Bodyguards and Husband Tamers

It’s often forgotten how passionately the Suffragette movement embraced martial arts. Here’s part of “The Amazons of Edwardian London; martial arts-trained Suffragette Bodyguards”, a fascinating article at Bartitsu.org:

‘…To keep their leaders free as long as possible, as well as to protect them against run of the mill assaults by irate defenders of the status quo, the Women’s Social and Political Union created a secret society known as The Bodyguard. Numbering 25 or 30 athletic and dedicated women, the Bodyguard was charged with providing security at Suffragette rallies throughout the UK.

The Bodyguard took their duties seriously and, following Sylvia Pankhurst’s advice, started training in the Japanese martial art of jujitsu, which had been introduced to London some 15 years previously by Edward William Barton-Wright, the founder of the eccentric and eclectic self defence art of Bartitsu. They were trained in a succession of secret locations by Edith Garrud, who was among the very first professional jujitsu instructors in the Western world. Journalists, delighted by this colourful wrinkle in an already juicy story, quickly dubbed the Bodyguard the “jujitsuffragettes”…’

Below is a series of pictures from a short and entertaining 1911 play in which ‘Liz, the coster’s wife… having been taught Ju-jutsu by Mrs. Garrud, tames her drunken husband into subjection.’

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Household Items

We’ve all seen pictures of “life hacks” involving household items used in new and creative ways, but the Bad Girl’s Bible website has gone one step further. Got too many sex toys, but require something more? A door stop, for example? Or a lamp stand? Or any other non-sexual item made from a neglected dildo, plug, clamp or other genital accessory? Click here for 29 sex toy life hacks from Bad Girl’s Bible:

house

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Nordic Notes

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:
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Nordic Model

Here’s part of a piece from the New Statesman, by the glorious Mistress Magpie, on how the Nordic Model of criminalising the clients of sex workers will affect professional dominatrices:

‘…I decry the Nordic Model because it undermines sex worker safety and strengthens moralism in the name of preventing trafficking, even as it ensures that all sex work is driven deeper underground. To become a dominatrix is to enter a caring profession; to establish rapport with a client is delicate and difficult, especially when a session involves physical or psychological torment. If hiring us becomes illegal, how can a client entrust himself to our care? “[Kink] 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,” says Ms Slide, an experienced London dominatrix (pictured below).

Today, British dominatrices fall into a grey area, sometimes overlooked by law enforcement but subject to archaic laws banning “disorderly houses.” Generally, we don’t offer sex, so we don’t yet know whether we would fall under the aegis of a Nordic-style law in Britain. We do know, though, that sex workers in Nordic Model countries suffer decreased income and increased risks; Laura Watson, spokeswoman of the stalwart English Collective of Prostitutes, says that workers report new complications, such as client reluctance to call from unblocked phone numbers or pay deposits. Worse, criminalisation will inevitably filter the client pool, discouraging those who are unwilling to break the law. “The focus of the police will be on criminalising the clients rather than on the safety of sex workers,” says Watson. “That’s already the case, and it’s a complete disaster; for example, the police have already said that they will sit outside the flats, waiting to catch clients; in Sweden for example they are using phone surveillance to catch clients, so they’re tapping sex workers phones,” she says…’

Read the full article here.

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