Want to read more? Join my Patreon community

February Roundup

Posted at 15:00 on 1 Mar 2021 by Pandora / Blake

For such a short month, I sure have been busy in February! I got high-quality speakers for Christmas and have been spending a lot of my time perfecting the sound on every film and audio story. I’m self-taught in almost everything I do, and I get a lot of satisfaction from adding another skill to my arsenal. 

Patreon Posts

I ran a promotion to mark 2021 and a renewed commitment to the slogan Shame Less - kick sexual stigma and fight for social justice. All patrons who signed up by Valentine’s Day would receive an exclusive Shame Less pin. The beautiful enamel pins are in the post to their new owners as I type, and I can’t wait to see people condemning kink shaming all over the world.

A pile of Shame Less enamel pins in the colours of bi pride

Dreams of Spanking Scenes

As we fall into the rhythm of a weekly schedule, I continue to be amazed by the benefits involved in working with a team. I can delegate, I can communicate my limitations - essentially, I can take a day off and know that the ship will keep sailing! Here are the updates we released to you lovely people this month:

Keep reading »

Tags: Dreams of Spanking, February, Kink Education, Patreon, roundup, Shame Less, stigma, summary, Youtube

5 comments

Why we shouldn't criminalise sex workers' clients

Posted at 15:00 on 8 Mar 2021 by Pandora / Blake

Oh look, the Nordic Model is back.

Well, alright - it never really went away. It has recently been discussed in Parliament, though, in the form of Dame Diana Johnson’s ‘Sexual Exploitation’ bill. The second reading of this bill has been delayed, and (fingers crossed) won't ever happen. Criminalising sex worker's clients wasn't in the Conservative manifesto, and this was a Private Member's Bill, which often get dropped unless they're picked up by Government.

It's always alarming to hear criminalising clients being debated by politicians. Even if this particular Bill seems unlikely to get anywhere, it's unlikely this will be the last we hear of the idea. It's recently been legislated in both France and Irelant, and it gets mooted with alarming regularity by those claiming to want to help sex workers, despite the fact it will do nothing good for anyone working in the sex industry.

Let’s take a closer look at that, shall we?

What is the Nordic Model?

So named because laws like this were first introduced in Sweden and Norway, the Nordic Model is the idea that we should make it legal to sell sex, but illegal to buy it. This way, sex workers aren’t breaking the law - in theory, solicitation is no longer punishable - but their clients very much are. It can be described as a ‘carceral model’ because it relies on punitive measures such as incarceration being brought against clients and other third parties.

It’s said that this model "reduces demand". The idea is that if fewer people will be willing to seek out the services of sex workers, there will be less sex work going on overall - and this is seen as a good thing.

Why is the Nordic Model bad for sex workers?

Let’s imagine, for a moment, a woman. She’s a working-class single mother, with limited childcare options and little support available from friends and family. She needs to find a job that is flexible and pays enough to provide for her family. She doesn’t enjoy sex work, but she doesn’t hate it any more than she would hate working on a supermarket checkout. It seems to her that it’s her best option, because it’s more flexible and has shorter working hours than the other jobs she could get.

She solicits on the street and gets into her clients’ cars. Under the Nordic Model, she's not breaking the law by doing so. She knows however that her clients are breaking the law at great personal risk, so they won’t want to approach her in well-lit public areas. She has to go out of town, to work on poorly lit streets with little chance of being overlooked. She knows she needs to avoid standing with or near other sex workers, because most potential clients will be too nervous to approach what is clearly a group of women soliciting, in case anyone sees - so she’s on her own.

There’s probably a police presence of some sort regardless, as they’re on the lookout for clients to arrest. So her friends - including women whose immigration status relies on their having “legitimate employment” (sex work doesn't count under this model), women who have a substance dependency, women who are on parole, and women in any number of other vulnerable situations - are in far greater contact with police than they might otherwise be. This puts them at even greater risk.

When someone pulls up to the kerb to speak with her, he’s nervous and agitated - so she has to get into his car almost immediately, or else he’ll drive away. She doesn’t get a chance to negotiate her fees, her boundaries or her safer sex practices until she’s already in a vulnerable position with a strange man.

This strange man, of course, is someone who is comfortable with the idea of breaking the law in order to buy sex. Should this man steal from, assault, rape or otherwise abuse her, he will face consequences scarcely worse than the ones he has already shown himself willing to risk. Many of the more polite, respectful and law-abiding clients have already been scared off when buying sex was criminalised. And when she gets into his car on a dark road outside town, she's far more vulnerable to abuse than she would be without the Nordic Model.

A single client isn’t going to earn her enough money to cover everything she needs to pay for - so she has to keep doing this, over and over again. There are fewer clients around, and every other sex worker is in the same boat. Fewer clients, but just as many mouths to feed. So what happens then?

