What Is Gender

What Is Gender

Gender is confusing. It’s often used and understood as a synonym for sexual genitalia. Consult any dictionary, and you’ll see. And while, in our culture, both terms are inextricably linked with one another, they are different. They’re associations with one another (and our staunch adherence to them) have proven oppressive and dangerously limiting.

For some, it’s never an issue; they’re born, they are raised as the sex they were assigned at birth, identify with that sex and its associated gender, and it’s all good. For many others, it’s not so easy. Some of us feel confined by the limits of our current conceptualization of gender upon which our society has agreed and enforced for generations.

Even in places where people self-describe as open-minded and accepting, a cis man wearing a dress is assumed to be in costume, and a femme or high femme woman with fully grown out leg hair is a spectacle.

Gender is a construct, and we have agreed that being masculine means one thing and being feminine means another. Many of us who disagree with this construct do so while following the rules. We feel that we are following these rules against our wills. When people do break free and live authentically, however outside the norm, they are mocked, isolated, bullied, attacked, and even killed.

For years, in the Trans community, “passing” has been a goal. Some want to pass in hopes of feeling in alignment with who they know themselves to be. Some want to pass to look and feel like and be accepted as a “real” man or woman. (Please note that I am absolutely simplifying this concept.) This is a testament to the generations of patriarchy, toxic masculinity, sexism, and misogyny that inform our culture. Men must “look like men, ” and women must “look like women.” To this day it’s still an issue of safety as MTF (male-to-female) people are the most targeted members of our community. (And MTF People of Color make up a substantial portion of that group.)

Obviously, this is not true for every Trans person. There are plenty of people in the Trans community for whom passing isn’t much of a goal, and there are many who’ve found more peace and happiness after transitioning. Happiness is a universal goal, and many eventually find it after they have transitioned. (Most people don’t find immediate fulfillment; transitioning is often a long and arduous process during which a person can face various types of rejection and self-doubt. Years of managing the stress brought on by denying oneself, living in fear of being rejected for living authentically compounded by the stress of letting go and allowing oneself to transition is an enormous undertaking.)

But there is a whole group of people who identify as Trans and don’t want HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) or surgeries. Some Trans people want HRT but not surgery. Some want some of the surgeries but not all and don’t want HRT. Some FTMs will never look the way we’ve been conditioned to identify as male, and some MTFs will never look the way we’ve been conditioned to identify as female. Most of us assume that when someone transitions they’ll start behaving and presenting in a way that our culture affirms as masculine enough or feminine enough.

We have decided what is masculine and feminine, which characteristics are ok to swap and which are definitely not ok. Straight men can have long hair, but they can’t wear makeup. Women can have buzz cuts and abstain from shaving body hair, but they’d better be Lesbian. Our culture puts an incredible amount of pressure on its members to conform to its rules and has assembled a loyal and persuasive army of militant enforcers who are always more than willing to defend these rules.

In response, so much dangerous adherence to these limits is the notion of being gender-fluid. Gender fluidity is gaining momentum. A lot of people don’t feel they should have to comply with a certain presentation based on their genitals. So they don’t. They identify and present however feels most authentic to them. They don’t ask for permission. They don’t appease. People who are gender-fluid have looked at the gender, and sexual constructs created by the dominant groups in our culture and have opted out. They are creating a safer, more inclusive culture where we are not defined by our presentations or ruled by binaries and either-or options.

I’m often asked about “detransitioning” and how common it is. This is a complicated subject and will take time and commitment to discuss. If you have any questions about what I’ve written or would like to discuss detransitioning, please contact me. I’d be more than happy to talk about this with you.


Love and Be Loved,

Understanding and Accepting Sexuality

Understanding and Accepting Sexuality

Remember that movie with the scene of a guy watching porn- his wife comes in, he seems embarrassed, and she yells at him? Yeah, you’re right. It does sound like a lot of scenes from a lot of different movies.

