Skip to content

Sex, Sexy and Sex Work and Academics Prt. 2

December 15, 2013

So we’ve talked a LOT about things that annoy me about my industry. We’re going to talk about one more. Has anyone here ever read any academic articles about sex work? Most are extremely condescending. Sex workers are marginalized and infantilized in almost all of the writings. Their experiences are dismissed and neglected from consideration.

Academics- the people we should trust to get things right- but they don't.

Academics- the people we should trust to get things right- but they don’t.

I can sum up the main themes of almost all the articles.

The only sex workers are poor women.

All sex workers are exploited.

All sex workers are forced into sex work.

Any positive experience a sex worker has had is the exception not the norm and therefore should not be considered in study.

Sex workers are degraded.

Sex workers are the victims of bad things so they should be punished.

Sex work is bad and should be shamed by society.

Sex workers are bad.

Ok is anyone else annoyed yet? If not I can keep going. I’m just going to assume that you’re as annoyed as I am.  Here’s the thing…

THEY NEVER TALK TO SEX WORKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How can you write about a population without talking to the population? Really someone explain this to me. How can you gain an in-depth look into a social issue without talking to people in that social issue? It’s like only talking to straight white men when doing a study on queer colored women. If an academic did that the entire academic community would be in revolt! There would be mobs in the street! Dead academic’s in pointy hats would be rolling in their graves! Living academic’s would be wailing and crying in libraries everywhere.

So why doesn’t that same standard apply when talking about sex work?

Why is it ok to talk ABOUT sex workers without talking TO sex workers?

Sex workers exist, obviously, so why are we being talked to?

Sex workers exist, obviously, so why are we being talked to?

Another common theme is any positive story about sex work is ignored and marginalized. If you do hear from a sex worker it is a story of a women who is usually a minority woman, who has been exploited and usually she will not have much education.

Now let me make something very very clear. THESE CASES DO EXIST AND SHOULD NOT BE IGNORED. However, these cases are not the only cases and all other questions should not be ignored. A large portion of sex workers are educated women who entered sex work by their own choice whether motive is economic (the largest motivating factor for getting any job) or personal reasons. Those stories should also be represented and they are not or they are discarded.

When you marginalized the experience of sex workers- either by ignoring the experience of educated women who choose sex work or excusing the opinions of uneducated woman as not counting by fault of their lack of education. Everyone’s story matters. Every experience in the sex world is a valid opinion, from the white middle class girl paying for college to the immigrant woman trying to pay rent.

Another thing- the academic community can’t seem to figure out the difference between sex work and sex trafficking. Because of this most lay people also can’t distinguish the difference. So lets take a moment to be clear beyond a doubt. Sex WORK is choosing to enter the sexy business- the guy who sells me my stripper cloths over at the sex store is a worker in the sex industry. He is a sex worker. So is the girl who turns tricks on craigslist. A person who is trafficked is a person who is forced against their will into sex work. A sixteen year old girl sold to her fathers dealers friends for more crack is trafficked. The woman whose boyfriend beats the fuck outta her and forces her to sell herself against her will is trafficked.

Trafficking happens in more than just sex work, domestic labor has many cases of trafficking, child labor is trafficking, illegal adoptions from third world countries are trafficking. Women brought to the states or shipped out of the states to be forced to work in the sex trade is trafficking.

All of these things are horrendous crimes against humanity and should be stopped as fast as we can prosecute them. However we should not lump people trying to make their way in life into the same category.

I’m going to take a moment to focus on prostitution because this is the area of sex work that gets the most attention from the media for trafficking and violence.

Lets look at it this way in practical logical terms. Right now if a prostitute or escort or call girl is attacked/assaulted/raped she can NOT report it with out the high risk of being jailed and charged with a crime herself. The same goes if she reports trafficking.

How the fuck does this make any sense at all- it all goes back to victim blaming and slut shaming in our culture. It is the prostitute’s fault she was attacked therefore not the rapist fault. Because she is a prostitute she is obviously asking for it. How are we not beyond this?

Leaving this culture of concealment involving sex work would decrease violence against sex workers, encourage discourse and work toward eliminating human trafficking in the sex trade.

This seems like common sense to me and to most sex workers who care and advocate for sex workers rights. However, in order to do this we need the support and discourse of the academic community. To get the support of the academic community they need to start speaking to sex workers.

YAY LOGIC!!!!! IT WORKS!!!!!

From → Who Knows What

One Comment
  1. Aphrodite permalink

    Well, I certainly won’t be representative for sex work- studies.
    Lame excuses for that I think.
    It’s ironic, because people have always been interested in ‘case studies’, in which ‘special people’ are highlighted in all aspects. Why can’t sex-workers out of free will be portrayed that way?
    I mean, not that they would be portrayed in a very glamourous light, but why don’t let the sex workers talk who have a slightly different opinion from the mainstream? That, I find degrading.
    I think it’s degrading to ignore other people’s thoughts, opinions and feelings because they aren’t very ‘accepted’. Infantilizing sex workers prevent us from speaking out, because our voices don’t really matter. Sex workers are objectified as a whole by law-makers, decision-makers, governements…you know…all those people who cry out against the so-called ‘objectification’.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: