When it comes to debates about sex work, feminists often raise the concept that it’s a “job like any other,” as journalist and former sex worker Melissa Gira Grant has explained. Yet the exchange of sex for pay remains a curiously radical notion for many around the world. While it’s certainly true that sex work is a real career born of both necessity and ambition for many, it also comes laden with social anxiety and culture-war taboo.
|By: Michelle Chen Sunday March 9, 2014 5:20 pm|
|By: Michelle Chen Saturday December 14, 2013 3:59 pm|
These days, French political culture appears to be retreating from its stereotypical liberalism on one of its best-known “vice” industries: the sex trade. Controversial new legislation in the country would criminalize paid sex—and sex workers see the proposed law as an assault on their dignity and safety.
The legislation—which just passed a vote in the Assemblée Nationale and is slated for a Senate vote soon—does not explicitly outlaw the act of selling sex, but it penalizes its purchase:
|By: Michelle Chen Saturday January 19, 2013 6:00 pm|
One of the few bright spots in the global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic has been PEPFAR, the United States government’s program to fund treatment and prevention for vulnerable populations across the Global South. But several years ago, lawmakers singled out one group of people as less worthy of that care. In fact, aid groups must publicly denounce them—or risk losing U.S. funding.
That’s the basic idea behind the “anti-prostitution loyalty oath” embedded in the global AIDS initiative legislation. As a condition of receiving federal funds, organizations must adhere to avaguely worded anti-prostitution pledge, essentially swearing to the government that they do not support or promote prostitution.
|By: Michelle Chen Saturday July 21, 2012 6:00 pm|
If you worked a dangerous job, you’d expect the law to help protect you from workplace hazards. But for many workers in the sex trade, protecting their health on the job could land them in jail.
A new report by Human Rights Watch reveals how the criminalization of sex work in U.S. cities undermines civil rights and puts lives at risk.
|By: Michelle Chen Friday June 29, 2012 6:08 pm|
Two quintessential cliches of New York City street life are heading into more trouble with the law: yellow cabs and prostitutes. To combat the sex trade, the city is pursuing pimps via taxi. But some civil rights advocates fear the measure targets the wrong kind of traffic.
|By: RH Reality Check Monday April 30, 2012 3:30 pm|
Apparently, New York Police officers use possession of condoms (especially more than one condom) as one of the factors in determining whether there is probable cause to arrest someone for prostitution or loitering for the purposes of prostitution. It’s a foolish policy for health reasons, but the state legislature has so far declined to stop it.
|By: Michelle Chen Saturday November 12, 2011 6:15 pm|
In a perfectly “free” labor market, everyone theoretically has the right to exchange work for commensurate compensation. But a free market is not necessarily a just one. And when the commodity is sex, how free is too free?
Sex work, and its attendant culture wars, have moved over time from traditional brothels of urban lore to online marketplaces, raising new questions about private and public freedom. In the digital world, how should trust and power be negotiated between provider and client, both encircled by systemic gender and economic inequities?