Talking About Sex Work with Partners

I recently responded to a question my lovely friend Lo got at her blog suggestivetongue. I’m curious what my readers here think about the response I wrote.

J read the reader’s question as fairly antagonistic, and like the reader was actually pretty upset over his partner’s possible past sex work. How do you read it? Would you have suggested anything differently?

Here’s the link: Question: Bringing Up Escorting

Hotwife Ethics

I came across this search time that someone used and then found my blog, and I’m not totally sure what was meant behind the phrase. But, I’ll take a stab at it anyway.

The ethics of hotwifing parallel the ethics of ethical nonmonogamy, at least in my experience.

Good experiences are built around transparency, honesty, communication, and consent. Hotwifing, one option part of the larger ethically nonmonogamous umbrella, requires all people involved to understand their motivations, desires, and role as best they can  in order to fully conceptualize and consent to the relationship- whether that relationship is a primary partnership, friends-with-benefits relationship, or fuck buddies relationship (and obviously other secondary or simply other relationships present- I mentioned the others since they seem to be more common in a hotwifing relationship dynamic).

More broadly speaking, hotwifing relationships are ethical if all parties involved want said relationship. If you are concerned about the ethics of nonmonogamous relationships (like how ethically nonmonogamous relationships go against the grain of social and religious norms), then I would suggest doing further reading and reaching out to folks practiced in the area.

More specifically, the hotwifing dynamic can introduce some special twists. Male primary partners and husbands often want to know specific details about an encounter, to hide in the house or room and watch or listen to a sexual encounter (without the other partner’s or bull’s knowledge), and sometimes an ability to vet or veto any potential partner (and also sometimes to ask for boundaries around emotional attachment to other partners). I think that these kinds of boundaries can pose some grey ethical boundaries depending on the context.

Is it ethical for the hotwife to bring home a one-night stand while her husband hides in the closet and watches and listens? What if that one-night stand turns into a regular partner? Can the husband continue to hide and watch/listen? Should the wife inform the other partner?

Similarly, is it ethical for the hotwife to divulge any and all details of a sexual encounter she had last night with a one-night stand to her husband? What if it’s with a regular friends-with-benefits?

On these issues, I tend to fall like this: If it’s a one-night stand, you owe the one-night stand your respect, honesty, and authenticity. If they ask you a question about your relationship, your safer sex practices, or how your male partner feels about something, you should answer honestly. Later, you can tell your husband everything (it’s also okay in my book if he was secretly present to watch or listen). However, if that one-night stand turns into something more long-standing, then the hotwife and/or husband have a responsibility to fully inform the other person of the degree to which the husband likes to be involved in the escapades, whether that is through voyeurism, participation, or in-depth knowledge. This gives the other person the ability to fully understand the relationship dynamics, his role, and therefore the ability to consent to the relationship. This also leads us to the possibility of a bull relationship (FWB or fuck buddy) turning into something more: making sure that your other partner understands any limits or boundaries around your relationship together will go quite a ways in preventing unnecessary heart ache.

Have any other specific questions about the ethics of hotwifing? Comment here or email me!

Have any thoughts about this? Comment and let me know!

Asexuality & Dan Savage

Dan Savage recently responded to a nosy family member about her brother-in-law’s asexual orientation.

While his advice to BTFO (butt the fuck out) was right on, there were some lines that did not resonate with me. Namely: 

“Someone who is incapable of meeting a sexual’s needs has no business dating a sexual in the first place, if you ask me. At the very least, asexuality must be disclosed.”

I would agree with Dan that people with out-of-the-ordinary sexual interests/non-interests should lay those cards out early enough in the relationship that the potential partner can make a more informed relationship decision. This applies to “extreme” kinks (like wanting a 24/7 master-slave relationship or wanting to get pooped on), and I think it can also apply then for someone who has zero interest in sex. Dan’s sentiment that asexuals should not date sexuals is getting into dangerous territory. What about other potential relationships where one partner no longer can have sex, or never could, for physical or health reasons? How is this sentiment any different from saying that kinky people have no business dating non-kinky people? I think the world is too big to make such statements, and also assumes that many people don’t have the thinking power to come up with creative solutions to relationship compatibility issues. Maybe it would be easier if an asexual dated another asexual, just as it might be easier for both people in a relationship if they were both turned on from pooping on each other. But love seems to be bigger than having the same exact sexual, nonsexual, romantic, intimate, emotional desires, and I am willing to bet that there are satisfied and happy asexual/sexual couples out there.