Humans seem to be engaged in a common conversation centered on our sexuality, mainly expressing that those of us who are connected to it are weasels and those of us who aren’t are honorable leaders in virtue. In most of these movies, the guy assumes responsibility for his transgression and tries to win his way back into his wife’s good graces. His wife wraps herself in support of her friends who completely understand that his act is punishable. How dare he express his sexuality!

I have been waiting for years to see a new response to this wearisome scene. Maybe the man’s partner comes in and starts watching it with him, and they have a conversation about it. Maybe they discover all sorts of information about one another, fantasies, desires, talents… who knows?! Maybe they both realize that they have more in common than they thought, but were too afraid to find out. One thing’s for sure, though; nothing shuts down the possibility of exploring new territory with someone like shaming.

Some people experience fear and hurt when they imagine their partner watching porn or masturbating. They see the browser history on the computer and feel slighted. It can be hard to feel open and curious when we feel insulted. It seems easier for us to lean on defensiveness and close ourselves off.

Let’s stop and think for a minute. What is it about others’ sexuality that spurns us so much? Is there something about how it relates to our sexuality that causes us to feel insecure, unworthy, or defective? Why? And what can we do to address this?

When we slow down and allow ourselves to be curious about why someone else’s expression of their sexuality bothers us, our discomfort becomes an opportunity for connection. That’s what we want, right? We want to feel more connected to our partners. We want a felt sense of safety and acceptance. To cultivate this, we have to do our part, which means not reacting impulsively to our fear, hurt, and anger.

“But my partner watches porn with group-sex scenes. I don’t want to have group sex…” There is an endless supply of porn that caters to any fetish, curiosity, preference, and tendency imaginable. Sometimes people who watch porn want to act out what they see and sometimes they don’t. There are plenty of queer-identified people who enjoy watching straight porn, but not straight sex. Likewise, there are a lot of people who are into queer porn but aren’t into queer sex.

There are as many reasons for why we like to watch certain types of porn as there are different genres of porn. How will we learn what we want to know about our partners’ reasons if we don’t ask? The answer we get might be a delicious surprise.

Love and Be Loved,

Getting Comfortable with Your Sexuality

Getting Comfortable with Your Sexuality

Sex. Everyone thinks about it. Everyone wonders about how other people are doing it. And everyone has definitely experienced an insecurity or two about it.


Every day I talk to people who want to know if the way they think about, feel about, and have sex is “normal,” people who want to know if maybe they’re “normal,” but maybe not their partner(s). It’s an understandable concern. And it’s a trap.


Who makes the rules about what is and isn’t ok for you if not… you? Why should you leave your sexual fulfillment (and any other fulfillment, for that matter) strictly in the hands of anyone else? If you want to masturbate twenty times a week, do it. If you want to have sex twice a month, go for it. If you want to act out a fantasy with a consenting partner, why not? The message here is this; if you’re ok with it and your partner is ok with it, then it’s ok… whatever “it” is.


I can almost hear some of your responses. “Really, though? Is this still true if I can pretty much only get off orally?”  “And what about my fantasy of forced sex in captivity? I know that can’t be ok.” “What if people have told me that I masturbate too much…?”


If you are bothered by some of your preferences, thoughts, and feelings about your sexuality it could be helpful for you to get a professional’s objective opinion. A useful indicator of what is and isn’t ok for you is the level of stress that it seems to impose. And what isn’t ok for you can change; you can gain comfort with some things and lose a taste for others.


Something that used to send you to the nearest exit might become part of your repertoire five, ten years down the road. It’s important to explore why something isn’t comfortable for you, why it makes you anxious, repulses you, or immobilizes you. Just as important is the exploration of why something excites you, turns you on, and fascinates you. (This is true for any aspect of life, but for many people, it seems to lose it’s voice when they think about applying it to sex.)


