Stigma is ubiquitous in sex work and is well documented in studies of sex workers. But rarely have scholars examined the vital question of whether, and if so how, stigma can be reduced or eliminated from any type of sex work (commercial stripping, pornography, prostitution, etc.). After a brief review of the issues related to stigma, this Commentary proposes a set of preconditions for the reduction and, ultimately, elimination of stigma from sex work.

Minichiello, Victor, John Scott, and Cameron Cox. “Commentary: Reversing the Agenda of Sex Work Stigmatization and Criminalization: Signs of a Progressive Society.” Sexualities, January 18, 2017, 1363460716684510. doi:10.1177/1363460716684510.
Chapkis, Wendy. “Commentary: Response to Weitzer ‘Resistance to Sex Work Stigma.’” Sexualities, January 18, 2017, 1363460716684511. doi:10.1177/1363460716684511.
Phoenix, Jo. “A Commentary: Response to Weitzer ‘Resistance to Sex Work Stigma.’” Sexualities, January 18, 2017, 1363460716684512. doi:10.1177/1363460716684512.
Weitzer, Ronald. “Additional Reflections on Sex Work Stigma.” Sexualities, January 18, 2017, 1363460716684513. doi:10.1177/1363460716684513.

McGrow, Lauren. ‘Doing It (Feminist Theology and Faith-Based Outreach) with Sex Workers – Beyond Christian Rescue and the Problem-Solving Approach’, Feminist Theology Vol 25/2 (2017): 150-169.

Abstract

This paper problematises the usual Christian motif of rescue of sex workers that is disseminated by most faith-based groups working in the field. By focusing upon the problem of prostitution and individual rescue as the primary solution, broader relationships of accountability are neglected and complicated sex worker identifications become impossible. New strategies for thinking about human sexuality are needed that incorporate indecency as a way of questioning traditional moral representations reproduced by Christian outreach projects. As well, three strategies are outlined that could form counter-narratives for ministry and feminist theological reflection not based upon sex work as a problem to be resolved but instead carving out creative space for mutual engagement between pastoral practitioners and sex industry workers. 

Skilbrei, May-Len, and Marianne Tveit. “Facing Return.” Perception of Repatrition among Nigerian Woman in Prostitution in Norway. Fafo rapport 1 (2007): 2007.

This report deals with the issue of repatriation of Nigerian women in prostitution in Norway, and aims at creating knowledge about what influences whether they want to go back to Nigeria or not. Some of the women have migrated and entered prostitution in a way that constitute trafficking, and all the women has suffered from some form of exploitation in their way from Nigeria to Norway. Norwegian authorities have certain obligations towards women that are identified victims of trafficking, and repatriation to the home country has to take place in a safe and dignified way. The report Facing return: Perception of repatriation among Nigerian women in prostitution in Norway is based on a qualitative study among Nigerian women in prostitution in Norway, and it describes and explores Nigerian women’s views on the future and the possibility of returning to Nigeria.

As there are substantial individual variations in regard to the women’s experiences and attitudes, the needs of the Nigerian women in prostitution in Norway in a return process will vary accordingly. The report states that it is important that repatriation and rehabilitation efforts are sensitive towards these variations in needs in order to hinder stigmatisation or prosecution, and, not the least to increase the women’s chances to make a better life for themselves upon return.

Full text available here.

Paul Ryan (2016): #Follow: exploring the role of social media in theonline construction of male sex worker lives in Dublin, Ireland, Gender, Place & Culture, DOI:10.1080/0966369X.2016.1249350

This article draws from qualitative interviews with 18 South American male sex workers in Dublin, exploring how their use of the gym and new social media has created alternative spaces for the conduct of commercial sex. The interviews reveal how sex workers alternatively use escort specific sites in conjunction with mainstream dating apps like Grindr, offering greater flexibility and control over how they are self-defined within the sex industry. These male sex workers become known for their presence in gyms and clubs within the small gay community offering potential clients a real-time embodied interaction. Social media, like Instagram, offered the men in this study a further platform to share part of a choreographed online world with thousands of followers presenting new economic opportunities. The men trade access to their bodies and to their taste in designer commodities and lifestyle to interact with followers who can financially contribute to dictate the format of the photos available for private or public consumption.

Full text available here.

Showden, Carisa R. “Theorising Maybe: A Feminist/Queer Theory Convergence.” Feminist Theory 13, no. 1 (April 1, 2012): 3–25. doi:10.1177/1464700111429898.
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Abstract
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In this article, I examine the seemingly incompatible epistemologies of sex offered by dominance (‘governance’) feminism and queer theory. While these bodies of work, especially when applied to US legal and political activity on prostitution, are commonly viewed as divergent sparring partners, I propose a ‘convergence’ of the two in the form of a revived and enhanced sex-positive feminism. If dominance feminism is the ‘theory of no’ to heterosexuality’s male gender power, and if queer theory is the ‘theory of yes’ to the defiant possibilities of sex, sex-positive feminism is a ‘theory of maybe’: it examines practices of gender and sexuality in multiple contexts to find the ways in which heterosexuality can sometimes reify, and other times resist, the transfer of eroticised dominance and submission to political practices of patriarchy. After tracing the split between feminism and queer theory and arguing for a ‘sex-positive queer feminism’, I use the example of prostitution to consider some theoretical and practical implications of this shift in feminist lenses.

Abstract

Across occupations, people contend with the difficult task of managing time between their work and other aspects of life. Previous research on stigmatized industries has suggested that so-called ‘dirty workers’ experience extreme identity segmentation between these two realms because they tend to cope with their occupational stigma by placing distance between their work and personal lives. Through a qualitative study of Nevada’s legal brothel industry, this article focuses on the prevalence of boundary segmentation as a dominant work–life management practice for dirty workers. Our analysis suggests that work–life boundaries are disciplined by legal mythologies and ambiguities surrounding worker restrictions, occupational ideologies of ‘work now, life later,’ and perceived and experienced effects of community-based stigma. These legal, occupational and community constructs ultimately privilege organizations’ and external communities’ interests, while individual dirty workers carry the weight of stigma.

Künkel, Jenny. “Gentrification and the Flexibilisation of Spatial Control: Policing Sex Work in Germany.” Urban Studies, December 6, 2016, 42098016682427. doi:10.1177/0042098016682427.
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Abstract
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Gentrification has often been linked to the spatial displacement of the marginalised, including prostitutes. However, in Germany, the legal spaces of prostitution are to a certain extent defensible, and gentrification processes often cover larger parts of inner cities, leaving little room for displacement. Using the example of prostitution in Frankfurt, this paper analyses how police make sense of and shape the shifting geographies of gentrification. It shows how spatial displacement is partially subsumed by two additional police strategies: intensifying attempts to discursively appease protesting citizens, and flexibilising the containment of prostitution in the inner city (e.g. by keeping street scenes on the move and lobbying for temporary brothel licenses).