What do you think?

Here are a couple of resources on asexuality:
The Asexuality Visibility and Education Network
Asexuals: Who are They and Why are They Important?

Merging the Academic with the Personal

I explored something kind of uncomfortable, but necessary, in counseling this week:

When and how will (or if) I decide to disclose 1) that I am in an open relationship, and 2) that I am a stripper now that I am back in school (which, yes, is fabulous so far!)

I told my counselor that being in an open relationship is not shameful for me and that I am proud of it. I feel like that part of me is an easy share. I have already shared that in my personal statement for my school applications. During the interview process, I shared that my main goal is to work with folks in plural relationship structures. So I am not that concerned about disclosing my personal experience with open relationships.

But, stripping feels like another matter. I feel like as much as nonmonogamy is misunderstood and stigmatized, sex work is even more misunderstood and stigmatized. Interestingly, I feel like if I used to strip, but didn’t any more, I wouldn’t feel as weird sharing my experience. But because I am still actively stripping, and plan to continue stripping, my experience moves into the present, rendering me still sexually deviant. There is an element of shame to my stripping experience, as much as I don’t like or want to admit it. And it’s related, I think, to my realization that stripping feeds several things for me, and I don’t want to contribute to a misunderstanding that strippers engage in the work they do because they have “daddy issues” or are “attention whores.” I have articulated for myself that stripping was, in the beginning of my journey, about exploring my sexuality and sense of exhibitionism, reclaiming my sexual power in a very loud way, and about the empowerment and feminist stance of using my body however damn way I chose (related to struggles I had with my mom growing up). In the middle, and up until a couple months ago, it was about feeding my deep desire of being seen and heard. Most recently, it has mainly been about performance, about exercise, about perfecting my sense of presence and gratitude to move my body sensually and artistically. 

Some organizations classify stripping as a form of sex work, in that a stripper exchanges sexual energy for money. And yet, I more readily identify as a “dancer” and less so as a “stripper” or “sex worker.” Could I proudly raise my hand in class and say “I am a dancer”? “I am a stripper”? “I am a sex worker”? I don’t know.

And honestly, I am concerned about the implications of disclosing this personal experience on my future job, work, volunteer, etc opportunities. Again, I really don’t know if I could proudly raise my hand without knowing what kind of ripples this might have for my future self.

And, in what context would sharing this be appropriate? Just tonight, in my first class, a fellow classmate said to me: “Do you not work? What do you do with all your free time??” To which I shrugged off and deflected. It didn’t feel like the right time and place for some reason to say: I do in fact work. I am a dancer.

I imagine the context in which I might want to share would be one in which we are discussing working with vulnerable populations, including those working in marginalized occupations (including sex workers). I really dislike and feel aggravated by “othering” conversations (oh “those” people, “they” blah blah blah). I would feel compelled, and like it would be the right thing to do, to disclose my status and experience to bring some humanity to the conversation.

I also recognize that disclosing both of these things about myself feeds a “look at me” desire. The attention whore at work. I want to be seen, noticed, heard. And being “different” and then telling people about that feeds that circuit loop.

I’ll figure this all out, in time, and as it happens. But it’s been a little stressful and weighing on me. I think I would feel best to me if I could just tell everyone about my experiences without worrying about judgements and prejudices- but I can’t control other people’s reactions or thoughts or behaviors toward me.

My counselor reminded me that even if I decide to keep something private, it doesn’t mean I am ashamed of it. So now I am trying to really figure out: am I ashamed of dancing? Or am I ashamed of the discomfort I may cause people (ie, taking on the feelings and needs of others again)? Or am I ashamed of why dancing is so fun and satisfying for me?
It’s still a rub: how to manage the private, the personal, the academic, the professional.

Thoughts, feedback, love? :)