As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.
This is Amina Peterson's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.
My all-time favorite moment as a sex doula has an ironclad NDA—so I can't really talk about it. Sorry. But a close second, was the time I was leading a large group of black women into a meditational masturbation session.
It was unbelievable. The energy in the room was so powerful. Pieces of art fell from the walls as some of us reached orgasm. Like, completely fell off the wall. Whewww. The women who were at that session were all very new to Tantra, to sexual liberation, and to me.
If they didn't believe in me before, they certainly left believing in me then.
Ha! Yes, ladies. I'm great at what I do.
Introduction Of A Goddess
My name is Amina, and I am your Goddess, Sex Doula, Intimacy Guide, and Somatic Bodyworker. You could say my line of work is a mixed plate—I also run a "church" of women who subscribe to my teachings, placing me in the role of teacher/leader often. I use a variety of tools, including meditation, touch, reiki, breath, BDSM, and talk therapy to guide people into an expanded sexual experience, encouraging healing from traumatic past experiences, and accessing pleasure points in the body. My sessions with my clients are very different—we meet online, in group sessions, on massage tables, and in beds.
My sex work meets the client where they are, moving them to where they desire to be.
I was actually closeted deep in the shadows of sex work until 2016–completely anonymous. I never used my face in my ads, I even went by a pseudonym. I suppose I was still holding on to a bit of shame around my work, which prevented me from reaching my full potential. I continued to work in corporate, in highly visible positions, which threatened my work, so this caused me to hide—and for the longest, I thought I was unnoticed.
Well, one day while at dinner with a group of women I had known for years, I was outed. They were complaining about the lack of intimacy in their relationships, the frustrations they were dealing with and sex problems. One of the women looked at me and said, "Amina, why don't you help us. Isn't this what you do?"
I sat stunned. And it quickly became obvious that these women had been following me and that I really wasn't hiding from anyone. From that moment forward, I resolved not to hide anymore.
Which I guess was right on time because I've seen over the years, sex work become more visible in the black community, which is making it more safe, sought after, and maintaining a level of accountability that was missing before. When I first started going to to Tantra events, I would be the darkest, youngest person in the building. Now, my classes have mothers and daughters together, and my clients are all ages. The Tantra Fest had attendees ranging from age 18-70.
Our community has the juice, even in sex work. When we chant we sound good, you hear me. Like, soulful kirtan is a THING and we do it well.
My upbringing consisted of a mish-mosh of things. My biggest complaint being that my mother, a hotep-ish fan of Dr. Sebi, raised us without sweets. She also raised us without religion, which I'm incredibly grateful for. We were home schooled, initially, with several other children from the neighborhood, but a toxic marriage took a toll on my mother's mental health and she divorced my stepfather. Soon after, we began attending public school.
There was a lot of Muslim and Buddhist influence in our home from growing up around my mother's African and Asian friends in the shadows of 80's east coast Hip Hop. My father died when I was 11, causing my life to take an unfortunate series of twists and turns in my teenage years. After several years as a queer runaway and living on the street, at age 17, I returned to Islam—which really helped to frame my concept of womanhood, the divine feminine and the subjugation of that energy.
Birth Of A Sex Doula
I was 19 when I answered an ad in the Chicago Reader for a sexual surrogate with the Father of Sex Surrogacy, Dr. Dean Dauw. That was my first dip of the toe into the work. I was on scholarship at the University of Illinois, still receiving my father's death annuity, and I was in the Army reserves, so I can't say I needed the money, but I was intrigued. I didn't stay long with Dr. Dauw, as my own understanding, and issues, with God, sex, shame, and guilt were amplified in the work. I ended up running back to the mosque, donning hijab, burying myself in prayer and fasting and settling down to become a good Muslim wife.
It turned out that traditional marriage and orthodox Islam weren't the best fit for me, and after my second divorce, I removed the veil. I hired a massage therapist, and that woman provided me with more embodied joy then I even knew I was capable, and certainly more than I had felt in the years of selfish lovers and inattentive husbands. I knew at that moment I wanted to give that kind of pleasure to people. With that, I closed my business, a small restaurant on the southside of Chicago, and went to massage school.
I eventually began studying and working as a birth doula, focusing on prenatal and infant massage in my program. However, on Craigslist I was able to work from home, where massage therapy was busy enough to pay rent when birth clients were slow.
When I learned that I could increase my fee from $50 an hour to $150 an hour if I went topless and touched genitals, it was an easy decision.
This was over 17 years ago, before the Craigslist Killer and SESTA/FOSTA.
Life was good.
I moved to Hawaii in 2005, where therapists where calling their offerings "Tantra Massage". I had never heard of it, but I fckin loved the idea, so I looked into it. After reading several books on Tantra, I started offering elements of Tantra to my sessions, and I haven't looked back since.
But I've certainly had my ups and downs in navigating my world. The biggest stigma being sex workers, as a whole. So many believe that sex work isn't work. And working for yourself in the industry is somehow degrading and less than real work. I work just as hard for myself as I did for anyone else, and it is way more rewarding. I really try to just show up authentically in my world so people get to meet and see a sex worker, that way we are not just mythical creatures. No. I certainly exist and I am your neighbor, you sister, your friend. I am not trafficked, and I never have been. Too many think that men are exploiting women in this industry; when clearly this isn't true—80% of my clients are women.
My Life Today + My Lessons + My Teachings
I recently married again (they say third time's a charm, right?), and reside in Atlanta which is the blissful lane I've lived in since our marriage.
We practice ethical non-monogamy (he is also a sex worker). We have a non-sexual partner that we share and we are open to dating separately, but admittedly, it's hard. There is still a lot of fear and stigma around non-monogamy in the black community, so put that on top of my work, and it gets tricky. Also, I prefer women and a lot of women who date women, have an additional stigma with women who are still having sex with men. Because of this, dating for me is a lot of flirting and first dates…not much after that. I'm OK with that, though.
I have my hands full and I know that moving in flow will allow beautiful partners to move in and out of my life in a way that is healthy and productive for all involved.
Courtesy of Amina Peterson
Anyway, ladies, if you're interested in joining my world, make sure you heal, heal, heal. And absolutely nothing less.
I struggled for a long time while I learned how to heal myself. I had to in order to defend myself against all of the energy that I would consume working with other people. Find a community of folks who are sex positive and lean on them as much as you can. Support is everything in this. If you can't find one, email me. Don't go at this alone.
I always choose to empower. Love is empowering. And reminding ourselves how powerful our love is, and that it needs nothing in return—not even more love—is the most empowering thing we can offer ourselves. I am in the business of selling love. As a sex doula, my love is my commodity. I am healing every day with the power of love. Sex, orgasm, intimacy: these are all just byproducts of love.
As of today, I'm honestly not sure what's next for me. The COVID-19 lockdown has me asking myself that all the time. I started my school to teach others how to offer this type of work and I really want to continue teaching as I learn more. I've moved some classes online, but I don't want to be an online school. I want to offer mentoring and coaching in a space where I can physically contact you as much as possible. I am really trying to spend about half of my time with students and half with clients. So, we'll see what the future brings.
But sex is my happy space, and always has been. And that's where you'll be able to find me.
To keep up with Amina and learn some of her sex and spiritual teachings, follow her @atltantra on Instagram. Amina also hosts the annual Tantra Fest in Atlanta which takes place Fall 2020.
Feature image courtesy of Amina Peterson.