opinion

Madison Missina writes: "The 'outing' of Married at First Sight's Michael was not OK."

I’ve been watching Channel 9’s Married at First Sight this year with great interest.

Not for the usual hilarity of watching complete strangers “scientifically” matched (meaning “matched based on what is going to create the most ratings from the drama of putting incompatible people together”), but for a reason much closer to home.

This season, there is a male stripper navigating a new relationship.

Last year I featured on the ABC’s documentary series “Moment of Truth”, which captured the early stages of my current relationship with my partner Bec. At the time, I was going through the many levels of introducing her to my world as porn star and prostitute Madison Missina.

At one point, I remember Bec thinking the whole disclosure was nothing (well, by agreeing to come on a show with me about my work, she obviously knew), yet I was terrified.

Listen: Mia Freedman interviews Madison about her work on the No Filter podcast. (Post continues after audio.)

Despite being one of the most recognisable industry figures, being truly confident and open in my career choice, and Bec already knowing conceptually what I did, showing her my in-call (where prostitutes see our clients), my work equipment and my work clothes was the part where it was going to become real.

I was scared. I felt naked.

The decision of when and how to open up to potential partners about our careers is always a hot topic. In my relationship with Bec, once I’ve come out to another of her friends, the next question is usually “When did you disclose?”

On Tuesday’s episode we saw another rather out-there and confident industry figure, Michael, making a pained disclosure of his work to Scarlett. We watch as a usually confident man stumbles, over-justifies and explains himself.

It’s the moment that almost everyone in the adult entertainment industry dreads. When no matter how much of the rest of our worlds, our values and our dreams we’ve shared — or how good we are as people — it can all come crashing down because we have chosen a job that is stigmatised.

madison missina married at first sight
Michael from Married at First Sight (left) and Madison Missina (right).
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The fact is, our involvement in the adult entertainment industry is a deal-breaker for many of our potential partners. And while it severely limits our dating pool, it's okay; we all have various deal breakers in relationships and not wanting to date a sex worker, if that’s true for you, is okay.

It's not just knowing that we have a high likelihood of rejection that makes our disclosure frightening; what might happen with our news next is also a concern.

Unfortunately, we only have to wait until the next episode to see this play out on Married at First Sight.

Fast-forward to the dinner party where Scarlett becomes angry at Michael for being cold to her: I get that Scarlett would feel let down that her match has not worked out. I get that the dinner party didn’t work out well for them, and I too would be hurt if I felt controlled and received cold treatment from someone. (Post continues after gallery.)

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But Michael’s disclosure of his other occupation is Michael's news to share. There are instances where disclosing something like this would be reasonable, such as if it were to seek advice from a trusted friend.

However, that’s not what I saw on the show. Scarlett said, “If he is not going to talk to me, then I’m not going to keep his secret for him.” Then she proceeded to let everyone know she had been paired with a stripper.

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There was a real element of vindictiveness in the way Scarlett outed him, as though she was hurt so she wanted to hurt Michael's reputation by outing him like that.

Luckily for Michael, he works in one of the lesser-stigmatised areas of the industry and this will probably have very little effect on him.

Married at Fist Sight couple Michael and Scarlett on their honeymoon... AFTER Michael told her about his stripping. Image via Channel 9.

Unfortunately, however, things can get much worse. As sex workers we are still marginalised and we are still fighting for rights and respect. When our privacy is violated it can have really dire outcomes. Over my career I've either lived through or witnessed everything from being evicted from our homes, getting deported, losing custody of our children, losing our day jobs, getting stalked, intimidated, blackmailed and all because someone just doesn’t accept our job and they decide to use our job against us.

So it seems as adult entertainers, as sex workers, we are always walking the fine line of getting to know enough about our potential mates to trust them with our disclosure and disclosing quick enough in the relationship to not damage the trust they have in us. It’s our catch 22.

So if you’re ever in a situation where you receive a disclosure such as this, know that the person has taken a giant leap of faith for you. It's okay not be okay with our work, but please don’t use our work against us.

Even though it doesn’t appear to be going very well at all for Scarlett and Michael, I’m not missing a second of this season.

Need to catch up on the MAFS action? Read The Twins' latest recap here.

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