The use of selfies as a political tool is critical to the form, shape and expression of online activist networks. In the trending Twitter #FacesOfProstitution, such self-presenting practices challenged the prevailing politics of anonymity around sex work and articulated new modes of political organizing, agency and information dissemination within a networked online community. Analysing the sex worker online campaign using feminist materialist approaches to the body this interdisciplinary article contributes to current discussions about selfies and embodied forms of activism in online spaces and addresses a gap in sex advocacy literature on digital protest cultures.
According to dozens of news reports from the mid-2000s, the Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was embroiled in a “sex scandal.” In 2004 approximately fifteen indictments were brought against corrections officers and other staff members for participating in sexual relationships with women inmates under their supervision; at least seven were convicted.3 In 2006 another four indictments were brought against eight additional staff members, including four corrections officers, for smuggling drugs into the institution.4 In 2011 another officer was sentenced for sexually assaulting a female inmate,5 and a nurse working at the institution pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual contact with inmates.6 At the end of 2015 yet another officer was arraigned on charges of sexual assault.7 The law itself is unambiguous: inmates cannot consent to have sex with prison staff.8 But in what was often referred to as a “sex for favors scandal” in the local news, women inmates were inscribed simply as (the) addicts and prostitutes (they already were) practicing sex work with their guards for “favors,” cigarettes, and drugs.9
This article attempts to grapple with the complexities of the relationships, both sexual and non-sexual, between inmates and staff members at the Allegheny County Jail, especially during the period of 2003–2005. …
In this paper, police files and court cases from the Copenhagen City Court from the late 1930s are used as a window into the ways in which the living conditions and everyday life on the street unfolded among ‘prostitute’ women in poor inner-city neighbourhoods. Bourdieu’s notion of habitus is employed to analyse the social conditions under which the women became ‘prostitutes’, and the tricks of the trade that it was necessary to learn in order to ‘work the streets’ in poor inner-city neighbourhoods in a transforming Copenhagen in the 1930s.