YES!

As I write something incredible and life changing has happened: Ireland has repealed the 8th Amendment to their constitution which considered the life of an unborn foetus equivalent to the person carrying it. This effectively prohibited abortion even in the most exceptional and life threatening circumstances within Ireland.

To access abortion Irish women had to travel outside the country, mainly to Great Britain but sometimes to Holland and pay the full costs of the travel, time off work and the procedure itself. This put abortion outside the reach of most people. The younger you were, the poorer you were, if you already had children and needed childcare, if you were disabled or had immigration issues, abortion was priced out of your reach. Even budget airlines cost too much on social security.

And you couldn’t just ask people for help. The shame and stigma of abortion in a country that for years had mother and baby homes and Magdalene Laundries that literally locked women up for being pregnant and took the babies they were forced to birth away was immense. In places like Tuam, those babies ended up in a mass grave. Elsewhere they were sold to couples wanting to adopt. The last mother and baby home in Ireland closed in 1996. That’s the year I turned 18.

The culture was cloaked in wanting to protect the unborn but really it was about shaming sexually active women and denying their rights and bodily autonomy. The case that triggered yesterday’s referendum was that of Savita Halappanavar, an Indian dentist who came to work in Galway. When her wanted pregnancy turned to miscarriage and infection set in, she requested an abortion to save her life. But because the foetus still had a heartbeat as it miscarried the 8th Amendment prevented doctors from acting as to hasten the end of the miscarriage was illegal.

Savita took took seven days to die from sepsis in a Western country with less access to maternal rights and healthcare than her native India. The case was pivotal for Ireland and set the path for the referendum (Ireland must hold national referenda to change any aspect of its written constitution. It has previously held them on divorce and same sex marriage as well as the 8th itself in 1983 when it was still illegal to buy condoms without a prescription.)

The only countries with more oppressive abortion laws in Europe than Ireland are Northern Ireland, Malta and the Isle of Man (although there is campaigning under way there to change the laws.) Northern Ireland has the unique quirk where its citizens can hold equal Irish and British citizenship but access the full rights of neither country. The UK government exempted Northern Ireland from the 1967 Abortion Act meaning that abortion is still illegal there. It will not become legal or easier to access because of Ireland’s referendum.

Northern Ireland remains the only part of the UK that still prohibits same sex marriage and in many ways the mindset of the politicians who govern it is back in the 1950s (at best.) Amnesty International has polled Northern Irish people who back similar on demand abortion up to 12 weeks as Ireland voted on and the same roughly 69% of people back it north of the border.

Yet there have been prosecutions and convictions in Northern Ireland in 2016 and 2017 of women who bought abortion pills over the internet because they could not afford to travel to access abortion. Many Irish women, north and south, had those pills seized and in both countries buying them can incur a life sentence in prison. Abortion law in Northern Ireland is from 1861 and a law created before the invention of the lightbulb is not fit for the online era.

Until recently Northern Irish women, despite being considered part of the United Kingdom were unable to access abortions on the NHS if they travelled to Great Britain. Again they had to pay privately for everything forcing many women to choose if they could afford the fee for the anaesthetic and the cost that would incur of staying in a hotel to recover from it rather than travel back the same day. When you reduce medical care to your financial ability you automatically create inequality in your system.

I have never been pregnant. I have never had to access an abortion. But I grew up in Northern Ireland and the lack of abortion rights across the island of Ireland haunted every woman. Something as enjoyable and affectionate and life enhancing as sex felt like Russian roulette.

A country that denies its women the right to choose denies them all reproductive choice. Contraception is treated like a shame on society too. When I was a teenager it was incredibly difficult to access the Pill and condoms were prohibitively expensive. We’d go to the Brook Clinic in the centre of Belfast in our school uniforms and run the gauntlet of people screaming ‘slut’ and ‘murderer’ at us, clearly unaware of how Durex work. Even now my Northern Irish peers are given less access to long acting contraceptives and had to endure protests by anti choice activists like Bernie Smyth to get it.

