good, solid.

Saturday night, though, dang. It’s like my body and soul come alive when I dance naked. What is that? I’m in love with the world, even as I feel shitty. It’s just like none of it matters. And even better, I got to share myself in that space with so many of my best people. That felt like my birthday. That night has carried me through the first part of the week. Also strawberry cake is yummy and also makes a difference.

As has the fact that spring makes people come alive, and so I am now talking with a handful of new ladies online and have a couple of dates set up. And a crush of mine saw me dance on Saturday and I just love a good crush. Even as I am coping with thinking about rape, I feel enlivened and whole, energetic and happy.

Thanks for all of the positive vibes. I felt them last week.

peace

Activism and movements

I love how when you sit in a classroom, someone often tries to teach you how to do practical things in the world. The class I took a few years ago on community organizing is just making me laugh out loud now; I just don’t think there is any classroom experience that could really prepare you for what it actually looks like and feels like to try to connect with people to move change forward.

In Oregon, House Bill 3059 would mandate that all entertainment clubs display posters that spell out what rights independent contractor entertainers (strippers, DJs, comedians) have, as well as maintain an anonymous hotline entertainers can call to report violations or seek clarification.

I think it’s a stupid bill, if at least a tiny step forward in spreading accurate information to strippers in Oregon on what their status actually is and how they are actually treated.

I think I have effectively alienated myself from a few people who are staunch supporters of the bill. And more closely aligned myself with other workers who think empowerment and respectability politics is pretty bullshit (as do I). But it’s kind of killing me that there are such divides within the community. That is exactly what dominant culture encourages people of oppressed communities to behave: divide and conquer. Fuckers!

You can’t organize a community that doesn’t want to be. You can’t effectively talk to a community and get a solid read on what it needs or wants if the community isn’t organized.

It honestly feels like a shit show. All of the interpersonal politics and drama and history that shapes and influences the real way policy (organizationally, institutionally, legally, culturally) is created. Some of it is petty and some if it isn’t. Some of it comes down to fundamental differences of opinion that can’t be bridged or glossed over; these differences really matter in building a movement, and yet it is still tough to know- is this the right way to go about pushing for change? Alienation never feels right to me, but maybe it should? How do we “call in” as opposed to “call out” possible supporters and opponents? How do you stay diplomatic while still remaining true to your message?

Integration, Disassociation, Connection

I keep wanting to write, and then feel overwhelmed by my lack of presence. So I’ll just start with where things are now, and the missing pieces from the past several months will filter their way in. Writing and sharing is too therapeutic for me not to do it, so I’m going to try to do it more.

I remember writing a post way-back-when on anal sex, and the hang-ups I have around it. I remember writing about the non-consensual anal sex that my high school boyfriend had with me. That’s called rape, by the way, and I can type it but I can hardly say it out loud (I’ve said it once now). For some reason (I don’t know what the reason is; if I did, I think it might help in processing all of this), this memory and experience bubbled up and had been sitting for the past few weeks, until coming over the edge yesterday.

The part that is getting me the most is the realization that I have been doing the same stuff that most survivors of this kind of trauma do: making excuses for the person, blaming myself, etc. He must have not realized he shoved his cock in the wrong hole. I didn’t tell him to stop. He loved me so he couldn’t have done this. I have been having flashbacks to the day after that incident: I was so terrified that my parents would find out I had been having sex and I spent all of my time trying to prepare to defend my actions. I left myself absolutely no room to feel how I really felt: betrayed, violated, unheard, and hurt.

For some reason, all of my life since that day has just been swimming through me since yesterday, when I had this meltdown. All of the times I haven’t been able to say what I really wanted, how I really wanted it, when I really wanted it, why I really wanted it. Every time with a friend or a partner or a lover or a customer in the club I haven’t been able to speak and hold a boundary of mine. How much I sway to expectation and pressure and history. How often I have put other people before myself.

It’s too overwhelming, frankly.

