Dewey, Susan, Jennifer Hankel, and Kyria Brown. “Transitional Housing Facilities for Women Leaving the Sex Industry: Informed by Evidence or Ideology?” Sexuality & Culture, August 12, 2016, 1–22. doi:10.1007/s12119-016-9379-5.
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Abstract
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This article juxtaposes the results of descriptive and inferential statistical analysis, derived from 125 client case files at a Denver transitional housing facility for women leaving the sex industry, with the results of a content analysis that examined how all 34 similar U.S. facilities represent themselves, their clients, and their services on their websites. Content analysis results ascertained four primary findings with respect to transitional housing facilities for women leaving the sex industry, including their conflation of sex trading with sex trafficking, dominance by Christian faith-based organizations, race-neutral approach, and depiction of their clients as uneducated and socially isolated. Yet our statistical analysis revealed that significant differences exist between women’s sex industry experiences in ways that are strongly determined by ethno-racial identity, age, marital status, and exposure to abuse throughout the life course. Juxtaposing the results of these analyses highlights some rather glaring disconnects between the ways that facility websites depict their clients and the meaningful differences between women seeking services at the Denver transitional housing facility. These findings raise significant concerns regarding approaches that ignore ethno-racial differences, collapse the sex industry’s complexity, make assumptions about the women’s educational or other needs, and neglect the importance of women’s community and relational ties. Taken together, these troubling realities suggest a need for evidenced-based, rather than ideology-based, alternatives for women who wish to leave the sex industry.
Jackson, Crystal A. “Framing Sex Worker Rights How U.S. Sex Worker Rights Activists Perceive and Respond to Mainstream Anti–Sex Trafficking Advocacy.” Sociological Perspectives 59, no. 1 (March 1, 2016): 27–45. doi:10.1177/0731121416628553.
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Abstract
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This article examines how U.S. sex worker rights activists articulate “rights-based frames” to counter mainstream “victim frames” that conflate sex work and sex trafficking. Drawing on interviews with 19 U.S. sex worker rights activists conducted between 2010 and 2012, and participant observation of a national sex worker rights conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2010, I illustrate how activists create sex worker rights frames that (1) contest the labeling of sex workers as victims and (2) contest the accuracy and emotionality of stories and statistics used in mainstream anti–sex trafficking efforts. This rights-based framing draws on two master frames, labor rights and equal rights, to redefine the criminalization and stigmatization of sexual labor as a social problem, rather than prostitution itself. In the framing conflict over sex work, a rights-based approach also problematizes the intent and outcomes of anti–sex trafficking efforts to protect and rescue. To the extent that U.S. policy and advocacy efforts assume that sex work is a social problem and morally reprehensible, and that abolition of prostitution is a sound goal, those who challenge these assertions are at a disadvantage for acquiring credibility, voice, and support.
Besbris, Max. “Revanchist Masculinity: Gender Attitudes in Sex Work Management.” The Sociological Quarterly, July 1, 2016, n/a – n/a. doi:10.1111/tsq.12149.
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Abstract
Pimps, or male managers of female sex workers, are commonly represented in popular culture as hypermasculine and as a ubiquitous part of sex work. However, there is little empirical scholarship on pimps or the construction of their masculinity. Drawing on ethnographic and interview data, this article demonstrates how pimps produce a “revanchist masculinity” that seeks to reclaim power from women and establish status over other men. Pimps are suspicious of sex workers’ motives and deny them decision-making power and profit sharing—processes that highlight how work practices can structure gender identity construction.