Well, like any business she has two main options when competition ramps up - she can diversify her services (perhaps by offering bareback, anal, oral without a condom), or she can lower her prices (thus fuelling a race to the bottom as everyone tries to remain competitive). Ultimately she’s probably going to need to do both of those things, regardless of the increased risk of STIs, the degradation of her personal boundaries, and the fact that lower rates mean she needs to find more of these clients to pay the bills.

So now she’s doing a larger quantity of less consensual and more dangerous work, and being paid less money for it to boot. Congratulations, Nordic Model; great way of protecting vulnerable women you've got there.

This woman is fictional in that I wasn’t thinking of anyone in particular as I told her story, but she’s also not fictional at all. According to the ECP, most sex workers are adults and mothers, living in poverty but working of their own volition rather than being trafficked or pimped. This is a daily reality for thousands of vulnerable women in Sweden, Norway, France, Ireland, and other countries where this model has been adopted. It’s also very close to the lived experience of many women working under the so-called ‘Managed Approach’ taken in the Holbeck Zone in Leeds here in the UK.

Are street workers the only sex workers harmed by this model?

Not at all. In fact, not everyone who is harmed by this model is either a sex worker or a sex worker’s client.

Most iterations of the Nordic Model criminalise ‘third parties’ in addition to clients. This is usually intended to mean managers ('pimps') and people smugglers, but to cover all bases it ends up including everyone who has things paid for by money from sex work. People who can be tarred with this brush include: 

  • Any other sex workers with whom you share an indoor working space for safety reasons (either or both of you can easily be recast as brothel-keepers or pimps in the eyes of the law, and charged accordingly)
  •  The landlords of sex workers (this also makes it harder for sex workers to secure accommodation, and therefore puts them at greater risk from landlords who are financially, emotionally or sexually abusive)
  • The partners and adult children of sex workers (who may or may not be aware that their rent etc is paid for by money from sex work)
  • Anyone hired by a sex worker to help them out - such as an admin assistant, a driver, a bodyguard, a receptionist or a social media manager (note that these helpers are more important than ever in the increasingly dangerous working environment that the Nordic Model promotes. Note also that this group would theoretically include my own freelance team members)

The Nordic Model is extremely isolating for sex workers of all kinds. It forces us to operate alone, without the support of trusted third parties, and without any of the checks and balances that could keep us safe. It opens us up to additional avenues of abuse, on top of the abuses we're already at an increased risk of experiencing.

One response you might hear to this is that the Nordic Model should also provide easier access to ‘exit services’: organisations designed to help people leave sex work and find other jobs. They’re a good idea in theory, but in practice they don’t meet the needs of sex workers - instead they're far more likely to stigmatise and infantilise us.

Sex workers who access these services are usually treated as helpless victims in need of rescue. They’re found and offered jobs they probably already had access to - jobs that pay less than sex work does, that have inflexible hours or no support for disabilities and an individual's unique needs. They’re offered in-house counselling predicated on the idea that sex work is bad, mmkay. They’re frowned upon for turning down these offers, and generally treated as if they weren't rational adults making hard choices in an unforgiving world. Exit services of this sort do nothing but reduce the agency afforded to sex workers.

What can we do about it, then?

While it’s always on the horizon, the Nordic Model is not law here in the UK just yet. If you’d like to ensure that remains the case, please support the kinds of decriminalisation sex workers do want for our industry, and assist the organisations helping us in ways that are actually valuable to us. There are plenty of ways to do that.

Further Reading

Keep reading »

Tags: law, Nordic Model, sex worker, sex worker's rights

167 comments

This One Weird Trick

Posted at 12:00 on 22 Mar 2021 by Pandora / Blake



It’s been a long, locked-down winter, and a month ago I was feeling crappy: slow, sluggish and permanently overtired. I’m doing a hell of a lot better now than I was, and I wanted to talk a bit about why.

There’s been a lot of buzz in recent years about ‘self-care’. As a concept it’s not without its problems: not everyone has the time, energy, headspace or resources to devote to the various things it’s now recommended we all do to look after ourselves. As the idea takes firmer root people end up feeling as though they’re being blamed for their own difficulties because they’re not taking enough baths or buying the right sort of scented candle. In the USA there are health insurance companies who actually offer money off some policies if you can demonstrate your participation in certain ‘self-care practices’ -  which of course aren’t accessible to disabled people, overworked people, people living in poverty, people with inadequate childcare, or people with any number of other physical and environmental limitations. Holy ableism, Batman.

There’s something horribly dishonest about the idea that one must “feel good” all the time - and that those good feelings are entirely within our own personal control. Sometimes things are just shitty, and the best thing we can do is accept that we're gonna feel shitty about them. Sometimes it’s not even close to being your fault, and shit is being dropped on you from a great height.

But... sometimes there are things we can do. You might, like me, be a relatively privileged, relatively able-bodied person with an adequate support system. Perhaps you feel crappy because you have needs that aren’t being met, and perhaps you can do something to meet some of those needs. Yes, even in the midst of pandemic chaos.

