Consider this an official ‘Coming Out.’ I’m a brown woman who likes boys and girls. I work in the sex industry doing fetish wrestling, nude work, and I’m an on-off stripper (more of that another time!). Although I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs, I love my life, I love my work, and I have an amazing support group of family and friends. They support what I do and love me for who I am. I, therefore, consider myself one privileged gal.
Before I started stripping at 19, I was always very interested in sex and sexuality. Although I didn’t discuss all of my fantasies with my friends, I always thought of myself as sexually aware and open. I feel my fantasies have always been varied and healthy; I knew they were fantasies and not rooted in any psychological ‘issues’, although the question of what makes for a healthy fantasy is for another article. When I started stripping, I began to meet women who questioned my notions of what a ‘normal’ interaction was between a man who was supposedly dominant and a woman who was, for all intents and purposes, meant to be submissive. I was working in an industry that was based on these principles which were constantly subverted in intricate and fantastical ways. I tell you the vast majority of these women were not submissive, well not submissive at work anyway. These women were Amazons in Ann Summers and Boadicea’s in Baby Dolls but with tattooed eyebrows and fake tits! A 50-year-old well-heeled businessman walks in and wants, without even knowing it himself, the most dominant female there, the 5-foot nothin’ brunette with big eyes. She’s in University and doesn’t even see him, although he sure sees all of her. She grabs his hand and rinses his wallet, along with his worries whilst brandishing her magnificent plastic bust. She won’t remember him but he’ll sure remember her. Whether you agree with these establishments or not, it is interesting to note that the underlying dynamic is not strictly a ‘normal’ one. Gender roles are in a large sense subverted.
Last year, after a chance encounter at an old club, I met a man who introduced me to the fetish wrestling scene. I did a session with him where I put him in a few holds (arm-bars, chokes) like I normally do in training. We talked. He paid me for the hour. I was hooked. When you wrestle men for work (men who in most cases are heterosexual cis males) it is your dominant side that is of value here. You leave your submissive qualities for the most part at the door. Sex workers tend to have an alter-ego. This isn’t just so people don’t recognize them, but because there tends to be a difference between their character and the people they are in daily life. To be honest, the character isn’t any less them than their public face. In many ways, it is their truer self; the deep part of themselves that they summon on demand. Some of the cutest, innocent looking strippers you meet are the hardest, curtest, most business minded people you will ever meet.
Queerness is something discussed a lot these days, especially in younger, metropolitan communities and spaces where giving platforms for the underrepresented is an important and essential part of activism. The word ‘Queer’ was originally a derogatory term that was reclaimed with brilliant success to affirm the identities of non-heterosexual identities. It also encapsulates the ever-expanding acronym of LGBTQIA+. Wiki says:
Queer is an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual or not cisgender. Originally meaning “strange” or “peculiar”, queer came to be used pejoratively against those with same-sex desires or relationships in the late 19th century. Beginning in the late 1980s, queer scholars and activists began to reclaim the word to establish community and assert an identity distinct from the gay identity. People who reject traditional gender identities and seek a broader and deliberately ambiguous alternative to the label LGBT may describe themselves as “queer”.
The bit that has interested me for a long time is the last sentence. In my line of work, where understanding and exploring people’s deep sexual fantasies is core, that last sentence describes pretty much everyone. Sure, we’re talking being on a scale. Some people just want to be turned on by a pair of tits for a twenty, whilst others want to be pegged by a lady in leather. At the end of the day, everybody experiences some kind of sexual desire outside of the ‘normative’ experience, regardless of whether or not it is heterosexual or otherwise. A lot of the time, people have fantasies that subvert traditional gender roles, identities and practices. In my book, that makes them queer. Congratulations, guys! This is a coming out for you too!
I was recently having a conversation with a friend currently involved in a production of a documentary about the real lives of sex workers. Through our discussions of the definitions of sexuality (Are you queer? Why yes, yes I am! Are you? Yes! Wonderful, let’s discuss!), we got talking about what queer actually meant when it came to inclusivity. We both, for example, know cis white hetero- men who are not completely described by this term. They may have a desire for another man that they might not have fully explored due to expectations put on them by society Similarly they might want to wear diapers whilst having their nipples cranked from across the room. You see, it is all very fluid, even for these men who have the appearance of being the ‘normal straight white guys’.
The idea that we are all queer, that none of us have a normal sexuality, is important because the repression of sexuality is one of the greatest dangers to our collective psychology. Since Freud, even though our understanding of the theories and sexual drives have changed, we have known how much our sexuality is the catalyst for so many of our personal events and often mental imbalances. Countries that suppress women, sexuality, transgender, non-binary and queer people all fundamentally abuse human rights. Cultures that exonerate and capitalise on any one kind of body or sexuality are abusive and unhealthy. All Bodies and their desires must be respected as they are the key to the psyche. Exploring and allowing others to explore our sexualities in all its forms makes for a more understanding, fluid society that will lead to better mental health and therefore better relationships with ourselves and others. It also takes away the worry that what you feel like today, you might not feel like tomorrow. And that’s exciting! We’re not jam jars, so let’s stop labelling ourselves.