If group sex is your preference, but your partner doesn’t want anything to do with it who’s “more normal”? I think you know the answer to that. Both of you! So, what do you do with the space between? You talk about it. Talk honestly about yourself. Empathically ask your partner questions. Figure out how each of you wants to integrate aspects of the others’ sexuality into the relationship. Allow yourself to take the risk of being vulnerable.


You have more in common with others’ sexuality than you think. Often, a safe, open, and fluid dynamic with a partner can usher you into a new, wonderful plane of connectedness to your sexuality, to yourself. Who knows what’s waiting for you?!


There is no normal or abnormal sexuality. The only measurements exist within what’s ok for you and the space between what’s ok for you and your partner.


Still, have questions or concerns about something? Let’s see what we can figure out together.

Love and Be Loved,


No, You Are Not A “Sex Addict”

No, You Are Not A “Sex Addict”

We all think about sex. Most of us, who are able, masturbate. Sometimes we masturbate to porn; sometimes we don’t. We’ve all experienced some dissatisfaction with our sexuality. Many of us want to enjoy sexual adventure in some way. A lot of us have even damaged relationships or put ourselves at risk as a result of poor decisions we’ve made about sex. And many of us are ashamed of and secretive about aspects of our sexuality.

Much of the information about sex addiction encourages you to believe that you’re a sex addict if you have sex in a way that looks or seems different than the way members of the mainstream population report that they have sex. If you frequent swing clubs or parties, enjoy a particular role-play, or pursue sexually adventurous experiences you could be labeled “sex addict.” Someone else is uncomfortable with your sexual expression so that must mean your behavior’s pathological. Right?

Obviously (or, perhaps, not-so-obviously), not everyone is a “sex addict.” So, with such broad (and subjective) parameters, how can you tell who’s a sex addict and who’s not? Let me clear it up for you. You are not a sex addict.

This doesn’t mean you are free from pain related to your sexuality. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have aspects of your sexuality which you have attempted to change, but didn’t sustain, and it definitely doesn’t mean that you don’t regret choices you have made about the expression of your sexuality (and the consequences that followed). Any and all of this can be true; you’re still not a sex addict. You don’t have to swear off casual sex, fetish, polyamory, sex with sex workers, masturbation, or porn forever.

Human sexuality is an expression of ourselves, how we feel, what we think, what we have interpreted from information received. Not limited to behavior, sexuality includes thoughts and feelings. There are reasons connected to why someone likes to incorporate S/M into their sexual relationships, why someone else likes to have sex in complete darkness, why someone takes risks with their safety while seeking out or engaging in sexual activity, why different people enjoy different types of porn, and why someone is turned on by one thing the same way someone else finds said element a complete turn-off. None of these people are “wrong” or “addicted to sex” or “bad.”

There are various occasions for which someone might seek treatment regarding sexuality. The treatment is not for sexual addiction, but rather, a guided inquiry into the desired sex life (and why), the current sex life (and why), and insight into what someone can do to create resolution. Sometimes the aim of treatment is to help them understand and accept their sexuality. Other times, the aim is to help someone understand and negotiate their sexuality, incorporate more flexibility to decrease distress and increase health and satisfaction.

Sometimes sexual dissatisfaction can be identified as sexual dysfunction. There are times when it is seen as a symptom of another condition, biological or neurological issues, or things like depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and beyond. Sometimes the dissatisfaction is a manifestation of an unfulfilled need to connect, a quest for empathy, or a way to find soothing. The work is to explore why someone does what they do, what it means to them, and where to go from here.

Treatment for sexual discontentment is a way for you to gain understanding about yourself, learn how to accept your desires and needs and make any changes needed to improve your life and your relationships.

If you would like more clarification about this, please contact me.

Love and Be Loved,

Are You Sex Positive… Or Sex Reckless?

Are You Sex Positive… Or Sex Reckless?

