For female street sex workers in Britain, selling sex means managing risks. Violence from male clients, harassment from community protesters and criminalisation through overpolicing are daily hazards on the street. Using qualitative data and extensive field observations of the street market in Birmingham, UK, it is argued in this paper that street sex workers do not passively accept these risks but, instead, manage occupational hazards by manipulating, separating, controlling and resisting urban spaces. Women actively use space to inform their collective and individual working practices to minimise harm and maximise profits. However, the findings conclude that sites of street prostitution are made increasingly dangerous for women through punitive policing policies, conservative heterosexual discourses and a lack of realistic prostitution policy that addresses the central issues relating to commercial sex.
Mann, S.E. (2014). More-than-survival strategies: Sex workers’ unhappy stories. (Unpublished MA major research project). Athabasca University. Athabasca, AB.
This essay examines the contributions of unhappy autobiographical narratives to the sex workers’ rights movement. Dominating sex worker advocacy discourse is a “happy hooker” image that eschews “negative” and “stereotypical” characterizations of prostitutes and other sex workers. But as the internet becomes more and more a site for sex work activism, some unhappy whores are using online autobiographical practices to resist this disavowal of negative experience. While reluctant or coerced engagements in sex work are often referred to as “survival sex work,” unhappy sex workers’ online writing practices function as a more-than-survival strategy, politicizing and resisting rather than disavowing the harms they experience in sex work. After reviewing literary and geographical scholarship on the political disenfranchisement of sex workers and situating this disenfranchisement in Judith Butler’s analysis of “the bad life,” this paper presents two close readings of sex workers’ online autobiographical practices. The first analyzes the discourse of disavowal of unhappy experience in sex worker advocacy and its harmful effects on unhappy sex workers. The second close reading discusses sex workers’ stories about exiting the sex industry, highlighting sex workers’ use of metaphors of space and place to elucidate their experiences. The essay concludes on sex workers’ strategies for more-than-surviving: using the three politicizing tactics identified by Butler to resist their expulsion to the bad life.
Author: Jodi Beniuk
Citation (MLA): Beniuk, Jodi. “Indigenous Women as the Other: An Analysis of the Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry.” The Arbutus Review 3. 2 (2012): 80-97.
In this paper, I discuss the ways in which Indigenous women are Othered by the proceedings of the Missing Women‘s Commission of Inquiry (MWCI). First, I give a basic overview of Beauvoir’s theory of women as Others, followed by Memmi’s analysis of the relationship between the colonized and the colonizer. I use these two theories to describe the way Indigenous women are Othered both as Indigenous peoples and as women, focusing on the context of the twenty-six who were murdered in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). The original murders were the result of the cultural reduction of Indigenous Women to their bodies. The negligent police investigations, as well as the misogynistic attitudes of the police, also demonstrate how Othering can operate within these institutions. I claim that the violence against women in the DTES was due to their status as Other. Notably, the MWCI, which is supposed to be a process that addresses the Othering-based negligence of the police, also includes instances of Othering in its structure and practice. From this, I conclude that we cannot rely on Othering institutions or legal processes to correct Othering as a practice. In the context of the MWCI, I suggest building alliances that support those who face this Othering as violence in their everyday lives.
Key terms: Othering; Indigenous Women; Downtown Eastside Vancouver
Read the full article here: http://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/arbutus/article/view/11643/3283
Author: Becki L. Ross, 2010
Citation (APA): Ross, B. L. (2010). Sex and (Evacuation from) the City: The Moral and Legal Regulation of Sex Workers in Vancouver’s West End, 1975—1985. Sexualities, 13(2), 197-218.
For more than a century, prostitution in Vancouver, British Columbia has been at the centre of legal and political debate, policing, media coverage, and policy-making. From 1975 to 1985, a heterogeneous, pimp-free community of sex workers lived and worked on and around Davie Street in the city’s emerging ‘gay’ West End. Their presence sparked a vigorous backlash, including vigilante action, from multiple stake-holders intent on transforming the port town into a ‘world class city’ and venerable host of the World’s Fair, ‘Expo 1986’. In this article, drawing from interviews and archival material, I examine the abolitionist strategies adopted by Vancouver’s residents’ groups, business owners, politicians, and police to criminalize street solicitation and evacuate prostitutes who, in small numbers, ‘whorganized’ to ﬁght back. The collective disavowal of sex workers as citizens was premised on the ‘cleansing’ of the zone under siege, which became whitened and made safe for bourgeois (queer) capitalism, with lethal consequences for outdoor sex workers in the city.
