Tag Archives: marijkevonk

The ‘Weekly’ Personal

It’s become almost an ironic title, hasn’t it? The ‘weekly’ personal.¬†A memory of some really ambitious idea I once had. Anyway, life has been great. I’m currently working on a project to provide¬†education about sexual diversity to health professionals, more specifically an online course on BDSM. The company I work for is so supportive, I’m very lucky I found a job so soon after returning from all the travelling, and even more lucky it’s a position in which I get to do what I’m most passionate about: educating people on sexuality and psychology. I’m also seeing clients a few days a week, which I enjoy a lot.

marijke sm

Finding good stills in a video in which you’re talking is hard.

The course is such a fun project to work on. I give most of the classes (on video), but I found some really good other teachers too. I asked kinky people in my own community to contribute, let me interview them (on camera!) about their experiences, and I got over 40 responses from people wanting to help. I mean.. I knew the kink community was wonderful. I knew we help each other out and there’s support and I was quite confident I’d find maybe 5 to 10 people willing to be filmed, on camera, about BDSM. But 40.. I’m still a little emotional about it, it’s just so great. I made a selection and have interviewed a little under 10. I have my own camera team that does the recording and editing for me, and it’s been lovely working with them. They’re professional, kind, and fun to hang out with.

Our friends organised a ‘welcome home’ party for Robin and I when we got back, which was great fun. Life is really starting again, we’re renting a good place and looking to buy a house, we both found jobs that we’re happy about, our cat Poes is living with us again after staying at Rene’s house for a year when we were gone. And although I enjoyed the company of other travellers, I’m so, so, so happy to be back with my friends again. I have an amazing social group, most of whom I’ve known for over 10 years, and I don’t know.. new people can be great, and new friendships can be very deep, and I do love meeting new people, but it’s great to be back :).

There have been some sad things in my life as well, of course. I’ve lost some people, sometimes because they’re literally gone, sometimes because my relationship with them ended, and it’s had a big impact on me. Things don’t always work out the way you want them to.

Like stills from a video. Whoa.

marijke

Happily talking about BDSM.

whatt

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.

 

The Weekly Personal

I take the train to work every day, and although I don’t mind public transport the increased popularity of the trafficking myth and rescue rhetoric often dampens my mood. There’s this extremely offensive advertisement by the Dutch rescue organisation Free a Girl that says “Maya makes 2,15 euro’s per day. We’re proud of that” . The 17-year old Maya works 9 hours per day for awfully low wages, Free a Girl tells us, but she’s no longer a whore. Yay! These advertisements, as well as ‘sexy’ advertisements by the Dutch Police to stop trafficking are found in train stations in the Netherlands. Disgusting. But thankfully, I have the ‘God is not Great’ audiobook (read by Christopher Hitchens himself!) to cheer me up. He’s one of the people I really would have loved to meet in real life, although I guess it’s best I didn’t as I’m quite sure I’d have made a fool of myself. It would probably be like the time I met Dossie Easton in real life, and I had a hard time stopping myself from saying “you’re Dossie Easton! I’m such a fan. Look everyone it’s Dossie Easton! You’re Dossie Easton! I’m such a fan!”.

It’s been an interesting month. After blogging in Dutch for almost 5 years, appearing in various Dutch media and reaching around a thousand readers every day, I’m now trying to connect to the international sex-positive community. This blog has hit a little over a 100 visitors on busy days, but it currently averages around 30. The wonderful Maggie McNeill (such a fan!) linked to my article on bogus trafficking statistics in the Netherlands and my Rescue Rhetoric parody was frequently shared on twitter. I think it’s a good start :).

A met up with Caja van Tolie last week. She was a sex worker at the Zandpad area in Utrecht, and when that area was closed (effectively ending all window-prostitution in Utrecht) she started Freya, an organisation by sex workers who want to become proprietors of the Zandpad area themselves. The major of Utrecht had lied that he wanted sex workers to do this, after which Utrecht repeatedly changed the requirements, rejected proposals from sexworker unions and prohibited sex workers from speaking at counsel meetings. Sex workers from the Zandpad have been without a workplace for over a year, and realisation of a new area has been postponed until at least 2016. It’s maddening. Except for the sex workers themselves and an activist here or there, nobody seems to be willing to do anything. Dutch media has been relatively positive about Caja, Freya and sex workers’ rights, but nothing is happening. I hope I can somehow contribute, help change things.

On Thursday I went to the very Christian wedding of a very dear friend who used to be very poly, lesbian and kinky. I’m not sure where things went wrong :P. She now lives in the Dutch bible belt, a beautiful area where mothers in their early twenties are found on weekdays in playgrounds with children. I was very grateful for Hitchens on my mp3 player and a kinky party the next day to look forward to, but it was a good experience. The wedding was wonderful, it really suited them and I think they will be happy together.