Archive | September 2016



The summer my parents’ marriage was falling apart, my best friend’s two moms saved me—even though my dad said they were going to Hell.

Hey Penny, is Carrie awake?” I ducked through the screen door, letting it bang shut behind me. The sun had barely crested the Seattle skyline and I was already at my best friends’ house. Her mom, Joy, grabbed a bowl from the cabinets and a box of cereal and set it on the kitchen table. “I’ll go check,” she said. I pulled up a stool and sat down, pouring out the sugary cereal and adding the milk that Penny, Carrie’s other mom, fetched from the fridge.

It was the summer before my mother left my dad. My twelve-year-old self lived in books and fantasy worlds of unicorns and dragons, rather than the real world of dark bruises and a shattered living room lamp, swept up and never discussed. Unlikely friends, proximity brought Carrie and I together more than anything else. We were the only two girls our age in the neighborhood.

My strictly religious family attended church every Sunday morning, worship services on Sunday night, and Wednesday night youth group. I’m not sure if Carrie had ever been to church. Her two mothers, Penny and Joy, lived around the block from my parents’ brick Edwardian house in a small two-story bungalow that they were constantly improving. They played the Indigo Girls on their stereo, danced around their kitchen, and talked about summer solstice as casually as my mother discussed the church bake sale.

I only went back to my house to sleep, escaping out the back door every morning before my dad could catch me. If I slept through my alarm and he hadn’t left yet to meet a client I’d have to stand barefoot in the kitchen and recite my assigned Bible verses for the week, or share with him the prayer requests he required me to write on 3×5 index cards. My mom taught kindergarten, and had the summers off, but while physically present, she wasn’t really there. She moved in a daze through my father’s shouted words and hid for hours in the bathroom, planning the escape she’d execute later that fall.

Every morning I’d show up on Carrie’s doorstep and her mothers took me in. They never asked why I was there, and never told me to go home. They acted like it was perfectly natural to have a second daughter.

At the top of a hill that overlooked Seattle, Carrie and I roamed in and out of back alleys, eating fruit that had fallen from neighbors’ trees. Ripe juice dripped down our arms, staining our cutoffs red. We rode our bikes in circles through the crushed glass and burnt stubs of fireworks left at the elementary school’s concrete yard after the Fourth of July. And at nights, when the air hung hot and humid, we’d play truth or dare. We prank-called the boys at school who’d made us cross our legs in class. We egged the neighbor’s house after she yelled at us for eating plums from her trees.

“Truth,” I picked, tossing the well-read issue of Sassy on her bed. After I’d ripped the inseam of my brand new, eighty-dollar Guess jeans trying to scale the fence around the local cemetery I’d been going for the ‘truth’ option more.

“Have you ever kissed a boy?” Carrie asked. We collapsed into giggles, tanned legs wound together and thighs touching, and later lied to her mothers about the hot pink nail polish we’d spilled on her comforter.

Our games veered back and forth between the children we’d been and the women we’d become.

Too many things were changing all around me. Earlier that year, I’d read the headline “War” on a newspaper and it wasn’t in a history class. Signed out of all sex education classes by my religious parents, I had no idea what was going on with my body. When short, curly hairs started appearing between my thighs I cut them off with craft scissors, stuffing them into the bathroom wastebasket. And I sensed changes coming in my family, the way you can sense a summer rainstorm hanging in the clouds just before it lets loose.

“We’re going swimming at Greenlake, why don’t you run home and grab your suit?” Penny tossed out the suggestion, and I’d duck through the back alley and run home to tell my mom I probably wouldn’t be back for dinner. Trips to the lake, meals out at local restaurants or crowding around their kitchen table for pizza; I took for granted that I was included. With the myopic focus of youth I never wondered why they’d opened their home to me so thoroughly.

That winter, my mom finally left. A ’90s latch-key kid, I was the first one home every day. The day she moved out, I opened the back door and walked into a bare kitchen. There were no chairs in the breakfast nook, or around the dining room table. I wandered through the house, past empty closets and vanity drawers that now held only the crumbs of blue eyeshadow and pencil shavings. She’d left no note, no explanation, and given him no warning. It wasn’t until my twenties that I assembled all the cracked and jumbled pieces of my parents’ marriage into the shape of a missing living room lamp.

