‘My sex work isn’t just a phase’

Ever a sticky-beak, I was dying to interview one of my students after she told me she was a sex worker. Pretty much all my assumptions were blown out of the water. Here’s her story:

Growing up, my only understanding of sex work came from movies. While I always thought “I could do that if I really had to”, I never seriously considered it. Soon after turning 18, my friend and I were walking down a Melbourne laneway when she pointed to an ad for an Australian porn company. She was joking, but I was curious. I’d always been the more sexual one among my friends, and after much research I started doing erotic modelling.

We need to rewrite the ‘deathbed regrets’ list for women

Apparently our latest #firstworldproblem is that we are rapidly approaching ‘peak Upworthy’. If an inspiring college student’s spoken word piece ‘brought hardened stockbrokers to tears’, we’ve shared it. If a mother duck in a Bronx alley had three must-watch lessons on tough-love, we’ve learned them.

What now for yoga’s guru model?

Revelations that the former leader of Satyananda’s Australian ashrams abused children for decades have shocked the yoga community worldwide. Meanwhile, police are investigating the spiritual director of two more Australian ashrams amidst claims of sexual abuse. Is it time to do away with the guru model? 

Family violence does not have a colour

For this story I interviewed Lani Brennan – a freakishly strong woman who pushed through institutional racism to bring her attacker to court.

“I grew up in an environment where everyone was drinking and there was a lot of violence. I got together with my partner at 17, but I’d known him my whole life. We were both using drugs and alcohol, and it started with verbal abuse. I already had low self-esteem on account of being an alcoholic and addict, so I was primed to accept that kind of treatment.

Is it time to end the three-month ‘don’t tell’ pregnancy rule?

You’re idly scanning your Facebook feed, past photos of organic seedlings and Andalusian beer, when suddenly a black-and-white splotch claims top spot. Your first thought: Christ on a stick! My friend is pregnant with an out of focus baby! Your second: How did they keep that secret for twelve weeks?

When vulnerability backfires

It’s the final episode of a six-part series documenting a celebrity’s ‘journey to sobriety’. She’s getting flak for being unreliable during the shoot. “Nobody knows this, and I never told anybody before, but I actually had a miscarriage during filming,” she says, eyes wandering. Off camera, we hear someone gasp. The celebrity wipes at a tear then smiles at someone at the producer. “You guys love this shit when I cry.”

A night at the domestic violence crisis support centre

Most callers to the Women’s Information and Referral Exchange (WIRE) are seeking help in relation to domestic violence and financial abuse. I spent a shift with the phone workers and collated their stories into one ‘as told to’ story:

1pm
We always get a lot more domestic violence related calls following public holidays. The Easter weekend has just passed; I have a stack of messages from women who couldn’t get through yesterday because the lines were so busy. After a cup of tea with the other two phone workers and our team leader, I begin the call-backs.

Do we abandon our pregnant friends?

When a friend tells you she’s pregnant, ‘overwhelmed with joy’ is the correct response, bar mitigating factors like being 16. Bursting into tears is bad, and yet that’s been my response – twice! – when close friends told me they were pregnant. My first thought? ‘I’ve lost them!’ My first words? ‘So happy for you!’

They saw through my ‘happy tears’ and assured me nothing would change. But of course things change (they should!) so in my mind I’d already granted them ‘friend-leave’ for the next 2-4 years.