People ask me a lot of questions about sex positivity, what it is, why it’s important, and how they can begin to lead a sex positive lifestyle. I like to make the distinction about what sex positivity is and is not. A lot of people have made and live by decisions about sexuality based on misinformation. They have experienced a lack of critical information.

On another hand, sometimes people believe that they’re already living a sex positive lifestyle when they’re living a sex reckless lifestyle. They have difficulty acknowledging that boundaries, limits, awareness, and safety play an essential role in sex positivity. So, what is the difference between sex positivity and sex recklessness? Let’s cover some of the important basics.

At its foundation, sex positivity is a desire for awareness of and an authentic respect for sexuality. It expands to said respect for and awareness of your sexuality and others’. The ability to be sex positive is informed by an ability to acknowledge your fear and the judgments, inhibitions, and missteps that can come from fear.

Being sex positive means discovering your sexual needs and wishes, gaining awareness of your sexual boundaries and limits, and using this information to enrich your sexual life and relationships. Sex positivity also means engaging in healthy and safe behavior including (but not limited to) getting tested regularly for STIs, using proper barriers such as condoms and dental dams, being honest with partners about any STI status, engaging in consensual sex with people after trust and safety measures have been established, and respecting everyone’s boundaries including your own. Honesty is a mainstay when it comes to sex positivity. Whether it’s planning a vacation during which you know, you will be using substances that alter your judgment and planning accordingly or attending to responsibilities after the fact, the more honest you are with yourself, the better your outcome.

Being sex positive means abstaining from slut and sex shaming others whose desires, activity, and behaviors are different from your own or those whose desires, activity, and behavior you believe to be different from your own.

Sex recklessness is engaging in unsafe sex (not using barriers with those whose STI status you don’t know or with those who are positive for STIs, engaging in sexual activity with others where trust has not been established, using substances while engaging in sex without established trust, and not exercising respect for your own and others’ boundaries, just to name some basics). Sex reckless behavior is manifested in the unexamined fear that you hold about aspects of sexuality which you use to avoid the conversations, precautions, and awareness that are needed to establish and maintain a safe and healthy lifestyle. The more you talk about sexuality in a way that puts you in touch with your insight and reflection, the less likely you are to put yourself (and others) at risk.

Not everyone uses the best methods for safety and makes the optimal choices in every single sexual encounter. If you are sex positive, you will be honest with yourself about these occasions, take responsibility for your part in them, and allow yourself to learn from them.

If you would like to know more or discuss this with me, please feel free to email me natalie@nataliemillsmft.com or call me (415) 794-5243.

Go on. Your sex-positive life is waiting for you!

Building Your Sexual Confidence

Building Your Sexual Confidence

So, how do you have sex? Do you plan it out thoughtfully and intentionally? Do you let a moment strike you and allow yourself to be completely moved by your desire? Do you draw attention to your body in a way that makes you (and your partner(s)) feel sexy? Do you prefer to be in a darkened room where you and your partner(s) can’t see one another? (And why or why not?) Maybe you like to be vocal during sex, talking, uttering various sounds, and just generally making your good time known. Perhaps you take a quieter approach when you have sex.

Have you ever thought about the way you approach the idea of sex, itself- how you think about it? The way you approach yourself as a sexual being?

Take some time to think about it now. Think about the feelings and sensations that you experience when you imagine sex. Are you picturing a particular act? Are you engaged in the act, watching it happen, or is it happening to you?

Now, more specifically, focus on what you believe about yourself as you imagine sex. Are you feeling confident? Sexy? Insecure? Knowledgeable? Foolish?

How we feel and what we believe about ourselves intimately informs our sexual behavior. While this might not be revelatory for some of you, this correlation runs much deeper than “not feeling sexy” after you’ve had a tough day or when you’re dissatisfied with your body.

Do you hold the belief that it takes you too long to orgasm? Or that you aren’t sexy? Or that you aren’t sexually knowledgeable enough?

Think about the sexual beliefs about yourself that you hold. What are they? Why do you believe them? And when do you remember first believing this about yourself? To what experience is this attached?

