Reading Sex Work” – Special Issue of South Atlantic Quarterly 120(3), 2021.

Berg, Heather. 2021. ‘Reading Sex Work: An Introduction’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 485–91. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9154856.

babylon, femi, and Heather Berg. 2021. ‘Erotic Labor within and without Work: An Interview with Femi Babylon’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 631–40. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9154955.

Carlisle, Vanessa. 2021. ‘“Sex Work Is Star Shaped”: Antiwork Politics and the Value of Embodied Knowledge’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 573–90. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9154927.

Glover, Julian Kevon. 2021. ‘Customer Service Representatives: Sex Work among Black Transgender Women in Chicago’s Ballroom Scene’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 553–71. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9154913.

Hardy, Kate, and Camille Barbagallo. 2021. ‘Hustling the Platform: Capitalist Experiments and Resistance in the Digital Sex Industry’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 533–51. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9154898.

McClanahan, Annie, and Jon-David Settell. 2021. ‘Service Work, Sex Work, and the “Prostitute Imaginary”’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 493–514. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9154870.

Mitchell, Gregory, and Thaddeus Blanchette. 2021. ‘Tricks of the Light: Refractive Masculinity in Heterosexual and Homosexual Brothels in Rio de Janeiro’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 609–29. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9154941.

Shah, Svati P. 2021. ‘Impossible Migrants: Debating Sex Work and Gender Identity amid the Crisis of Migrant Labor’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 515–32. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9154884.

Swift, Jayne. 2021. ‘Toxic Positivity?: Rethinking Respectability, Revaluing Pleasure’. South Atlantic Quarterly 120 (3): 591–608. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9423071.


You can find a list of special journal issues focusing on sex work here.

Blanchette, Thaddeus; Da Silva, Ana P.; Camargo, Gustavo. 2021. ““I Will Not Be Dona Maria”: Rethinking Exploitation and Objectification in the Context of Work and Sex Work” Soc. Sci. 10, no. 6: 204. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10060204


Abstract

In many feminist and sociological accounts of sex work, the concept of exploitation resides on the subjacent notion of objectification, codified in the omnipresent belief that the sex worker sells their body. Sexual objectification supposedly indicates the peculiar and particular effect that sex work is supposed to have on the bodies of human beings involved in this form of toil, being one of the keystones for the belief that sex work is inherently exploitative. In the present article, we intend to investigate the canonical concept of objectification and its (ab)uses in the light of a comparative ethnographic study of sex work and other jobs in the service economy in the cities of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and New Orleans (USA). Our argument is that the concept of sexual objectification has its roots in pre-capitalist morality, encoded in Kantian philosophy, that is hardly applicable to real life in the 21st century. A more general and intersectional understanding of objectification and agency in the broader field of engendered labor relations is necessary for us to understand why people choose to engage in sex work, why laws which see sex work as synonymous with exploitation and slavery must be rethought, and how they might be rethought. View Full-Text

Fehrenbacher, Annie E., Jennifer Musto, Heidi Hoefinger, Nicola Mai, P.G. Macioti, Calogero Giametta, and Calum Bennachie. (2020). Transgender people and human trafficking: intersectional exclusion of transgender migrants and people of color from anti-trafficking protection in the United States. Journal of human trafficking, 6(2), 182-194. https://doi.org/10.1080/23322705.2020.1690116

Abstract

Transgender (hereafter: trans) people are rarely included in human trafficking research. This empirical study presents narratives of trans individuals who report experiences consistent with the Palermo Protocol’s definition of traffick- ing, access to anti-trafficking services for trans individuals, and attitudes of anti- trafficking advocates and law enforcement toward trans people. Ethnographic fieldwork conducted for 30 months between March 2017 and August 2019 in Los Angeles and New York City included in-depth interviews with sex workers and trafficked persons (n = 50), of whom 26 were trans, and key informants (n = 17) from law enforcement and social services. Most trans participants who reported exploitation did not self-identify as victims of trafficking nor were they identified by police or anti-trafficking organizations as victims. Law enforcement gatekeeping was identified by anti-trafficking advocates as a barrier to meeting the needs of trans clients because they were viewed as “less exploi- table” than cisgender women. Discriminatory law enforcement practices resulted in the exclusion and hyper-criminalization of trans migrants and people of color who were profiled not only by gender, but also race/ethnicity and immigration status. 

