The “pussy patrols” in academia are the economic, discursive, sexual, and epistemological forms of violence in academia that control, silence, and reroute all femmes—not just cis women—in higher education. Although feminists have long examined sexual harassment in educational and occupational spaces, very few have turned their attention to the specific, embodied experiences of sex-working academics. Employing “epistemic disobedience” and “Critical Life Story” interviewing methodologies, I look at the experiences of thirteen sex-working academics, including my own experiences as a sex-working undergraduate and graduate student. I disrupt the false dichotomy of empowerment/oppression in the sex industry; I ask if higher education is necessarily emancipatory; and I offer suggestions, based on the forced rerouting and silencing of sex-working academics, for moving forward as activist-academics. Indeed, the time for rebelling against the strict academic codes that rely on Cartesian dualism is now.
In England, sex workers are placed at the edges of the law. How the social and legal status of sex workers impacts on their perception of and interaction with the law in a semi-legal setting has not yet been explored. Drawing on fifty-two qualitative interviews with indoor and outdoor sex workers in England, this study investigates their disposition to the law, legality and the state. The commonalities and discrepancies between the experiences of indoor and outdoor sex workers reveal the influence of the combination of legal framework and social status on sex workers’ legal consciousness. This study finds that, even in a setting of semi-legality, sex workers attempt to avoid contact with state authorities. However, this aversion to the current law does not prevent them from making claims for legal change. Surprisingly, indoor and outdoor sex workers hold opposing views on the appropriate level of regulation and state involvement in the sex industry. Remarkably, although outdoor sex workers have more negative experiences with arbitrators of the law, they desire the law’s protection. In contrast, indoor sex workers’ main grievance is for sex work to be a legitimate industry that can operate with only minimal state control. These differences in outdoor and indoor workers’ legal claims are explicable by sharp cleavages in social status, vulnerability and degree of criminalisation. These findings demonstrate that intra-group differences in the legal consciousness of marginalised groups are key to understanding the role of social and legal status in shaping legal claims.
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.
Intersectionality attends to the interactions between social difference and power, although theoretical models vary in their emphasis on one or the other. Difference-centred models often distinguish between processes of constructing social difference, systems that institutionalize social difference and identities that include social difference. This article discusses the analytical expectations that can emerge in intersectional research that focus on difference, by analysing the use and construction of difference by im/migrant and racialized women in sex work. The first analytical expectation is the distinction between salience and difference when starting from the lived realities and voices of individuals, groups and communities. The second analytical expectation concerns the interaction between two intersectional methodologies, between identities and lived experiences, and processes of constructing difference.
This research used a semi-structured interview method and Smith and Osborn’s (2003) interpretive phenomenological analysis to investigate a female prostitute’s experiences of stigma associated with her work. To structure the interview schedule, Seidman’s (2006) in-depth phenomenologically based interviewing method, which comprises three areas of focus, “focused life history,” “details of the experience” under investigation, and “reflection of the meaning” of the experience, was used as a general guide. Ten broad psychological themes were identified: 1) awareness of engaging in what people think is bad; (2) negative labeling by people who discover she is a prostitute; 3) hiding and lying about her identity as a prostitute to avoid being labeled negatively; 4) hiding and lying about her prostitution identity result in stress, anxiety, and exhaustion; 5) wishing she did not have to hide and lie about being a prostitute; 6) questioning and objecting to the stigmatization of prostitution; 7) managing the sense of stigmatization by persons who know about her prostitution by shifting focus away from devaluing and toward valuable qualities of prostitution; 8) developing occupational esteem and self-esteem through reflection of values; 9) compassion towards other people who suffer from stigma; and 10) resiliency.
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While the scholarship on sex work is substantial, it neglects to explore whether sex work and associated stigma affect sex workers’ cognitive expectations. Drawing on observations of street-based sex work as well as in-depth interviews with Jewish-Israeli sex workers, this study suggests that because stigma is a moral experience that threatens and often destroys what really matters to stigmatised individuals, it leads to recurrent disappointments, which, in turn, may alter sex workers’ cognitive expectations. Sex workers learn to see certain life goals, including maintaining healthy social relationships and a workspace free of violence and humiliation, as unobtainable. However, they also begin to see other aspects of their lives, such as economic autonomy, as achievable through sex work. Tracing how whore stigma becomes a transformative experience allows us to add another layer to the heretofore suggested link between the structural, cultural and individual aspects of stigmatisation.
This article makes several important contributions to the burgeoning literature on sex work in a digital era. The scholarly literature that has documented the use of the Internet by sex workers has focused almost entirely on prostitution and has yet to make adult webcam modeling a focal point of analysis. This article critically examines the ways in which entry into adult webcam modeling is facilitated by an expectation that sex work in cyberspace maximizes pleasure, primarily because it minimizes the risk of dangers associated with street-based sex work. I conduct content analyses of discussions on a popular online forum for webcam models to explore the themes of pleasure (erotic and affectual) and danger (capping, doxxing, and harassment) in adult webcam modeling. I argue that adult webcam models experience sexual and affectual pleasures in the course of their work and that they are able to experience these pleasures because the computer-mediated sexual exchange acts as a psychological barrier, and that the computer in turn becomes the primary tool that performers use for emotional management. My analysis focuses on how sex workers reconcile the pleasure in their work with the exploitation that is also found there. Here, these camgirls use neoliberal ideas to minimize the perception of danger of their work so that they can experience high levels of pleasure. I further open up a new dialogue about neoliberalism and sex workers by focusing on the neoliberal subject in this new form of sex work.
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