A review of Red Lights, The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China by Tiantian Zheng, Patpong Sisters, An American Woman’s View of the Bangkok Sex World by Cleo Odzer, China, Sex and Prostitution by Elaine Jeffreys and Sex Trafficking by Siddharth Kara.Academic writers self-identify particular personal experiences in their non-fictional writing, for the purposes of laying bare their social position as ethnographers, creating a distinction between themselves and the ethnographic subjects of a study, contrasting their own expectations or social experiences with an anecdote of their topic that is typically shocking to a Western non-sex work audience, and maintaining a distance between themselves and the study participants.
I am an Australian sex worker, writing about authors who are not sex workers. Sex work texts portray sex workers as living troubled, conflicted, torturous lives; disrupting social norms facing the consequences of social exclusion and victimhood. The biggest stigmas I face in my life stem from academic writing about my work. In this paper I discuss four texts written by non-sex workers about sex work. The authors share similar life experiences; they are paid to research and write about sex work and were funded by scholarships from academic institutions and/or their Governments to migrate from a Western country for the purpose of studying sex workers. I have not been funded to write this paper, I do so out of my own interest and in the interest of investigating the academic works of non-sex workers. Continue reading