Somehow, though, after crying on the couch yesterday in the early evening, I managed to get myself showered and dressed and to the club for my shift. I don’t know how I did it, but somehow, I took all of that shit and created this bubble around myself, and I looked at all of the people in the club and just thought: You can’t hurt me. I don’t care what you fucking think. I’m going to have fun, I am going to do my job, and I am going to make the money I came here to make. And it worked. I’m still not sure how, but it did.

I woke up today, though, feeling low, and my mood has only really gone down today. I feel this weight on me, and I don’t know what to do or where to go or who to talk to. Nobody can fix that experience, no one or anything can make it better.

One of my friends, who happens to be a sex worker, maintains that she hates white straight cis men because they haven’t experienced oppression. I get what she means- it’s hard to feel understood by someone who hasn’t directly experienced being oppressed. I don’t hate men. I hate the system that has been created, and while many men (and other people) perpetuate it in many ways, I don’t think individuals are to blame. Especially, and at least, people who are at least aware of the privileges they embody and do their best to mitigate how they operate in the world. I also don’t think someone needs to have an experience themselves in order to to offer genuine support and empathy.

But I also just keep feeling this sense of utter violation, simply because I have this receptive sexual and reproductive system. I can’t penetrate anyone in the way that someone with a penis can penetrate me. I’m suddenly shocked by the deep sense of trust I grant, pretty freely, to male bodied sexual partners to penetrate my body. And how insanely lucky I am that I have had just the one experience that left me feeling totally violated. (And what a fucked up thing that I feel “lucky.” It should be the standard to not be violated.) Just that one experience is now rendering me depressed and numb. And overwhelmed.

The idea of creating feminist relationships also keeps creeping up as I spin in circles about this. How do two or more people create a relationship that truly takes into account the needs and desires of each person, while making sure that boundaries and agreements are equitable and fair? I want to surround myself with people who want to make space for everyone in the room, not just in their hearts but with their body language and the way they talk and the way they offer themselves.

I also want and hope that I continue to use all of this to my advantage when I go to work in the club. This mixture of anger and despair, I hope, can help me to be extra clear about my boundaries: It’s about the money. It’s a job. No, I won’t go on a date with you. No, you can’t have my number. You can’t talk to me about how you hate Black people or gay people or any other oppressed group. Fuck you, with a smile.

My birthday is this week. And I am praying that come Friday, I can get dressed up and have a snazzy fun time at our favorite place, and that come Saturday, I can dance the night away while people pay to see my pussy and tits. And furthermore, I hope that when my people come to see me dance, from my full time work and my school and my friends, they see me as the whole person that I am. Lastly, I hope I can see that myself soon, hurt and healing and all.

Happy NEW Year

Long time, no talk friends! I didn’t bring anything with me to do on the bus, so I figured I should use the opportunity to get back on here. (I apologize for any unsightly typos)

Sex sex sex
Love love love
Fullness, growth, challenges

It feels overwhelming for me to recap the past few months, but I’m going to do my best. In no particular order:

Still dancing, still lovin’ it. Worked Xmas eve and the eve of Xmas day. Profitable and crazy. I was in the strip industry mag in November, posing for an ad for my club. Super, super fun!

Biggest news on my mind: Teaching an online section of human sexuality this term. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) Winter term started today. I’m pretty terrified… and THRILLED. I have 52 students. Three jobs? Apparently I don’t think that’s an issue? (What’s up with me?) Putting together my syllabus felt like a dream come true.

I/we adopted a second dog. I realized it was largely because I’ve been pretty lonely since J and I work such different schedules. I dont know if the little guy is a good long term fit for us because of his bad separation anxiety, but he’s adorable. We talk about my loneliness. Trying to schedule weekly date times to help with it. And I’m trying to see friends when I can.

Both J and I hopped back on OKC recently. That’s been entertaining, fun, and thought provoking.

Had a threesome with two sweet friends of mine (a lesbian couple). It was a tasty experience!!

There is legislation being pushed forward this term, atrempting to improve the working conditions of strip clubs in Oregon. It’s pretty disappointing (understatement) how little the bill is touching on.

