stigma

In Plain Sight : Sex Worker Participants Required

As sent to Whoretography

My name is Raven, I've been an advocate for sex worker health, safety and recognition for many years in Canada. I used to run a sex worker organization called PACE Society in Vancouver and I coordinated the BC Coalition of Experiential Communities, a regional sex worker research and advocacy group. My most recent advocacy project was Hooker Monologues, performed March 2016 in Canada. I'm now at the University of York doing my PhD and I'm proud to be on the board of ScotPEP, a sex worker organization. See my Bio https://www.york.ac.uk/sociology/our-staff/students/raven-bowen/

My past academic work was about how people transition in and out of sex work, deal with 'whore stigma' and challenge those who see sex work only as harm. I highlight that some people are not entering or leaving sex work, instead they find ways to balance jobs in both sex work and square (non sexual) work at the same time. I call this 'duality.' 

 I'm seeking participants to interview to explore how people manage information about themselves, decide who to disclose to and who not to, carve out different work identities, keep secrets, switch back and forth between jobs, and how experiences in either job to helps or hinders performance in the other. We will discuss the benefits and challenges of working in this very versatile way and discover tips and strategies to help others who do the same. 

More details are on the project blog https://dualitystudy.blogspot.co.uk/ but here are the basics:

 Participants must:

·         be over 18 years old

·         work in the off-street sex industry

·         hold at least one non sex work paid job (all paid work included, casual, part or full-time,  self-employed, etc.)

·         live and work in the UK and

·         have relevant experience juggling both kinds of work

Other info:

·         This study is open to all genders and nationalities. Since everyone has such busy lives, I am very open to doing interviews over the phone or via Skype™, or face to face where possible.

·         Participants will receive a £25 Amazon gift card or an electronic Amazon gift card if you've done a phone or Skype™ interview as a thank you for providing your insights.

·         This study received ethics approval from the University of York on May 13th 2016 and I will do everything possible to make sure your participation is safe. I will not collect or disclose personal information about participants outside of an email address to send gift cards as needed.

The goal of the study is to expand the ways that people define and describe sex work and sex workers. Some discourses discuss sex work as something that someone is 'trapped' in or has 'survived', or as something that people are either ‘in’ or ‘out’ of. There is very little academic work on strategic involvement in sex work and few studies challenge mainstream notions of who a sex worker is or can be.

I argue that sex workers participate in all kinds of skilled work across jobs in sex work and square work and unless outed, most people can be in a room with or work with sex workers and not know it...and for good reason! The violence of stigma perpetrated by mainstream society keeps people in hiding, hence the title of the study 'In Plain Sight: an examination of 'duality', the simultaneous involvement in sex work and square work.' 

This study will be a way to talk about duality safely and challenge the simplistic understandings of people who do both kinds of work and the biased representations sex workers.

 If you're interested, email me at dualitystudy@gmail.com

Showing Prostitutes The Green Light To Leave ...

I have seen a lot of disturbing content in the last 18 months.  I am sure you can imagine.  I don't need to show the graphic examples.  Everything from child abuse victims to privileged white women dragging out images of so called prostituted ethnic minorities reminiscent of saving the natives colonialism.    

I have seen it all.  I thought I had seen it all.  It saddens me that I have to write this post. I was actually filled with rage when I saw the image in question.  I am a vocal opponent of the commonly used police tactic of using forced portraits of sex workers.   Its an effective strategy for the continued oppression of sex workers and lets be honest,  nothing convinces the middle class masses they are safe more than a photograph of police in action.   I am continually amazed  at the ways state agencies wield photography to degrade sex workers and how the general public suck this up as proof absolute of effective policing.  

The mass circulation of a  photograph of a vulnerable woman being arrested makes the chattering classes of a  neighbourhood undergoing gentrification feel less vulnerable.   Picking up the human filth from the pristine over priced streets. The illusion of safety.  The propaganda of gentrification.  Police view sex workers as devalued commodities and  extend this commodification to their visual representation.  When a sex worker encounters law enforcement they are robbed of their photographic representation, ownership transfers to the state. These stolen images subsequently  inform the social landscape influencing draconian legislation that renders the sex worker dehumanised. 

A few weeks back Hackney Police - Brownswood SNT circulated a photograph  to 5000 residents.  The photograph depicted an easily identifiable vulnerable member of the local community being arrested for street walking.  The police made no efforts to conceal the woman's face. Why would they? This was an ideal public relations moment for the Hackney Police.    The photograph was accompanied by an article proudly boasting of moving these degenerate prostitutes out of the neighbourhood.    If this is Hackney Police taking a holistic approach to sex work  then I'd hate to witness the inhumane approach.   

I am grateful that Hackney Police do not carry guns given how unethically they wield cameras.

The photo is below.  I have crudely edited the women in question out. Took me less than a minute. If only Hackney Police payed the woman the same courtesy. There are other ways to visually demonstrate a crack down on prostitution. I am at a loss to think why the go to image was one of shame.  They effectively outed a sex worker to 5000 residents.   

I find many aspects of the publication of this image questionable.   Not sure what bothers me more. The blatant lack of consequential thinking on behalf of Hackney Police or the gleeful shaming of a sex worker.  It reminds me of a hunter holding up the dead bloodied carcass of his unfortunate catch.

 

Images have a traceable life path.  All Images are networked.  This image will never be out of circulation. Despite Hackney Police deleting the offending image, the photograph  is now on a journey.  It will proliferate online. Delivered to new viewers via social media platforms. The transmission and reception of this image is now unstoppable.  Hackney Police have robbed this woman of her photographic agency for a cheap publicity back slapping stunt.    In poor image selection, Hackney Police have demonstrated their pathological disregard for the safety and well being of sex workers.  The journey of this ill conceived photograph will be endless and will continue long after this poor woman has been forced out of her community. 

I've printed it. Its pinned to my wall as a daily reminder as to why photography matters in the fight for sex worker rights.