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August 20th, 2008

Review: Sex And Bacon

Sex and Bacon: Why I Love Things That Are Very, Very Bad for Me

Sex and Bacon: Why I Love Things That Are Very, Very Bad for Me
by Sarah Katherine Lewis

I’ve been struggling with how to review this book. A proper review can only be done in two parts-the book before and after page 267. Sounds odd I know but indulge me.

Starting the book I expected to read an evolving story. Instead Sex and Bacon is a series of essays. Often the essays interweave such as Lewis’ Fried Chicken Interlude pieces. Several essays explore ups and downs in one of her relationships. I enjoyed how the book was put together. It made for relaxed reading. I could pick it up, read a few chapters and then set it down for a fews days.

Her approach to recipes was particularly fun. They’re not written in a traditional form. Instead Lewis tells a story while giving loose instructions. Lewis’ insights during these chapters are particularly enjoyable. Her thoughts on sausage is a good example: “Sausage says, I’m glad you came, and Don’t you look beautiful tonight. Sausage is both regal and wonderfully proletarian.”

Lewis writes some about her sex worker days. In one essay she writes about her refusal to say “I love you” to her clients. I can relate. Telling a client to shove a ten inch dildo up his ass is easy but telling a client “I love you” always feels dirty to me. I prefer not to do it. “Baby Ruth Man”, about a man with a candy fetish, is one of the funniest passages in the book. While I enjoyed her stories I felt there was a tone of bitterness in them that hinted her years in the sex industry were not enjoyable.

Throughout the book Lewis talks about body image. I agreed with her a lot on this subject-curves are sexy, women should own and be proud of their bodies, women should enjoy food. It’s refreshing to read a woman who writes positively about her shapely curves.

I also enjoyed the chapters “The Bacon Quotient” which is about an experiment to find out how much bacon is enough and “Forbidden Fruit” which is about strange foods she’s eaten.

So far, so good. I was nearing the end of the book and was planning out my blog post. Then I got to page 267. I always thought it was a cliché that a small passage in a book could change your whole outlook on the work. Turns out it’s true. When I read these paragraphs I got pissed off:

“In all seriousness, a note about the sex industry: Dudes, don’t mess with porn. Don’t go to strip clubs, don’t rent dirty movies, and don’t jack off to nasty pics on the Internet. Don’t pay for domination, get lap dances, get “massages,” or rent women to watch you spank it. That shit will fuck you up-it’s addictive nonsense designed to wreck your chances of having loving relationships with real, live females and to make sure that you keep paying for the fake stuff.

Take the money your were going to spend on a month’s subscription to a corny adult website with the same tired images you’ve seen ten zillion times before and ask a smart, pretty girl out. I swear to you that hanging out with an actual female is much more fun than paying for the privilege of becoming just another john. Remember that the sex industry objectifies you just as much as it objectifies its performers. Unsubscribe!”

I’d like to say she’s joking but that “in all seriousness” part tells me otherwise. As someone who’s been in the sex industry for over six years I take issue with Lewis’ statements. I don’t feel objectified. It’s obvious she did but that’s not true for all sex workers. I don’t want to invalidate Lewis’ viewpoint just because I don’t agree with her. But oh how I disagree with her.

Why do only men using industry services objectify only women? Women buy porn. I like porn! Gay men buy gay porn. Lewis writes about an affair with a women so certainly she must know lesbians use industry services too.

How does giving up a porn website guarantee a man will have fun hang out with a woman? I respect my clients but will readily admit some are so mentally fucked up that they do not belong in a relationship. It sounds mean but some people are better off being single.

And what of the taboo fetishists? Occasionally people say my clients are cheating on their partners with me. I disagree. I point out that often fetishes should be kept from partners. How many wives really want to pee in their husbands mouths? How many girlfriends really want to watch their boyfriends suck on their shit stained panties? How many women would honestly be ok with their men going out to glory holes and sucking on random strangers’ cocks? (I’m referring to the fetish of having unsafe sex.) They’re probably better off not knowing. Definitely they’re better off having their men share their unsafe sex fantasies with me than acting them out in real life. I don’t think that’s objectification. I think that’s therapy. Albeit non-convention therapy but therapy nonetheless. Hell, I’d even go so far as to say I’ve probably kept many marriages intact.

As for objectification-What part of the capitalist system isn’t objectification? Ok, not all of it but it’s all around us. Want to buy a new car? How many car commercials imply you’ll get laid by hot chicks if you buy their model? Or buy their beer or their shaving cream or their sunglasses or their shoes or…too many things to list here. Why is it not objectification to have a barely clothed woman scrawled across a car but a woman stripping on a pole objectifies not only her but the man watching? Why is working in a small cubicle for slave wages not objectification but demanding a fat wad of bills to masturbate in front of a man is?

Again, I don’t want to invalidate Lewis’ sex worker experiences just because I disagree with her. But just because she felt objectified doesn’t mean that all of us do. Would I still recommend the book? Yes but with reservations. For the most part it’s a fun read. My caution is this-if you’re into sex worker activism like I am Lewis’ viewpoints may not sit well with you.

Posted by Vixen in Reviews, Sex Workers

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 20th, 2008 at 10:19 pm and is filed under Reviews, Sex Workers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Review: Sex And Bacon”

  1. Iamcuriousblue says:

    If you’ve been following SKL for the last few years, you’d note that she’s been moving to a hard-line radical feminist position on commercial sex for the last few years now.

    This was going to be her introduction to Indecent: How I Make It and Fake It as a Girl for Hire, before she decided to tone it down:

    She’s actually quite close to hard-line radfem blogger Ginmar and to Robert Jensen, and appears in the new anti-porn documentary, The Price of Pleasure that was produced by some of Jensen’s associates. Her line about “becoming just another john” is lifted straight from Jensen, in fact.

    The reason you don’t hear about her so much in connection with the more flaming radfem crowd is that she tones her message down a lot. Basically, she’s trying to make a living doing fairly low-key sex lit, and if she comes out of the starting gate with a full-scale Gail Dines-style condemnation of modern sexual culture, she’s going to lose most of her potential audience right from the get-go. Hence, she’ll save a very strong anti-porn bombshell “for the end”, like she did in the above-reviewed book or like she did in her last interview with Radio Blowfish.

    I agree with what you said in that I can’t argue with SKL’s experience doing sex work – she’s done it, I haven’t. And even accounting for people who have had more positive experiences with sex work, that doesn’t change the fact that her experience could still be very different. That said, I don’t agree with her across-the-board condemnation of commercial sex in the least, or with the idea that any consumption of it will hopelessly mess you up. To my mind, that’s just her projection based on a very negative experience in an industry she probably shouldn’t have been working in to begin with.

  2. Vixen says:

    IACB-Thank you so much for that link. I’m going to incorporate it for my upcoming review of Indecent.

    What also bothers me about SKL’s books is this-She condemns the sex industry out of one side of her mouth while making money off the sex industry out of the other side. How can she be so “scarred” from her work and yet be perfectly comfortable making money off of it?

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