We had no sex education either and it was pre internet. We learned about genitals from a diagram in a biology book on a frog. Periods were often called ‘the curse’. There was nowhere to go to ask for help or advice. With this repressive background and an ongoing civil conflict meant we didn’t even need the legality of Section 28 to prevent LGBTQ issues and rights being mentioned at all. We simply had the bigotry of the Save Ulster From Sodomy campaign instead. And of course this archaic attitude did little to stop us having sex.

Everyone I knew was fucking rings round themselves. Not only did all that repression make sex forbidden fruit that we thought would taste all the sweeter, but in the middle of an armed conflict your leisure opportunities were fairly restricted and all there was to do in a country that still chained the swings in the park up on the Lord’s Day was have sex.

But the irony was that sex was all about the risk and not the fun. Every time you fucked you were running the consequences of having to ‘take the ferry’ through your head rather than the pleasure you should be experiencing. There was this collective fear and shame about sex. We discussed our escape plan for an unintended pregnancy more than our sexual desires or our bodies (and yet I was still 17 and had been sexually active for 2 years before I first heard of the morning after pill.)

The act of sex for pleasure was shrouded in deep deep shame because that was to admit you were one of those women who put your own selfishness before the unborn child’s rights even if you never had an abortion. You were a slut and a disgrace simply by association. We never discussed masturbation. We never discussed queerness. We never asked if this was normal or acceptable because we’d internalised the idea that any sex made us abnormal and wrong. We went in for self loathing rather than Cosmo quizzes.

Being able to access abortion due to my health (and the sheer fact I’ve never wanted kids) was a huge reason I moved to England. But in order to access the right to choose I had to leave everyone I knew and everything I grew up with and I left with a sense that my country was ashamed of me and I was unwelcome there. Many of my friends didn’t even have that choice or were unwilling to trade family and connections for hypothetical situations and so stayed.

But there was consequences. A girl at school concealed her pregnancy for eight months until she went into premature labour at home with a stillborn baby. She blamed herself for the death and killed herself a decade on after years of mental health issues. 80% of the girls I went to school with had children by 21.

Even if their children were chosen, they suffered from post partum mental health conditions at a rate far higher than their GB peers because it’s hard to switch from the mindset of being told that having a baby ruins your life to loving one. I’ve lost count of the cases of postal natal depression, PTSD in childbirth and post partum psychosis my school friends have mentioned. Infant mortality in parts of Northern Ireland remains the highest in the whole of Europe. Reproductive choice in Northern Ireland is class based and compounded by post conflict sectarian divides.

I’ve received out of the blue Facebook messages from people I barely remember more than once which under the ‘oh I was just thinking about you’ jollity was the question ‘could I stay with you in London for a night?’ It was always an interview or some cover story but I was just the only person they knew with a free place to stay or an address they could use. I asked no questions and played along.

I even let a friend of a friend use my English address her to have abortion pills delivered to knowing having them delivered directly would arouse suspicion and possible seizure in Belfast. I wrapped them up disguised as a birthday present for her and posted them on. They were for her 14 year old daughter who had been raped.

We both knew the risks but she did it for her child and I did it for all the people who that culture failed to prevent from abusive relationships. Again compared to my non Irish friends we, myself included, were so vulnerable to levels of abuse, coercion and sexual trauma it’s hard for people who grew up with legal abortion rights to comprehend.

Our lives and transition into adulthood was marked mainly by fear and shame. I haven’t lived in that atmosphere for nearly 20 years and it still impacts me now. It took a long time to shake off the fear of judgement and (self) blame around sex for me and to not feel profound shame for being sexually active but knowing I didn’t want children.

The things we are told as children and teenagers by our families, teachers, religious leaders and community linger in our minds for a long time and it breaks my heart that my friends’ children are hearing the same shame inducing ‘morality’ we heard from the same people. I wonder how it must feel to be a teenager in Northern Ireland today seeing the Yes vote next door and seeing that campaigning and solidarity can change things that we thought would never change.

If you are celebrating Yes today then please take a moment to sign Amnesty’s petition for Northern Irish abortion rights or support the work of the grassroots Alliance 4 Choice organisation or the fantastic Abortion Support Network who raise money to help women on both sides of the border travel for abortions. The need for their work will not be eradicated overnight.

And remember, you can be pro choice while not having an abortion yourself. No one is going to start forcing women and pregnant people to abort. But people who can get pregnant need the choice whether to continue that pregnancy or not. We don’t force people to give blood or donate organs and extending abortion rights will not detract from your right to refuse a termination.

