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Lecture 6

Women's Studies 2163A/B Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Sex Worker, Janet Mock, Social StigmaPremium

11 pages94 viewsSpring 2018

Department
Women's Studies
Course Code
Women's Studies 2163A/B
Professor
Nicole Edwards
Lecture
6

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Lecture 6 Sex work: Unmasking the Stigma and Stereotypes
- TOPICS:
o Myths and assumptions
o Legal models
o Stigma management
Sex work industry
- Large + complex trade
- Two main branches:
o Direct
Street based
Brothels
Escorts
Home based
Independently-rented apartment
o Indirect
Erotic dance/lap-dancing
Retail
Virtual
- Does stigma change based on the sex work you are involved in
o Webcaming is indirect does not mean they are safe from the stigma
Assumptions and Myths
- How do you think sex workers are represented in the media? What are the stereotypes we associated
with sex workers?
o At risks for disease, slut, drug addict, hooker, cheap, junkie
o Oppressed and they must be saved need to save ALL sex workers
o Theyre all women
o Minorities, indigenous are more likely to be sex workers
o Desperate, NEED the jobs to have the money, to do the drugs
o Come from unstable homes, trauma in the past
o Either glamorized life or the person who is just trying to pay her rent two extremes
o Acceptable to buy if you are high class
- Sex work is inheritably oppressive and sex workers are all victims who need to be saved
o Deny agency of women who decide to do this work
- Sex workers can not feel empowered, nor do they enjoy their work because of its inherent exploitive
nature
o No agency
- Individuals enter the sex trade from a limited number of socioeconomic, educational and
racial/ethnic background
o E.g. they are a homogenous group
- Sex workers are a high risk group for HIV
o 90% of sex workers have been tested for HIV/AIDS (compared to 8% of sex buyers)
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- Sex work and trafficking are the same
o NOT THE SAME
o Trafficking = involves force, fear tactics, coercion, identity taken, money managed or taken
by the pimp
BUT right now receives the bulk of the media attention
o These women are salves and we need to save them
SO POPULAR! With Janet Mock
- Sex worker rescued by rich white man in media Pretty Woman
- Culture is obsessed with objectification, victimization and silencing of sex workers
o Do not see portrayal of their lives and the politics
- We conflate the idea of what media talks about sex slaves, sex trafficking
o Important vital issue BUT pity narrative
o Silence, and erase those who are engaged in the sex trade
- Sienna Baskin: Sex workers project
o Work with people in sex industry no matter the reason choice, circumstances, coercion
Choose it out of options
Do sex work to meet their survival needs
Forced to engage in sex work by someone else = human trafficking BUT human
trafficking is more broad than into the sex trade, there are other trades as well
- Melissa Grant:
o Able to afford to live
o Majority of stories about sex work are either about arrest or violence and death
o Do not get to hear about the sex workers themselves
o People want to talk about human, health, employment BUT we do not think of sex worker
issues as social justice conversation
- Do not see sex work as work
o They are damaged individuals
o Someone who is a sex worker is not heard of they are silenced
o Have no agency
- Three basic ways that people enter the sex industry:
o 1. CHOICE
o 2.CIRCUMSTANCE
o 3. COERCION
- Why don’t we see sex work as work?
o Messaged we have been given as childhood
o Sex is intimate act, share with someone you love
Sex work makes it a public act hard for us as a culture
What does it do to sex as a intimate practice if it is now a public practice
o Because historically speaking, sex workers were women
Unpaid and unrecognized work that women do in the home, underpaid for
Sex work is perhaps a symptom of that type of culture
o Not acknowledging it as work we do not want you to have the power to control your own
sexuality
Way of controlling female sexuality social stigma, government regulation, social
sanctions
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- If we sell sex in the form of sex work, how is that different than the other ways that we sell sex in our
cultures?
o Disrupt idea that sex is supposed to be a private act
Canadian Media
- Media is the way in which we get out information but also where the stigma of sex work is
reproduced
- Plays role in how sex work is represented and as a result, hoe we come to understand it
- Take well known stereotypes and use them in their headlines and stories, to create moral panics and
reinforce those negative stereotypes
Victoria, BC times columnist (1980-2004)
- Analysis of how sex workers are represented in these well known stereotypes
- Their voices were not hold
- 3 OVERARCHING THEMES:
o Contagion
Sex worker is vector of contagion
o Culpability
Responsibility or blame
o Risk
- Early decades of the study, HIV/AIDS is on the rise
o Gets tied in with sex workers
- Vectors of contagion
o They are sources of disease, moral pollutants
o At risk of infecting and damaging the general population
o Position sex work as bad women
o A)DS infected prostitute still working 1989
o ()V prostitute barred from city centre - 1992
o Whores not only offend the law, they are an embarrassment when the family goes
downtown for dinner – 1981
o street based sex worker are tarnishing images of Victorian BC
- Culpability
o Savvy criminals comparable to murderers
o Publicly self-stigmatization
Morally destitute
Never again self respect
Worthlessness
o Presented as women who cannot be rescued fundamentally, orally damaged
o Mid 90s shift from solely responsible to victims of exploitation
Women are regarded as so destitute, then how could they possible be responsible
- Risk
o Entrapment and trafficking as only routes denies any choice or agency
Saying this is the only reason that they could be in the sex work
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