A quote everybody knows:

“Men are afraid women will laugh at them.
Women are afraid men will kill them.”

– Margret Atwood

He was friendly to me.

Aussie to the bone, the hands and body of someone who’d worked hard his whole life. He’d booked an hour PSE and he sure seemed to want his money’s worth.

Around half my bookings are for “Marci Machina” My Porn Star Experience. I named it for the sci-fi movie Ex Machina, which features a highly intelligent and seductive AI female being, created by a very male and very human monster.

On a poetic day I can liken this to myself. “Deus Ex Machina,” Meaning “God from the Machine” or in a more contemporary sense “An unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation.”

Being prized for my body has ironically delivered my mind from the slavery of a mundane life. I would pay the price of being a woman again and again for this freedom. The robot in the film has the last laugh after her suffering.

PSE clients are forever telling me I am an animal or a machine. But I can only fuck like that when I am not in my own skin. I enjoy becoming this, I disassociate to become this Thing. This Warrior Thing. Marci Machina.

And I began to learn it many years ago, to stop my fear.

Back to my client that day. He pushed me down. Hard. He was smiling. I pushed him back, full of adrenaline and knelt over his body. I squeezed his torso with my strong little thighs. My heart was beating fast with something inside me that I knew was buried terror. As much as I was aware of it, I could not feel it on the surface of my skin.

“Oh…you’re strong!” He said with a delighted twinkle in his eye. “You’re a fighter!” and effortlessly, he flipped me off him and went to town. He fucked me so hard and so roughly. I gave him what he needed. It was much, much more than I would have enjoyed. I was almost in pain. I tried to keep my hands or feet between myself and his hips so he couldn’t bruise my cervix. Yet my body held up. If I had of told him to stop he would have…I think. But I was not in control and a thought kept bubbling up within that part of me safely behind the partition within.

Would I be afraid right now? If I was someone else, another girl who had not lived my life, would I be afraid?

 Yes, I would have. I would have been very afraid.

Where did it come from, this ability to rise above fear? To leave.

I have never been raped. Until fairly recently I would probably have said I had never been assaulted.

Women are so conditioned to endure assault it’s barely recognised for what it is. Yet when I open my Pandora’s box of buried memories, I find many uncomfortable truths.

20 years old, alone in nothing but a g-string serving drinks to a private party full of rowdy men. Learning to hold my elbows wide when I turned to avoid passing gropes. Developing a sixth sense when strangers stood too close to me.

22 years old, watching my male driver and friend being held at the throat, my money snatched from his pocket as I stumbled backwards over broken glass towards the car. So scared.

That same year, being in a women’s toilet standing between my even younger and smaller naked female friend and an angry drunken man as they screamed at each other. We’d walked out five minutes early on an out of control buck’s show and he wanted money back. My hands on his chest, shaking. My voice soft and soothing until he finally shook his head and stalked off in rage.

23 years old, on the cold floor with a vibrator at a bikie clubhouse. Screaming at dozens of men to step back, to give me some space. Being filmed without my consent and knowing there was absolutely nothing I could do.

24 years old. Locked in a bedroom with a young and petrified driver whilst a furious, drug afflicted man screamed and banged on the door so hard I thought he would break it down. Shrieking that he would “Break my Whore Face.” I’d walked out on a show after being having my asshole licked without my consent.

That same year, high on MDMA and talking all night. My beautiful friend guiding my fingers to a bump on her head underneath her thick black hair, explaining that at age 11, her mother’s boyfriend had lifted her up and smacked her into a hook on a bathroom wall. He had also raped her with a can of deodorant. She watched the tears stream down my cheeks in confusion. “Don’t cry… I’m fine!” She’d said with a faint smile.

Countless other friends, GPS catholic schoolgirls and hookers alike sharing their stories of suffering at the hands of men. All with the same nonchalant reaction…. Oh well, it could have been worse.

 One girl telling the story of her rape to a strip club locker room audience. The afterthought;

“My mother was brutally raped as a young woman. At least he didn’t punch me or anything like that.”

I do like men. I definitely like sex. Sometimes I like rough sex. I’ve asked people I trust to hit me in the face and restrain me. I enjoy playing with derogatory language. I like to be submissive as well as dominant. I sometimes even like a bit of pain.

But only when I am truly the one in control. To know without a shadow of a doubt that a tap on a forearm or a simple “Stop” would be heeded completely and immediately, without question.

That day, with my client. A stranger. The thought crossed my mind I could die. I was so numb, so separate to my fear, it was  only my knowledge that I was in fact there, rather than actually being able to feel it.

This is what women do, I realised. To survive. And the women who do not, who have not learnt to leave themselves, let their fear cripple them. They are always afraid.


— Photography by Leslie Liu-