But you can give Northern Irish women a choice not to grow up and live with the sense that pregnancy is a trauma in its own right. You can help make sure all children are wanted children. There is no sex positivity in a country that is negative on reproductive rights and I want rights for everyone I left behind.

YES!

High And Dry

Just before you think my whole life is non stop sex and kinky excitement day to day, I’m here to remind you it’s actually much more every day than you think. In fact the only thing I’m particularly sharing with my Master and Princess right now is that my cunt has gone a bit weird.

And the downside of sex with another woman is that if one cunt goes weird, the other is likely to go weird too and you end up texting each other some very strange Google links about bodily functions you didn’t know you could do.

A quick trip to the the proper doctor rather than just Dr Google tells me I’ve probably got bacterial vaginosis which isn’t really an STI but is very easily passed from one cunt to another if you’re fucking another woman. It’s when the natural bacterial balance of your cunt goes a bit awry and you end up with a low level infection.

I’m not sure if I got it first or Princess did but we’ve ended up with matching symptoms and two different styles of antibiotics to sort it. She went for the oral version and I opted for the vaginal version in a gel. Both of us needed seven days treatment and hopefully problem solved.

Most of my symptoms are now gone except that the antibiotics have left their own annoyance. Basically they’ve killed off the good bacteria as well so suddenly I’ve got no sign of life going on and I’m completely dry no matter how much I get turned on. And it’s bizarre.

I’m so used to my body and mind working together to present a united front when I’m horny that it’s confusing and disappointing when my brain is turned on and I can feel the sexual sensations in my cunt such as my clit swelling and everything tingling and wanting to be touched, but I’m still completely dry.

I know different people’s levels of lubrication varies and illnesses, medications, hormones and stressors can affect it from one time to another but for me the only things that tend to impact me are too much booze or not really wanting to fuck. No matter how much my brain is telling me to be sexual, my cunt knows the truth and I’ve always relied on it as a sensible big sister to stop me fucking for the sake of it by listening to the evidence it’s giving me.

So not being able to get wet at all for my Master last night with the John Holmes toy even with lube or spending the day with Princess after my birthday and feeling like my cunt is hibernating while the rest of me is so ready for sex is actually quite distressing. Logically I know it’s the effects of the antibiotics but I associate lack of wetness with not fancying someone and I hate even briefly having that link with my Master and Princess in my mind.

Like anything else you take for granted, you don’t fully appreciate it until you don’t have it anymore and I hadn’t realised how much I associated the mental thoughts of sexual arousal with the feeling of getting wet until now. I can still come from lots of stimulation on my clit but the orgasms aren’t as good. It’s like eating when you have the cold and you still enjoy your dinner but without your sense of smell and taste together it’s not the same. I’m like Samson with a short back and sides.

I’m trying to see it as a chance to try other things, almost like a prolonged feeling of those ruined orgasms my Master used to train me with to hone my submissiveness and stop me gorging myself on coming and then being too lazy for orders. It’s also teaching me to appreciate different types of touch without my cunt clamouring for all the attention.

If it takes a while to resolve it might be a good time for Sir to start spanking me again or playing with those beeswax candles or some hardcore wax play before I suck his cock. The thought of my own cunt ruining orgasms into submissiveness for me is almost hot but I’m still greedy essentially and would rather have the option to let my cunt be fully used too…

High And Dry

Clean Cut

Princess often finds it irritating how every single day or week or month now seems to stand for something from National Apple Day to Bisexual Visibility Month to Honey Week (although I refuse to humour Steak and Blowjob Day until the sexist stereotypes fuck right off.)

But I was intrigued to see that September 4th is World Sexual Health Awareness Day because it’s a subject that still really needs talking about. In the last two weeks on Twitter alone I’ve seen people discussing a recent Durex campaign that insinuated you can tell who has a STI by looking because well turned intelligent people ‘aren’t like that’ and the frankly stigmatising site DaddyBear that assures you only HIV negative people can sign up.

STIs are also the first topic that comes up when the subject of polyamory or multiple partner relationships come up. A large number of people refuse to consider the validity of non monogamous relationships because apparently people in them are all disease ridden and therefore not to be afforded any respect.