Once she’d left, my Dad noticed how much time I’d been spending at Carrie’s house. “Hate the sin, love the sinners!” he’d remind me at the nightly dinners we ate around the dining room table. I now had a bedtime, and he’d sit cross-legged on the floor by my futon and read passages from the Bible. I’d stare out the open window, up at the stars, while he read, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.” Then he’d quiz me.Neuberg Love vs Hate Spot 2

“Dena, pay attention.” He’d snap his fingers under my nose. “Do you understand? Penny and Joy are going to hell, but you can save them. You have to tell them about the Good News.”

I’d sigh, roll on my side and present him with my back. Any rebellion, no matter how small, had to be carefully chosen. The boundary between the territory of what I could get away with and a slap across the face constantly shifted. “Yes, Dad.”

My parents’ divorce dragged on, and the house went up on the market. It was winter and, trapped inside, Carrie and I switched to listening to Madonna’s “Immaculate Collection” and practicing our dance moves. We decided to stage a show for her moms in their living room, setting up chairs and bed sheets that hung from the ceiling. Wearing blazers borrowed from their closet and black bras stuffed with tissue, we went all out to re-create her “Express Yourself” video.

I don’t know why my Dad showed up that night to sit, awkwardly perched on the edge of a folding chair, and watch our performance. I remember his stilted clapping and forced smile, the way he grabbed me by the arm and dragged me out of there. And suddenly I was busy watching my younger brother and sister, preparing meals for the family, and doing laundry, without any time for childish things like playing dress-up. Early that spring we moved across the water to Bellevue, leaving behind their bad influence. Even though I begged and pleaded, somehow there was never time to go back and visit the old neighborhood. The divorce went through and my Mom moved to Bellevue, too. I didn’t understand the how and why of her leaving until I was older. For years we had a difficult relationship, until I gained the maturity and experience to understand my parents’ marriage.

The last time I was home was for my mother’s funeral, in February of 2009. Afterwards, drained and exhausted, I begged my now ex-husband to drive with me to my old house. I gave him directions, the route burned into my memory even after fifteen years. Up the hill, past the graveyard where I’d torn my jeans. Around the corner, past the elementary school where they’d rebuilt the playground, tearing down the old wooden structures and replacing them with bright, colored plastic.

The trees had grown to shadow and shade the entrance to my old house, hiding it from the street. We parked, and my ex stayed in the car while I walked around the block and stood on a sidewalk littered with evergreen needles. When I rang the doorbell, no one answered. There were no names on the mailbox, and no way of telling if they still lived there.

They chose to love me even though they knew that I was being taught to hate them. They listened to my father’s lectures about Jesus with a patience borne – I can see now, out of a desire to continue being a refuge for a lost and scared little girl.

For one glorious summer they gave me the gift of freedom, a home, and a safe place to hide.

When I finally responded to my husband’s persistent honking and turned away from their front door, words and memories jumbled inside me, clogging my throat. But as I opened the passenger door and climbed inside, I looked back at the house that had sheltered me and whispered, “Tell them I said ‘thank you.’”



by Robyn Maynard, FUSE Magazine 35-3 ABOLITION

Anti-prostitution women’s groups — comprised of women morally and politically opposed to the very existence of the sex trade — have a far-reaching influence in the Canadian political climate that can be traced back to the colonization of Canada. While these groups often promote themselves as advancing an abolitionist feminist agenda, prohibitionist feminism is a more accurate descriptor, and will be used throughout this essay. [1] In the present writing, I will argue that the strategies of prohibitionist feminists do not serve the health and well-being of sex workers, but actually result in the criminalization of the very people they purport to protect. In contrast, the arguments in this essay promote a model of solidarity with sex workers, in support of their own movements for health, security and dignity within the sex trade.

