I would like to preface this by saying that I DO NOT judge anyone for any personal decisions they make in regards to how they work or play in the sexual regard. All I hope with this blog is that it will open your eyes to the risks we all take when jumping into the sack with each other.
I am constantly faced with peer pressure; I feel it, if not daily, on a weekly basis with the people I see. If you asked my best friend, she would tell you that I am one of the strongest people that she knows – and I feel like that now, but I definitely didn’t in the past. Every day I used to tell myself that I don’t care what other people think about me, and it’s true to an extent…. But let’s face it, we all have some desire to be thought of as ‘the bomb’.
I used to think that I knew what it was like to battle peer pressure. I grew up as the nerdy, chubby-in-the-face, unfit, fashion illiterate social mess of a teenager. In highschool you always feel like you need to fit in with the masses to be someone of note; from the right hair to the right friendship groups, highschool is one big pressure cooker perfect for reducing self esteem and for stewing on a feeling of inadequacy.
But you know what, only now do I realise that man- I knew nothing of peer pressure. If you want peer pressure, the best place to find it is by far and large in the sexual arena. Step into this world, professionally or personally, and you’re going to need some serious boxing gloves.
For every 4 people that I see, 1 will ask me to not use protection. The problem for me is compounded by the fact that their perception of natural services is that it is safe. Porn is not helping either; we forget that the actors are screened religiously before the main event, and we think that it is then OK for us to jump into the moment without thinking about our little latex helpers. Praise be to the porn companies introducing condoms. For a while I felt torn between giving a client what he wants, and looking after both my health and the health of the clients that I see. I am not the only person who has felt like that; even other working girls have confided to me that they would rather not provide natural oral but it’s been too long and they have too many clients that they would lose if they changed their service. Whether you provide this service or not however, I wholeheartedly believe that it is imperative that people understand the risks they are taking when they delve into the arena of no condoms.
When I first began working within the industry, I saw a gentleman who asked me for natural services. I asked him at the end of our booking, ‘Please don’t think I am judging when I ask this, but why did you ask me for that?’
His response was, ‘ You want the honest truth? I think guys expect it when you charge in the bracket that you do’.
I should have thought of this earlier, but it completely surprised me. Working in a state where unprotected sex is illegal provides a valid reason for me to turn these requests down, but I still found myself calling my bestie as soon as I walked out of the hotel door, pondering if I was not worth the money because I was TOO safe. I always thought of it like insurance; men paid me a lot of money but in return they could be sure that I am as safe as I can be, and that their health was as protected as possible. I did not consider that people would rather pay money to risk their health. I know, naïve. Coming from a health orientated background, I was aware of the risks associated with my line of work and how to mitigate it. All of a sudden though I realised just how little others may know.
Skip to my next client however. I was telling him about what was said to me and he admitted that he would never ask that of a working girl; being conscious of his health, he doesn’t want the risk. That week I even experimented; I turned up to a booking, charged $150 less and told the gent that he could always tip if he felt it wasn’t enough; he ended up paying me the extra money. He said that I was worth it, and that I shouldn’t undervalue myself. I was surprised after being told by so many that I wasn’t worth it unless I was unprotected; back at a time when I was conflicted, I needed to hear that.
So I think that it’s time that you read some of the statistics that helped me make this decision for myself.
1) MYTH: You can see STIs.
Chlamydia largely presents with absolutely no clinical signs and symptoms. Gonorrhea and syphilis can also be silent, and HIV may not be noticed for years until it progresses until AIDS. Genital warts, or HPV, only shows clinical signs in a miniscule 1% of those with the disease. A whopping 99% of those with HPV have absolutely no signs and symptoms. Herpes also often has no signs and symptoms; in fact roughly 20% of patients that test positive to herpes report absolutely no history of signs or symptoms. Herpes can even transmit when someone seems to have no symptoms, or they can have such mild symptoms that they go unnoticed. So no matter how many times you stare at that crotch, you can NEVER be 100% sure that that person does not have an STI.
