As anti-trafficking social service providers (SSPs) facilitate the process of victim recovery and empowerment, they also participate in the dissemination of trafficking-related knowledge to the general public. Drawing on a feminist postcolonial framework, this study sought to examine how anti-trafficking SSPs represent trafficking victims in written narratives published on their organizational websites. Thirty-three narratives were drawn from the websites of 10 New York–based anti-trafficking SSPs. Despite the widespread adoption of a strength-based term, “survivor,” the narratives were found to reinforce a gendered and racialized representation of trafficking victims as sex trafficked women from the “global South” and to (re)produce many “ideal” trafficking victim stereotypes that have been dominating the current discourses of trafficking. A “life transformation” discourse was pervasive, discursively foregrounding the positive impact of the SSPs on trafficking survivors. The findings suggested a need for anti-trafficking SSPs to engage with critical reflection on their positionality and intentionality in representing trafficking victims/survivors and to adopt a survivor-led storytelling paradigm. This study also provided a timely reminder for social work practitioners and researchers to continue to challenge the dominant narratives embedded in their fields of practice, to exercise critical self-reflexivity, and to provide a discursive space for those who have been deprived of voices.
Most research on transactional sex frame men as buyers and females as sellers of sex. We conducted a systematic mapping review of the empirical research on transactional sex where women form the demand (buyer) and men the supply (seller). We included 46 studies, of which 25 explicitly researched women as buyers of sex from male sellers, and 21 studies where this topic was a subset of larger topics. The majority of research on women who trade sexual services from men is published in the last 15 years, by female researchers, using cross-sectional or qualitative/ethnographic design, and from the perspective of males as sellers. While the women appear to be mature and financially independent, the men are young and socioeconomically vulnerable. Men’s main motivation for the sexual-economic exchanges with women is financial, whereas women’s motivations are largely satisfaction of sexual needs and a stereotyped erotic fantasy of black male hypersexuality. Condoms are often not used. Our review shows that there is a – possibly growing and diversifying – female consumer demand for male sexual services, and transactional sex where women trade sex from men is a complex social phenomenon ﬁrmly grounded in social, economic, political, and sexual relations.
Concern about the issue of forced prostitution reached its height in the Russian empire (as elsewhere in Europe and the Americas) at the turn of the twentieth century, as part of the wider international “white slave” panic. In 1909, new antiprocurement statutes were incorporated into the Russian empire’s Criminal Code to ensure that those who forced, coerced, or encouraged young women to enter the commercial sex industry felt the full force of the law. This article uses a case study of the Russian empire’s Estonian provinces (Estliand and Lifliand) to highlight the regional nature of Russian imperial experience. Prosecuting procurement was aligned with the priorities of local government, and the authorities in Revel’ (Tallinn) and Iu’rev (Tartu) used the issue of procurement to bolster their revenue. Here, the statutes gave the authorities additional tools for targeting individuals, such as managers of unlicensed brothels, who deprived the government of the income it generated from regulating the commercial sex industry. Drawing on court cases from the early 1910s, this article also examines the interaction of lower-class people with the state, their engagement with the legal system, their knowledge of the law, and the rhetorical strategies they employed to in their attempts to secure specific outcomes.
This article presents a discursive analysis of 43 men’s narratives about paying for sex, collected using a combination of online and traditional face-to-face interview methods. It argues that the societal pressures placed on men to “perform” sexually help to produce conditions that make paying for sex desirable. Paying for sex provided men with a “safe” space where they felt exempt from expectations to display sexual experience, skill, and stamina. Moreover, men valued paid sexual encounters with experienced sex workers as spaces where they could acquire sexual experience and skills to better approximate idealised versions of heteronormative male sexuality. The article explores the emotional aspects tied up in men’s desires to pay for sex and attends to the question of power within the paid sexual encounter, shedding light on the complexities, nuances and multiplicities within client-sex worker relationships. In conclusion, this paper discusses the value of addressing the broader social structures, sites such as media, online spaces, and medical industries, where heteronormative discourses on male sexual “performance” continue to be reproduced and maintained.
Within the field of psychology, the development of a culture of competency both in training programs and, more specifically, related to working with historically underrepresented and underserved populations has been making significant progress. One group who has been neglected, however, consists of individuals who consensually work in the commercial sex trade industry (i.e., sex workers). The current Delphi study begins to address this gap. Using responses from eight sex workers to explore factors affecting disclosure of occupation to therapists, barriers and facilitators to receiving mental health care, and areas for educational growth among mental health professionals, the results reveal participants’ preference for therapists who take an affirming approach regarding their occupation (e.g., respecting the hard work, skill, and emotional labor) and do not assume that they are in therapy because of their work. Broadly, this article highlights the knowledge, skills, and attitudes sex workers believe comprise critical areas of competency for therapists working with this often-stigmatized population. Ultimately, these results can be used to advance competent, just, and effective therapy with this population.
This paper draws on theories of masculinity to explore men’s motivations for beginning and continuing to pay for sex with women. Based on in-depth interviews with 35 male clients of female sex workers in the UK during 2007/2008, our findings suggest that a desire to pay for sex is often entrenched in notions of hegemonic masculinity such as sex as a drive, or need for a variety of experiences and partners and is rationalized as an economic exchange. Yet, the men interviewed also expressed a need for intimacy, female friendship and conversation in a controlled environment, which challenged dominant masculine ideals. For participants, there was often an overlap between various motivational factors, and accounts were complicated by the anxieties and disappointments the men expressed about their non-commercial relationships and the intimacy and emotion frequently attached to encounters with sex workers. The pathologization of men who engage with paid sexual services fails to account for participants’ complex, diverse motivations, which should be understood in the context of other relationships and gender relations rather than as a distinct type of interaction. We find that the theory of hegemonic masculinity provides a useful but partial account of the range of behaviors and characteristics expressed in paid-for sex, which participants use to negotiate the expectations, ambivalences and disappointments of everyday life and relationships.
This contribution examines how feminist economists have conceptualized sex work and trafficking through the lens of agency and stigma. The ongoing debate about legalization has focused on sex workers’ agency and choice, and on the role of stigma in shaping the supply of and demand for sex work. Building on the analysis advanced by contributions to this special issue, this study contends that theoretical and policy debates about sex work are dominated by false dichotomies of agency and stigma. It argues that the relationship between stigma and agency operates along a continuum of contractual arrangements that underpins a high degree of segmentation in the industry. The higher the stigma, the lower tends to be the agency. Current policies toward sex work therefore need reconsideration – especially mounting support for criminalization of clients, which, by increasing stigma, is likely to detract from the agency and the well-being of sex workers, however unintentionally.