In preparation for writing the New Statesman article, Mistress Magpie sent me a number of questions to answer on the Nordic Model of criminalising the clients of sex workers, so I thought I’d post my responses here for extra context on why I think the proposed laws are harmful:
How does trust play into bdsm for you, and particularly in the context of a professional scene? How would the Nordic Model of criminalising your clients affect that?
Mutual trust is key to BDSM. Even though sessions aren’t sexual in the traditional sense, it’s often far more intense than that. The submissive hands the dominant responsibility for their emotional – and sometimes physical – safety. In a professional context, we’re taking on a client’s most intimate secrets. It’s a honour to be trusted with these things, and isn’t something any of us take lightly.
Do you feel the Nordic Model would have an impact on your safety and the safety of your clients?
It would be a disaster. BDSM is already widely stigmatised in society, so clients have a greater need for privacy and discretion than more mainstream sexual orientations require. Clients already face the threat of losing their reputations, jobs and families if outed, and criminalisation just adds one more layer of risk. What I do is legal, yet I would have to go underground for the sake of my clients’ wellbeing, having to put my trust in anonymous strangers with no proof of who they are or what their motives for seeing me might be. I often use the internet for money transfers and communications, which regularly gives me access to real names and addresses that I would never disclose. I also require photo ID and full written consent for filmed sessions, as the law already dictates. If the police could potentially seize any of those private details from my records or computer, I’d have to take cash payments only in future and never be exposed to the true identities of my clients. This would put my own safety at significant risk.
How do you feel it might impact your income?
My income would inevitably fall, as would the income of every sex worker. The Nordic Model won’t make sex work magically disappear. We would still be doing what we’re doing under the Nordic Model, but doing it with the added burdens of poverty and danger.
Would the model impact the character of the bdsm work you do, and or make you consider leaving the industry?
This is my career. There are skills I’ve perfected over years of doing this and it’s what I enjoy. What I do is stigmatised to the extent that I won’t be able to walk into another job, whatever my qualifications and experience. This is the same for most sex workers. The Nordic Model won’t cut demand, just push demand underground and make things much harder for those it claims to be helping.
What can government do to support professional dominants and their clients?
Lawmakers and campaigners should stop and listen to the sex workers they claim to be rescuing. We have a voice. I’m a feminist and I wholeheartedly oppose the Nordic Model when it comes to sex work. Not all sex workers are women, and not all clients are men, but further stigmatising and endangering us all won’t help us and won’t help society achieve gender equality. Nordic Model feminism is well-meaning but deeply harmful to those it seeks to protect.
A few more resources to read on the Nordic Model and the criminalisation of sex work: