What Would Mary Say?
Did you have a childhood where Jesus Christ Superstar (think Andrew Lloyd-Webber & Tim Rice) was one of the musical highlights of your 8-year-old world?
Let me remind you, or share with you, some key lyrics that relate to our guest Leah Callon-Butler this week, and some concepts she shares about intimate.io and…
The world of the ‘adult industry’
Sleep and I shall soothe you, calm you, and anoint you.
Myrrh for your hot forehead, oh.
Then you’ll feel
Everything’s alright, yes, everything’s fine.
And it’s cool, and the ointment’s sweet
For the fire in your head and feet.
Close your eyes, close your eyes
And relax, think of nothing tonight.
Everything’s alright, yes, everything’s alright, yes.
Woman your fine ointment, brand new and expensive
Should have been saved for the poor.
Why has it been wasted? We could have raised maybe
Three hundred silver pieces or more.
People who are hungry, people who are starving
They matter more than your feet and hair!
Excerpted from the 1970 rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar: ‘Everything’s Alright’
Mary Magdalene Alto (F3-E♭5) A female follower of Jesus who finds herself falling in love with him. Keep in mind, if you’re preparing her music, that she might not be sentimental or soft. She’s a prostitute, and she tries in her way to care for Jesus, so there is tenderness, and desire, but this is a woman of great strength.
Judas Iscariot Tenor (D3-D5) One of the twelve apostles of Jesus; concerned for the poor and for the consequences of Jesus’ fame. A tragic figure, a conflicted man, and a powerfully passionate guy. Most certainly not a bad guy— he’s as desirous of being pure as Jesus is, and believes he is doing the right thing.
So you see… we can love it or hate it, judge it or moralise about it, but the work of prostitutes, sex-workers, adult-industry specialists – however you wish to couch the term (herr-herrm) – has been around since long before Jesus’ time, according to questionable but popular, belief.
Stigma, assumptions, judgements, misunderstandings, morality, the concepts of right and wrong, good and bad, saints and sinners and… even the old Star Wars fave: the Dark Side and the Light Side – if you take out the element of ‘sex workers’ and simply apply these labels and value-vessels to human endeavour, in its simplest and most alluring sense – it smacks of war, conflict, tension, and control.
Apply these appraisals however to the world of sex-workers and the expanded industry they work in: pornography and online adult content, product sales and the acts of service themselves, and you have…
One hot-bed of moralistic, conflictual and contradictory ideas being mashed around!
When thinking about this industry, the question comes to mind of the exploitation of children and other innocents. We’re steered back to an important distinction drawn by Leah, between those sex-workers that choose to be in the profession and those that are blockaded into the workspace through darker mediums like the human slave trade. In simple terms: consensual vs. trafficked sex workers.
(I’ve written at length in other articles about the potential for Blockchain applications in terms of human trafficking, other interviews.)
For the purposes of this article and the work of Leah and her intimate.io co-founders, we’re sticking to the choiced world of consensual sex-workers.
Meeting with Leah was like deep-diving into the whirlpool world of human rights mixed with human pleasures mixed with many challenging concepts in between.
Refreshing in her defence of workers within the adult industry, she was able to identify some key areas where people working in this line of business suffered biased and unfair treatment, due to the sensitive nature and the stigma attached to their industry.
Of these, payments were one of the fundamental issues: service providers often have to use personal bank accounts to transact as banks will not generally permit the opening of a business account, nor will PayPal, Stripe or Shopify to name a few.
Leah came to intimate.io with a rich and varied history of working in renewable energy along with supporting women. Passionate about gender-equality programmes, empowering women in financial literacy and economic independence, along with fiercely protecting the basic right to work, Leah is a positive force (to be reckoned with!) for all women.
“No matter what you do for work, you should enjoy the same right and protection as anyone else.”
Service providers or workers exchange money for sexual intercourse.
Their challenges include needing to establish trust: knowing in advance if their clients are reputable, trustworthy, non-violent and will pay? They only have their colleagues for support who are often struggling with their own similar issues.
Customers want anonymity (payment without bank statement proof) protection against disease and protection from reputational risk.
One of the basic motives for building intimate.io was to stand up for a stigmatised, marginalised group of working people, giving them access to the same rights other workers and businesses are privy to.
Blockchain is seen as a perfect use-case for this industry since it permits both privacy and transparency. Privacy in the form of anonymity and the ability to create a pseudonym account, cross-referenced for authenticity using technology which doesn’t reveal the original author. Transparency in that these pseudonym accounts afford each party in the service exchange, access to vital information that builds trust.
Examples of this trust-building include records that engender a positive reputation in terms of physical safety, health protection, payment commitments and more, of both workers and clients. This helps to eradicate the ‘unknowns’ that exist and are riskily dangerous in the current system to both parties.
What’s more, here’s a quote from the (maybe) Grandaddy of Bitcoin him/her/them/it – self:
“Bitcoin would be convenient for people who don’t have a credit card or don’t want to use the cards they have, either don’t want the spouse to see it on the bill or don’t trust giving their number to ‘porn guys’, or afraid of recurring billing.”
– Satoshi Nakamoto
The final message on the intimate.io website:
“The team at Intimate are passionate about creating a sex positive discussion that can facilitate real change.”
That’s got to be a great thing, no matter what your take on the industry…