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Tag Archives: Theory and Method

Abstract
This article uses Jonathan Simon’s concept of ‘governing through crime’ as a framework to argue that the state has framed sex work, and its surrounding problems, as issues of crime. There has been a privileging and proliferation of criminal justice responses to sex work in England and Wales, at the expense of more social or welfare-based responses and at the expense of creating safer environments for sex workers to work. Criminal law is used to manage and control sex work, to reinforce other policies, such as immigration and border control, and to appear to be doing something about the ‘problem’ of sex work without providing rights to sex workers. By framing sex work as an issue of crime, with sex workers being both the perpetrators of crime and the potential victims of exploitative crime, the state is able to legitimise its actions against sex workers, while ignoring the harm done to sex workers by the state.

Brown, K., & Sanders, T. (2017). Pragmatic, Progressive, Problematic: Addressing Vulnerability through a Local Street Sex Work Partnership Initiative. Social Policy and Society, 1-13. doi:10.1017/S1474746416000634

Abstract

Whilst it remains a criminal activity to solicit sex publicly in the UK, it has become increasingly popular to configure sex workers as ‘vulnerable’, often as a means of foregrounding the significant levels of violence faced by female street sex workers. Sex work scholars have highlighted that this discourse can play an enabling role in a moralistic national policy agenda which criminalises and marginalises those who sell sex. Yet multiple and overlapping narratives of vulnerability circulate in this policy arena, raising questions about how these might operate at ground level. Drawing on empirical data gathered in the development of an innovative local street sex work multi-agency partnership in Leeds, this article explores debates, discourses and realities of sex worker vulnerability. Setting applied insights within more theoretically inclined analysis, we suggest how vulnerability might usefully be understood in relation to sex work, but also highlight how social justice for sex workers requires more than progressive discourses and local initiatives. Empirical findings highlight that whilst addressing vulnerability through a local street sex work multi-agency partnership initiative, a valuable platform for shared action on violence in particular can be created. However, an increase in fundamental legal and social reform is required in order to address the differentiated and diverse lived experiences of sex worker vulnerability.

Mulvihill, N. (2017). The criminalisation of paying for sex in England and Wales: How gender and power are implicated in the making of policy. Journal of Public Policy, 1-25. doi:10.1017/S0143814X16000295

Abstract

This article considers how gender and power are implicated in how prostitution policy is translated from initial proposal to enactment in law. The analysis brings together Freeman’s proposal for “policy translation” (2009) and Connell’s work on “hegemonic masculinity” (1987 with Messerschmidt 2005) to examine Hansard and other United Kingdom Parliament documents relating to Clause 13/14 of the Policing and Crime Bill 2008–2009, a proposal to criminalise the purchase of sex in England and Wales. It is argued here that hegemonic masculinity is implicated in how “responsibility” and “exploitation” in relation to sex purchase are disputed and defined within the Parliamentary debates on Clause 13/14, and this in turn informed the version of criminalisation that emerged as authoritative. This article reflects finally on how far mapping the translation of policy can elucidate the operation of gender and power within the policy process.

Full article available here. 

This article interrogates how the figure of the trans street-based sex worker is deployed to argue for positive intervention on behalf of trans individuals, in addition to how it is used at the expense of a variety of trans experiences of sex work. As a corollary, this article addresses how a nuanced account of trans sex work, responsive to these concerns, can provide the basis for a more robust conception of trans theory.

Stigma is ubiquitous in sex work and is well documented in studies of sex workers. But rarely have scholars examined the vital question of whether, and if so how, stigma can be reduced or eliminated from any type of sex work (commercial stripping, pornography, prostitution, etc.). After a brief review of the issues related to stigma, this Commentary proposes a set of preconditions for the reduction and, ultimately, elimination of stigma from sex work.

Minichiello, Victor, John Scott, and Cameron Cox. “Commentary: Reversing the Agenda of Sex Work Stigmatization and Criminalization: Signs of a Progressive Society.” Sexualities, January 18, 2017, 1363460716684510. doi:10.1177/1363460716684510.
Chapkis, Wendy. “Commentary: Response to Weitzer ‘Resistance to Sex Work Stigma.’” Sexualities, January 18, 2017, 1363460716684511. doi:10.1177/1363460716684511.
Phoenix, Jo. “A Commentary: Response to Weitzer ‘Resistance to Sex Work Stigma.’” Sexualities, January 18, 2017, 1363460716684512. doi:10.1177/1363460716684512.
Weitzer, Ronald. “Additional Reflections on Sex Work Stigma.” Sexualities, January 18, 2017, 1363460716684513. doi:10.1177/1363460716684513.

McGrow, Lauren. ‘Doing It (Feminist Theology and Faith-Based Outreach) with Sex Workers – Beyond Christian Rescue and the Problem-Solving Approach’, Feminist Theology Vol 25/2 (2017): 150-169.

Abstract

This paper problematises the usual Christian motif of rescue of sex workers that is disseminated by most faith-based groups working in the field. By focusing upon the problem of prostitution and individual rescue as the primary solution, broader relationships of accountability are neglected and complicated sex worker identifications become impossible. New strategies for thinking about human sexuality are needed that incorporate indecency as a way of questioning traditional moral representations reproduced by Christian outreach projects. As well, three strategies are outlined that could form counter-narratives for ministry and feminist theological reflection not based upon sex work as a problem to be resolved but instead carving out creative space for mutual engagement between pastoral practitioners and sex industry workers. 

Showden, Carisa R. “Theorising Maybe: A Feminist/Queer Theory Convergence.” Feminist Theory 13, no. 1 (April 1, 2012): 3–25. doi:10.1177/1464700111429898.
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Abstract
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In this article, I examine the seemingly incompatible epistemologies of sex offered by dominance (‘governance’) feminism and queer theory. While these bodies of work, especially when applied to US legal and political activity on prostitution, are commonly viewed as divergent sparring partners, I propose a ‘convergence’ of the two in the form of a revived and enhanced sex-positive feminism. If dominance feminism is the ‘theory of no’ to heterosexuality’s male gender power, and if queer theory is the ‘theory of yes’ to the defiant possibilities of sex, sex-positive feminism is a ‘theory of maybe’: it examines practices of gender and sexuality in multiple contexts to find the ways in which heterosexuality can sometimes reify, and other times resist, the transfer of eroticised dominance and submission to political practices of patriarchy. After tracing the split between feminism and queer theory and arguing for a ‘sex-positive queer feminism’, I use the example of prostitution to consider some theoretical and practical implications of this shift in feminist lenses.