My sex worker support group has taken off more! I’m happy for that.

My full time work has been engaging, largely because I’m in meetings all the  now. School has been fine.

What’s new in your world? I’ll try to better on here in the weeks and months to come :)

Xoxo
K

Happiness and Sex

Hi there lovely readers!

Back again, in my new crazy, off-the-wall way. This time, with a Q&A with some friends who recently finished writing a book on sex and happiness!

Authors are Ariel and Rodrigo: Rodrigo is a Brazilian Happiness Coach and Ariel is a Relationship Coach. They are co-founders of The Portland Happiness Center here in Portland! Read more about their work here:

Now for the Q&A:

What was the catalyst for this book? What made you decide to write on the topic?

We have always been interested in people and our relationships with people, as a subject matter. We both travel a lot and have lived in different countries, experienced different cultures. I had recently gotten divorced and Rodrigo had recently married and so the subject of finding happiness through our relationships was a big topic between us when we would talk. My divorce had a lot to do with the sexual part of my relationship. The idea for the book came out of these discussions. Not just our connections with others, but sex itself as a factor in our happiness levels. At one point I said I wanted to ask people on the street “are you happy? Are you having great sex?” And take a poll to see how many people were having satisfying sex and were all those people really happy? But instead of talking to people on the street we decided to have some longer interviews. :-)
What was your main research question when interviewing people? What were you hoping to learn about?
We thought that we were going to prove that if you are having great sex with someone you’d be happier. We set out to prove that. But our hypothesis kind of flew out the window with our first interview!
We asked a handful of questions:
-what was your most influential or most important relationship?
-how important is sex for you in a relationship?
-are you able to separate your own happiness from what is happening in your relationship?
-how long can the sexual life carry the rest of the relationship?
-how does orgasm play a role in your happiness level?
And a few others… We just ended up having conversations with people. We talked about things like cultural differences, expressing what you want from your partners, happiness base levels people see themselves at… We also talked about open relationships, asexuality…
How many people did you interview? What were some of the demographics represented? (Age, gender, sexual orientation, relationship style, race/ethnicity, country of origin, etc)
We interviewed about 18 people, some of which we didn’t include for certain reasons. Ages ranged from 21 to 70… men and women, straight, gay /lesbian, bisexual,  We had people in monogamous and open relationships, people who were single too… We had Black, Brazilian, Japanese, French… We had several white Portlanders as well. A range, but we wished we could have kept going and interviewed all kinds of people. The book is just a starting point. We would like to take the same questions to say, rural China. Or to places where people are really ingrained in a culture different than our standard culture here. with lack of time and resources, we got a slice of the people around us and were pretty much dependent on who responded to our requests for participants.
What were some commonalities and differences that you heard among your interviewees and their experiences?
For this you’ll have to read the book! Everyone seemed to have a different take on the questions. Which was incredible! In general we found that people are trying to find happiness, through themselves, through others whether their relationships with others are romantic or not. That we all need a support system via human connection. How physical and how monogamous or not those connections are seem to be very individual.
Are there any stories or experiences that stood out to you or impacted you? What were they and why did they stand out?
Oh boy. Well everyone’s story was unique and after each interview Rodrigo and I admitted we gained so much hearing that person’s story. For me, because of my own outlook on life, I found that discussing the idea of monogamy vs open relationships was most interesting. I have come to the conclusion in my own life that a single person can never fully satisfy the needs of another. So does that mean we engage in an open relationship? Or do we simply have continuous casual relationships? What about companionship? I don’t have an answer but this theme was of particular interest. I also loved the story one man told of finally being able to let go of the anger he had for someone who could never apologize to him for breaking his heart. That he was carrying around this anger for years, and it wasn’t serving him. He finally learned that this person would never be able to say what he wanted to hear. It was very moving, and I’ve found most of our dysfunction in relationships stems from us having expectations of others that are not fulfillable on their ends, and attachments to others that create codependency. We can be interdependent- in fact we need to be – but codependency is a precarious place to stand. If that person leaves we fall.
How have the interviews shaped your own self perception of your experiences? What have you learned about yourself from listening to others?
Rodrigo and I learned so much about ourselves through this project. It brought up so many thoughts and questions in our own lives as well as for future projects. I almost feel like there was a piece of my own experience in each person we interviewed. Even if demographically we were extremes, there was a commonality in the search for happiness, love, physical desire… Some interviewees I found I could really relate well to and others I felt quite the opposite … The ones with whom I had opposite experiences and outlooks, they influenced me more because it made me question “why DON’T I think that’s important? Why DON’T I see life like that? Why do I feel I could never live my life that way?” Those questions really made me think and evaluate my own relationships.
What questions do you still have? Did any new questions come up as a result of writing this book that you would want to investigate?
We have so many more questions! We are ready to start the next book to help answer them. :-)
In the end not only did we fail to prove our hypothesis, we also failed to come to some big conclusion. In the end, everyone sees things differently and everyone’s wants and needs are unique. We can agree that we need people around us to be happy, to lead fulfilling lives. Without human connection we do not thrive. And it is also true that the more  people and connections we have, the healthier, and happier we are as individuals.