Every day, I see clients who say things like, “I’ve just never known what I’m doing when it comes to sex; I have no idea what I’m doing,” or “I can just tell that something is wrong with me because I rarely have an orgasm when I’m having sex.”

Eventually, my clients begin to change their thinking. They realize that they don’t orgasm because they have certain needs of which they weren’t aware (or that they knew and hadn’t communicated to their partner(s)). They usually find that, once they express their sexual needs, and those needs begin to feel met, they orgasm just fine. Those who believed they were sexually inept, learn that they simply had to take the time to learn about what pleases them and their partner(s). These clients found that they weren’t as clumsy as they believed; they just didn’t have enough of the puzzle pieces to see the picture clearly.

It is ok to speak up about your sexual needs. In fact, it’s more than ok- speaking up about what works for you (and what doesn’t) is ideal for a positive, satisfying sexual experience!

Challenge the current sexual beliefs you hold about yourself. Be curious about their origin and meaning. You might begin to find sexual fulfillment that you had never imagined. Enjoy it.

Love and Be Loved,

The Benefits of Sex Education

The Benefits of Sex Education

Sex Education wasn’t great when I was in school. I was taught that sex is dangerous and that everything, even flirtatious glances, leads to sex. I have a clear memory of adults coming into the class to tell cautionary tales of how sexual experiences emotionally destroyed their young lives.

The state of sex education in our schools is getting increasingly worse. Our youth have little to no idea about navigating their new sexual relationships, how to shield themselves against infectious diseases (or much about infectious diseases at all), the broad spectrum of “normal” which is quite different from the misnomer propelled by the mainstream that there is a handful of behaviors, feelings, and thoughts that are “normal”.

Since there are few avenues for guidance, our youth look to porn for their sex education, which isn’t always ideal, depending on which company’s films they’re consuming.

Although many young viewers know these films are made for fantasy, they continue to look to porn for any narrative on a subject that is often vehemently avoided in school and at home. Watching certain types of porn, though, most of our youth need extra guidance just for what they’re seeing so that they can differentiate between the fantasy of porn that has been provided and what they can expect with consensual partners.

Our youth are busy thinking about ways they can participate in whatever they are watching, not thinking about what goes into porn making- editing, makeup, technological touch-ups.

While porn does teach them that it is perfectly ok to express their sexuality, if youth are depending only on watching porn for their sex education, they miss learning about the communication that goes on between partners to connect, to make sex better, to learn about themselves and one another. They don’t know that they can ask for what they want or that their partner can ask for what they want and that it’s not synonymous with rejection, but that the opposite is true; as they ask for what they want, they can find more acceptance.

If we provided comprehensive sexual education for our youth, they would begin to see that sex isn’t a shameful, disgusting subject and thus, those who have sex are not shameful and disgusting, and to think about it, talk about STI protection, carry condoms, birth control, etc. is not shameful or disgusting. To have sexual knowledge, any remote sexual experience, or be sexually savvy would not be cause for slut shaming because more people would feel empowered with awareness, not afraid and unable to see their choices.

Sex is so much more than just something we do. It’s something we think. It’s something we feel.  A lot of adults are confused by this idea; we write books for them, provide therapists for them, and invite them to conferences. It is important that we approach sex education with our youth with as much compassion, intention, and awareness to help guide them so that they can explore and understand themselves without being afraid.


Love and Be Loved,

The Politics of Sexuality and Confidence in Women

The Politics of Sexuality and Confidence in Women

Do any of you remember Britney Spears? When she first made her debut at the end of the 1990s, she was about 16 years old and sported both a schoolgirl’s uniform and basketball outfit with her hair in pigtails. Many of her facial gestures expressed dramatic, wide-eyed curiosity and a genius mixture of innocent and seductive smiles. Both the lyrics to Britney’s songs and choreography included heavy sexual innuendo. The nature of this sexuality sent a subtle message to her younger fans (and, perhaps, less aware fans) that she was not as much in charge of her sexuality as much as she found herself the subject of sexualization by others.  Britney’s fan based ranged from tween girls and boys to adult men. Britney was beloved by the Pop music community and deemed “Princess of Pop.”

