My daughter is a sex worker. Stark fact.

Vicky Aisha

When a few years ago my daughter first told me she’d scored a job at a strip club I wasn’t sure how to handle the news. She’s a determined young woman and smart with it. She left uni to join a circus troupe, and quickly mastered aerial silks, hoop and trapeze. Before long, she explored burlesque and became a photographic model. To put some butter on her bread she taught circus skills to others.  For years things were tough. But she persisted. She’s resilient. But as anyone in the performing arts will tell you, don’t give up your day job. Casual teaching is intermittent and unreliable income. So when the chance to take up exotic dancing came her way, she didn’t question it.

And neither did I. Even if my motherly buttons were pressed. Even though I didn’t want all those leery male eyes ogling my daughter’s flesh. Even though I knew she would be judged by members of my family, a slut a tart a whore. Or, worse, lost. That somehow, I, as her mother, had failed her. Families are like that. Society is like that. Quick to judge.

Me? I knew I’d never persuade her out of it. So I had to deal with it. Somehow. I talked to a few girlfriends, all about my age. And their response was ‘Good on her.’ Which surprised me. Perhaps they were lying. Or they weren’t giving it much thought. Or maybe, just maybe, I was being a prude. But I changed. I changed on the spot. I changed my attitude because I love and respect my daughter. If I hadn’t changed, I would forever have judged and condemned her. And lost her.

As a feminist, my daughter’s job has forced me to re-evaluate my principles. I’ve had to expand and nuance my values to accommodate what she does. I’ve learned that virtue is a construct. One that divides women against each other into virgins and whores. When we label our sisters whores it is only because these women we have boxed-up and labelled threaten our chaste upright selfhood.

In the past the feminist in me would have viewed sex workers as betraying my gender, selling out to the enemy, or as victims of patriarchy. My view was similar to that voiced by Ann Summers in her book, Misogyny (I could almost hear the condemning scowl in her voice). I’d have wanted someone to save these misguided souls from themselves (I was never going to go there), while I shunned them as a lost cause. I would never, ever, have wanted one as my daughter.

My values have had to shift. I could labour on about Hestia and the male appropriation of the ‘Vestal Virgins’ at this point, but I won’t. Neither am I going to segue into a discussion of other cultures or cite the endless cases of abuse of sex workers the world over. This offering is  just one mother’s perspective, and how as a mother, like all mothers who grow through their children, My daughter has provided me an opportunity to change.

I like to keep things simple and straightforward. My daughter has made a choice. She has a well-paid job and she works hard at it. Like any other job, much of what she does has become automatic. There’s no evidence that she’s been damaged by it. It isn’t an easy job. The hours are shit, the clientele questionable and there’s an element of risk. She deals with all that, and she’s developed many strengths as a result. She is, to her core, dignified.

As an author, I’m privileged. I can write about things. I haven’t wanted to. It seems a bit like an ‘outing’. And coming out is the relinquishing of shame. Yet she has no shame in what she does, so why should I feel shame on her behalf? Shame in this context is triggered by ‘virtue’; it’s a judgement, a condemnation, a natural feeling ‘virtue’ has appropriated in order to keep us chaste. Therefore, as I fling open the door and let the world in on my private life, I need to state clearly that I am not and never have been ashamed of my sex working daughter.

Last year I asked her to talk me through a lap dance. Yesterday, Backhand Stories published ‘Twerk. It’s my contribution to the discourse.  The novel TWERK will be released by HellBound Books December 2018.


Paco Rabanne?

She leans back against the pole; hard metal cold on her skin.

Yeah, Paco Rabanne.

She poses, pirouette style, in her high high heels.

Or Armani maybe.

She isn’t sure.

Whatever it is the douche in the Tom Ford suit must have taken a bath in it.

She slides her butt down, nice and slow for him; pictures his face. Holds the squat, legs splayed, marks time with the music, one two three, and pushes upright.

Rihanna yodels to a backbeat. It’s like muzak in a shopping mall. She’s sure she heard it in Woolworth’s the other week.