In fact, I took the latest statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, collected from 2012, and crunched the numbers. If you take the number of people who have reported STDs, you will find that more than 1 in 10 people actually have a diagnosed STI or STD. That doesn’t even include the people that don’t know that they have the infection or disease, and hence haven’t been reported to the bureau. It also doesn’t include all STDs that are out there; only certain ones are reportable. So logic follows that in reality, the number is much higher; especially when you consider that it is thought that 1 in 8-10 people have herpes alone, of which 80% carry the mouth herpes and 20% carry the genital herpes.
2) MYTH: NATURAL ORAL IS SAFE
Unfortunately it is very difficult to give an exact percentage; to my knowledge, no studies have quantified the exact risk for all STIs through oral. What we do know is that there are many that can transmit via oral sex including herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, hepatitis A, and the viruses that cause warts, intestinal parasites, and other conditions.
There are 2 strains of Herpes virus; the one that causes cold sores and the genital kind. To make things interesting, it turns out that the cold sore virus can infect the genitals as well. With 80% of the Australian population having herpes in some form, along with the fact that herpes can be transmitted when no signs or symptoms are present, it is the major contributor to the risk of natural oral. In addition, HPV is the virus known to cause cervical cancer. It is thought that 70-90% of sexually active people in Australia may have HPV but again, it is difficult to tell truthfully as only 1% of people with HPV are thought to show signs or symptoms. HPV is extra nasty as it is thought to cause head and neck cancers.
Gonorrhea can transmit via oral sex as well as vaginal or anal sex, and more drug resistant strains are developing; in fact, it is now present in every state of Australia. This means that it is very difficult to treat, and sometimes now impossible to treat meaning it may be incurable.
My favourite line I’ve seen about natural oral recently was on a Punter site where a gent said something along the lines of, “your saliva is so antibacterial that hardly anything survives when put into your mouth so there’s pretty much no risk”. This made me want to smack him on the forehead, and is a perfect example of why STIs are on the rise in general in Australia. If this was the case then no one would ever have mouth infections, tooth decay, oral thrush…. If you honestly believe this then you need to have a serious discussion with your GP about oral health.
3) MYTH: STI’S DON’T PASS ONTO OTHERS EASILY
There are a lot of unhappy relationships out there and it allows my trade to boom. And I totally understand why men see working girls; it gives them an outlet for their physical frustrations and often even saves their personal relationship. Most men aren’t honest with their partners about their sexual escapades outside of the marital bedroom though. The problem with this is that if you decide to go commando with another woman who ends up carrying an STI, you are likely to send your little secret direct to your partner. So I guess you can either take the chance that you may have to have a very awkward conversation with your other half about where your clap came from, or you can sheath your little sword and feel a lot safer.
And last but not least, lets not forget the fact that the last thing I want is to get pregnant – it is not the right stage of life for me and at any rate, I would not want to conceive through work. So for those of you who think that contraception keeps you safe, here is the thing… I am on the best contraception available at the moment, which consists of a small implant in my arm. This offers me 99.9% safety. But it is still not 100%. IUD – 99.9%. Pill – 94%, and that’s only if you take it bang on the same time every day. Even tubal ligation surgery is roughly 96%. For most people the pill’s effectiveness is dramatically lower from incorrect use. There is no 100% protection.
So after reading all that I am guessing that you can’t understand how working girls can really be safe; if STDs are that prevalent, how can we work safely?
There have been studies into the prevalence of STIs in working girls compared to the general population. NONE have shown that we have higher rates of STIs than the general population. Many have shown that we in fact have lower rates of STIs, and a couple showed no difference. How is this possible? Because we are careful. Every time we see you, even if you don’t notice, we do a health check on your genitals. As I said earlier, it doesn’t eliminate risk entirely but it dramatically reduces it. I would love to know how many of you who pick up a person at a bar and take them home then check to see if there are any early signs of warts, any rashes, any weird discharges….. I’m going to guess 0. The easiest way to see how thorough we have to be? Google an early wart. Every time you get a pimple from then onwards you’ll wonder what it is. This is why we are so pedantic about the smallest of lumps, shaving cuts, whether that rash is a shaving rash or something else. Our thoroughness is what dramatically reduces risk for us and for you.