Mai, Nicola, P.G. Macioti, Calum Bennachie, Annie E. Fehrenbacher, Calogero Giametta, Heidi Hoefinger, and Jennifer Musto. (2021). The Racialised Bordering Politics of Sexual Humanitarianism: Migration, Sex Work and Trafficking. Ethnic and Racial Studies. Ethnic and Racial Studies, DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2021.1892790.

Abstract

The article presents the findings of the SEXHUM project studying the impact of the different policies targeting migrant sex workers in Australia, France, New Zealand, and the United States. It draws on the concept of sexual humanitarianism, referring to how neoliberal constructions of vulnerability associated with sexual behaviour are implicated in humanitarian forms of support and control of migrant populations. Based on over three years of fieldwork we examine the differential ways in which Asian cis women and Latina trans women are constructed and targeted as vulnerable to exploitation, violence and abuse, or not, in relation to racialized and cis-centric sexual humanitarian canons of victimhood. Through our comparative analysis we expose how the implication of sexual humanitarian rhetoric in increasingly extreme bordering policies and interventions on migrant sex workers impacts on their lives and rights, arguing for the urgent need for social reform informed by the experiences of these groups.

Andrijasevic, Rutvica. (2021). Forced labour in supply chains: Rolling back the debate on gender, migration and sexual commerce. European Journal of Women’s Studies, 13505068211020792. https://doi.org/10.1177/13505068211020791

Abstract

This article makes a conceptual contribution to the broader literature on unfree labour by challenging the separate treatment of sexual and industrial labour exploitation both by researchers and in law and policy. This article argues that the prevailing focus of the supply chain literature on industrial labour has inadvertently posited sexual labour as the ‘other’ of industrial labour thus obfuscating how the legal blurring of boundaries between industrial and service labour is engendering new modalities of the erosion of workers’ rights that are increasingly resembling those typical of sex work. This article advances the debate on unfree labour both conceptually and empirically. Conceptually, it highlights the relevance of social reproduction in understanding forms of labour unfreedom. Empirically, it demonstrates the similarities in forms of control and exploitation between sex work and industrial work by illustrating how debt and housing operate in both settings.

Mai, Nicola, P. G. Macioti, Calum Bennachie, Anne E. Fehrenbacher, Calogero Giametta, Heidi Hoefinger, and Jennifer Musto. ‘Migration, Sex Work and Trafficking: The Racialized Bordering Politics of Sexual Humanitarianism’. Ethnic and Racial Studies 0, no. 0 (10 March 2021): 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2021.1892790.

Abstract

The article presents the findings of the SEXHUM project studying the impact of the different policies targeting migrant sex workers in Australia, France, New Zealand, and the United States. It draws on the concept of sexual humanitarianism, referring to how neoliberal constructions of vulnerability associated with sexual behaviour are implicated in humanitarian forms of support and control of migrant populations. Based on over three years of fieldwork we examine the differential ways in which Asian cis women and Latina trans women are constructed and targeted as vulnerable to exploitation, violence and abuse, or not, in relation to racialized and cis-centric sexual humanitarian canons of victimhood. Through our comparative analysis we expose how the implication of sexual humanitarian rhetoric in increasingly extreme bordering policies and interventions on migrant sex workers impacts on their lives and rights, arguing for the urgent need for social reform informed by the experiences of these groups.