She tilts her hips, eyes the guy in the chair, now with a bulge in his Tom Ford suit. She arches her back, rolls her pelvis forward, undulates her belly, lets the movement flow up her body.

The guy with the suit bulge stares. It’s a Zombie stare.

Not a talker then.

A steady bass throbs through the space, making the air swell and contract.

She sways to the beat, effortlessly, snaps off her bra and gives the slow reveal, putting on a lip-parted pout.

His hands grip the arm rests exactly where she left them. ‘No touching,’ she said.

He would obey.

His whisky glass, mobile, billfold and keys are on a small table beside him.

He’s boosted.

They are almost always boosted.

Yet he’s nervous, and guilty with it too. Wears his guilt in gold wrapped around his ring finger.

There’s gold all about him. Fingers, wrists, neck.

Probably in his teeth.

What’s his name again?


Or is it Larry?

Could be Harry.

Or Frank.

Yeah, Frank.

She takes a step forward. Pings her thong, lets it fall.

He ogles her flesh.

She really doesn’t care.

She really doesn’t care about Zombie Frank, all schmicko in his Tom Ford suit.

She’s indifferent.

To his heat.

To his stink.

To his gold ringed finger.

To his crotch bulge.

The song ends, the next beginning on its tail: the slow intro of Partition. She wonders what her friend in the next booth is up to.

Another forward step in her high high heels and she kneels on the chair, hooking her feet on the insides of his thighs, pressing them open.

No closure: No contact.

As she gyrates her pelvis.

As she teases.

As she strokes at the air down there between her thighs and his.

She goes in close, breathes in his ear.

And takes a peek at her watch, its huge silvery face as large as her wrist, distinct numbering to be seen in the dim.


She leans away from Frankenbulge, arches her back, grasps her breasts, rubs them against his cheeks.

She thinks she still has half a protein bar out the back.

Maybe some of last night’s stir-fry.

Or did she finish that earlier?

The song pushes on.

Beyonce pushes on.

Her pelvis grinds to the rhythm.

She leans forward, rests her arm against the cold brick wall behind him, sinks her flesh into his face, ignoring the hungry lips, the scratch of stubble.

Swanky Franky lets out a slow throaty moan.

She parts the velvet curtain and peeks into the next booth.

Her friend’s on her punter.

They exchange eye rolls and a grin.

She lets the curtain fall.

Lets her mind drift.

The song seems too long.

Her butt, locked in the slow steady groove, starts complaining. She feels a cramp in her instep.

She eases her body back and pushes off him.

He grabs her waist with his hot damp hands and pulls her down.

She swings round.

Backhands his face.

He’s stung.

She steps forward, grabs the pole, twirls round slowly.

Twirls round slowly again.

As Beyonce cuts out and Carmada eases her way to her first ‘Maybe,’ she turns from the guy—Swanky wanky Frankenbulge—sits down in his lap, leans against him, feels the hard of him up against her butt. His breath hot on her shoulder.

She throws her head back, grabs her breasts and puts on a show of self-pleasure.

He releases a slow rumbling groan.

She thinks he sounds like a bloated frog.

Feels her laughter rise.





Walking on egg shells

I will never forget the day a big burly man confided in me that his x wife was abusive. He was totally serious. Apparently she used to control him by leaving him notes. Apparently she would ‘flip her lid at the drop of a hat.’ Apparently he was ‘walking on egg shells.’ And worst of all, she was trying to limit access to his kids. She was a nasty, devious, manipulative bitch. I felt sorry for him. For surely he wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Then I met her. She was a tiny, slender woman with a look of shock in her eyes. She was nervous, stressed, haunted. She fretted about window locks and police response times.

Abusive men are the most twisted, underhanded, conning, devious, malicious, controlling arseholes I have ever met and they can be found in every quarter of society. They are so adept at lying and so righteous about it that they will convince even themselves of their absolute virtue.

Couldn’t, possibly, be you.

If you are a man who is using female abuse against male partners to demolish the argument that over 90% of domestic violence is perpetrated by men, then you are revealing only that you fear the loss of your domination and are trying to hold on to it by using female foul play to undermine the domestic violence argument. Ironically, this use of counter-evidence is part of the abuser’s toolkit. It blocks discussion on the original ground, subverts the argument and makes it about female abusers and male victims.

