Friday, January 4, 2008

A Different Kind Of Authority For Sex Bloggers

Dear friend, Amanda Brooks, has an excellent post at Bound, Not Gagged (NWS). In it she discusses a certain big blogging kahuna...

A couple months ago a very popular “self-improvement” blogger wrote a post that mentioned prostitutes in Vegas. Although he knows it’s illegal in Vegas, he was under the impression (like most people) that the laws weren’t enforced much. He toyed with the idea of interviewing a prostitute and posting the interview on his blog. He was sure it would get a lot of Digg hits. And that’s the important thing.

I’m sure he wouldn’t have offered to pay for her time (What? Pay for anything with a sex worker? Doesn’t that incriminate you?), but would happily pick her brain for as long as it took him to run through his questions (most of which she’s probably tired of answering), just so he could get a lot of Digg hits and bring lots of traffic to his blog. Hopefully some of that traffic would click on his AdSense ads and affiliate links and bring him some money. That’s the really important thing.

...I don’t think we get on Digg much, if at all. I don’t know how many blogs (beyond sex blogs) link in. Or how many non-sex sites link in. I don’t live and die by Digg or Stumbleupon (because I’d already be dead); I feel there is a huge knowledge/awareness gap because we haven’t achieved the Web saturation and “authority” that a single navel-gazing blogger has.

Most adult blogs do not fare well on Digg, and the other social bookmarking tools. While some are clearly focused on technology or other subjects which are not predisposed to our topics, others just feel the need for social safety and apply a censorship condom. There are those which do not, but excluding us is more often by design than not.

But back to Amanda's story...
I e-mailed him privately and he was surprised to learn there are sex work blogs out there. He wasn’t personally aware of any and he attributed that to the lack of blog marketing skills of sex workers. That may be true, or it may be that he has never curiously searched Blogger or WordPress for call girl, escort, courtesan or sex worker. But still, the Internet masses have granted him “authority” on any topic and sex workers apparently lack it – even if blogging about sex work.
Wow. "The lack of blog marketing skills of sex worker"; that would hurt if it weren't so ludicrous.

The point is that this big kahuna is big in his own pond and forgets there are other ponds. I don't mind admitting I don't have the slightest clue who this guy is, and in fact, it illustrates my point. I don't ponder or search for "self-improvement", so I don't know him; he doesn't search for "sex workers", so he doesn't know us. Clearly he mistakes his too-lazy-to-search curiosity for an absence of information, sources or authorities on the subject. In short, he thinks his own micro-universe is The Universe.

But of course it's not.

I exist, Amanda exists, and there many more of us ~ some could argue too many of us. *wink*

Within our community, there are many big kahunas. Each with PageRank, Technorati "authority" and interviews to prove it. But this is not the type of authority Amanda is getting at.
I don’t know if a mass community considers BnG to be an “authority” or a “voice.” Where were the mainstream op-ed pieces from sex workers? (Not to imply that BnG is the only Internet outlet for sex workers, simply that it’s The Huffington Post for sex worker activists.)

Nor do I worship mainstream media. But to change minds, we need access to mainstream media. We need them to listen to us and allow various voices to be heard. What credentials are we lacking to be considered authorities on our own experiences? Once we target our media deficiencies, how can they be overcome?

I don’t have any answers. I’m only beginning to work through the questions. But I think it’s a vital issue because positive change will not happen for sex workers until mainstream America hears us.

Comments on Bound, Not Gagged (NWS) aside (I have no ill feelings for it as I'm obviously reading it; but I don't want to discuss how big it is in terms of ponds or micro universes), I feel the anguish in Amanda's questioning.

It's akin to the matter of your mission. At least part of it is.

Another part, or line of questioning, is about the situation all adult marketers face: We just aren't accepted &/or recognized by mainstream society.

We can't get press releases distributed, our ad purchasing power is limited, and we are thwarted on the Internet too (directory listings, social networks, link swaps, blog awards, etc.) because the censorship condom exists. We can't reach the masses to show we're OK unless they let us in; and they won't let us in because they fear us. I've been at this for a decade now, and believe me I know this chicken v. egg problem. (If only that censorship condom didn't exist ~ then we could fertilize that egg!)

But meanwhile, as we sex workers, sex bloggers, and adult business folks swim in our ponds or spin in our micro universes & connect with others, we continue to build authority.

And it's my hope that eventually our numbers, our issues, will force water to flow towards us, into their ponds, or orbits to be shared ~ whatever it takes for conversations to take place.

Meanwhile, we'll keep on keepin' on.

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Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site

15 Comments:

Blogger SlipOfAGirl said...

Excellent posts -- both Amanda's and yours.

We "don't market very well"??! What BS.

I know I have great difficulty with my blog (fashion vs. too much passion), so I can only imagine what it's like for sex workers, but where is this guy's head at?

January 4, 2008 10:46 AM  
Blogger Amanda Brooks said...

Gracie,

Wow. Thanks for liking my piece and dissecting it.

It is a chicken and egg thing, but then, the Internet is supposed to level the playing field. It hasn't worked so well for the adult industry (and there are strict schisms in that too). I don't have the patience you do and so end up beating my head against the wall.

But I'm certainly not going to be silent or stop trying. Thanks again for the great analysis.

XX

January 4, 2008 10:49 AM  
Blogger Amanda Brooks said...

Slipofagirl,

Remember, this guy has been hailed as an "authority" on a variety of topics for the past couple years and is fairly famous online. Anyone he doesn't know exists must be because they don't know how to market directly to him!

