Sex Work in 2013: No Debate

No more debate. And ignore the johnalism. Those are my writing resolutions for 2014, after pulling together (with your help) this year of excellent writing on sex work.

No more debate – because reporting and analysis on sex work issues go way beyond the predictable pro/con, “are sex workers responsible for the subjugation of all women? discuss!” thing, and to quote every sex work rescue program out there, we’re better than that (and if you haven’t noticed, shake your feeds up).

Ignore the johnalism – because even though those guys are still out there filing the same cliched copy (saviors gotta save), they are so clearly outnumbered, and they are outdone.

(White Savior Cat, by Scott Long)

And maybe I’m inured to the exploitation of journalism, or maybe I’m just becoming an old softie, but I noticed a lot more news stories that treated sex work absolutely uncontroversially. Like here, as evidenced in this kind note from New Orleans based journalist Alison Fenterstock on her favorite piece:

In the grand scheme of things it’s not especially awesome or groundbreaking, but I write for a mid-sized, mainstream metropolitan daily paper and was pretty pleased they went for a Super Bowl strip club story that extensively quoted an actual stripper on how not to be an asshole in strip clubs during the Super Bowl (for customers) and basic advice on how to stay safe if you had traveled to New Orleans to dance during the Super Bowl. It ran on A1 and about a year later, still gets hits every day from people Googling “New Orleans strip clubs.”

Simple, servicey, and yet still so unusual that I had to add a category for just these kinds of stories, “News Stories That Treated Sex Work Like A Real News Story.”

And now, from the depths of my Instapaper and sex work twitter to you, the list. (Oh, also: I didn’t include my work on this list. My 2013 writing is over here.)

2013: The Best in Sex Work Writing

Crime & Law Enforcement

Dragged Off By The Hair’: An Indian Sex Worker Recalls a Raid, Parker, Tits and Sass

Exposing Bullshit: Extorting Sex Work Clientele Isn’t Helping, Tizz Wall, Medium

New York’s Condom Bait-and-Switch, Emily Gogolak, Village Voice

New York Cops Will Arrest You For Carrying Condoms, Molly Crabapple, Vice

Operation Cross Country VII Roundup and Comments, Emi Koyama (in which Emi goes the mile most newsrooms did not and crunches the numbers on a coordinated, national FBI sting operation)

On LGBTQ Youth, Condoms and Police Stops, Olivia Ford,

Police officers accused of rape get a pass from the LA Times, Rania Khalek

Soho police raids show why sex workers live in fear of being ‘rescued’, Molly, The Guardian

The Big Ripoff: TER, The Texas Murder Acquittal, and the Myth of the Vulnerable Client, Charlotte Shane, Tits and Sass

Economics & Labor

Branded: The Fight for Employment After Sex Work, Kitty Stryker, Slixa

Fired for doing porn: The new employment discrimination, EJ Dickson, Salon

ICTU: Denying Sex Workers a Workers’ Identity, Wendy Lyon, Irish Left Review

‘I’d rather be a sex worker than a beggar’, Ilija Trojanovic, The Daily Star (Lebanon)

Is Exotic Dance… Dance?!, Susan Elizabeth Shepard, Pacific Standard

Gag Order: Sex Workers Allege Mistreatment at, Kate Conger, SF Weekly

“Getting Away” With Hating It: Consent in the Context of Sex Work, Charlotte Shane, Tits and Sass

Glimpses of history in Storyville’s 3 remaining buildings, Kathy Reckdahl, The Advocate (New Orleans)

The myth of seductive money, Calico Lane

Reflections on Minneapolis madams and the city’s red-light districts, Marlys Harris, MinnPost

Sex work and gentrification, Dan Bledwich, Overland

Tales of, Maggie Mayhem

Taking the Boom Out of the Boom-Boom Room: Why Are Strip Clubs Banning Rap?, Susan Elizabeth Shepard, Complex

Transition, Danny Wylde

What It Was Like to Work at the Lusty Lady, a Unionized Strip Club, Lily Burana, The Atlantic

What Prostitutes, Nurses and Nannies Have in Common, Robin Hustle, Jezebel

Wildcatting: A Stripper’s Guide to the Modern American Boomtown, Susan Elizabeth Shepard, BuzzFeed

Gender & Sexuality

Black porn, white pleasure, Feminista Jones, Ebony

Ethical sluts and “dirty whores”: Straight talk about sex work, Melinda Chateauvert, Salon

The Feminist Sex Wars and the Myth of the Missing Middle, Gayle Rubin, at Susie Bright’s blog

Gender inequality and sex work, Molly, A Sex Worker in Glasgow

Memorial draws controversy over invitation of speaker Janice Raymond, Mercedes Allen,

NWC2013: write-up & some opinions, Jennifer Moore (n.b., this long, well-researched post defies categorization, and is an essential read on sex work and the politics of exclusion)

Sex workers need support – but not from the ‘hands off my whore’ brigade, Selma James,  The Guardian

Transforming Pornography: Black Porn for Black Women, Sinnamon Love, Guernica

Unhappy Hooking, or Why I’m Giving Up on Being Positive, Sarah M.