I don’t doubt that there are a lot of men (and women) using this strategy who haven’t thought through the consequences, who are adopting a stance that has become fashionable. There are other ways to engage in a discussion. For example, it is possible to think through the reasons, examples, justifications, assumptions, implications and consequences of a claim on its own ground. None of this is possible if counter-evidence is used for the sole purpose of blocking inquiry.


War on Feminism – Women’s Refuges under attack

womans-refuge-logo_SYOK5_17844 It has come as no surprise that women’s refuges are under corporate attack. It was only a matter of time before the ideological warriors of the new corporate regime would put in their sights frontline services catering for women fleeing domestic violence. Currently in the UK we witness the broadscale closure of women’s refuges that have been providing women and their children an essential service for decades. It also came as no surprise to read in her piece, There Is No Such Thing as a ”More Efficient Alternative” to Refuges Polly Neate’s insightful critique of  that great universal leveller ”efficiency” as the declared motive for the closure of women’s refuges. In my view, this  is not only another devastating cut to an essential social service, it is the undermining of a significant power base of the feminist movement.

In his book Profits of Doom, Antony Loewenstein uses the phrase ”vulture capitalism” to describe the carrion qualities of the private military and reconstruction industries involved in both war and disaster, and to refer to corporations such as Serco, G4S and Transfield who circle around governments waiting to snap up then pick to the bone outsourced services from roads and railways to courts, prisons and detention centres. A visit to their own website will quickly show the reach of such carrion corporations (sSee

In my view the concept of vulture capitalism, while providing much insight into the nature of capitalism in our times, does not reach far enough into the belly of the beast, for a vulture is a bird of instinct, following its natural animal will and while laden with menacing symbology is but an outward aspect of a deeper, more malevolent will. The will of the power Elite (that ultra-exclusive club of the intellectual few – see Sheldon S Wolin, Democracy Inc, Princeton University Press, 2010, pp 159-183) that sends forth the vultures to undermine social democracy at every turn.

There are other ambassadors of change, other sorts of birds sent forth, ravens perhaps operating in tandem with the corporate vultures – Non-government organisations. NGOs seem well-placed to step in and run a raft of social services. Utilising an identical model of asset-stripping, down-sizing and streamlining found in the corporate model, many such organisations operate under the guise of a religious denomination and therefore carry a sanctified patriarchal ideology (for example – Salvation Army, Mission Australia). Such organisations now find themselves, and no doubt with private relish, at the vanguard of  the new and covert war on feminism.

Why a war on feminism? Because feminists are a two-fold threat to the new corporate world of inverted totalitarianism and managed democracy. First feminism contests the patriarchal underpinnings of the dominant or hegemonic ideology of capitalism and second, feminists have been at the forefront of countless social reforms based on fairness, justice and equality that have seen the betterment not only of women and children but also men.

I wrote a letter to my local newspaper this week that illustrates the shadowy processes and the ruthless intent embedded in this latest attack on both feminism and social democracy.

Dear Editor, I attended a rally to save the Bega Women’s Refuge on Monday 4th August and was heartened by the large turnout, all concerned about the refuge’s future and hopeful that common sense would prevail over the fiasco that was the tendering process. So of course I was incredulous when I learnt that SEWACS (South East Women’s and Children’s Services) had been ‘’accidentally’’ undercut by Mission Australia’s tender. I understand that Mission Australia, who won the tender to run homelessness services in the Bega Valley under the new ‘Going Home Staying Home’ rollout of the New South Wales State government, have now been given additional funding to take over the women’s refuge, which they apparently had not realised was part of the package until after their tender was approved.  This despite the fact that SEWACS have been running the refuge and attendant specialist services for women escaping domestic violence in the Bega Valley for thirty years. In my view, the decision to grant Mission Australia this service is unfair and procedurally dubious; there was a lack of transparency and honesty in the process that effectively sidelined SEWACS due to an administrative oversight. In my view, if the Bega Women’s Refuge must be put up for tender then it should at least be done in a fair and proper manner.

