Originally published on 12/4/13 sabrinamorgan.tumblr.com
By Alex Morgan
We have a real problem with our sex educators and writers getting booted off of sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, and having their funds frozen by processors like PayPal, because of these companies’ refusal to touch the erotic. Specifically, perceived status as a (current or former, as PayPal clarified to me in a phone call) sex worker or association with erotic materials (such as an erotica Tumblr; let’s not even start on porn) is license to shut down our educators.
This is being unevenly applied. If you’re a male sex educator, or are commonly read as masculine, you are less likely to have this issue because of the false assumption that men aren’t sex workers. (Male sex educators and sex workers still have this issue, to be clear.) If you’re a female sex educator, or are perceived as one, you are more likely to be assumed to be a sex worker.
If you’ve thought that working strictly as a sex educator meant that sex worker stigma wasn’t your issue, let this be a wake-up call. Unless we take pleasure out of sex education – which is a losing game – we will keep having our platforms knocked out from under us due not only to discomfort with sex, but discomfort with the erotic pleasure principle, and with the possibility of sex work.
Educators such as Nina Hartley, Buck Angel, and Jessica Drake use porn as a platform to reach many who might not otherwise seek out sex and pleasure education. Lots of sex educators have backgrounds in the erotic professions that inform their work as sex educators. When we’re too scared to defend sex work, because it’s not our battle, because there’s a legal gray area we’re scared to touch, we’re saying it’s okay to let the sex workers – our front-line sex educators – take the bullets as long as we get to play the game. And we get to play the game only as long as we play it safe.
Playing it safe means being afraid to show what it is that we’re teaching. Playing it safe means we can’t make our material too erotic or explicit or we’ll lose our billing. Playing it safe means knowing our client needs to see a sex worker but being afraid to make the referral because of what it might mean for us professionally.
We all do it. And we can all be braver. Because it is our fight. Sex work is under assault because it’s both sex and work. When we work in sex, however we work in sex, we brush up against that stigma. If we want sex to be taken seriously on our watch, we have to commit to standing up for access to sex education and health, for pleasure, and for treating all of the sexual professions with respect.
Sabrina Morgan is a sex worker’s rights advocate as well as a sex educator and relationship coach. Fascinated with the places where society and sexuality intersect, she began practicing kink-focused work in 2005 and has been speaking and presenting workshops on dating, sexuality, and the intersection of sex, gender, and human rights issues since 2009.
Her work as a professional switch allowed her to work with others’ sexuality in a very personal way, giving her a deft sensitivity to the needs of those exploring new facets of their sexual selves and an understanding of the importance of sex and relationship education for adults.
A firm believer in continuing education for all adults exploring sex and relationships, she has presented at SXSW, the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit 2013, Toronto’s Playground Conference 2012 & 2013, CatalystCon East and West 2012 & 2013, Momentum 2011 & 2012, BIL 2012, the San Francisco Sex Worker Fest, and Sex 2.0 2009 & 2010. She offers group workshops, distance classes, and has shot educational videos for both Kink Academy and Passionate U.
Individual and couples’ coaching is available through her site.