sex workers rights

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 →

Carrying Multiple Condoms Is Proof Of Prostitution?

Laws in both New York City and Washington D.C. allow police to use condoms as evidence of prostitution, so if you are stopped and found carrying three condoms or more, it could mean trouble. This is terrible for sex education and sexual health campaigns that encourage people–sex workers as well as others–to have access to condoms in order to prevent pregnancy and disease transmission. If I were living in the US right now, I’d propose a condom-carrying protest out of sheer spite for that stupid law. Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. 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 →

Narrative Histories: The “I Am A Sex Worker” PSA

In light of the recent outing of former sex worker Melissa Petro, the Bronx PS70 elementary school teacher, and the subsequent public defaming that has followed, I am reminded of the PSA made by the women of Sex Worker Awareness in 2009, entitled “I am a sex worker.” I think what’s so interesting about where we are at, as a society, in regards to sex worker’s rights, is that it’s a very similar place we’ve been at before in our nation’s history, regarding women’s rights, African American’s rights, and (as the marriage debate rages) gay rights: at a place when narrative history is paramount, where people’s stories alone are controversial, radical and worthy of such public scorn. Sex workers are still, for the most part, invisible. This is particularly sad thing to note, in light of the recent demise of $pread Magazine. It takes a very brave few to refuse to be invisible, to speak their peace and have their voice. Continue Reading →

Former Sex Worker Removed from Job as School Teacher Following Huffington Post Piece

Melissa Petro, an elementary school teacher at Bronx school PS 70 and publicly out former sex worker, was recently reassigned from her teaching position to administrative duty “pending investigation,” following her recent Huffington Post article on the shutdown of CraigsList and her own experiences briefly using the site as a prostitute. In the article, Petro uses her real name and is open regarding her past sex work. Continue Reading →

Craigslist Removes Adult Services Section

After much political pressure, Craigslist has removed its adult services section under the guise that this will somehow help in the fight against sex trafficking. It won’t. Just like most tactics politicians and law enforcement use to fight sex trafficking this is just another useless one. There will always be other sites and other avenues. In fact, there are many other sites used by the sex work industry (I’m not at all implying that trafficking and sex work are the same thing here, but they are often closely tied together). Continue Reading →