I fear that with corporate religious organisation Mission Australia in charge, the refuge will no longer be a place of sanctuary where women fleeing domestic violence feel safe and supported.  I would take the side of any aboriginal woman choosing not to pass through the refuge door, filled with mistrust after the legacy of the Stolen Generation. I too, would be filled with mistrust. I have no idea the narrative or the procedures that Mission Australia would seek to impose on women fleeing violence but I do know that the one provided by SEWACS empowers women.

Yours faithfully,

But we need not fear that women’s empowerment has been disregarded by the corporate Elite, for Gucci has taken up the baton with its Chime for Change campaign, fronted by Beyonce Knowles, Frida Giannini and Salma Hayek Pinault. While I growl like a crossed crone of the old guard at this recent appropriation of feminist discourse,  I realise Chime for Change represents another fight altogether, a  fight on the ground of popular culture and therefore I call upon my young feminist sisters to contest this latest sham while I mourn the loss of society’s most significant feminist-inspired institution.

Stabbed in the Heart – Feminism and the Demise of Women’s Refuges in New South Wales

Embrace the base


Second wave feminism has its symbolic roots in the women’s peace camps at Greenham Common in the 1980s.


Women gave up their ordinary lives to camp out in appalling conditions to protest against nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. What took place in the camps were not only protests such as Embrace the Base depicted above. Through their very existence, the source of inspiration for women around the world, came the reinvigoration of a feminist discourse concerning the manner in which patriarchy condones and reveres violence, particularly violence against women. Greenham common peace camps were a symbol of women’s empowerment. Women’s refuges, which have their genesis in the 1970s (the first women’s refuge was opened in 1971 in Chiswick, UK), along with rape crisis centres took on fresh significance as the front line of the women’s movement, supporting women fleeing violence. Women”s refuges have been a front line service ever since. And now, in the new age of neoliberalism women’s refuges are being shut down.

The title of Wendy Bacon’s article in New Matilda ‘ – The Gutting and Gagging of Feminist Women’s Refuges in NSW – gets straight to the heart of the matter.  ”More than 25 feminist women’s refuges in NSW have lost their government funding,” she says, ”with their buildings being handed over to religious or other charities. Many shelters will no longer focus on providing specialist services for domestic violence victims. And the attack on services for Aboriginal communities has been especially savage.’

Outsourcing to the lowest bidder is a rationale that is as much ideological as it is economic. Services run for decades by dedicated women fully conversant with the feminist discourse on domestic violence, with a deep understanding of and empathy for victims, will now be provided by charities such as Mission Australia or The Samaritans, charities whose business model is little different from that of a corporation such as Serco or Transfield dedicated to securing government tenders in the service sector.

Having spent time in three women’s refuges so far, and through the services and resources they provide or are linked to, received ongoing support, I can say that the closure of women’s refuges is a much bigger loss than simply losing safe havens. Along with the bricks and mortar, what is being closed down or re-packaged under the auspices of corporate-style ngos  is feminist discourse itself and the insights this discourse provides. We are witnessing the decimation of the very language of domestic violence, language critical of abuse from physical to verbal and emotional, an understanding of the damage that is done to women and children, the bringing to light of the injustices of domestic violence. We are also seeing the demise or sidelining of the support and campaigning of feminists behind the scenes on behalf of victims – from court support, transport, help with re-housing, counselling to financial assistance. The closure of women’s refuges is the gagging of feminism itself.

Why is this happening? I contend because feminism is dangerous. Feminism threatens to undermine corporate-led neoliberal ideology. Feminism must be hollowed out and re-packaged corporate-style, as is happening with the Beyonce-led Gucci funded campaign Chime for Change, launched in 2013 at a TEDx Women luncheon in California.

I visited the Greenham peace camps many times. I joined in the protests. I was young then and had yet to comprehend the devastating personal consequences of domestic violence. Now I do know. Which is why I can’t sit back and say nothing while the heart of the women’s movement is being slaughtered and Gucci places itself at the helm.