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.
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.