Professional what?

This morning when I arrived at work, there was a pleasant surprise for me waiting in my little plastic inbox, on top of the Midori book I’ve been meaning to purchase when I get my next paycheque – a neat stack of brand-new business cards!

They have my name on them in a font resembling Caxton (not my design choice, but whatever) with the title “Sex Educator” beneath it.

Sex Educator might seem like a lofty title for a person whose job it is to sell dildos and butt plugs. I’d been working in sex shops for about three and a half years by the time someone suggested I start classifying myself as such, and at first I was resistant to the idea. My credit union lists my official occupation as “wage slave”, and when I stumbled into my first sex shop/bookstore job it was mostly to pay the bills while I made photocopied zines about resisting the patriarchy and posters for my friends’ bands under the guise of being a “freelance designer and illustrator”.  I made 8 bucks an hour and spent my days at work reading up on queer theory and the history of censorship in Canada, occasionally advising customers on what companies made bondage gear out of cruelty-free materials, but mostly arguing loudly with West-end “guppies” about the rights of sex trade workers. It was fun, if ultimately financially and emotionally draining – but I couldn’t have really called myself a “sex educator”. I certainly didn’t have any business cards.

But jobs grow up to be careers, and things have a way of evolving.

Now, in addition to spending about seven hours a day, five days a week, talking about sex and sex toys to people, I teach classes on a broad variety of subjects, from cunnilingus to kink.

It was a surprisingly natural progression. There was never a moment when I went, “Eureka! I want to be a sex educator!”. It was one of those things that just kind of emerged organically from a series of events, and as I became more comfortable speaking about the knowledge I’d accrued in the past few years. Now, every time someone leaves the store with more knowledge – about the materials in their toys, about types of condoms and other birth control methods, about ways they can bring themselves pleasure – I feel I am doing my own small part to combat all the negative consequences of a culture that tells us that sex is something shameful and that women have no sexual agency. 

Whether or not I realize it all the time, I am contributing every day to a world with less cases of STDs and unwanted pregnancies, fewer abusive relationships, and way more positive feelings for everyone in general.

Education is a powerful tool for social change.

It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to wield such a tool.

And having my own business cards is neat, too. So much more grown-up than photocopied zines.