I always blush slightly at that point because early on in my relationship with my Master in a yes, non monogamous relationship, I gave him chlamydia. Which I got from the married man I was fucking at the same time no less. A lack of care with condoms on my part showed me that ethical non monogamy and good old fashioned cheating don’t really mix.

But it also shows that passing on an STI is very often simple error, human nature and the power of bacteria and viruses to gatecrash even the best dates. I would always advise people to practise the best sexual health they can but not to beat themselves up if things go awry. In the same way you should wash your hands after using the toilet or take care with raw chicken, you wouldn’t consider yourself dirty and inferior if you passed the cold or food poisoning on to your partner.

Yet there is a real feeling of shame in society for people who have STIs as if those diseases make you morally inferior. There is something problematic of course if someone knows they have an illness and make no attempt to protect other people from that whether that’s not using a condom or not covering their mouth when they sneeze on the Tube (my disability makes me immune suppressed so probably more worried by a  germy copy of the Metro on the Bakerloo line.)

But this shame and stigma simply worsens the problem. By suggesting that STIs are a moral failing you make people less likely to discuss the subject of using condoms or other barrier methods such dental dams with any sexual partner, especially ones they aren’t long term relationships with and it makes them afraid and ashamed to visit clinics for check ups and treatments.

Partly because it was essential to my job as a sex worker it’s been a long time since I felt any particular shame about visiting STI clinics viewing them as just as much a part of the NHS as all the other departments my chronic illness takes me to. But it’s clear to me that other people, including the NHS itself, do not see them like that judging by the shifty silence in the waiting rooms.

There’s always a Cinderella sense to them with euphemistic signage, hard to find departments, restricted opening hours you can’t book in advance and a vague feel of reprimand from the reception staff I find baffling especially when most of these clinics serve other aspects of sexual health too like contraception or smear tests. (And yet they wonder why women under 30 are failing to attend cervical screening tests as much as they should? What a puzzle.)

Yet when it came down to it and I discovered after a routine STI check at the fantastic Dean Street Express in Soho (which took me fifteen minutes including an HIV test) that I had chlamydia and had almost certainly given it to my Master, I felt incredibly guilty and disappointed in myself. I could see why people just do not want to have that awkward conversation especially if they fear being judged.

I stared at the text message of doom willing it away, drank several cups of tea to distract me and reassured myself that telling him was the right thing to do, especially because of Princess and that it couldn’t really be more awful than the only other time I had had to tell someone I had chlamydia.

Back in the days when I got round a lot of cock and wasn’t quite as sensible as I should have been, I ended up fucking a guy my very very coupled up housemate was obsessed with. On her boyfriend’s birthday when we were all in the pub she became paranoid that her fella could tell they had been having a torrid emotional affair for months. So in impeccable drunken logic I took said guy home for a decoy fuck so her boyfriend wouldn’t suspect anything. He turned out to be a spectacular fuck and didn’t leave for the entire weekend and definitely distracted both my flatmate and her boyfriend nicely.

Unfortunately it also gave me symptomatic chlamydia and I spent the next few weeks feeling like I had a dreadful kidney infection. I ended up with antibiotics and an awkward chat to be had on February 14th, having to phone my ex fuck to tell him I had chlamydia and he almost certainly did too. There’s never a good moment for that disclosure but accidentally interrupting his big Valentine’s Day date with the girlfriend I didn’t know he had took it to the next league.

My logic was that things could only go better this time with my Master and luckily they did. He basically sighed and shrugged like ‘shit happens’ and then we discussed best places to get antibiotics. I was mortified but he took it calmly and with concern for me as much as anything else and no annoyance at me for putting him and Princess in that situation. My other fuck buddy however was everything you don’t want when you have that conversation.

So while I’d still rather I’d never been in the situation with my Master it proved to me who I should be fucking and it’s not the man who gets angry or dismissive when you discuss sexual health or bodily autonomy. I ditched the fuck buddy and put my effort into my relationship with my Master instead.

It just goes to show when we don’t shame people for being imperfect or treat them like sexual lepers, they talk and trust more and the sex gets better no less…

Clean Cut