sex work

Elizabeth's picture

Dramatic violation of personal privacy at University of Ottawa raises concerns of student and faculty unions

UPDATE, 11:25, November 4: The University has publicly stated its support for the faculty member whose privacy was violated. It has so far found no misuse of campus email accounts and it states clearly its confidence in the qualifications and teaching abilities of the professor whose reputation was attacked. I applaud their public statement of support.

On Sunday, November 2, the Ottawa Citizen reported that a faculty member at the University of Ottawa was being targeted by an email campaign clearly intended to question her position on the faculty. The basis for the attack?

The claim that she was as a sex worker.

An anonymous source began circulating an email to the University community and the media last week that included photographs, personal information and transcripts from research interviews.

The violation of the faculty member's privacy is astonishing. To have circulated information with the intent to discredit her is awful enough. To have included hotel room confirmations with home address, linked to her professional name is unconscionable. To have revealed confidential research data - and how was that acquired? - is unethical and appalling. Read more below the fold

Elizabeth's picture

Feminist researchers challenge UK anti-prostitution Big Brothel project

We are advocates here for solid research on sex work, especially on working conditions across the many sectors of the sex industry. It is especially galling when bad research, often bad enough to be called "research"-in-quotes, gets passed off to support public policies that make working conditions more dangerous (e.g., driving sectors of sex work further under ground or making it harder to report crimes or workplace dangers). 

Recently the UK has been taken by a storm of anti-prostitution "research" that is being used to support policies that would criminalize the purchase of sex. There was Melissa Farley in Scotland "studying" men who purchase sex (we debunked that here) and now there is the Poppy Project's "Big Brothel" investigation by Julie Bindel and Helen Atkins, purporting to look at the workings of establishments where women sell sex to men. I am glad that a growing number of well-organized feminist researchers are publicly challenging these projects. They clearly highlight the ethical and methodological flaws in the studies and the sensationalistic ways that they overgeneralize from flawed findings. It seems sometimes that the anti-prostitution "researchers" are so disgusted by their topic that they can't take it seriously. Below is a summary provided by the UK researchers who are most actively challenging this kind of work and who need the support of everyone who takes sex workers seriously.

Click here to read more.

Chris's picture

Media Necrophilia on the Body of a 'One-Legged Hooker'

I'm going to give a mixed response to Reneé at Womanist Musings today. On the one hand, props on her masterful, passionate analysis of the media coverage of the murder of Elizabeth Acevedo, a 38-year-old disabled woman who worked as a prostitute. Avecedo was fatally struck on the head in the hallway of her apartment building, possibly by a client. And like I say, I have to give props to Reneé for her post, but part of me is pissed at her for ruining my otherwise excellent mood. Acevedo's death is tragic enough in itself, but the coverage of her death is just damn ugly. In particular, the gossip site Bossip describes her death as "comedy gold." Acevedo lost a leg in a train accident several years ago; therein lies the humor of her too-early death, and it seems that newswriters can't use the phrase "one-legged hooker" quite enough, as though 38 years can be summed up in those three words.

Chris's picture

Ren on Feministe: Sex Work is Not a Monolith and Is Not "Selling Yourself"

Ren has two more posts up as part of her guestblogging stint at Feministe . They both address issues that seem like they should be stunningly obvious to anyone with progressive politics and who sees sex workers as human beings, but they turn out to be hornet's nests of controversy:

The Problem With Creating a Monolith:

Michael's picture

Moving forward in New Mexico

The announcement of the appointment of a new Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of New Mexico is very welcome. Now it will be up to members of the English Department to rally round her and rebuild the program after so much public scrutiny over the last year.

We trust that good will and a recognition of the importance of placing the program, teaching and the students first will prevail over past differences . The University is to be commended for appointing a facilitator to try to bring the factions within the Department together and to overcome personal differences.  Strong leadership from within the Department and the College of Arts and Sciences will be needed to support her in this role.

Michael's picture

More on Trafficking: The axes of evil and the search for mass destruction

John R Miller, former Bush Anti-Trafficking Czar at the State Department (2002-2006) has written a colourful Op-Ed in the New York Times, with the provocative title The Justice Department, Blind to Slavery.  The article stated that the US Department of Justice was subverting the course of justice by blocking passage of the highly controversial human trafficking legislation which would expand federal jurisdiction over prostitution, based on conflationary theory that the two are synonymous.  However Miller framed it in a way that portrayed Justice as being pro-slavery. Presumably his intention was to oil the Bill in the Senate and boost Republican votes in the forthcoming elections. Presumably his former boss would also smile favourably upon this effort. 

Michael's picture

When is trafficking not trafficking - or how to lie with statistics

Americans will be familiar with the hunt-the-needle-in-the-haystack approach of the State and Justice Departments in looking for victims of human trafficking. Jerry Markon exposed the hiatus between the actual evidence and the claims in an article in the Washington Post. The resources utilised for the yield obtained resembled the hunt for weapons of mass destruction.

The equivalent in the United Kingdom is the Police and UK Human Trafficking Centre operations known as Pentameter. This week's release of figures from the second operation triggered off the predictable moral panic and demand for more funding to combat this terrible menace. When Benjamin Disraeli decried the mesmerising effects of numbers "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics" he may have been considering this sort of agenda driven political spin. 

Elizabeth's picture

On teens and sex work and the problems of "saving" street kids

The story in last Thursday's New York Times began:

Twenty-one sexually exploited children have been saved from the streets, and 389 people arrested on charges of trafficking children for prostitution, in what the Federal Bureau of Investigation calls the largest such multistate sweep ever, officials said Wednesday.

The five-day operation, this week and last, spanned 16 cities and involved hundreds of local, state and federal agencies in the work of rescuing missing children, many of them runaways, and identifying networks behind domestic child trafficking for the sex trade. (Susan Saulny, "Hundreds Seized in Sweep Against Child Prostitution" June 26 2008)

It continued:

Michael's picture

In, Out, or on the fence?

Ellie (Lumpesse) has recently written about the frustration of combining being a sex worker with having another career (doctoral student) and the difficulties of keeping these apart and the internal pressures to come out. There is nothing unique in Ellie's dilemma, it is actually one of the most difficult things that indoor sex workers have to deal with. This is well described by Teela Sanders in her paper 'It's just acting' dealing with the emotional labour involved in keeping two lives separate. This in itself, is partly the result of the external violence of stigma, and partly the internal pressures of the 'management of feeling to create a publicity observable facial and bodily display' as described by Arlie Hochschild.

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