If you've heard of Terri-Jean Bedford, it's probably because of her role as the plaintiff in Bedford vs. Canada, the case challenging the constitutionality of the country's anti-prostitution laws. But she's also the woman formerly known as Madame de Sade, a dominatrix with a career spanning two decades. Here are a few need-to-know facts about the woman with the riding crop of justice!
Article by Switch Lori DiLetto Published Blog Slixa Late Night
The thoughtful advice and opinions of the author of this article are meant to be informative and entertaining and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Slixa.
1. She's used to challenges, legal and otherwise. This is not Bedford's first time before a judge. She was first arrested in 1986 while working as an escort. Her move to the BDSM side of the industry was supposed to help her avoid further run-ins with the law, but in 1994, her 'Bondage Bungalow' was raided for what she says was "no reason", and she was eventually convicted of keeping a "common bawdy house" in 1998. It's this decision that she continues to appeal.
Bedford has fought plenty of personal battles as well. She was born into an impoverished family in Collingwood, Ontario and was removed by child services at the age of six, ending up in a group home. Over the next thirty years, she endured neglect, physical and sexual abuse, incarceration, and drug addiction. She now deals with chronic health problems, which can be a struggle.
"Some days I am in pain, and some days I am worried, " she tells online magazine Eyestrane. "But I like to discuss the issues and meet people, and their reactions and comments to our legal battle and to my book are so encouraging that it cheers me up a great deal."
2. She's a feminist. Er, sort of. "I see myself as a feminist in terms of supporting euqlity of opportunity in the workplace, but I do not believe in equality in relationships," she explains on her blog. Elaborating on her point of view in a Vice magazine interview: ""It's better for the man to be submissive. He can do a better job at it."
She tells the Toronto Star that in the end, though, she wants to be remembered "As a fighter. As a champion for women's rights," which sounds pretty damn feminist after all.
3. She has an excellent sense of style. When making public court appearances, Bedford always dresses in formal Domme attire: leather skirt, gloves, and jacket with a white dress shirt. She's frequently seen with her riding crop and handcuffs, as well.
4. She's a published author. She wrote the 2011 memoir, "Dominatrix on Trial: Bedford vs. Canada". Her book was self-published, she informs the Star, because she's "a total control freak." It can be found on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com.
5. She's a family woman (and a total GILF). After having to give up her daughter at an early age, Bedford has reunited with her and her ten-year-old grandson, whom she calls "the apple of my eye." She gushes to the Star, "He keeps me alive. I never thought I'd live to see him."
6. She's a consummate professional. She thinks of her work in therapeutic terms, saying to the Star that she gives her clients "a nonjudgemental environment to act out some of their fantasies. [...] I help people feel better. I restore their confidence and restore their faith in themselves."
Asked about her favorite kinds of scenes, she demures. "Every dominatrix enjoys some things about her job more than others," she says on her blog, but she refuses to elaborate much. "Some things are best kept secret. Sorry. It would be like a magician giving away the secrets of doing magic tricks."
Finally, when prodded by Vice to name some of her former clients, she replies, "No way. You'd have to torture me." Now that's something we can all respect.
7. She is having none of the system's bullshit. Bedford explains the current legal status of prostitution in Canada-- the act itself is legal, but everything around it is criminalized-- as being a loophole for rich and powerful clients. "That's why the prostitution law is legal, it only benefits rich men. These laws we have in Canada really are monstrous and do more harm than good to women in the sex trade industry," she tells Vice.
About judges, she says on her blog that, on the whole, they "were not only unsympathetic, but unfair bordering on corrupt." She goes even further when discussing the police. "They abuse us. They want us in harm's way," she informs Vice, before adding that "Women in this country are no longer going to lay down and take the beatings."
Bedford has a few choice words for politicians as well. "I've got [Canadian Prime Minister] Stephen Harper by the balls. I'm gonna squeeze them til he begs for mercy." You go, girl.
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