I’m Alive and So Are You!

So it’s been a while!

Thank you to everyone who has asked or emailed me to check in. It means a lot to me! And if I haven’t written you back yet I will :)

A month has gone by and I stepped away from SR mostly because I mentally couldn’t keep up with myself. But I’m back.

In my world, in no particular order:
I start school (again) today
Work is going well. I’m officially a supervisor!
My dear friend who I have been crushing hard on for two years finally realized it was a good idea to try dating me! ;)
Domestic violence is a hard thing to see and hear about
I did one nonsexual escort date and long story short, I got paid $2500 and J and I have gone out to dinner with both the dude and his wife (more on that to come)
I still LOVE dancing
I only have one box left in the house to unpack
We’re flying home next weekend to see the fam
I want to go Hawaii SO BAD. Especially since today is the first really dreary day in Portland.
Have you checked out Bitch media?The falll issue is called Love/Lust and has several excellent pieces on the questioning identity, feminist porn, and more
Still trying to figure out why my most comfortable state is naked. Or rather, trying to be naked more often

What’s new with you all?

Boundaries in Sex Work

Apologies for lack of posts this week! It’s been crazy. Also, apologies for brevity and possible typos as I am typing from my phone!

I had the concept of boundaries come up in various ways last week, in relation to sex work…

First, my new supervisor asked me to step down from my involvement in the support group for sex workers that I just recently got up and running. It has been interesting for me to navigate this conversation, over email. I’m not definitively stepping down yet, although it looks like I may have to. I’ve done all I could so far in asserting my preferences. The confluence of sex work and professional boundaries is interesting, for sure, and I’m intrigued what may lie ahead in terms of creating a safe space for sex workers at my place of employment.

I also was interviewed by a fellow worker about how I view stripping and sex work. In particular and most relevant to this post, she was curious about how I identify (as a sex worker, stripper, etc) and what kinds of boundaries I’ve asserted with customers. The mental and emotional boundaries I have around my personal identification with sex work feel like a moving target, like I can’t quite grasp them. Needless to say, it made it difficult to explain to her that at times I’ve identified as a sex worker, stripper, and dancer for different reasons.

Most recently, I was approached by a customer to engage in some nonsexual escorting: he wants a muse, someone to tease him and turn him on, but he also wants this person to hold firm on his boundary of not having sex (because he wants to remain sexually monogamous to his wife). In the past I have been very clear with myself and customers that I keep my business at strip clubs, but this particular person piqued my interest. So I’m exploring what it could be like. Tonight we are mini golfing and getting dessert.

More to come, on all of this.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a piece that I adored; it’s a concept I have thought much about, and illustrates how social norms and boundaries from monogamy influence intimate partner violence and how sex workers are treated :

Jealousy Is Not An Excuse: Monogamous Norms and Partner Violence Against Sex Workers