Clemente, Mara. 2021. The long arm of the neoliberal leviathan in the counter-trafficking field: the case of Portuguese NGOs. International Review of Sociology, DOI: 10.1080/03906701.2021.1899366

Abstract


In recent decades, in many countries including Portugal, human trafficking has become an important issue on political agendas, attracting increased investment of financial and human resources, and the growing involvement of civil society organizations. Employing a historical perspective, this article analyses the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the counter-trafficking field, in particular, in the conceptualization of human trafficking, the elaboration of counter-trafficking policies and practices, and NGOs’ potentials and limitations in challenging them. Using data obtained through prolonged empirical research, the article argues that in contexts characterized by a high level of institutionalization and structural weakness in organized civil society, NGOs have little chance to assume a role beyond serving as a long arm of the neoliberal state apparatus. Both the outsourcing of certain counter-trafficking services to NGOs and the controversial yet undisputed national security-focused approach to trafficking represent integral parts of the practical logics of the counter-trafficking field, which remains largely unquestioned by counter-trafficking NGOs. These logics include the silencing of any debate about prostitution, at least within the Portuguese counter-trafficking apparatus.

Rosentel, Kris, Charlie M. Fuller, Shannon M. E. Bowers, Amy L. Moore, and Brandon J. Hill. ‘Police Enforcement of Sex Work Criminalization Laws in an “End Demand” City: The Persistence of Quality-of-Life Policing and Seller Arrests’. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 26 April 2021. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01910-9.

Abstract

The purported goals of commercial sex work criminalization policies in the United States have shifted over the past two decades as local jurisdictions have adopted End Demand reforms. These reforms aim to refocus arrest from individuals who sell sexual services to buyers and facilitators, representing a departure from the quality-of-life, nuisance-focused approach of the late twentieth century. This article presents a case study examining enforcement of commercial sex laws in Chicago, a city that has been heralded as a leader in End Demand reforms. Our case study utilized annualized arrest statistics from 1998 to 2017 and individual arrest reports (n = 575) from 2015 to 2017. Commercial sex arrests by the Chicago Police Department have declined substantially over the past two decades, falling 98.4% from its peak. However, our analysis suggests that sellers of sexual services continue to face the heaviest burden of arrest (80.5%) and officers generally continue to approach commercial sex as a quality-of-life issue. We argue that this divergence between the goals and implementation of End Demand are the result of three institutional factors: street-level bureaucracy, logics of spatial governmentality, and participatory security. Our results suggest that the ideals of End Demand may be incompatible with the institutional realties of urban policing.

Lahav-Raz, Yeela. ‘The “Addict Sexual Script”: Addiction Discourse among Israeli Sex Industry Consumers’. Sexualities, 24 April 2021, 13634607211013284. https://doi.org/10.1177/13634607211013283.

Abstract


This article discusses the sexual script of Israeli sex industry consumers who self-identify as addicts. It argues that the ‘addict sexual script’ provides both an explanation for out of control sexual behaviour and a channel for expressing the individual client’s ‘right’ to be acknowledged for their suffering in the process of buying sex. Thus, the addict sexual script becomes a coping strategy that, while internalising sex consumption as socially deviant behaviour, also serves as a strategic practice for negotiating and challenging masculine hegemonic ideals. It concludes that the willingness to stigmatise and victimise themselves as disempowered individuals becomes a turning point, which, paradoxically, empowers sex consumers as actors in the framework of consumer capitalism.

Anglí, Mariona Llobet. ‘Will the End of Prostitution Eradicate Human Trafficking? Four Fallacies in the Abolitionist Approach’. EuCLR European Criminal Law Review 9, no. 1 (2019): 99–119. (Link)

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the ‘war of data’ on prostitution brought on by scholars, politicians, NGOs and the media. The paper also tackles the misleading wordings and realities in place, which significantly shake the empirical and conceptual foundations of abolitionism, thereby challenging abolitionist claims. As will be shown below, the abolitionist approach is flawed by four fallacies: the statistical, the phenomenological, the deductive and the deterrence fallacy. Therefore, we can conclude that there is no empirical evidence that abolishing prostitution would eradicate, or at least decrease, human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.