I was not born yesterday. Please do not send me pictures of your penis under the guise of wanting “professional advice” about your size. Not that this is a service I provide, but if you had an actual problem that somehow required me to look at your penis, and you really wanted a *professional* interaction, you would inquire first about making an appointment for the use of my time, and only show photo of problematic penis after you were asked, not just send an unsolicited dick pic such that a photo of your genitals is the first thing I see when I open the correspondence. If you were concerned about an intestinal issue, would you make an appointment with a gastroenterologist, and provide a stool sample if recommended by the doctor (the *professional* way to proceed), or would you just drop off some turds on the doc’s front steps unannounced? Yeah, it’s like that. #sexologistproblems.
An hour into my first work day after a peaceful relaxing break and I am already shaking and enraged about things I forgot existed when I was on vacation, like people on facebook making light of sexual violence, and others jumping in accusing you of “attacking” them when you say “hey, making light of sexual violence isn’t cool”. I’m really starting to be done with social media. I think 10% of the reason my life last week was so peaceful was because I was on a tropical island, and 90% of the reason it was peaceful was I wasn’t on facebook, twitter, or tumblr. It’s beyond the point of being toxic.
I just had a really frustrating and upsetting conversation in which a sexuality educator and counselor who worked with incarcerated people told me, publicly on Facebook, that inmates in her care openly discussed plans for beating and raping other inmates, but she didn’t intervene because she thinks they deserve it.
I’m so beyond disgusted, like literally sick to my stomach.
I’m leaving for Jamaica in a few hours and so in the interest of self-care, and taking time for myself and my relationship, relaxing, and enjoying my trip, I have to shelve my anger and repulsion about all the implications of this person’s statements. But I’m putting it out there now as a reminder to myself when I return that I want to write a post addressing prison rape, and the gross ethical violation that is a sexuality counselor knowing about, and having power to stop, rapes and deliberately choosing not to. AHHHHHH!
I will be mostly unplugged for the next 12 days, save for the occasional vacation pics on Instagram. My handle is @sexdocjill if you’d like to check out my vaca photos this week.
It’s now April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Every year on April 1 when I owned Feminique I donated a percentage of sales from the shop to Men Can Stop Rape. I’d like to continue with that tradition this year with my online store. 20% of all purchases from my website today will be donated to Men Can Stop Rape. (The tricky thing this year however is that I’m going on vacation tomorrow, so only orders in before 2pm EST will be shipped before I leave, so get your orders in early if you can).
Just had an amazing time presenting “Clitoris: It’s Not A Bad Word”. The students were extra amazing and super interested and asked tons of important questions. We ended up staying for almost an hour after the presentation finished doing Q&A! Love it! And, I just learned that the organizers who brought me in tonight heard about me because of my Miley Cyrus post. I ❤️my job!
For the first time in my career, someone asked me what I do for a living and I didn’t say sexologist. It was the hotel clerk while I was checking out. My hands were full, I need to get to my next speaking engagement, and I didn’t feel like chatting so I said “speaker”.
It felt both liberating and disingenuous. And it didn’t avoid chit chat because then he asked me if I get nervous speaking in front of people, how old I am because I look young to have a career as a speaker, and other questions. I am going back to being a sexologist. “Speaker” is what I do for money. “Sexologist” is what I do for the world. And the follow up questions are more interesting. I like sexologist better.
Wednesday Hump Day: Today’s Hump Day special is 30% off Slippery Stuff. If you like a good quality, versatile, glycerin-free lubricant in your life, Slippery Stuff is the way to go! 30% off today only! Get yours here.
Search Term Tuesday: We haven’t done one of these in a while. This is where I give you a search term used to find me online, according to google analytics. I find the dichotomy of public vs. private/anonymous behavior when it comes to sexuality fascinating and google analytics provides insight into what people are sexually curious about when they know they’re anonymous. My favorite term this week is “fit old men naked”.
You deserve to get paid when you go to work, and so do I
What do professional musicians, photographers, and sexologists have in common? They are all regularly asked, and often expected, to work for free. Every day, I’m asked to do at least one of the following:
Speak (give keynotes, lectures, sit on panel discussions, etc) for free
Write articles for free
Submit blogs for free
Grant interviews for free
Give sex and relationship advice for free
Offer recommendations for free
Endorse products for free
Provide digital copies of my intellectual property (book, speeches, workshops, etc) for free
Here’s a friendly etiquette tip when working with a sexologist: Please don’t do that!
