Ethics & Fantasy
I was having a conversation with one of my best civie girlfriends last night discussing how I felt it was important, ethically, to be conscientious about clients’ feelings that can develop doing this work (it’s no surprise that we deal with transference issues, right?). She scoffed, as if it was a ridiculous idea… “Isn’t that part of the job and what’s expected? Aren’t you supposed to be exploiting every opportunity you have to make money?”
Telling, I know, about how she feels at her core about something I do that is very important to me (as well as what her support for me is about: me, not really the work…) Even one of your BFFs can carry around stigma you have to combat. :-/
I tried to explain that my work is no different than other forms of work. There are people who operate under the idea that business (any business) is about making money, and whatever you need to do for that end, and to increase profits is fair game. And then there are businesses that consider how their product and actions impact others, and the world around them. Not all businesses employ the same standards of ethics, even when dictated to do so.
Anyone involved in professional companionship, erotic entertainment, or intimacy coaching can and do have the same spectrum of care in these matters as any other profession. But because of some forms of the work being criminalized (and other forms lumped together), this is one of the many things that are assumed about who we are and what we do, or why. It’s just one more stigma that we have to contend with or prove: that we can do this work and apply ethical guidelines in our approach.
It’s a tricky area, to be sure… As with any business, lean times can cause for ethical boundaries to be compromised, and justified. Inexperience shows up on many fronts, and can sometimes be fueled by the same stigma-the one that says we are being hired to play the role of fantasy, and the goal is to extract as much money as possible. Some take information in and don’t question it, and go with what they think is the accepted norm.
I promote and market myself to be something other than a performance, and someone who offers organic and authentic exchanges, but that doesn’t mean that is what all my sessions, or relationships, are comprised of… Many clients SAY they want authenticity*, but really their fantasy is about something feeling real. Some DO have the capacity for great authentic exchanges, but there are telltale signs that distinguish between the two: namely how much they share about their lives with me (does the pillow talk stick with surface stuff, or is it like a conversation with a close friend? Do they take interest in my life, or other interests outside of work? Do they share things about their own lives besides work, or the time you spend together?) Some other things that show a difference between genuine exchanges vs. fantasy: is the adventure co-created, incorporating mutual interests, or does the client always choose the activities, including when they want to be submissive and have me “do whatever I want”? (I will address this last topic in another post…) Are they a “yes” person who thinks EVERYTHING I do is perfect and great? This is not genuine. We all need support and encouragement, but no one is perfect. Authentic friends, including intimate or erotic ones, challenge us (hopefully compassionately), and that is, and should be, a two-way street.
Some relationships take time to develop. Many men have difficulty being vulnerable, communicating openly, or understanding that a part of creating intimacy relies on exploration of your own heart, mind and soul as well as that of your partner. We are socialized that to dance in these delicate arenas means the relationship must lead to “love”, which it can**, but love is often entangled, and suffocated by, romanticized attachments-the need to lock something down and make it permanent, and last “forever”.
When men have the opportunity, the safe space, where they start to explore some of these things (the perfect storm of virtual stranger they see only in ideal conditions, shared erotic energy that can stir up more than physical, and an environment-the bedroom-where men have been told it’s actually ok to show emotion) they sometimes lack the experience to know how to handle some of the feelings that come up. When you also have a companion that is inexperienced, may have her own issues, or follows the narrative of “I’m just here for the money”, it can create all kinds of outcomes, usually not ones that feel good. If you luck out, you find a competent and compassionate person that helps you navigate, and not drift out into rough waters, instead of the ones that might cut you off without warning as soon as you step over boundaries or become too difficult to manage.
I have had intimate, long term relationships with many different types of men, some that I have come to love over the years. Some of them are like close friends: when we get together, we romp and laugh and play. Some of them are deeply intimate and romantic. Some of them are more nurturing, guiding and protective. But a few times, I have myself made mistakes in confusing the intensity of what was evoked with some men as being more than what it was. Some things you only learn through trial and error, and this is part of what has shaped my perspectives on this today.
As I contemplate how I want to push for the evolution, as a whole within our industry, the idea of how to address ethics is part of what I think about. I know there are thrill seekers that don’t care about work ethics, and a great deal of others who dismiss their importance in the exchange. But I see this as a crucial element in raising the bar, not only of professional exchanges but also in what we create in the world-what energy footprints we leave behind.
Exploring our fantasies is essential IMO, but transferring them onto our reality can sometimes be dangerous, even if it is emotionally exciting and intoxicating. Do ethics ruin the fantasy? It doesn’t have to if you are willing to look at those longings in more ways than one, and examine what goals you are really trying to achieve. I think there is room to have both, and not sacrifice the things that intoxicate the spirit, but are also done more mindfully. In the search to find validation, acceptance and connection, we have a ways to go in developing options that allow those parts of ourselves the space where they feel free, but transcend the traditional narratives about what love, fantasy and reality can be.
I look forward to future experiments, adventures and enlightenment with those who seek these things too. xoxo