XX

January 4, 2008 10:50 AM  
Blogger Viviane said...

Yes, we will.

Thanks for writing so thoughtfully about this.

January 4, 2008 11:26 AM  
Blogger Audacia Ray said...

"Censorship condom" - that's excellent.

WRT to social media and social recommendation sites, one of the problems is not just the censorship condom but the way the communities feel about and react to sex in general. For instance - there are pieces on sexuality that pop up and do okay on Digg (esp if a high profile Digger posts it or diggs it). But if you read the comments, you'll see that many of the community members snark about sexually related content or just misunderstand what the piece is about. In the case of Digg in particular, I think that some sex-related sites can do well (see below) but on average, it's not all that worth it to tangle with the community, since the traffic it yields isn't really high quality visitors who become repeat visitors or RSS feed subscribers.

http://www.askdanandjennifer.com/ is a really interesting case study - they actively use Digg and Stumbleupon to promote their posts, something that's a little frowned upon, I might add, esp on Digg. But their persistence has definitely helped their traffic.

January 4, 2008 11:37 AM  
Blogger Sara Winters said...

Oh, look Gracie. The good people at fleshbot have an opinion the whole Digg/porn situation. Another blog entry for you, perhaps?

January 4, 2008 3:48 PM  
Blogger Marketing Whore said...

Slip, I'm guessing we're doing things right if the guy hasn't heard of us; we apparently wouldn't be hitting our target market ;)

Amanda, your piece was excellent, so the thanks go to you :)

Viviane, I'd expect no less from you. (My fist is raised in solidarity, but you can't see it lol)

Audacia, I agree with what you've said and will check into the site you mentioned ~ however, it was my understanding that it is more 'relationship' focused and has few images, which is similar to Cosmo, Esquire etc., which would deny they are in 'sex' or 'smut' (hence not allowing many adult ads). It's a fine line, and I'd dare say a silly one, but it exists.

Sara, I've made a comment there -- and do intend a follow up ;) (You play me like a fiddle, girl!)

I do thank you all for adding to the conversation ~ and you've all given me additional things to ponder (and post) about :)

January 5, 2008 10:06 PM  
Blogger The Fellatio Artist & The Geek said...

the universe of blogging and the commercialization aspects are completely new to us..

We started or lowly blog recently, and if statistics bear out, we will peter out in a flash in less than a year.

It may help our longevity in that wifey has had a vanilla blog updated daily with pretty intensive graphical content for 3 years, and Husband has a vanilla tranny blog (I know oxymoron, but she isn't particularly come of age sexually so 'she' is fairly safe for work most times)

We have no ads, or plans that way, but our first 1200 hit day suggested maybe we should learn about these issues. Original plan was to never link, never comment on others and remain below the radar.

Interestingly, with no effort, not marketing even before our first Sugasm listing, we are number one frequently for Google listing, or Google blog listings for many seemingly unreachable top spots, such as "Wife Fellatio" or "Pussy Worship"

So for this guy to suggest he didn't know about sex worker blogs says either he has never heard of Google, or he is so asexual to have never looked anywhere on the web for written masturbatory material.

I would like to know more about these things than I do, but then again, I need to schedule in a blowjob and a write up about it sometime before next Fellatio Friday. ~grin~

- The Geek

January 6, 2008 12:01 AM  
Blogger Amanda Brooks said...

I've come across the DanandJennifer site before, and I imagine it's much like all the other sex sites out there -- in that if I were to approach them, I'd be shooed away because they don't go there and don't do that.

It's part of the huge lines drawn in the adult sector of the Web. Sex workers are at the very bottom rung. There are very popular sex worker bloggers, mostly among other sex workers. And I think it's easier for straight sex (nice, easy, "relationship" stuff) to get mainstream traction than anything else. Even BDSM is more acceptable than sex work.

XX

January 6, 2008 10:14 AM  
Blogger Marketing Whore said...

Geek, the confusion (along with unrealistic expectations) is why so many new blogs do not make it past 3 months ~ adult or otherwise ;) But I'm glad you and your wife are discovering that fun can be had, readers can be gained, if you just keep on keepin' on :)

Amanda, I have oms interesting info on that ~ regarding what level of sex is acceptable (considered 'safe sex' with less perception of infection which does not require the censorship condom) and I'll have to talk about that one day soon. :)

Also, I came in here to let you know that I had linked this at Sex In The Public Square and Elizabeth has some interesting comments (perhaps others will follow).

January 6, 2008 6:31 PM  
Blogger Amanda Brooks said...

I can't access the Sex in the Public Square post. Keep getting error messages.

XX

January 8, 2008 10:30 AM  
Blogger Marketing Whore said...

Hmm... It's working just fine for me. I hope it's a temporary thing. But if not, go to the main page and I do believe my post is still on the main page. (Click here, then the title of the 'authority' post; you'll find Elizabeth's post at the bottom of the post.)

January 8, 2008 4:19 PM  
Anonymous dallas said...

What amazes me is that it seems like these days everyone and their dog has a blog. People write about their vacations, their home remodeling, and their gardens. If you stop and consider the nature of the "blogosphere" for even a minute, it would make perfect sense that sex workers might also want to write about their experiences.

The fact that this guy didn't reach this conclusion either says that he doesn't really understand what blogging is or he considers sex work to be less interesting than people's personal vacations. Sad, either way.

January 9, 2008 7:53 AM  
Anonymous slim body said...

Thanks again for theis interesting analysis

May 4, 2010 2:22 PM  

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