None of this, in itself, is abhorrent, but wait until I describe Britney’s reception as she grew into herself.

Eventually, Britney traded her pigtails for full, voluminous hair and began to dress in shorter and tighter outfits. Her choreography became obviously sexual, and her song lyrics had less innuendo and much more clear, sexual content. Britney’s tween fans and their parents began protesting her new presentation, reporting that she was setting a “bad example” for young girls. The same die-hard fans who once praised her at every turn now persecuted her.

So, what happened? What was the unforgivable change?

Here it is (I gave a little hint in the first paragraph.); Britney went from seemingly disconnected from her sexuality (and sexualized by others) to in charge of her sexuality and connected to it. What’s worse, she seemed to be enjoying it! (The nerve.) It was ok for the artist to be sexualized as long as she wasn’t in charge of it (with a lack of awareness, to boot), as long as it was happening to her in fact, it’s part of what made her worthy of praise. However, the more Britney took control of her sexual power the more she was seen as an abomination. Hm. The more this woman consented to her sexuality, the more it was seen as a transgressive act.

This is not the first time this kind of sexuality shaming has been thrust onto a female artist (Whitney Houston) and, surely (unfortunately), it will not be the last. Good news (not really), the same sexuality shaming happens to women and girls who aren’t in the public eye. Our community is pretty sure that it’s far more admirable to have sex happen to a woman instead of with her; more fetching is a woman who is powerless in her sexuality than a woman who enjoys it.

Perhaps, instead of perpetuating this dangerous message, “a woman’s virtue= sex happens to you; women taking ownership of their sexuality=slut=the worst thing ever” we should question why we are so vehemently attached to it in the first place and question what it is doing to and for the health of our community members. With slut shaming, sexuality shaming, and bullying dangerously interwoven into the lives of both adults and children, this is most definitely a message in favor of violence, not health and safety for our community.

Love and Be Loved,

Respecting the Value of Porn

Respecting the Value of Porn

As a sex-positive therapist, many clients seek my help for concerns they have about their sexuality, looking for guidance as they navigate sexual and or intimate relationships, and supportive treatment for symptoms related to the sexual trauma they have experienced. They often have many questions about normalcy and fear of the unknown. Overall, I see a common thread of emotion woven into many of these concerns: shame. So many people feel ashamed of their desires, feelings, and experiences. A common subject broached by clients is porn and their shame around watching and enjoying it. (There are other subjects which I will address in later posts.)

Overall, women who view porn are often seen as depraved sex fiends and antifeminist, in addition to myriad other misguided opinions. Men who view porn are seen as typical misogynist cads…  So we don’t talk about watching porn. And we don’t talk about enjoying it. Porn is so feared and detested that we, as porn viewers, fear what it might mean about ourselves to watch and enjoy it. We are encouraged to hate the parts of ourselves which derive pleasure from it.

If we did feel safe enough to have an open dialogue with one another about the value of porn, what might we say?

Some of us might say that porn has helped us to connect with our authentic sexuality for the first time. Where previously we had experienced discomfort, fear, shame, or a combination of any of these feelings when accessing our sexuality at anything deeper than surface level, porn has served for some of us to explore this part of ourselves in a safe, nonjudgmental space. Porn has gifted curiosity about ourselves, what we like (and what we don’t), what we want, what we want to try, ways of expressing desire, and what might make us feel desired.

Others might say that they find value in queer or feminist porn, that they like to see people who look like them enjoying their authentic sexuality. These members of our community might say that it’s refreshing and empowering to watch scenes in which they are represented and to which they can relate, scenes that inspire them.