Introduction: A ‘dirty business’

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The rules operative in the two major oath-bound criminal brotherhoods or mafias in Italy today, Cosa Nostra (Sicily) and the ’ndrangheta (Calabria), are notoriously flexible.1 Antonino Calderone, a Sicilian mafioso who gave evidence in the late 1980s, reflected frequently on these rules; appropriately, his views were themselves flexible. At times he states that the mafia’s codes are ‘a bit like the laws of a state’; at other times he emphasizes the human factors that shape their interpretation:It should not be forgotten that the mafia is, indeed, the Mafia: the organization of all the men who have taken the oath; and it has precise rules. But it is still made up of men. And men have their preferences, dislikes and animosities. Even when they have senior positions in the organization.Elsewhere, Calderone all but dismisses the rules: ‘Mafiosi have a whole bunch of rules but then, in reality, they continually break them’.2 What Calderone exemplifies here, without quite being able to articulate it, is that rules can be important to his criminal network even when not universally obeyed: they can be tools of internal politics for bosses and badges of shared identity for affiliates.

However, Cosa Nostra has one rule that is strictly observed. Calderone considers it axiomatic:The [Sicilian] mafia doesn’t run prostitution, because it’s a dirty business. Can you imagine a Man of Honour living as a pimp, an exploiter of women? Maybe in America mafiosi have got involved in this business … But in Sicily the mafia just does not do it, full stop.3The Sicilian mafia’s aversion to the easy and constant profits of the sex industry is something of a puzzle. Prostitution is a market where there is a high demand for ‘protection’;4 and the risks and penalties are low compared to, say, narcotics.

A historical perspective shows the ban on prostitution to be even more intriguing. The Sicilian mafia today comprises many of the same families, is organized along the same lines, uses the same rituals and adopts the same tactics as the mafia groups brought to trial in the late nineteenth century.5 The taboo against pimping is another such continuity. In records that stretch back beyond Italian unification, there is nothing that suggests that, in their core territory in the Palermo hinterland, mafiosi have everbeen involved in exploiting prostitution.6 

Read more…. 

Cooper, Emily. “‘It’s Better than Daytime Television’: Questioning the Socio-Spatial Impacts of Massage Parlours on Residential Communities.” Sexualities 19, no. 5–6 (September 1, 2016): 547–66. doi:10.1177/1363460715616949.
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It has been shown that street sex work is problematic for some communities, but there is less evidence of the effects of brothels. Emerging research also suggests that impact discourses outlined by residential communities and in regulatory policies should be critiqued, because they are often based on minority community voices, and limited tangible evidence is used to mask wider moral viewpoints about the place of sex work. Using a study of residents living in close proximity to brothels in Blackpool, this article argues that impact is socially and spatially fluid. Impact needs to be evaluated in a more nuanced manner, which is considerate of the heterogeneity of (even one type of) sex work, and the community in question. Brothels in Blackpool had a variety of roles in the everyday socio-spatial fabric; thus also questioning the common assumption that sex work only impacts negatively on residential communities.

Melissa Ditmore, Sex Workers Project, “The Use of Raids to Fight Trafficking in Persons”. New York: Urban Justice Center, 2009

This report summarizes the findings of a human rights documentation project conducted by the Sex Workers Project in 2007 and 2008 to explore the impacts and effectiveness of current anti-trafficking approaches in the US from a variety of perspectives. It is among the first efforts since the passage of the TVPA to give voice to the perspectives of trafficked persons and sex workers who have experienced anti-trafficking raids. A total of 46 people were interviewed for this report, including immigrant sex workers and trafficked persons who have experienced raids or otherwise had contact with law enforcement, along with service providers, attorneys, and law enforcement personnel.

The data collected from this small to medium-sized sample is extremely rich, and suggests that vice raids conducted by local law enforcement agencies are an ineffective means of locating and identifying trafficked persons. Our research also reveals that vice raids and federal anti-trafficking raids are all too frequently accompanied by violations of the human rights of trafficked persons and sex workers alike, and can therefore be counterproductive to the underlying goals of anti-trafficking initiatives. Our findings suggest that a rights-based and “victim-centered” approach to trafficking in persons requires the development and promotion of alternate methods of identifying and protecting the rights of trafficked persons which prioritize the needs, agency, and self-determination of trafficking survivors. They also indicate that preventative approaches, which address the circumstances that facilitate trafficking in persons, should be pursued over law enforcement based responses.

Full text available here.

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