sex work

Recent posts

Making Sense Of Sex Work

In previous posts here on MSP, I’ve struggled to make sense of sex work as a feminist and as a scholar. I’ve discussed why legislating sex work is problematic, and that post sparked a further rumination on how my position as someone who doesn’t have sex work experience means I have to check my privilege when talking about these issues. Because this continues to be a hotly debated topic, I thought I’d share some resources that have been helpful for me in making sense of sex work. First, have a look at the sex worker flow chart here, which encourages viewers to reflect on their reasons for being against sex work, providing a list of consequences of taking those stances. This Feministe post, The War on Sex Workers, emphasizes that we should view sex worker rights within the larger issue of women’s rights (though I’d urge people to keep in mind that men sell sex too, as do people not identifying within a binaristic gender). Continue Reading →

Revisiting Sex Work And Checking My Privilege

I was pretty pleased with my post on why legislating sex work is problematic, until someone wrote to me to point out where I got it wrong. That’s actually what I was hoping for, as I’d concluded the post by writing:

To that end, if I’ve misrepresented the nature of sex work or adult performance here in this article, I apologize and request that someone from the community contact me and correct me. I’m just an academic who’s good at spotting patterns and analyzing cultural trends – you know more about your lives than I do. Not that it’s your job to teach me, but hopefully I can use this blog as a platform to correct false impressions about sex work and sexuality in general. So when C. Simon, an escort, emailed me and pointed out that I’d undermined my own argument in certain ways, I was both happy to receive the criticism and chagrined that I’d fallen prey to the very logic I’d been trying to critique. Continue Reading →

Just Because You’re Not Into It Doesn’t Mean Someone Else Can’t Be

I want to address a common misconception I see in discussions of sexual preferences, in part because it’s helping lay a foundation for a discussion of sex work I’m going to explore in some upcoming posts. People seem to have this idea that if they’re not into it, no one else can be or should be. Like, “Ew, I think anal sex is gross, who could do that?” Or “I can’t believe some people like being tied up and spanked, that’s disgusting.” Or “I would never, ever sell sex, how could anyone else do so?” Continue Reading →

Why Legislating Sex Work Is Problematic

In light of California’s mandatory condom laws for adult performers, I’ve been thinking about why governments feel the need to step in and legislate sex work (I say legislate when often it is criminalized, but here I’ll be focusing on laws that regulate rather than prohibit). First, let’s think of people we categorically make laws about. Children: they have to go to school, they have to be under a legal guardian until they reach a certain age, and so on. Prisoners: they do not have full legal rights, but they retain many other rights, such as access to basic minimum living standards. The poor: there’s a whole body of laws, historically dating back to the Elizabethan era in England, governing employment and aid opportunities for the underprivileged. Continue Reading →

Legalized Sex Work in Victoria, Australia

When I first arrived in Melbourne last January, one of the first things I did was take a tram to the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre. The MSHC is affiliated with the University of Melbourne and I knew I’d be taking many of my public health classes there. On my way there from the city center, very excited about exploring my new turf, I saw a maroon-colored, neon-lit building right down the street from the MSHC. “Is that a brothel?” I asked. Continue Reading →

What Happens When Sex Work And Academia Collide?

I recently read an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about a “professor-dominatrix scandal”. In brief, various faculty members and grad students in the creative writing department at the University of New Mexico were involved with phone sex work, and the whole thing blew up with accusations, resignations, and so on. Notably, many of the people at the university involved in this thing were women, and they suffered terrible consequences at the hands of their colleagues. One of the smarter, more nuanced analyses of the situation is titled “The Scarlet SW for Sex Worker”. The author correctly points out that of the faculty members involved, one woman apologized, quit the phone sex job immediately, and was not found at fault by the university’s administration–however, the other faculty continued to persecute her. Continue Reading →

Sex Tourism In The Dominican Republic

After spending a month sledging, picking, and shoveling away the rubble and debris that still covers Leogane, Haiti my partner and I decided to have a brief vacation in the Dominican Republic. We had come for the relaxing beaches, the old colonial streets where Sir Francis Drake himself had stumbled drunkenly, but most of all for running water and a real bed. Although many other NGO workers in Haiti cross the border into the Dominican Republic, we weren’t the only tourists sipping mojitos. The DR may be known for its white sand beaches, finely made cigars, and top quality rum but many more people visit for the lavish sex vacations that the country has to offer. Despite the fact that the Dominican Republic is a staunchly Catholic country, sex tourism is a big business and you don’t have to look hard to find it. Continue Reading →

Introducing New MSP Blogger: Miss Maggie Mayhem

My name is Miss Maggie Mayhem and I’m one of the new bloggers joining this excellent community. When I started out my college career I had no idea how radically my life would change when I began volunteering as an HIV test counselor at a free and anonymous clinic. My course of study was literature and anthropology, but the more people I spoke to in the office, the more I wanted to know about human sexuality. Even though I never changed my majors, I certainly changed what I envisioned as a career. Continue Reading →

Sex worker march in Washington DC

Today I went into DC to work at a Cosi, as I’ve become particularly fond of their Tomato Basil soup. YUM. I hopped off the stop at McPherson only to find the beginnings of a sex worker march in the park that I was walking through. Excited, I got off my cell phone, hung around, talked to the women and men (both sex workers and their friends and allies) and joined in the march to advocate for sexual rights of sex workers. The group of women and men in attendance were from all over: Washington DC, North Carolina, Australia, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and other cities. Continue Reading →