Category Archives: Personal

ESSM School: Hi from Budapest!

The ESSM School of Sexual Medicine is a multidisciplinary, comprehensive and crazy intensive 10-day course on human sexuality. I am having SUCH a good time. I’ve had some training in sexology before, of course, but it’s always been kind of fragmented. This school is everything I’ve been dreaming of, it really is. The schedule is punishing though. We have breakfast in the hotel, class starts at 8.30, lunch is served in the hotel at 13.00, then more class until 19.00. We get half an hour to freshen up, meet in the lobby at 19.30 and have dinner at a different restaurant each night around 20.30. After that we might go dancing, have a drink somewhere (Buddha Bar is great!), last night we went on a boat cruise. Then back at the hotel around 23.00, and do it all over again the next day.

Topics include everything including endocrinology, gynaecology, urology and psychology. Because of my own background I would have liked some more sociology, sex education and gender studies, but I have to say, I’m having a great time watching surgeries on penile fractures and all sorts of other stuff I usually would’t see. This school is on sexual medicine after all.

marijkevonkessmThe participants come from all over the world, every continent and completely different cultures. Most are medical doctors but I’m not the only psychologist. The group is great, it’s just so amazing to be around this many academic sex geeks! These are all people like me who think talking about sex during dinner is a great idea, who are scientists and evidence-based and ah it’s just lovely.

And exhausting. Sunday will be our last day and I’m flying back home on Monday morning. I think I’ll spend my Monday afternoon imitating a vegetable while watching Netflix. Anyway, if you’re a psychologist or medical doctor and you want to become a sexologist, I can totally recommend this school.

How To Spot A Kinkster In Public

I was at a vanilla wedding the other day, when I noticed some marks on my friend’s arm. Now I met her through the BDSM scene so it didn’t surprise me, but if you’re wondering how you can recognise a kinky person in public, marks like these are a pretty good indication they’re into rope play ;). It’s easy to spot a kinkster in public if you know what you’re looking for!

(Posted with her permission, obviously)

kinkster in public

When Someone Is Wrong On The Internet

This is now happening so often I feel I should take some time to clarify: I am a psychologist, specialised in sexology. Talking about sexuality and writing about sexuality, educating others and providing help is my job. It’s what I do for a living. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy talking about sexuality in my free time or that I’m unwilling to provide information without payment, but when you’re asking me to give my opinion as a professional, you’re asking me to do work for you. And if you don’t intend to pay me for my service, you’re asking me to work for free.

wrongontheinternetI get regular mentions on Facebook when someone I don’t know says something silly about sex work. “There’s no such thing as truly voluntary prostitution!” this person will say, and one of my acquaintances will comment with “Marijke Vonk” and I’m supposed to show up and explain why they are wrong. Just my name, usually, not even a sentence or two to explain why they’re dragging me into this. I don’t care if this random person I don’t know and who has no influence on my life holds an incorrect opinion, I really don’t. If you want to explain why they’re wrong, do it yourself. A while back someone posted “why do some women not like their vagina’s?” and I was mentioned in a comment by someone I’ve never talked to. “You’re a sexologist Marijke, I’m sure you have an opinion on this?”.

If you’re asking me to give my professional opinion on something, you’re asking me to do work. If there’s a topic on Fetlife about research or sexology and you think my knowledge would be relevant in that topic, and you’re asking me to write a whole post explaining the subject, you’re asking me to do work. Unpaid work.

fixcomputerIt’s like asking your friend who knows a lot about computers to help your cousin’s co-worker’s friend fix theirs. It’s one thing to ask your friend to help you, but when someone you hardly know posts on Twitter that their software is giving an error, you should’t post “hey Emily Smith, you’re good with computers! Go help this dude I don’t know fix theirs!”. Asking your friends to do unpaid work for you is sometimes problematic but can be okay, if you’re my friend you can ask me. I’ll even help your mom. But there’s a limit.

I’m willing to do work for free if I think you or your group are doing great things, I give lectures for students for free, I do voluntary work in my local kink scene, I’m not a greedy person. I’ll argue people who are wrong on the internet if I think that conversation would be educational for me, or if I think they have political influence and it’d be a form of activism. Sometimes I hang out on Fetlife because it’s fun.

But don’t mention me on Facebook, just dropping my name in some comment so I’ll come over and do unpaid work. Don’t email me telling me to contribute to a discussion just because you think my knowledge would be relevant. Offer to pay for my work, or leave me out of it.


Counting down..

Just six more days before we’re heading home after travelling the world for almost a year. Time has flown by, honestly. We’ve visited Australia, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal and India and although I am looking forward to seeing the Netherlands again, I’m going to miss the freedom of travelling.

