By Shanna Katz
I’ve been working in the adult industry for five years now. I almost can’t believe it. From working in marketing and sex advice column writing for woman run porn site HotMoviesForHer.com to marketing and community outreach for one of the largest online-only toy sites, to my current job of being the Resident Sexuality Educator and Online Media Specialist for sex positive toy store company Fascinations, I’ve spend half of the last decade working in porn, sex toys and more.
How do you come out to someone as a professional pervert? It’s not always easy. I’m privileged enough that most of my family (and my partner’s family) knows what I do…but my grandfather still thinks my degree is in counseling and that I’m a therapist. Now, that’s not far off, as my Master’s in Human Sexuality included some clinical classes, and I do offer relationship counseling and sex coaching, but it is hard not being to share every part of my life with my family. And how about when my partner’s family started adding me on social media? Talk about a long sit down trying to figure out what I was ok with writing about/posting. Many of my links are not safe for traditional work, and most are 18+ only. And when I’m on a long plane ride? It’s roulette trying to decide whether it is “safe” to tell someone what it is I do – I’ve been lectured by one person, and have many people try to turn me into their personal therapist for the rest of the flight.
I am lucky. There are literally less than a dozen people with my position in this country. How many people are full-time, salaried (with benefits) sex educators specializing in adult education/sexual pleasure? Not many. I love my job. I love sitting at my desk, in a cubicle (bet you didn’t see that coming), sorting through piles of toys and gift cards for giveaways. I love reaching out to sex educators around the country, bringing them on board to write educational articles and to put on free, open source classes for our customers. I love checking out new toys before they hit the market, educating our associates about what sex positive means and how we can be as inclusive and accepting of sexual diversity as possible, and I love presenting sexuality workshops to people face to face. Every day, I get to go to bed knowing that SOMETHING I did today helped SOMEONE else to embrace their sexuality a little bit more.
But all of this luck doesn’t make it easier to tell the car loan people my “official job title” when I’m applying for a loan. It has yet to prevent mini-arguments between myself and my partner about how much is too much to post on my blog, my facebook, or my twitter. And worst of all, this job that I love so much, that I work my heart out for? This job makes me a black sheep in the professional community. Because I haven’t chosen to go into adolescent education, pregnancy/STI prevention, professional couples therapy, etc, I spend my time on listserves and at conferences trying to explain exactly what it is I do, convince people that not all porn is misogynistic and evil, explain why sex toys can improve a relationship, remind people that ALL people need sexuality education, etc. I’ve been told before that I’m wasting my degree, that I’m embarrassing people in this field (the sex ed field, not the adult industry), and I’ve been asked when I’m going to get a real job.
Despite the difficulties in friends, family and peers, I love what I do. This IS my real job. There’s just something about hearing a woman tell you that she had her first orgasm after attending your class, or seeing a happy couple re-visit a store after their first purchase was a success, or seeing a parent and their adult child attending a workshop together, learning about the spectrum of sexuality together. Every day, I get to be the fairy sex-toy mother, giving out prizes and items for review, answering advice questions that might never be asked of anyone else, and helping people revolutionize their love life. How could I ask for anything more?