sex work

An art-based rebellion. A creative resistance. A political fuck you to the art establishment @adeline_whitney

You may have heard me say this before - if you change the visual landscape of sex work then the political landscape will change by default. Simple. If only making it so was as easy as saying it out loud. Laura Mulvey wrote about the male gaze and more recently, feminist art culture platforms like Foto Femme United are championing the female gaze through intersectional feminist art platforms. As sex workers, we need to go one step further. One step that not only champions and celebrates sex worker authored representations and presentations across all art disciplines (from photography to poetry) but one that must push back on the crushing suffocating weight that comes with being set in a concrete visual narrative played out daily in the media and cinemascapes. A voyeuristic gaze that hardens and contorts our bodies into a binary narrative of the unrepentant harlot upholding the structures of patriarchy or as the hapless and deviant pitiful victim of circumstance. This narrow visual portrayal of male oppression reproduces a politics of pity and has resulted in a hegemonic visual representation that encourages the sense that the only way of interpreting our lives is to see us as ripe for ‘rescue’

Adeline Berry - you can find her on the twitter @adeline_whitney is in the throes of establishing an international sex worker art community. Revolutionary. An art-based rebellion. A creative resistance. A political fuck you to the art establishment and history that is obsessed with our otherness. An uprising to the democratising of art and to reclaim it from the bourgeoisie and use it as a means of expression and therapy to help us through these dark SESTA/FOSTA/Nordic Model times.

These platforms are the protest, the art is the protest. The protest is in its making, circulation and viewing. Reshaping, re-imagining, re-defining art landscapes with the aim of reshaping political and social landscapes. We can do this through sex worker led art based platforms were we can force an evolution in the art ecology and break free of oppressive representations.

The censorship of online sex culture and the eviction of sex workers from the open internet necessitate Adeline's vision and platform.

If you are a sex worker and interested in having your art displayed on an Instagram page created for this purpose with or without a link to you, please contact Adeline.

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We travel in the same universe; we exist on different planes that intersect through her husbands' nakedness.

A regular client for me is someone who has been seeing me for years; there are too many to name, too many to remember in one sitting, there indeed are a select few who have been seeing two or three times a month, every month for years. Men who have transcended the status of client and landed firmly between my legs like a lover. Men who still pay because money keeps sex civilised, bounded. Respectable. Men who occasionally forget to pay and pay me next time because a blissful just fucked state makes me absent-minded. Some men who no longer pay but gift me thousands of pounds here and there.   Men, I imagine illicit affairs with. Men whose cum I want dripping out of me.  Men who know everything about me, and I know everything about them, names, lives, travel schedules, where they got their last tan from. Men who set up appointments through their work e-mails and e-mail me when I'm away asking when I am back. 

Men who have watched me have a crymax post fucking as I settle and crumble under the pressure of being a whore and an academic. Men who know how to fuck, the men I authentically fuck. The real wetness and orgasms, the boundary exploring, the intimate connection that hobbyists try to haggle for but never get. The sore knees and displaced hips.  The Battersea set I call them.  Educated, smart, intelligent, tall, trustworthy men. Well travelled, accomplished,  come complete with a family and a Battersea mortgage. Handsome. So fucking attractive, really bloody handsome with majestic cocks and astonishing abilities to fuck and drip sweat onto me.

Our lives are intertwined, whether we like it or not. Sexually and on social media, so it came as no surprises that one of my weekly husband's wife popped up and followed me on Instagram.  I'm not worried, these things happen, and with the interconnectivity between our offline and online selves I am genuinely not surprised at all. Why would I be? I've been looking at her timeline, admiring her constructed visual marriage. We frequent the same places. Dine at the same eateries, fuck the same man, the children all swim at the same Clapham Common paddling pool which is opposite my apartment, where her husband comes to fuck me.  Not sure it's jealousy, ambition to be the next Mrs or an inquisitive nature that makes me keep looking at her photos.  We travel in the same universe; we exist on different planes that intersect through her husbands' nakedness.

What is interesting though, are the dates on the photos.  Two weeks ago a certain Battersea set gent asked if I'd mind flying to Sicily for a quick 24 hours of sun, fucking and passport control. Paid, of course, I did not doubt the genuine nature of his offer, and I liked the idea very much of taking off at Gatwick and having him wait for me.  I suitably declined and rationalised it by prioritising PhD deadlines over a penis. The end of it, so I thought. No. He came to me, and I thought nothing of it. He left his holiday, flew back to London, fucked me for five hours and then flew back to Sicily.  I know he did this, not because he told me he did, but because a photograph posted to her timeline that came with a  comment that they were having a lovely time sans so & so who had to dash back to London for work. 

Through her Instagram feed, I see him in his natural state. Adoring father, middle-class traveller, comfortable lifestyle, attentive husband. Quirky dresser.  I know better though, know better to believe the visual lies and narratives we tell ourselves through Mediterranean filters, a tilt-shift blur and the hashtag of #happilymarried

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Visibility, connectivity and men who pay for sex.

I have an article due out in March so just wanted to share the submission I pitched. I have tweeted about this before and received mixed responses, in part due to the fact I’ve not explained the methodology behind my madness but also because I imagine looking at the visual aspect of sex buyers can be somewhat confronting.

So, here is what I pitched. It forms the basis of an article and a forth coming book due out in March …

How do we visual depict men who pay for sex? Why is there a scholarly silence on the visual aspects of clients of sex workers despite men buying sexual services online since the mid-1990s. Why do we, as academics and visual artists rarely consider the photographic representations of men who pay for sex online? Why do men get to remain relatively unlooked at and unseen in the transaction of sex?  In a digitally networked world where players in the sex industry construct visual narratives about themselves through the creation/construction of a self-image, my submission seeks to decontextualise these images by reaching into the circulation of these images on social media and grabbing visual fragments of the lives of men who pay for sex and then using these visual fragments to construct a visual landscape of sex buyers.

With this paper I seek to address the photographic imbalance in the visual representation of sex industry participants and seek to explore ways art and research can investigate, present and represent the photographic landscape of sex buyers.  In this digital age of gendered experiences on social media, men, the sex buyers can lurk anonymously on the internet without suffering the same level of harsh critique as female sellers of sex.  

My submission explores the connection between the photographic identity that sex buyers construct through their WhatsApp profile photographs, visibility, connectivity and men who seek sex online – the inter-connectivity of the photograph used to construct on identity on social media in their everyday life that is also used to arrange illicit sex in exchange for payment. Working with photographs collected through cyber-ethnographic methodologies my submission addresses the ways of re-imagining visual user-generated content of sex buyers to challenge the visual stereotype sex industry participants.

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