Keywords: expulsion, homonormative, moral regulation, neo-liberalism, sex work
Author: Aziza Ahmed (@AzizaAhmed)
Citation (MLA): Ahmed, Aziza. “Feminism, power, and sex work in the context of HIV/AIDS: consequences for women’s health.” Harvard Journal of Law and Gender 34.1 (2011): 225-58.
This paper examines the involvement of feminists in approaches to sex work in the context of HIV/AIDS. The paper focuses on two moments where feminist disagreement produced results in favor of an “anti-trafficking” approach to addressing the vulnerability of sex workers in the context of HIV. The first is the UNAIDS Guidance Note on Sex Work and the second is the “anti-prostitution pledge” found in the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. This article also examines the anti-sex work position articulated by abolitionist feminists and demonstrates the unintended consequences of the abolitionist position on women’s health. By examining the actual impact of abolitionist positions, in favor of the anti-prostitution pledge and the criminalization of clients, we see that there are negative consequences for women despite the desire by abolitionists to improve women’s health.
Full Article: http://iris.lib.neu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1024&context=slaw_fac_pubs&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fscholar.google.ca%2Fscholar%3Fstart%3D140%26q%3DHIV%2Bcriminalization%26hl%3Den%26as_sdt%3D0%2C5#search=%22HIV%20criminalization%22
Authors: Jacqueline Lewis, Eleanor Maticka-Tyndale, Frances Shaver & Heather Schramm, 2005
Citation (APA): Lewis, J., Maticka-Tyndale, E., Shaver, F. & and Schramm, H. (2005). Managing Risk and Safety on the Job: The Experiences of Canadian Sex Workers. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 17(1/2), 146-167.
This paper reports results from a study of sex work occupations conducted in a large city in Canada that included women, men, and transsexual/transgender (TS/TG) sex workers. Descriptions of work provided by participants (escorts, exotic dancers, masseuses, and street workers) were used to examine how risk and safety were experienced and managed within the Canadian legal context. Three dimensions of the structure of sex work were identified as factors that influenced the management of risk and safety: its location on- or off-street, its organization on an out- or in-call basis, and whether it was conducted independently or for a club, massage parlor or escort agency. Gender and perceptions of stigma and risk interacted with these dimensions in such a way that men, women and TS/TG workers experienced and managed risk and safety differently.
Keywords: sex workers, escorts, exotic dancers, risk, safety
Read the full article here: http://myweb.dal.ca/mgoodyea/Documents/Health%20and%20wellbeing/Managing%20risk%20and%20safety%20on%20the%20job%20-%20The%20experiences%20of%20Canadian%20Sex%20Workers%20Lewis%20J%20Psych%20Hum%20Sex%202005%2017%201-2%20147-67.pdf
Author: Kamala Kempadoo, 1998
Citation (APA): Kempadoo, K. (1998). Globalizing Sex Workers’ Rights. Canadian Woman Studies/Les Cahiers de la Femme, 22(3/4), 143-150.
Kempadoo examines the trajectories of workers’ participation in sex work and in sex workers’ rights movements in different times and places. In particular, she addresses the specificity of experience as it relates to nation and region, and the effect of economic globalization (WTO, NAFTA) on the sex industries.
Read the full article here: http://pi.library.yorku.ca/ojs/index.php/cws/article/viewFile/6426/5614
Authors: Young Women’s Empowerment Project, 2012
Citation (MLA): Young Women’s Empowerment Project. Denied Help! How Youth in the Sex Trade & Street Economy are Turned Away From Systems Meant to Help Us & What We Are Doing to Fight Back. Bad Encounter Line 2012: A Participatory Action Research Project. Chicago, 2012.
We wanted to show how girls bounce back and heal from individual and institutional violence. We wanted this information so that we can collectively build a social justice campaign to respond to broad systemic harm. From this, YWEP’s first youth developed, led, and analyzed research project was born.
Our research questions were:
1. What individual and institutional violence do girls in the sex trade experience?
2. How do we heal/bounce back from this violence?
3. How do we resist/fight back against this violence?
4. How can we unite and collectively fight back?
We answered these questions using 4 tools: we did focus groups with our membership and outreach workers, we created a fill in the blank zine so that girls could document the ways they heal and fight back, we used ethnographic observation by paying attention and writing down the experiences of our outreach contacts, and we asked new questions in our workshops about how girls take care of themselves and avoid violence.
