Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sherief Gaber, “Verbal Abuse: Anti-Trafficking Rhetoric and Violence Against Women”. 2009 winner, Audre Rapoport Prize for Scholarship on Gender and Human Rights (School of Law, University of Texas at Austin).

No abstract available. Introduction:

There is a significant debate in contemporary feminist political thought and amongst activist organizations regarding the “trafficking of women” and the questions and problems attendant to this phenomenon. Furthermore, the work of many feminist groups now concerned with and often party to the exercise of state and international regulatory power has drawn a great deal of attention to trafficking within the United Nations, individual nation-states (particularly the United States) and a slew of increasingly powerful NGOs. These different organizations all operate at a similar structural and prescriptive level, using legal and normative models to enact protocols and legislation specifically naming, defining and acting on human trafficking. Regardless of the apparent fervor and media attention given to trafficking in recent years, the problem is still widespread, and there is significant criticism of existing trafficking models, both for their failure to achieve even stated goals, and for the way their definitions of trafficking – particularly sex trafficking – affect women.

Primarily, it is not within the scope of this paper to cut the knot tying structures that produce sex work and trafficking and the agency of sex workers. The author presumes here that sex workers, as much as any other individual or group, are capable of and do express agency – within the confines or limits established by given structural conditions – even if the sex workers operate in much more marginal(ized) positions. As such, the paper is concerned with the appropriation of the sex worker by anti-trafficking forces and how these forces interrupt potential agency – limiting and forcibly circumscribing what sex workers can and do achieve through organization and activism. The question then becomes how anti-trafficking rhetoric constructs the agency of the sex worker to justify and promote its own interventionist politics.

Full text available here.

Dewey, Susan, and Tonia P. St Germain. “Sex Workers/Sex Offenders Exclusionary Criminal Justice Practices in New Orleans.” Feminist Criminology, September 16, 2014, 1557085114541141. doi:10.1177/1557085114541141.

Link to the study.


Until 2012, the New Orleans criminal justice system forced persons convicted of certain prostitution offenses to register as sex offenders under an antiquated (1805) statute that criminalizes oral or anal sex in exchange for compensation. This article explores attitudes and beliefs that enabled Louisiana’s misuse of the sex offender registry against primarily indigent African American street-based sex worker women and transgender individuals. Findings presented here derive from a feminist interdisciplinary (cultural anthropology and law) methodological strategy that included qualitative ethnography, quantitative examination of Louisiana’s 64 parish-specific sex offender registries, and legal/policy analysis.


In this article, our ethnographic focus is a human trafficking “reality tour” of Thailand, a one-week tour of purported trafficking-related sites that the authors jointly attended. This tour was part of a growing number of trips around the world that offer alternatives to mass tourism, taking issues of social justice and humanitarian intervention as their focal orientation. As scholars with an interest in trafficking, labor exploitation, and sex workers’ rights, we chose to take not human trafficking itself, but rather the “reality tour” that claimed to represent it as our ethnographic object, to critically interrogate the reality of the “realities of the global trade in humans” that it endeavored to convey. What do commercially packaged “anti-trafficking” tours reveal about global panics around sexuality and sex work, as well as about the politics of tourism and development in Thailand? Transnationally, how does the notion of “NGOs as experts” interact with local expertise around trafficking, labor, and sex workers’ rights? And how do moral and political economies of authenticity circulate in the “reality tourist” experience? We situate our interrogation of these issues within the expanding literatures on tourism and authenticity as well as the critical literatures on sex tourism and sex trafficking, two terrains of scholarship that have infrequently been juxtaposed.

Anna Forbes, “Sex Work, Criminalization, and HIV: Lessons from Advocacy History” BETA: Bulletin of Experimental Treatments for AIDS [2010] 22(4):20-29


Sex workers are frequently omitted from discussions about the links between criminalization, marginalization, and increased HIV transmission. At the IAS 2010 conference in Vienna, substantial attention was focused on the negative impacts that criminalization has on men who have sex with men, injection drug users, and people living with HIV—but very little on its effects on sex workers. Few outside of the Global Village explicitly called for decriminalization of sex work or mentioned that laws criminalizing HIV transmission and exposure exacerbate the damage already being done to sex workers’ health and rights. This article explores this omission, how other hard-hit constituencies have struggled for their place on the HIV/AIDS advocacy agenda, and why the HIV/AIDS field should be actively collaborating with sex workers’ rights organizations, particularly on anti-criminalization work.

Full text available here.

Cahill, Ann J. “The Difference Sameness Makes: Objectification, Sex Work, and Queerness.” Hypatia, September 1, 2014, n/a – n/a. doi:10.1111/hypa.12111.
With its implicit vilification of materiality, the notion of objectification has failed to produce a coherent and effective ethical analysis of heterosexual sex work. The concept of derivatization, grounded in an Irigarayan model of embodied intersubjectivity, is more effective. However, queer sex work poses new and different ethical challenges. This paper argues that although queer sex work can entail both objectification and derivatization, the former is not ethically objectionable, and the latter, although the cause for some justified ethical concern, must be analyzed within the context of structural sexual injustice.

Katherine Frank, “Stripping, Starving, and the Politics of Ambiguous Pleasure” in Merri Lisa Johnson (Ed.), Jane Sexes it Up: True Confessions of Feminist Desire, New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002.

No abstract available. Excerpt:

“The idea of femininity as performance or masquerade has a long, rich history. In this essay, I limit my observations to the process of developing an awareness of gender as performance (my own developing awareness, along with the developing awareness of some of my customers, other stripper-writers, and, ultimately, the general American public) and the usefulness of this awareness for feminist politics.”

Full text available here.

This article examines different types of comparative research designs as applied to either prostitution or sex trafficking. I first present several comparative approaches that are found to be deeply flawed either because of the problematic assumptions of the analysts or because the data provided are insufficient to support the conclusions drawn. I then review research designs that compare two to four cases in depth and have the potential to yield stronger evidence-based findings and richer theoretical insights. The article concludes by discussing a set of methodological issues that face researchers who conduct comparative research on sex work.