[In response to the film, Scarlet Road]
By Dave Symington & Scarlett Lake
The perception of sex work and sex workers is often negative in our society, butting up against old moral and ethical values and upbringing, religious ideals, media portrayals, and societal norms. The film Scarlet Road by Catherine Scott provides a glimpse at a form of sex work that is healthy, sensitive, caring, safe, and where all parties are well informed, have a shared understanding, and are open to a broad range of intimacy and touch (not necessarily even including genital contact). Many sex workers report that their ‘dates’ often involve other forms of intimacy and that intercourse, oral sex and other typical sex play may only represent 5% of the overall time of the date, and sometimes 0%.
People need and sometimes crave connection, and this kind of work can provide an avenue for healing sexual scars, facilitating individual growth, steem, and relationship building, and promoting more positive community sexual health options and attitudes. Of course these options are not what everyone with a disability is seeking (male or female) but knowing that a legal and comprehensive sexual program exists for people with disabilities would be a very positive step in the right direction.
I love how in this film there are a few examples family members being involved in helping their sons have some kind of sexual experience, expression and satisfaction. I hope this encourages others to do the same. With someone who loves you helping to arrange these ‘encounters’ the disabled party has a much better chance at a positive outcome with a sex worker. In many cases these clients will make their own arrangements when possible but the fear / excitement, anguish /anticipation pendulum may ultimately undo their intention to follow through. There is great fear in many of the disabled in being rejected, not being accepted, not being desired or loved for who they are. Many have had long term wishes and crushes that have never been resolved, or reached any level of satisfaction.
In Scarlet Road we see a mother count out a great deal of money for an overnight girlfriend type fantasy for her son who is unable to fully communicate and who’s lived at home with his parents long past becoming an adult himself. Obviously, to find a sex worker as incredibly compassionate and joyous as Rachel may not be possible for all those who seek a similarly positive outcome. The kind of energy needed to be provided, however, by the caring practitioner is a very special effort and worthy of a generous level of compensation.
As we see in the film, the man has lived in a highly deprived state in terms of intimacy and female companionship, something most men think about constantly, even when they have satisfactory sex lives!
Scarlett Lake, escort service madame, sex activist, member of EASE (Equitable and Accessible Sexual Expression
Dave Symington, counselor, disability rights activist, member of EASE