Maybe some of us would share that watching porn has enriched our sexual relationship with our partners. We might have experienced a lull or predictable sex, maybe disconnected sex, and much of it unsatisfying. As we explored the world of porn with our partner(s), we realized things they wanted that they didn’t feel comfortable revealing before. We noticed more ease in talking about the sex we were (and weren’t) having with one another and the sex that we wanted. We began to feel more connected to one another and less afraid of talking about what we want, less afraid of the awareness of what we want.

Such incredible connection and growth are happening for people watching porn, and we are discouraged form sharing it with one another. We are experiencing a wonderful, life-affirming treasure, and yet we are told that it’s toxic garbage.

Let’s stop playing along. We can show the others what they’re missing, those who don’t watch porn and those who pretend they don’t. We can show them there’s nothing to fear and everything to gain by sharing the valuable experiences we have had thanks to porn. Who else is with me?

Love and Be Loved,


Increase Your Sex Work Awareness

Increase Your Sex Work Awareness

Think for a minute about what you do for a living. Does it currently satisfy you? Are you good at it? When you experience a bad day at work, who do you talk to about it and what kind of support do you get?

Imagine your current situation as it is now and think about what it would be like if your friends and family disapproved of how you make your living, judged you for it, even pathologized you for it. Imagine how it would feel to have people try to rescue you from your job, save you from its perils and yourself because they knew that you were a paralyzed victim who couldn’t help themselves, who had probably been abused so, of course, it makes perfect sense that this is what your job is… Think about what it might feel like to have a bad day at your job and talk to someone about it only to hear, “Well, of course you had a bad day. Look what you do for a living. What did you expect?”

What if you couldn’t tell anyone about your bad (or good) days at work because your support network had made it clear that they didn’t want to hear about it? With whom would you share your experience and what would it feel like to experience such a lack of support?

One way to find out what this might be like is to listen to the stories of many sex workers. They’ll be able to give you insight into what it’s like to experience the shaming, stigma, blaming, isolation, and ultimate devaluing that comes with their jobs.

Almost immediately, when people hear the words “sex work” or “sex worker” they often imagine a woman or girl who is being forcibly managed and mistreated by a man or a group of people, abused and victimized. Sometimes they imagine that this girl has probably had an abusive childhood, and that is what has driven her to sex work. There’s a cultural (mis)understanding that women don’t like sex and they certainly don’t like it enough to turn it into a career, at least not one that they enjoy and in which they take pride.

It’s pretty hard for people to generate a clear picture of an empowered sex worker who does this work because she loves it, who isn’t being coerced, who is authentically connected to her power, enjoying the work she does. There are a lot of reasons for this. It’s a tough conflict for many people to imagine a woman really enjoying sex in the first place and so, selling sex of her volition blows peoples’ minds; they resolve it however they can (ie: she was abused, and she’s just repeating unhealthy cycles! she’s being forced into it!), because it’s just that unfathomable.

We’re still operating under the assumptions that a) women don’t *really* like sex b) if you’re a woman, and you do like sex, the more sex you have and enjoy, the more it is indicated that your character must be terrible and c) if you sell sexual services you must either be sick, and people should feel sorry for you and rescue you, or you must be dangerous, and people should avoid you. These assumptions have incredibly dangerous indications not only for sex workers but all of us. (More to come on this!)

“But sex work is dangerous!!” Yes, it can be dangerous. It is not inherently dangerous, however, just because it is sex work. Sex work can be dangerous because of what I just described. Sex work can be potentially dangerous because of the shame we infuse into sex, into women who are sexual, into ourselves for wanting sex and the kinds of sex we want (or don’t want). Sex workers are harmed and killed, not because of the job they’re in, but because of the stigma we’ve attached to it and because we offer these providers no protection against and no recourse for sustained abuse. Shame and stigma are a breeding ground for violence.

We’ve just navigated our way backwards through what some people consider to be controversial content. You did great!


Love and Be Loved,