Note to anti-prostitutionists: Sex worker movements are nothing to sneer at

[Article by Laura Agustin in response to a book written by Swedish anti-prostitution propagandist Kajsa Ekis Ekmans]

Ordinarily I avoid ideological debates, but this time I had to chime in, because the author of a nutty Swedish book actually lied about me in it. I don’t mean she distorted my ideas – that is conventional amongst feminists who feel they are engaged in a battle to the death about prostitution. No, this was a lie about me and my life: she described me as an employee of the Network for Sex Work Projects, and the company publishing her book didn’t get anyone to check her facts – even about living people, which is reprehensible. Since I am independent with a highly precarious income, and because my opinions are only my own, I could not allow the lie to go uncontested.

The book’s an attack on two activities: commercial sex and surrogate motherhood. The drivel about me is a very small part of the book, which also provides an egregiously selective and ideologically driven version of the history of sex worker rights movements. I decided to use the publishing opportunity to provide a more honest, if still very brief, version, complete with links to the evidence – probably the first such thing published in Sweden. The original book title can’t be translated exactly but means something like Being and Being a Product – the idea of commodification. Continue reading

NZ: Decriminalisation of sex industry positive move

Taking the Crime out of Sex Work

Thursday May 13, 2010

Decriminalisation of New Zealand’s sex industry has resulted in safer, healthier sex workers, a new book by University of Otago, Christchurch, researcher Gillian Abel shows.

Since decriminalisation seven years ago sex workers are more empowered to insist on safe sex, Abel’s book “Taking the crime out of sex work – New Zealand sex workers’ fight for decriminalisation’’ shows.

Abel is a senior lecturer at the University of Otago, Christchurch’s Public Health and General Practice department.

She edited the book with Lisa Fitzgerald (a former Otago University, Christchurch, health promotion lecturer) and Catherine Healy (with Aline Taylor).

They interviewed 772 sex workers for the book. Continue reading

Older story- Australia: The Porn Report

Alan McKee, Katherine Albury + Catharine Lumby
Melbourne University Press 2008
A book review by Danny Yee © 2008

A study of the production and consumption of pornography in Australia, The Porn Report is based on a three year project which involved a survey of a thousand Australian consumers, detailed analysis of the fifty most popular DVD titles from the largest distributors, and interviews with producers. This is augmented with additional research and some general background, beginning with a general history of pornography, drawing on Walter Kendrick’s The Secret Museum.

The survey of pornography users was not random, but was broad enough to demonstrate that the common stereotypes are wrong: unsurprisingly, given that pornography users make up about a third of Australian adults, they are fairly Continue reading

Sex Work, Migration and Trafficking Identity Matters: Non-Sex Workers Writing About Sex Work, review essay by Elena Jeffreys

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.

Red Lights, The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China by Tiantian Zheng

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

Prostitution in Georgian London: Harlot’s progress

Oct 15th 2009
From The Economist print edition

The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Wages of Sin Shaped the Capital. By Dan Cruickshank. Random House: 688 pages; £25. Buy from

"Connoisseurs" by Thomas Rowlandson

"Connoisseurs" by Thomas Rowlandson

AS MANY as one in five young women were prostitutes in 18th-century London. The Covent Garden that tourists frequent today was the centre of a vast sex trade strewn across hundreds of brothels and so-called coffee houses. Fornication in public was common and even children were routinely treated for venereal disease. A German visitor observed a nation that had overstepped all others “in immorality and addiction to debauchery”.

English society expected, even encouraged, men to pay for sex. Prejudice barred women from all but menial jobs. Prostitution at least offered financial independence: a typical harlot could earn in a month what a tradesman or clerk would earn in a year. For a few beautiful and savvy women, the gamble paid off. Lavinia Fenton, a child prostitute, married a duke. But most prostitutes were destined for disease, despair and early death. Continue reading

Secrets of Sexual Forced Labour in Nazi Concentration Camps

Tuesday, 30 June 2009
by Kathryn Hadley

I have vivid memories of a school trip to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Oranienburg, 35 kilometres north of Berlin: the crematories, the so-called ‘Station Z’ built for the extermination of prisoners in 1942, the infirmary… I have no recollection, however, of the camp brothel.

Robert Sommer’s latest book The Concentration Camp Bordello: Sexual Forced Labor in National Socialistic Concentration Camps (Das KZ-Bordell) provides, however, for the first time a comprehensive study of this dark, hushed-up and largely ignored chapter of the history of Nazi Germany. Sommer is a cultural studies Continue reading

Johns on the spot

From Saturday’s Books section
Men need to stop kidding themselves: Victor Malarek’s books makes it clear that when they buy sex, they perpetuate the system that enslaves millions of women and children
Reviewed by Natalie McLennan

Last updated on Friday, Jun. 26, 2009 05:24PM EDT

In The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men who Buy It, Victor Malarek explores the following theory: Men looking to pay for sex plus a money-driven society equals women and children treated as commodities and trafficked in a fashion similar to drugs and guns. The truth, exposed by his thorough research and methodology, is incredibly painful. Malarek uses these victims – from children in Asia sold by their parents to runaways throughout the United States and Canada who become truck-stop prostitutes enslaved by pimps – as the backdrop to highlight the callousness of the johns who rent their bodies. Continue reading