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Rachel Marshall, Sex Workers and Human Rights: A Critical Analysis of Laws Regarding Sex Work, 23 Wm. & Mary J. Women & L. 47 (2016), http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/wmjowl/vol23/iss1/5

From:

2016 Special Issue: Combating Human Trafficking Through Law and Social Policy, William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, Volume 23 (2016-2017), Issue 1 (2016)

 

Abstract

Across occupations, people contend with the difficult task of managing time between their work and other aspects of life. Previous research on stigmatized industries has suggested that so-called ‘dirty workers’ experience extreme identity segmentation between these two realms because they tend to cope with their occupational stigma by placing distance between their work and personal lives. Through a qualitative study of Nevada’s legal brothel industry, this article focuses on the prevalence of boundary segmentation as a dominant work–life management practice for dirty workers. Our analysis suggests that work–life boundaries are disciplined by legal mythologies and ambiguities surrounding worker restrictions, occupational ideologies of ‘work now, life later,’ and perceived and experienced effects of community-based stigma. These legal, occupational and community constructs ultimately privilege organizations’ and external communities’ interests, while individual dirty workers carry the weight of stigma.

Abstract
Most studies of media focus on production, representation, or audience. Using rhetorical analysis and ethnographic field methods, my article offers one way to study media production contexts, representations, and audience interactions in relation to one another. For this project, I conducted a narrative rhetorical analysis of the reality docu-series Cathouse that takes place in a legal brothel in Nevada, the Moonlite Bunny Ranch. In addition, I visited the brothel and used ethnographic field methods of participant observation and interviewing to investigate the lived experiences of the women working at the Ranch. My analysis revealed a web of intertextual discourses of prostitution that I could not have accessed had I not used these methods in conjunction with one another. By bringing perspectives from rhetorical inquiry, cultural and media studies, and ethnography into conversation with one another, I provide a framework for analyzing production, representation, and audience for the Cathouse series, while attending to both the content of the women’s stories and how these participants rhetorically constructed and performed their identities. Finally, my analysis offers insights into ethnographic and textual “crises of representation” in relation to the concept of “rhetorical authenticity” in media representations, the relationships between audience members, production, and representation in reality television, and material impacts for the women who work at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch that I could not have accessed without using these methods together.
Wright, Micah. “‘Protection against the Lust of Men’: Progressivism, Prostitution and Rape in the Dominican Republic under US Occupation, 1916–24.” Gender & History 28, no. 3 (November 1, 2016): 623–40. doi:10.1111/1468-0424.12242.
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This article explains the disparity between the United States (US) military government’s efforts to defend and empower local women during the first occupation of the Dominican Republic (1916–24) and its reputation for tolerating sexual assault. It argues that US officials, inspired by a progressive ideology that linked the social, economic and political spheres, set out to reshape Dominican sexual and gender norms as a means to ensure political stability. Yet, these efforts fell victim to both Dominican and US Marines’ conceptions of gender and normative sexuality. Building upon a thriving body of scholarship that addresses the significance of US efforts to redefine Dominican gender norms, this article analyses the military government’s policies towards women and provost courts’ responses to sexual assault. It concludes that, combined with an aggressive anti-prostitution campaign, the military government’s reforms succeeded only in creating an atmosphere favourable to crimes against women. Moreover, rape and the way it was prosecuted revitalised the patriarchal norms that US officials had set out to transform, thus setting the stage for the regime of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, whose thirty-year dictatorship depended on the conspicuous control of women. Thus, US policies and attitudes not only ensured the failure of progressive reform but also contributed to the ongoing subjugation of the very women the military government had pledged to empower.
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Research conducted at the New York State Reformatory for Women at Bedford under the direction of founding superintendent Katharine Bement Davis produced some of the most influential data on prostitution in the Progressive Era. While Davis and Bedford have figured prominently in histories of the women’s prison reform movement, historical studies of the social response to prostitution in the Progressive Era, and feminist biographical accounts of women in early twentieth century reform crusades, the relationship between penal reform and the changing social organization of labor has been overlooked. This paper undertakes a critical reexamination of the Bedford data, demonstrating that while Davis advocated a social scientific approach to reform, she systematically displaced the significance of structural factors at two crucial levels: her studies of inmates and her own philosophy and practice of reform. Studies of inmates discounted the role of economic factors for women’s entry into prostitution in favor of explanations that emphasized familial and personal weakness. The institutionalization, training, and parole of inmates functioned not simply to place inmates in domestic service but to effectively disqualify them from other sources of respectable employment. Viewed through the lens of a social organization of labor perspective, a previously neglected dimension of the logic and practice of reform is illuminated.
Dewey, Susan, Jennifer Hankel, and Kyria Brown. “Transitional Housing Facilities for Women Leaving the Sex Industry: Informed by Evidence or Ideology?” Sexuality & Culture, August 12, 2016, 1–22. doi:10.1007/s12119-016-9379-5.
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This article juxtaposes the results of descriptive and inferential statistical analysis, derived from 125 client case files at a Denver transitional housing facility for women leaving the sex industry, with the results of a content analysis that examined how all 34 similar U.S. facilities represent themselves, their clients, and their services on their websites. Content analysis results ascertained four primary findings with respect to transitional housing facilities for women leaving the sex industry, including their conflation of sex trading with sex trafficking, dominance by Christian faith-based organizations, race-neutral approach, and depiction of their clients as uneducated and socially isolated. Yet our statistical analysis revealed that significant differences exist between women’s sex industry experiences in ways that are strongly determined by ethno-racial identity, age, marital status, and exposure to abuse throughout the life course. Juxtaposing the results of these analyses highlights some rather glaring disconnects between the ways that facility websites depict their clients and the meaningful differences between women seeking services at the Denver transitional housing facility. These findings raise significant concerns regarding approaches that ignore ethno-racial differences, collapse the sex industry’s complexity, make assumptions about the women’s educational or other needs, and neglect the importance of women’s community and relational ties. Taken together, these troubling realities suggest a need for evidenced-based, rather than ideology-based, alternatives for women who wish to leave the sex industry.
Jackson, Crystal A. “Framing Sex Worker Rights How U.S. Sex Worker Rights Activists Perceive and Respond to Mainstream Anti–Sex Trafficking Advocacy.” Sociological Perspectives 59, no. 1 (March 1, 2016): 27–45. doi:10.1177/0731121416628553.
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This article examines how U.S. sex worker rights activists articulate “rights-based frames” to counter mainstream “victim frames” that conflate sex work and sex trafficking. Drawing on interviews with 19 U.S. sex worker rights activists conducted between 2010 and 2012, and participant observation of a national sex worker rights conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2010, I illustrate how activists create sex worker rights frames that (1) contest the labeling of sex workers as victims and (2) contest the accuracy and emotionality of stories and statistics used in mainstream anti–sex trafficking efforts. This rights-based framing draws on two master frames, labor rights and equal rights, to redefine the criminalization and stigmatization of sexual labor as a social problem, rather than prostitution itself. In the framing conflict over sex work, a rights-based approach also problematizes the intent and outcomes of anti–sex trafficking efforts to protect and rescue. To the extent that U.S. policy and advocacy efforts assume that sex work is a social problem and morally reprehensible, and that abolition of prostitution is a sound goal, those who challenge these assertions are at a disadvantage for acquiring credibility, voice, and support.