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Author Archives: Sonja Dolinsek

Ham, Julie. (2020). Rates, roses and donations: Naming your price in sex work. Sociology 2020 (Online First). https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0038038520906773

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Questions about payment and what it signifies, lie at the heart of feminist debates concerning the morality and legitimacy of sex work. Yet the materialities of payment still remain interestingly under-explored in sex work research. This article addresses this gap by examining immigrant, migrant and racialized sex workers’ pricing practices in Vancouver, Canada and Melbourne, Australia. Determining one’s prices or rates in the sex industry was not a neutral, market-driven calculation for many workers, but was infused with strong ideas about safety, risk, experiential knowledge and the specificities of sex work. Analysing prices and pricing practices through a practice theory lens offers an opportunity to re-think the role of choice in feminist debates about sex work, by highlighting the decisions workers make on a day-to-day basis and capturing the myriad knowledges gained more commonly through experience rather than instruction.

St.Denny, Emily. ‘The Gender Equality Potential of New Anti-Prostitution Policy: A Critical Juncture for Concrete Reform’. French Politics, vol. 18, no. 1, June 2020, pp. 153–74. Springer Link, doi:10.1057/s41253-020-00109-7.
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In April 2016, France adopted a new law enshrining a conception of prostitution as a form of violence against women that needed to be ‘abolished’ and setting up a complex policy framework to achieve this end. This framework comprises a criminal justice ‘pillar’ dedicated to prohibiting and punishing the purchase of sexual services, and a social service ‘pillar’ dedicated to providing financial and social support to individuals involved in selling sex—uniformly assumed to be women and systematically considered to be victims. The new policy was supposed to break from 70 years of symbolic politics characterised by ambiguous regulation, low political attention, and lax policy implementation. Drawing on documentary and interview data, and using the Gender Equality Policy in Practice framework to determine the policy’s current and potential impact on women’s rights and gender equality, this article argues that implementation of France’s new anti-prostitution policy is currently at a critical juncture. Budget reductions, a lack of central state steering, and competing policy priorities are contributing to hollowing out the policy of its capacity to support individuals wishing to exit prostitution while possibly deteriorating the working conditions of those who cannot or do not wish to exit.

In the past twenty years, an international consensus has slowly emerged: sex workers’ rights are human rights. The United Nations (UN) and regional human rights bodies, inter-governmental organizations, and in- fluential nonprofit human rights organizations have institutionalized the concept of sex workers’ rights as human rights in direct response to global sex workers’ rights advocacy.
Hui, Neha, and Uma S. Kambhampati. 2020. ‘Stigma and Labour Market Outcomes: Sex Work and Domestic Work in India’. The Journal of Development Studies 56 (1): 112–28. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220388.2018.1564906.
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In this paper, we examine whether the earnings of sex workers in India are significantly different from those in domestic work, a trade that is also gendered in nature and can be done with similarly low levels of training and education. We analyse this using data collected during fieldwork in the cities of Kolkata and Delhi in India. Our results confirm that there is a significant difference in wages between the two groups of workers. We consider the extent to which the stigma attached to sex work contributes to the higher wages in this occupation relative to domestic work. To do this, we control for endogeneity caused by selection on unobservables. We find that stigma is a significant contributory factor to the wage differential. We also preliminarily consider an alternate explanation – that of violence in the trade. We find that the experience of violence in the trade does not affect the take home earnings of the individuals.

Neuwelt-Kearns, Caitlin, Tom Baker, and Octavia Calder-Dawe. 2020. ‘Informal Governance and the Spatial Management of Street-Based Sex Work in Aotearoa New Zealand’. Political Geography 79 (May): 102154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2020.102154.
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While informality has long been studied as a feature of governance in the global South, a growing range of accounts examine informal governing arrangements as endemic to cities and nations of the global North. This paper contributes to such scholarship by drawing attention to informal practices and mechanisms involved in the spatial management of sex work in the global North. Existing literature on the spatial management of sex work has long emphasised how informality shapes local sex work practices and mediates formal state-based regulation. We synthesise these studies to suggest three modes of informal governance: as component, catalyst and alternative to formal regulation. Through a case study of street-based sex work management in Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand, we discuss how informal governance emerged as a de facto component of formal regulation at the national scale and an alternative to formal regulation at the local scale. Specifically, we detail how an ambiguous regulatory environment, combined with highly localised understandings of spatial appropriateness, led to and influenced the informal management of sex work through a community-level partnership between local authorities, residents and sex worker advocates. In doing so, the paper advocates for more attention to the multi-modal and multi-scalar aspects of informal governance.

Mancini, Christina, Justin T. Pickett, Kristen M. Budd, Stephanie Bontrager, and Dominique Roe-Sepowitz. 2020. ‘Examining Policy Preferences for Prostitution Regulation Among American Males: The Influence of Contextual Beliefs’. Criminal Justice Review, February. https://doi.org/10.1177/0734016820906601.

Abstract
The arguments for criminalizing prostitution surround public concerns—moral order, public health, and safety. For this reason, an understanding of attitudes about the nature and consequences of the practice, particularly among American males, the presumed consumers of sex-related exchanges, is needed. Specifically, how do contextual beliefs about the nature of prostitution (e.g., negative health effects, victimization risk, age of entry) shape policy preferences regarding prostitution? Data from a nationally representative survey developed to solicit sensitive information are utilized to assess these attitudes among a large sample of American men (N = 2,525). Results show that paradoxically most men approve of legalizing commercial sex exchange, even while believing the practice harms prostitutes by increasing victimization risk and reducing their overall well-being. Multivariate analysis indicates divides in opinion regarding legalization support. Implications are discussed.