Sex workers are marginalized in Canadian society — they face staggering rates of violence and stigmatization that affect their ability to access health, social and protective services, and many (especially street- based workers) are subject to heavy police repression. Trans*, racialized, and Indigenous sex workers, as well as sex workers who use drugs, face these forms of marginalization at an even higher level, and experience higher levels of policing and incarceration. This reality is largely acknowledged by sex work activists and by most prohibitionists. [2] The issue that divides sex work activists from prohibitionists is the determination of the necessary steps to abolish violence towards sex workers. Prohibitionists believe that sex work, in and of itself, is inherently violent and exploitative, and propose instead that a carceral, prohibitionist approach must be taken to eliminate sex work itself. This model runs contrary to struggles for labour rights, migrants rights, decriminalization and self-determination which are currently being waged by sex work activists, as the means to end the high rates of violence and repression in the industry. As sex work in Canada is currently under intense public scrutiny, as well as political and legal upheaval, it is a feminist issue of the utmost importance, with high stakes in terms of the lives and safety of sex workers. Sex workers’ voices are not always represented in these debates; however, organizations run by and for sex workers such as POWER (Prostitutes of Ottawa/Gatineau Work, Educate, Resist) and legal allies such as the Pivot Legal Society have produced a wealth of information giving space for sex workers to describe their realities and needs. This information was assembled as part of sustained efforts by sex workers to prioritize their voices in the public domain as the pressure has mounted in the highly mediatized societal debates surrounding their work. Given this context, it is more necessary than ever to demonstrate how prohibitionist feminism’s align- ment with the moral right’s carceral approach to sex work in Canada results in significant harm to sex workers’ safety and autonomy. Indeed, much stands to be gained by redefining a truly abolitionist feminism with the goal of abolishing violence against sex workers, in solidarity with the safety, needs and self-determination of sex workers themselves.



Seeking Sappho

If you are a woman interested in experimenting with woman on woman contact, how does one go about looking for a provider?

Lesbian KissReally, the process of looking for a female escort isn’t much different for a woman than it is for a man who’s looking for a particular appearance or activity; in fact, it’s probably easier than finding one who caters to an unusual kink, becausebisexuality isn’t all that uncommon in women.  There is one catch, though; while most escorts will advertise the fetishes they work with, most don’t advertise that they see female clients (outside of couples) for the simple reason that there aren’t that many (I saw exactly two in my entire career).  So when you do your research (these two posts shouldhelp you there), don’t just look for ladies who specifically state that they will see female clients; also look for ones who say that they enjoy seeing couples and also do “doubles”.  If an escort sees couples and is willing to do two-girl shows with other escorts, there is a very good chance she will also be open to seeing a woman alone.

Once you’ve found a lady who appeals to you and who you think would be willing to see you, contact her by whatever means she specifies on her website; be sure you let her know that you are a woman and that you want to see her solo, i.e. your husband or boyfriend won’t be there.  Otherwise she may think you’re approaching her for a couple call, or even fail to recognize that she isn’t corresponding with a man (if your screen name doesn’t make your gender obvious).  Since you’ve never done this before, you don’t have any references; this may not be a problem because A) most women aren’t going to be as wary of meeting a strange woman as they are of meeting a strange man; and B) I sincerely doubt many cops are trying to set up escort stings with female fakers.  This is by no means a sure thing, however; some ladies may insist on screening you on principle, so just give whatever information they request and it shouldn’t be an issue.  If you want to be on the safe side, try to find one who says she’s “newbie friendly” in addition to the bisexuality factor; that usually means she’s willing to do full screening rather than relying on references.

I have one more suggestion:  since it seems from your question that you’ve never had any lesbian experiences before, you might consider hiring your escort for several hours rather than just one; you could then take her to dinner, chat for a while and warm up to her as you would on a regular date, instead of just jumping into the sack.  I think that would dramatically increase your chances of having a good experience, which would in turn help you to know whether you really like it or not.  After all, if you rushed things and things didn’t turn out well, it might turn you off to the idea of further experimentation when the problem was really with the uncomfortable situation rather than with the lady.

August 14, 2013 by Maggie McNeill