I hate feeling bad. I much prefer to feel good, if at all possible. So I launched myself on a quest to figure out what that ‘something’ might be. Did I need to work less? We arranged some COVID-secure childcare so my partner and I could spend a whole day together. No work, no toddler - just us. Was that what I was missing? It was lovely - but it brought home to me how depleted I’d become. It took six hours of cuddling, talking, massage and snacks before I felt like I wanted a spanking.

Amidst numerous complaints about how crappy I felt, I shared that I'd heard a podcast the other day where both guests agreed that if they could only do one thing every day for their wellbeing, it would be exercise. I couldn't remember when I'd last done any. "I think that half an hour of Tai Chi a day would do you a lot of good," Felix agreed.

I’ve been doing Tai Chi for three and a half years, more off than on since we all got stuck at home. I was taking classes on Zoom for a while, but not since we moved house. 

So Felix offered to take the munchkin first thing before breakfast, to give me a bit of time when I got up in the morning. Why not try it for a week and see?

And what do you know? After a week, the difference was remarkable. After a month, I never want to stop.

I wake up, get dressed in joggers and a hoodie, drink a glass of water, and go out to our chilly conservatory where there's a bit of space. I do ten minutes of qi gong, then the 18-step Chen bare hand form three times, and ten minutes of weapons practice. I've been relearning Cheng Man-Ch'ing narrow sword from my notes, and have just started brushing up my fan form.

Doing the same thing every morning makes it easy to start. I don't have to feel energetic or make decisions - I can go through the motions at first. My mind is usually busy when I start, but by the time I'm doing the form I'm able to focus internally. That's when I really notice the benefits: when I bring my attention to my breath, and to my centre. I focus on making my movements smooth and flowing, strong and explosive, or soft and subtle. When my attention is focused on my internal experience rather than on racing thoughts, the practice is emotionally calming and mentally enlivening.

I knew Tai Chi was awesome, but I was literally stunned by how quickly I noticed the benefits from doing it every morning. I'm stronger and more flexible; my body simply works better. I have more energy and I feel more alert. I’ve become calmer and less reactive, even after a broken night, and I’m finding it easier to self-regulate strong emotions. My concentration and mental clarity have improved, I’m more cheerful and contented than I was, and my stress levels have fallen dramatically. I’m even sleeping better - in-between interruptions from the toddler, of course.

This is all amazing, of course, but the most startling benefit has been one I have no idea to expect: it’s totally transformed my relationship with my body.

I wrote recently about my thoughts after listening to Sonya Renee Taylor, author of Your Body Is Not An Apology. Since then I've been regularly reminding myself that “comparison is the ladder”. It’s proved a tough nut to crack - I still caught myself making judgements and comparisons about my body. But after a couple of weeks of doing Tai Chi once a day, I suddenly noticed I hadn't thought those things at all. I caught sight of myself in the mirror one day and realised I couldn't remember the last time I'd cast an assessing or evaluating gaze on my own figure. Maybe I look different and maybe I don’t - I actually haven't noticed. For the first time in my life, the only thing I notice about my body is what it feels like, and what it's capable of.

This is... revelatory. I’m blown away. It might sound like a small thing, but for someone who has struggled with body image over the years - it’s a huge shift, all the more delightful for being unexpected.

I’m not really trying to say that you should all rush out and start learning Tai Chi, not least because it might be tricky while there's a pandemic on. But if you're feeling crappy and there is some kind of exercise and movement you enjoy doing, and you’re not currently doing it, might that be a sort of low-hanging fruit? 

There are three main factors, I think, that make this work for me:

  1. My routine starts gently, so I can begin no matter how tired I’m feeling. 
  2. It’s mentally engaging enough to hold my attention. I get bored easily, so I benefit from something that uses my brain as much as my body. Studying the forms, paying attention to my breath, where my weight is, the quality of my movement - it's interesting. And far more beneficial than just waving my arms around while thinking about work.
  3. By the end the physical intensity has ramped up enough that my heart is beating faster - which is energising and enlivening.


This won’t work for everyone, of course. Maybe you need something more or less physically demanding to feel good afterwards. But that’s what works for me.

So rather than dispensing advice, I'm curious: What have you found that helps you stay sane in the midst of this pandemic? Does regular movement like this keep you steady, or do you need something different? Please share your thoughts and experiences below - you never know, your One Weird Trick might help someone else as much as this helped me.

This post was funded by my 113 Patrons. To power my activism and my writing on sexual freedom and social justice, join my Patreon community here

Keep reading »

Tags: accessibility, body image, body positivity, health, mental health, movement, Patreon, self-care

97 comments

« February 2021

April 2021 »

Want to read more? Join my Patreon community
Become a Patron!

Find Pandora online

Feminist porn

Spanking porn

Spanking blogs

Sex and Politics blogs

Toplists & directories