It’s insulting. And it’s perplexing, since some of the worst offenders of trying to exploit my expertise without fair compensation are people and organizations I know to be social justice advocates who are supposedly pro living wage.
Here are some recent accounts:
1. Just today I was asked to be part of a stage show. It’s a traveling bit that goes city to city all over the US and Canada, and assembles a local panel of experts on sexuality and relationships to answer audience questions. They sell tickets for $35. The show is coming to Philly, and the director asked me to be a part of it.
When I asked how many hours I would need to commit to, and asked what the compensation would be, I was told, “Event starts at 7:30, goes to about 9:30, followed by a reception. You could arrive anytime between 6:30 and 7, we would probably meet you in the days preceding the event for an hour or so at your convenience.” [with Philly rush-hour traffic, that means leave my house at 4:30 and get home at 11:30, plus the prep hour = 8 hours. Think about how much you’d make in an 8 hour work day. Then remember I have a Ph.D.] As for the payment? “All of our panelists appear gratis [gratis means “free of charge”], it promotes their businesses and the associated media attention makes it well worth it.”
So they’d be selling tickets with my name on it, and I’d be getting $0. Seems fair.
My response: “Sorry I do not work for free, especially when the venue will be charging admission and profiting off of my work. I already enjoy regular local media attention, which is how you heard about me in the first place. Good luck with your show.”
2. I was recently asked to give a 1 hour web presentation plus 45 minutes of Q&A on healthy body image, sexuality, and relationships. The payment? I’d get 50% of the ticket sales, but only on audience members that I recruited. That’s like a bar telling a band they have a “paid” gig, but the payment only comes from 50% of the cover charge of the band’s own friends and family who come out to see the show. For that, I may as well just present to my friends on my own for full price. But wait, there’s more! I was told “You are also welcome to offer a free gift to grow your mailing list and share your work.” What a bargain! While I wouldn’t be paid for educating anyone in the audience I didn’t recruit, I was welcome to offer a basket of sex toy products, suggested retail price $500, as a way to get the audience to sign up for my mailing list.
What the actual fuck. This is worse than being asked to work for free, this is being asked to pay to work.
3. Someone read my blog post in which I wrote a glowing review of one of my favorite vibrators, and my famous story of the 51 orgasms I had with it. They bought that item from me on my website based on that review. To me, that is money earned. But they emailed me immediately after placing the order asking me to cancel it because they “found it cheaper on Amazon”. In one sentence they wrote about feeling ripped off [which is impressive, because Amazon has some unethical business practices that make it *impossible* for a small time seller like me to compete on price, not to mention I use the sale of products online to offset the speaking fee for non-profit organizations that invite me to speak. In other words, when I’m not asked to work for free, I’m asked to work for next to nothing, so I subsidize my own salary through the sale of vibrators online. Hardly a rip-off], and in the next sentence asked me to teach them how to achieve the 51 orgasms with the toy. So yes, they wanted me to give them back the money so they could purchase the same product for a few bucks cheaper at an international multi-Billion dollar corporation while simultaneously seeking my expertise- for free.
4. A physician teaching a unit on gynecology in a course to 400 2nd year medical students found my website and called me FRANTIC because they had major gaps in their lesson plan they were presenting a few days later, and demanded (not asked) me to fill in for an hour. At first I was expected to do it for free, that was the default, and when I said that my brain is my product and selling its contents is my full-time job so no, I don’t educate for free, I was offered 3% of my usual speaking fee- a sum that wouldn’t even cover the cost of parking for an hour in the university’s parking garage. I declined.
But this doctor literally BEGGED me! They called me repeatedly. When I professionally declined again and again, they finally relented and asked if I would instead “help them with their slides”. GAH! How hard can it be to understand that when you pay for an educator or speaker, them standing up in front of the room and speaking is only a small part of what you’re paying for. Just because I wouldn’t do that part doesn’t mean I’d be OK with giving up my time at home for free, or, even if I already had the slides, that I’d give them away for free. What you pay for, and what the value is, is the expertise. I again declined. They finally asked me to borrow sex toys as education tools for the lesson and my presentation notes- literally my intellectual property. I declined.