The last week I’ve spent in the hospital though :(. Food in India is simply amazing, but somewhere I ingested something bad and my body was so busy getting rid of it that I got severe dehydration and had to be admitted for 7 days. The bug that’s causing it is resistant to most antibiotics so I’m still walking around with a drip-thingy in my hand, but at least they let me out of the hospital and I get to hang out in the beautiful city of Udaipur. By the 9th I’ll be done with my antibiotics course and we’ll do a flash-visit to the Taj Mahal before rushing to Delhi.

And then.. BACK TO THE COLD!

Hi From Nepal!

2015-11-13 13.28.16We’ve had an amazing trip through Myanmar (Burma), it was simply amazing. Such a gorgeous country, the people were friendly and generous, there is so much to see and we just had a blast. You can read about it on my travel blog if you want, there’s loads of pictures there too. After Myanmar we spent a week at a super touristy part of Thailand, in a bungalow right at the beach. I’m currently translating the book Natya and I wrote on BDSM into English, so I had plenty of time to work on that which was great. We’re hoping to publish it in English in the future. And now we’re in Kathmandu, Nepal! I love it here. The smells, the sights, it’s so busy and hectic and there is so much to see. Well probably do some shorter hike and visit a few cities before we cross the border into India.

The Weekly Personal

Some of my family members live in Australia and a few days ago we met up with my cousin. It was great, I hadn’t seen her in forever and I don’t know, there’s something interesting about being related. You’re something of the other person, you’re their someone, so you have this bond. Anyway, Robin and I intend to go to India later this year and she had travelled there by herself so we were interested in her experiences. She loved it there, loved the food, had a great time.

I was a bit apprehensive about how I would be treated there as a somewhat young travelling woman, but she managed to reassure me. “Yeah you get remarks from men. One time a guy followed me around on a boat, asking sexual questions. A taxi driver scolded me for not dressing modestly enough”. We both shrugged, and said at almost the same time “you get that everywhere you go”.

And Robin did “whaaaaaaat?!”.

A few days later we were at a touristy thingy when I tried to read an information sign. An older man started mansplaining stuff to me, asking me if I understood English (’cause he’d heard Robin and I speak Dutch) and remarked “you know, this architect’s wife was really smart. She went to school!”. I smiled politely, not much you can do when an older ‘gentleman’ goes all creepy grandpa on you so I just ignored him. “I can’t believe how condescending he was!” Robin remarked later. “Sweety, I get that everywhere I go”.

And Robin did “whaaaaaat?!”.

I mean, Robin is not blind. He’s not a stupid guy either. But when you’re not living in it, it’s easy to be blind to sexism. You just don’t see it. As a white, cis-gendered, hetero-partnered person I’m used to being one of the ‘us’. I’m used to seeing ‘myself’ on television, of feeling represented by the main characters in tv shows, of the news being viewed from my perspective.

And then there’s a ‘Dutch person’ on Gilmore Girls and you get a glimpse of what it’s like to be othered. When I saw that episode I went all “whaaaaat?!”.

The Weekly Personal

One of my favourite things is to work in a coffee shop. Very hipster, I know, but when you work from home a lot and studying it’s so helpful to have to get out of the house so you don’t end up spending the day in your undies watching Netflix. Mara and I had our favourite coffee places aussiaback home (“where everybody knows your name <3”) where I did my studying for CBT, writing blogs and a book and organising events. Here in Australia Robin and I try to find good places to work as well, I’m re-learning French (“oui!”) and doing a project management course. And writing, obviously (some for pay!).

We’re in Melbourne at the moment, on our way back to Brisbane. Oh man, travelling has been amazing. Living in a car (and the occasional AirBnb), seeing so much, meeting all these great people, what an adventure. In the map you can (roughly) see where we’ve been.


The Weekly Personal

2015-02-01 14.35.03Just one more month before the Big Move. It’s crazy how sentimental I’m getting over everything Dutch. It’s just a year, I’ll be back in no time. But yeah, Dutchlands, I’ll miss you. I was sure to eat ‘haring’ when I was at the marketplace last Saturday, and kibbeling of course. The NS has provided me with plenty of delayed trains and the weather even went full Netherlands with loads of rain and cold wind. I’ve cancelled my subscriptions, planned to see my family and friends a couple of times and have somewhat started packing. But first I will take my suitcase to Copenhagen because I’ve been asked to speak at the ESSM congress! My plane will leave tomorrow morning and I will stay in Denmark until Sunday. I’m so exited! I’ll be talking about consent and BDSM, and listening to many many many other speakers. and then it’s just three more weeks before we leave. It’s a little overwhelming :).