When Your (Brown) Body is a (White) Wonderland, Tressie McMillan Cottom

Why are we afraid to talk about gay porn?, Conner Habib, BuzzFeed

Why I never signed the No More Page 3 petition, Zoe Stavri


Cold Case, Good Cause, Matthew Lawrence, Providence Phoenix

Sex Workers Embrace Obamacare, Erika Fink, CNN

Higher Ed 

Campaigners for sex workers face bullying and bad data, Belinda Brooks-Gordon, The Conversation

FYI, Julie Bindel: Your Ideas About Sex Work Research Affect Sex Work Students, Sarah M.

On Good Research, Lori Adorable, SWOP-NYC

Why Pornography Deserves Its Own Academic Journal, Lynn Comella, Pacific Standard

Human Rights

Activists Campaign Against Philadelphia Judge Who Ruled Rape as Theft, Tara Murtha, RH Reality Check

Both Transphobic and Whorephobic: The Murder of Dora Oezer, Caty Simon, Tits and Sass

Equality Now, or Else?, Parker, Tits and Sass

Forty Years in the Hustle: Q&A with Margo St. James, Anne Gray Fischer, Bitch

Misery to Ministry: Kathryn Griffin’s Prostitution Rehab in Texas, Kate Zen, Slixa

Rescue is for Kittens: Ten Things Everyone Needs to Know about ‘Rescues’ of Youth in the Sex Trade, Emi Koyama

Sex imperialism, Scott Long

Sex slave story revealed to be fabricated, Simon Marks and Phorn Bopha, The Cambodia Daily

Talking to Sex Workers About Fighting for Their Rights, Feminism, and More, Lauren Rankin, RH Reality Check

The “Ugly Truth:” Ad Campaigns about the Sex Trade Will Always Fail…, Hadil Habiba, Prison Culture guest post

“What Antis Can Do To Help,” Part 1 and Part 2, Lori Adorable, Tits and Sass

What India’s Sex Workers Want: Power, Not Rescue, Michelle Chen, In These Times

Law & Policy

Arizona’s Tenacious Laws Against Sex Workers, Jordan Flaherty, Truthout

Canada’s Supreme Court Striking Down Prostitution Laws, Brooke Magnanti, Reason

Enduring (the) Myths: Sex Work, Decriminalisation and the Nordic Model, Nine, Feminist Ire

I am a former escort. Trust me, criminalizing prostitution doesn’t help, Matthew Lawrence, The Guardian

Prostitution Law and the Death of Whores, Laura Agustín, Jacobin

Red-light greenlight: Sex work at the brink of legalization, Justin Ling, The Coast

Sex Workers in France Resist Attacks on Their Liberty, Michelle Chen, In These Times

Something Rotten in the State of Sweden, Nine, The Toast

Treating Sex Work as Work, Maggie McNeill, Cato Unbound

What Prostitutes Can Teach the Canadian Government, Samantha Majic, Washington Post Monkey Cage blog

When XXX Doesn’t Mark the Spot, Yasmin Nair, In These Times

Media Criticism

Cold Cases, Susan Elizabeth Shepard, The New Inquiry

Condom debate offers another chance to explain porn personnel to us, Gram Ponante

The Feminist Porn Book, Caty Simon, Tits and Sass

Feministe Can’t Just Make Their Sex Work Problems Disappear, Chris Hall, Literate Perversions

Mira Sorvino, CNN child-sex series ‘shameful’ for Cambodians, Michelle Tolson, Asian Correspondent

On the Importance of Writing Accurately About Sex Work, Stoya, Vice

Sauna Raids and Silenced Sex Workers, Mrs Misandry, A Thousand Flowers

Study Abroad, Charlotte Shane, The New Inquiry

Why Is The Canadian Media Still Referring To Sex Workers As Prostitutes?, Sarah Ratchford, Vice

Why This Video Needs to Fuck Off, eithnecrow (also awarding this one, ‘2013 Best Response To An Upworthy Headline’)

Memoir & Personal Essays

How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir, Amber Dawn

Prose & Lore, the Red Umbrella Project literary journal

News Stories That Treated Sex Work Like A Real News Story

Argentina’s prostitutes – mothers first, sex workers second, Roberta Radu, The Guardian

California Prostitutes Win Victims Compensation, AP

Louisiana Overhaul of Discriminatory Law: Hundreds Cleared from Sex Offender List, Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams

Police Harassment In Louisiana May Be Increasing The Number Of People Dying From AIDS, Tara Culp-Ressler, ThinkProgress

Porn and Banks: Drawing a Line on Loans, Chris Morris, CNBC

Porn industry trade group halts production for third time this year, Massoud Hayoun, Al Jazeera America

Sex workers meet to demand rights, Ambika Pandit, Times of India

Politics (Electoral)

The Twitter feed of Lynsie Lee (and this decent interview)

And yes, I am including the Sydney Leathers sexting how-to


Stoya, Pop Star of Porn, Amanda Hess, Village Voice

How porn star Courtney Trouble is starting a queer revolution, Lynn Comella, Las Vegas Weekly



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