I was yelled at for turning my back on the students, demonstrating that somehow my knowledge, that I spent 10 years and over $100,000 attaining, is considered public domain. I owe it to people just because they googled me, emailed me, and asked me to give it. I am somehow required to work for a university I have absolutely no affiliation with other than the fact that they cold called me, and then chastised me for wanting to be paid. As a final offer, they bought sex toys from me to use as educational tools for the class, and then wanted to return them later for their money back. Unbelievable.
Could you imagine if a job recruiter offered you a job unsolicited, and then when you found out the job didn’t actually pay anything, they berated you repeatedly for not coming to work for their company anyway?
Also, 400 students X $49,897 tuition per student per year for medical school on average = more than enough to pay the educators teaching these medical students.
These are just a small handful of recent examples of the daily microaggressions I receive that demean the value of my time and expertise. I have hundreds of examples, some more memorable in their audacity than others, but all saying the same thing in essence: “I’m desperate for your help. But you love what you do. I can detect your passion from a million miles away, so you should want to help me for free.”
I suspect it’s the same reason musicians and photographers find themselves in similar situations. People pursue these professions because they are in love with that work, and people think that if you love it, you should be happy to do it without compensation. We’re being taken advantage of because of our passions. If I hated being a sexologist, I bet fewer people would assume I don’t get paid when I go to work, that I don’t eat or have bills to pay, that my time isn’t valuable. It’s the whole “suffering builds character” thing. People don’t want to pay if you actually- dare I say- get pleasure from your work. It’s as if they’re saying “you enjoy it- there’s your payment”.
Again with the musician and photographer analogies, those links provide similar beefs with non-payment, and one of the biggest things they bring up that I also experience is the prevalence of being offered payment in “exposure”, “getting your name out there”, “media attention”, etc. This is what I have to say to that:
1. Exposure doesn’t pay my bills. Verizon, American Express, and my landlord do not take “exposure” or “media attention” as a currency, so neither can I.
2. If you’re offering to pay in exposure or media attention, you better deliver. The 30 people who listen to your podcast and the 12 people who read your blog is not “exposure”. Unless you are Ellen, Oprah, The Tonight Show, or The New York Times, your exposure is absolutely useless, and nothing I couldn’t earn myself via this thing called Twitter.
3. At first (and I mean really at first, when you’re 3 months out of the gate an no one has ever heard of you) doing a small lot of free gigs in exchange for “getting your name out there”, and more importantly as an opportunity to practice your craft, I get. But when I write a blog that gets 2 million views per year, have a youtube channel that gets 1 million views per year, and take up 80% of the first page of google returns for my field (I own the word “sexologist” on search engines), your “exposure” means nothing to me. My name is already “out there”. I have more “media attention” than I actually care to have. Your offer is not even remotely appetizing.
4. It’s an inherently problematic premise on logic. The exchange of work for exposure is only feasibly valuable on the assumption that exposure will lead to work that is paid. But if it instead leads to work that will be paid in exposure, and that exposure will lead to work that is paid in exposure, what happens is not only am I never going to earn an actual living of any kind, but it sets a precedent that my work is worth “exposure”, also known as nothing. Unacceptable.
I have a similar response to the offer to sell my book instead of being paid, the same way musicians are asked to perform for free and be “paid” in an opportunity to sell their CDs and merchandise. It’s bullshit.
Let’s talk about good will. Community service. Pay it forward. A professional courtesy. Pro bono work. I’m all about it. But on MY terms. I offer tons of free advice. I often provide resources or answer questions for free. I regularly donate free products or services to be raffled off for fundraisers. I have lectured for free, or deeply discounted. But I do it if and when I feel inclined, not because I am expected to. Just like you may choose to volunteer in your free time, donate to charity, or give free advice to friends about your area of expertise, but wouldn’t be super enthused if you went to work and found out the paychecks would stop, and you’d be expected to keep showing up less you be considered selfish, or closed off to offering your company a “professional courtesy”.
It’s about entitlement. Fellow sexologists have extended me professional courtesies. Lawyer and doctor friends have given me free advice. But I don’t ask for their help unless I’m prepared to be invoiced. If they, for whatever reason, offer it for free, I graciously accept it, but I never just expect it. Because they deserve to get paid when they do work, and so do I.
Next month I am vacationing in Jamaica and am looking into doing some sexuality education/advocacy work while I’m there. Here I am looking into organizations to help the social standing of women in that country and learn their current Prime Minister is a woman. Jamaica: 1. USA: 0. Sometimes I think WE are the “developing nation”. Still SO much work to do at home…