We learn how to look for these things through a lot of support through our industry bodies as well as our own research. Sex worker groups have a plethora of photos and information on what to look for on their sites. Scarlet Alliance produces a little red book full of what to look for that I know I’ve poured over many times. So do your own research, or ask your favourite girl for some info, and get yourselves educated.
Finally, we get tested for STIs every 1-3 months depending on our state’s legislation. This allows us to ensure we are healthy for the people we see, and that way if any problems crop up it is much easier to deal with in an early stage. I personally believe that any guy or girl who is seeing a working girl should be tested every 3 months also.
So here’s the moral of the story…
At the end of the day it’s not about whether I trust your health, or whether you can trust my health, its whether you can trust the health of all men and women out there. Because let’s face it, I see a lot of people. That person you walk past in the street could be a client of mine…. You’ve never met them, but would you trust them with your health? Would you trust them with your partner’s health? Are you confident that they always use protection, that they are healthy?
In short, the point of this is not to vilify people who love natural sex or natural oral. I totally get why you do, although I’ve found that working girls who don’t provide natural services develop either a weird sexual fantasy for natural or they develop borderline paranoia about it. I’m still undecided which camp I’m in.
The hope is more that this will empower you to take charge of your own sexual health, and realise the extent of the risk that you are taking if you decide to go for it without your little plastic superhero.
Moreso, I hope that men will stop pressuring me to provide a service that I don’t want to give; I am sick of being made to feel like I am not worth my fee, that I am less of a provider because I don’t slip off the condom. There is much MUCH more to me than a lack of a condom; if you pay to see me, you are paying to see ME. I am not solely a sack of skin with a vagina. I am a package of intelligence, empathy, humour, sexual prowess, sexual awareness, self assuredness and healthiness. If I gave in to you, all I would feel at the end of the day is severe disappointment in myself for not being strong enough to say that no means no.. And although the peer pressure that I personally feel is from natural sex, everyone has their own social demon. And there is nothing worse than the pressure of having to give in to someone to fit in or be appreciated or be booked. So be kind to your bed friend if they don’t want to do something. Be kind to any friend if they don’t want to do or be a certain expectation, it’s their bloody choice, they are their own person and their own decisions. And please remember that your health contributes to your community’s health, and that you as well are ultimately your responsibility, your call and your consequences.
DISCLAIMER: WHEN IVE TOLD PEOPLE THESE STATS IN THE PAST, THEY HAVE SAID THERE IS NO WAY THEY CAN BE CORRECT. THESE STATS HOWEVER WERE ACCESSED VIA THE AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS, GOVERNMENT HEALTH SITES (INCLUDING SEXUAL HEALTH AUSTRALIA) AND RESEARCH PAPERS. I HAVE DONE MY BEST TO FIND THE MOST UP TO DATE AND ACCURATE INFORMATION, HOWEVER IT TAKES A FEW YEARS FOR STATS TO BE RELEASED AND SO THIS INFORMATION IS MOSTLY FROM 2011-2012. DIFFERENT SITES ALSO REPORT DIFFERENT PREVALENCES WHICH MAKES IT VERY DIFFICULT TO GIVE EXACT FIGURES. IN ADDITION, STI RATES ARE ON THE RISE IN GENERAL IN AUSTRALIA, ALTHOUGH SOME SPECIFIC STIS ARE REDUCING. THEREFORE THE RISKS FOR YOU TODAY ARE NOT THE RISKS OUTLINED HERE. THEREFORE I TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS INFORMATION IF IT IS IN FACT DIFFERENT TODAY… YOU ALL HAVE A BRAIN AND NEED TO MAKE AN INFORMED DECISION ON YOUR OWN.
A big thank you needs to go to a working girl with sexual health experience who proofread and proofread until this sounded the way i wanted. She didn’t want thanks and I don’t know her working name so she will have to stay anonymous but you know who you are – thank you.