Sex work has enjoyed a wealth of sociological interest over the last three decades. However, sexual pleasure experienced by women sex workers with their clients has been largely missing from the conversation. This article seeks to redress this gap by looking at the qualitative narratives of nine women who were working in sex work in Victoria, Australia in 2009. By viewing these narratives through Foucault’s power/knowledge/discourse nexus, together with his later work on ethics of care of the self, it posits that sex worker women draw on and resist various discourses around intimacy, performance, and pleasure in regards to their sex work and their personal lives. With this interplay in mind, the analysis supports the third feminist perspective that sex work is a complex space where dominant and subjugated discourses mingle to produce myriad experiences traversing the exploitation/empowerment binary represented by the feminist sex wars.
Sociological Research Online 21(4), November 2016: Peer Reviewed Special Section: Exploitation and Its Opposite. Researching the quality of working life in the sex industries
Guest Editors: Stef Adriaenssens, Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and Laura Oso
Quality of Work in Prostitution and Sex Work: Introduction to the Special Section
Stef Adriaenssens, Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and Laura Oso
On Our Own Terms: The Working Conditions of Internet-Based Sex Workers in the UK
Teela Sanders, Laura Connelly and Laura Jarvis King
Work Conditions and Job Mobility in the Australian Indoor Sex Industry
Fairleigh Evelyn Gilmour
Too Much Suffering’: Understanding the Interplay Between Migration, Bounded Exploitation and Trafficking Through Nigerian Sex Workers’ Experiences
Precarious or Protected? Evaluating Work Quality in the Legal Sex Industry
Transnational Social Mobility Strategies and Quality of Work Among Latin-American Women Sex Workers in Spain
Ambivalent Professionalisation and Autonomy in Workers’ Collective Projects: The Cases of Sex Worker Peer Educators in Germany and Sexual Assistants in Switzerland
Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and P.G. Macioti
All articles are freely accessible here.
Debates over the legitimacy and legality of prostitution have characterized human trafficking discourse for the last two decades. This article identifies the extent to which competing perspectives concerning the legitimacy of prostitution have influenced anti-trafficking policy in Australia and the United States and argues that each nation-state’s approach to domestic sex work has influenced trafficking legislation. The legal status of prostitution in each country and feminist influences on prostitution law reform have had a significant impact on the nature of the legislation adopted.
Julie Ham, Kyungja Jung, and Haeyoung Jang “Silence, mobility and ‘national values’: South Korean sex workers in Australia” Sexualities, vol. 19, no. 4, 2016, pp. 432-448.
Korean women sex workers have attracted attention from Australian border security, South Korean government officials and Korean-Australian communities. This article considers how the bodies of these women have become the ‘iconic sites’ (Luibhéid, 2002: ix–xxvii) on which the South Korean government and immigrant Korean-Australian communities perform ‘national values’. Within Korean-Australian communities, Korean sex workers have been perceived as threats to the immigrant project of socio-economic mobility and ‘legitimate’ citizenship. We consider the silence that is desired of sex workers within immigrant communities and how this can be co-opted by anti-trafficking discourses that are still predicated on the helpless, voiceless female victim.
Rissel, C., B. Donovan, A. Yeung, R. O. de Visser, A. Grulich, J. M. Simpson, and J. Richters. “Decriminalization of Sex Work Is Not Associated with More Men Paying for Sex: Results from the Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships.” Sexuality Research and Social Policy, February 24, 2016, 1–6. doi:10.1007/s13178-016-0225-1.
It has been claimed that the decriminalization of sex work may result in its proliferation, but there is no evidence to prove or disprove this claim. We investigated whether decriminalization was associated with the prevalence of paying for sex. A representative national sample of 8074 Australian men interviewed by telephone reported whether they had paid for sex ever and in the last 12 months. Cross-sectional associations between paying for sex in the last 12 months and their jurisdiction’s legal approach to sex work (criminalized, licensed, or decriminalized), were examined with logistic regression analysis, controlling for demographic variables and relationship status. Overall, 2.2 % of the men reported paying for sex in the past year—a proportion that was not statistically different by state or territory (P = 0.26). The only variable that was associated with paying for sex was not having a regular sexual partner, or to a lesser extent, not living with a regular partner. Being aged 16–19 years was associated with lower odds of paying for sex. Being a male without a regular partner was associated with paying for sex. The legal approach to sex work in the respondent’s state of residence was not associated with having paid for sex.
Sullivan, Barbara, “Rape, Prostitution and Consent”, Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology August 2007 vol. 40 no. 2, pp. 127-142.
Sex workers are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault. However, until recently, there were significant barriers to the prosecution of those who raped sex workers. Prostitutes were seen as ‘commonly’ available to men, as always consenting to sex and thus as incapable of being raped. This article examines 51 judgments — from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand — where evidence of prostitution was presented between 1829 and 2004. It demonstrates an important change in the 1980s and 1990s when, for the first time, men began to be prosecuted and convicted for raping sex workers.This change was partly due to rape law reform, but also to feminist activism and broader changes in social attitudes to rape. The article argues that sex workers have recently been ‘re-made’ in law as women vulnerable to rape, as individuals able to give and withhold sexual consent. This development needs to be taken seriously so that law and policy addressed to the sex industry works to enlarge (not reduce or constrain) the making of prostitutes as subjects with consensual capacity. This necessarily involves attention to more legal rights for prostitutes, as workers, and calls into question the conceptualisation of prostitution as always involving rape.
Full article available here.
P. Hubbard and J. Prior, “Out of sight, out of mind? Prostitution policy and the health, well-being and safety of home-based sex workers” Critical Social Policy February 2013 vol. 33 no. 1 140-159
Policy discussions relating to the selling of sex have tended to fixate on two spaces of sex work: the street and the brothel. Such preoccupation has arguably eclipsed discussion of the working environment where most sex is sold, namely, the private home. Redressing this omission, this paper discusses the public health and safety implications of policies that fail to regulate or assist the ‘hidden population’ of sex workers, focusing on the experiences of home-based workers in Sydney, Australia. Considering the inconsistent way that Home Occupation Sex Services Premises (HOSSPs) are regulated in this city, this paper discusses the implications of selling sex beyond the gaze of the state and the law. It is concluded that working from home can allow sex workers to exercise considerable autonomy over their working practices, but that the safety of such premises must be carefully considered in the development of prostitution policy.
Full text available here.