Carrier-Moisan, Marie-Eve. 2019. ‘“A Red Card against Sex Tourism”: Sex Panics, Public Emotions, and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil’. Feminist Formations 31 (2): 125–54. https://doi.org/10.1353/ff.2019.0019.

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This article examines the campaigns against sex tourism and sex trafficking that have emerged with the advent of several mega-sporting events in Brazil. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Natal, one of the twelve host cities of the 2014 World Cup, it focuses on the appeal to emotions in mobilization against sex trafficking and sex tourism. Despite the recent turn to emotions in social sciences, including the role of emotions in politics, there is a dearth of study examining the intersections of emotions and moral panics. Yet expressions of disgust, anger, rage, or outrage commonly accompany moral panics issues. This article engages with how campaigns against sex tourism and sex trafficking associated with the 2014 World Cup materialize through emotional tropes iterated and reiterated in public spaces, or sex panics scripts. More specifically, this article identifies various scripts—the sexually innocent yet violated child, the bad gringo, and the enslaved woman—and points to what gives them their traction. Taken together, these emotional tropes are constitutive of an affective logic that both conflates justice with punishment and repression, and makes certain oppressive interventions and fraught alliances “feel right”—that is, publicly thinkable, possible, and acceptable.

Brents, Barbara G., Takashi Yamashita, Andrew L. Spivak, Olesya Venger, Christina Parreira, and Alessandra Lanti. 2020. ‘Are Men Who Pay for Sex Sexist? Masculinity and Client Attitudes Toward Gender Role Equality in Different Prostitution Markets’: Men and Masculinities, February. https://doi.org/10.1177/1097184X20901561.

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Prostitution clients’ attitudes toward gender equality are important indicators of how masculinity relates to the demand for commercial sexual services. Research on male client misogyny has been inconclusive, and few studies compare men in different markets. Using an online survey of 519 clients of sexual services, we examine whether male client attitudes toward gender role equality are related to the main methods customers used to access prostitution services (i.e., through print or online media vs. in-person contact). We found no differences among men in these markets in attitudes toward gender role equality in the workplace and home. This is in a context where all clients had more egalitarian attitudes toward women’s roles than the U.S. male population in the General Social Survey (GSS). However, clients in in-person markets were less supportive of affirmative action than in online markets in a context where all clients were less supportive compared to the national average. These findings point to need to rethink how masculinity and gender role attitudes affect patterns of male demand for paid sex.

Hoefinger, Heidi, Jennifer Musto, P. G. Macioti, Anne E. Fehrenbacher, Nicola Mai, Calum Bennachie, and Calogero Giametta. 2020. ‘Community-Based Responses to Negative Health Impacts of Sexual Humanitarian Anti-Trafficking Policies and the Criminalization of Sex Work and Migration in the US’. Social Sciences 9 (1): 1. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci9010001.

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System-involvement resulting from anti-trafficking interventions and the criminalization of sex work and migration results in negative health impacts on sex workers, migrants, and people with trafficking experiences. Due to their stigmatized status, sex workers and people with trafficking experiences often struggle to access affordable, unbiased, and supportive health care. This paper will use thematic analysis of qualitative data from in-depth interviews and ethnographic fieldwork with 50 migrant sex workers and trafficked persons, as well as 20 key informants from legal and social services, in New York and Los Angeles. It will highlight the work of trans-specific and sex worker–led initiatives that are internally addressing gaps in health care and the negative health consequences that result from sexual humanitarian anti-trafficking interventions that include policing, arrest, court-involvement, court-mandated social services, incarceration, and immigration detention. Our analysis focuses on the impact of criminalization on sex workers and their experiences with sexual humanitarian efforts intended to protect and control them. We argue that these grassroots community-based efforts are a survival-oriented reaction to the harms of criminalization and a response to vulnerabilities left unattended by mainstream sexual humanitarian approaches to protection and service provision that frame sex work itself as the problem. Peer-to-peer interventions such as these create solidarity and resiliency within marginalized communities, which act as protective buffers against institutionalized systemic violence and the resulting negative health outcomes. Our results suggest that broader public health support and funding for community-led health initiatives are needed to reduce barriers to health care resulting from stigma, criminalization, and ineffective anti-trafficking and humanitarian efforts. We conclude that the decriminalization of sex work and the reform of institutional practices in the US are urgently needed to reduce the overall negative health outcomes of system-involvement. View Full-Text

Jones, Angela. ‘Where The Trans Men and Enbies At?: Cissexism, Sexual Threat, and the Study of Sex Work’. Sociology Compass 2020. https://doi.org/10.1111/soc4.12750.

Abstract
In this article, I examine the existing research on transgender sex workers and explore how cissexism and sexism overlap and shape this work. Overall, researchers assume that all trans sex workers are women, and all male sex workers are assumed to be cisgender. Transmasculine and other gender non‐conforming sex workers are absent from studies of sex work. Researchers in public health and criminology dominate the literature and this research is limited because it focuses only on trans women and because it focuses primarily on disease and trauma, and almost exclusively on HIV. The literature I examined treats transgender women as a public health “problem” to be solved, rather than addressing their experiences and needs as workers and as people in our society. I argue that in order to have useful applied and policy implications aimed at harm reduction, researchers must use a sociological lens to document what structural conditions push and pull people of various genders into sex markets in the first place. Finally, I advocate for the use of queer, intersectional, and transnational frameworks in future lines of inquiries as a way to push the sociological and public health literature on sex work forward in a way that will benefit all sex workers, their advocates, and service providers.