Read the full report here: http://ywepchicago.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/bad-encounter-line-report-20121.pdf
Authors: Young Women’s Empowerment Project, 2009
Citation (MLA): Young Women’s Empowerment Project. Girls Do What They Have to Do to Survive: Illuminating Methods Used by Girls in the Sex Trade and Street Economy to Fight Back and Heal. Chicago, 2009.
Youth activist summary:
This research is for US. It’s for YOU and for all girls, including transgender girls, and young women, including trans women involved in the sex trade and street economy.
This research study was created by girls, collected by girls, and analyzed by girls.
We did this because this is OUR LIVES. Who knows us better than us?
We did this to prove that we care–that we are capable of resisting violence in a multitude of ways.
We take care of ourselves and heal in whatever way feels best for us—whether society approves of it or not.
This research study honors all of the ways we fight back (resistance) and our healing (resilience) methods.
We proved that we do face violence but we are not purely victims. We are survivors. We can take care of ourselves and we know what we need.
This research is a response to all of those researchers, doctors, government officials, social workers, therapists, journalists, foster care workers and every other adult who said we were too messed up or that we needed to be saved from ourselves.
The next time someone tells you that you don’t know what’s best for you, look towards our tool kit for inspiration. We wrote the tool kit with the intent of giving you ideas about how girls have survived this life—not to tell you what to do.
We did this. We did the research. And now we are sharing it with you so that you know that girls do what they have to do to survive.
Summary (from “Our Research”):
YWEP began our first experience with Participatory Evaluation Research in 2006. With a grant through the Cricket Island Foundation’s Capacity Building Initiative, we met Catlin Fullwood, an activist, researcher, and trainer. Catlin taught us a research method in which all members of the community could be involved in the development, data collection, and analysis of the research.
Our 2006 research project had three learning questions. We wanted to find out (1) what effect harm reduction was having on our outreach contacts. We also wanted to find out (2) who our allies were and weren’t as a harm reduction based, youth-led social justice project. Lastly, (3) we wanted to learn more about how girls respond to other girls in positions of leadership. For this research project, we did a literature review, several focus groups with YWEP leadership and membership, and we collected over 300 surveys from our outreach contacts across Chicago and Illinois.
Author: Sarah Hunt, Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation, 2010
Citation (MLA): Hunt, S. “Colonial Roots, Contemporary Risk Factors: A Cautionary Exploration of the Domestic Trafficking of Aboriginal Girls and Women in British Columbia, Canada.” Alliance News. July, 2010. 15 August 2013. Web.
In recent years, scholars have taken up the issue of domestic trafficking of Aboriginal girls and women in Canada, asserting that this is an issue of pressing concern in our communities. Indeed, one study reported that Aboriginal women and children make up the majority of people trafficked within Canada. 6 With a lack of available data to clarify the extent and nature of human trafficking in Aboriginal communities, the authors have largely conflated domestic trafficking with youth sexual exploitation, intergenerational violence, and disappearance or abduction, resulting in a muddling of trafficking with other forms of violence and abuse. In order to better inform prevention and education efforts in Aboriginal communities, a more nuanced exploration of the trafficking of Aboriginal girls and women in Canada is needed. Adult sex work, often conflated with sexual exploitation in literature on domestic trafficking of Indigenous women, must also be approached within a rights-based framework rather than throwing it into the mix of exploitation. In this paper, I will draw on my 10years of experience as a community-based researcher, program coordinator and educator on issues of youth sexual exploitation, intergenerational violence and related issues stemming from the colonisation of Indigenous communities in British Columbia (BC), Canada. I will also draw on available research to argue that while Indigenous girls and women in Canada are at heightened risk of human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, little evidence is available to support the claim that trafficking is a growing issue in our communities. Rather, as others have argued, human trafficking is one of many forms of sexualised violence perpetrated against Aboriginal women, and efforts to address trafficking must simultaneously distinguish between trafficking, youth sexual exploitation, adult sex work, and a range of violent offences while seeing the colonial roots which link various forms of abuse and marginalisation.
Read the full article here: http://www.academia.edu/2038203/Colonial_Roots_Contemporary_Risk_Factors_a_cautionary_exploration_of_the_domestic_trafficking_of_Aboriginal_girls_and_women_in_British_Columbia_Canada