Queer Sex Work
Edited by Mary Laing, Katy Pilcher, Nicola Smith
Routledge – 2015 – 294 pages
Sex work is a subject of significant contestation across academic disciplines, as well as within legal, medical, moral, feminist, political and socio-cultural discourses. A large body of research exists, but much of this focuses on the sale of sex by women to men and ignores other performances, practices, meanings and embodiments in the contemporary sex industry. A queer agenda is important in order to challenge hetero-centric gender norms and to develop new insights into how gender, sex, power, crime, work, migration, space/place, health and intimacy are understood in the context of commercial sexual encounters.
Queer Sex Work explores what it might mean to ‘be’, ‘do’ and ‘think’ queer(ly) in the study and practice of commercial sex. It brings together a multiplicity of empirical case studies – including erotic dance venues, online sex working, pornography, grey sexual economies, and BSDM – and offers a variety of perspectives from academic scholars, policy practitioners, activists and sex workers themselves. In so doing, the book advances a queer politics of sex work that aims to disrupt heteronormative logics whilst also making space for different voices in academic and political debates about commercial sex.
This unique and multidisciplinary volume will be indispensable for scholars and students of the global sex trade and of gender, sexuality, feminism and queer theory more broadly, as well as policymakers, activists and practitioners interested in the politics and practice of sex work in local, national and international contexts.
‘Queer Sex Work provides a fabulous antidote to the dominant, heteronormative orientation of most research and policymaking regarding commercial sex. Multidisciplinary and comprehensive in the range of issues covered, the book offers many fresh insights on the role of gender, sexuality, activism, and individuals' experiences when engaging in sex work. It should be required reading for policymakers who legislate in this area.’ - Ronald Weitzer, Professor of Sociology, George Washington University, USA
‘Deploying "queer" as both an empirical descriptor and as an incisive analytic, this volume makes a necessary intervention into current debates around sex, work, and the vast domain of experience in-between.’ - Elizabeth Bernstein, Associate Professor of Women's Studies and Sociology, Barnard College, Columbia University, USA
‘Essential reading and an excellent text that brings a much-needed focus on queer sex work, as well as addressing relevant theories, practices and methodologies in order to "queer sex work".’ - Maggie O’Neill, Professor of Criminology, School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University, UK
1. Being, Thinking and Doing ‘Queer’ in Debates about Commercial Sex, Nicola Smith, Mary Laing and Katy Pilcher Part I: Sex, Work and Queer Interventions 2. Queer in/and Sexual Economies, Nicola Smith 3. Sex, Work, Queerly: Identity, Authenticity and Laboured Performance, Heather Berg 4. After the Image: Labour in Pornography, Helen Hester 5. "Serving It": Werq Queers Our Sex, $ex Queers Our Work, Michael McNamara, Zeb Tortorici and Virgie Tovar 6. Beyond Stigmatisation: The Asian Sex Worker as First-World Savior, Christopher Patterson Part II: Queer Embodiments, Identities, Intersections 7. Critical Femininities, Fluid Sexualities, and Queer Temporalities: Erotic Performers on Objectification, Femmephobia and Oppression, Zahra Stardust 8. Being Paid to be in Pain: The Experiences of a Professional Submissive, Victoria Holt 9. Kinks and Shrinks: The Therapeutic Value of Queer Sex Work, Cassandra Avenatti and Eliza Jones 10. Dangerous Curves: The Complex Intersections Between Queerness, Fatness and Sex Work, Kitty Stryker 11. Older Age, Ablebodiness and Buying Commercial Sex: Reclaiming the Sexual Self, Teela Sanders 12. Supporting Disabled People with their Sexual Lives: A Clear Guide for Health and Social Care Professionals, Tuppy Owens Part III: New Spaces of/and Queer Sex Work 13. Queering Tourism: Exploring Queer Desire and Mobility in a Globalized World, Dana Collins 14. Subverting Heteronormativity in a Lesbian Erotic Dance Venue? Queer Moments and Heteronormative Tensions, Katy Pilcher 15. M$M @ Gaydar: Queering the Social Network, Allan Tyler 16. Troubling the Margins between Intimacy and Anonymity: Queer(y)ing the Virtual Sex Industry in Second Life, Lesley Procter Part IV: Commercial Sex and Queer Communities 17. Community Sex Work: A Conversation with Nenna Feelmore Joiner, Mireille Miller-Young 18. Queering Porn Audiences, Clarissa Smith, Feona Attwood and Martin Barker 19. Outdoor Brothel Culture: The Un/making of a Trans Stroll in Vancouver’s West End, 1975-84, Becki L. Ross 20. ‘Mates from the Pub’: The Unsettling of Sex Work Through Stories of Exchange Among Men ‘Doing Business’ in Manchester, Michael Atkins Part V: Activism and Policy 21. The Best Parties Happen Under the Bus: The Impact of Lesbian Institutions on Queer Sex Workers in Australia, Ryan Elizabeth Cole, Elena Jeffreys and Janelle Fawkes 22. Queering Whiteness: Unpacking Privilege within the U.S. Sex Worker Rights Movement, Meg Panichelli, Stéphanie Wahab, Penelope Saunders and Moshoula Capous-Desyllas 23. Male Escorting, Safety and National Ugly Mugs: Queering Policy and Practice on the Reporting of Crimes Against Sex Workers, Alex Bryce, Rosie Campbell, Jane Pitcher, Mary Laing, Adele Irving, Josh Brandon, Kerri Swindells, and Sophie Safrazyan 24. ‘Someone You Know is a Sex Worker’: A Media Campaign for the St. James Infirmary, Rachel Schreiber 25. Speaking Out: Working with Queer Men Who Experience Sexual Assault, Catherine Bewley 26. Afterword, Dennis Altman.
Mary Laing,PhD, is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Northumbria University. Her research focuses on the criminalisation of sex and sexualities, with a specific focus on the sex industry. Most recently she has been working on a project exploring the licencing of adult work in Canada, as well as undertaking participatory research with sex workers in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. She has approximately 8 years ‘on the ground’ experience as a volunteer outreach worker in both the UK and Canada, and has experience delivering harm minimisation services to both male and female indoor and outdoor sex workers. Mary is the joint academic board representative for the UK Network of Sex Work Projects and has publications in journals including Sexualities, Geoforum and the Journal of Law and Society.
Katy Pilcher, PhD, is a Lecturer in Sociology at Aston University. Her research interests centre around gender, sexualities, sex work, ageing, embodiment, work and employment relations, and visual research methods. Katy has completed research projects relating to erotic dance, sex work, and ageing and everyday life. She has published articles in Sexualities, Sociological Research Online, Leisure Studies, and Journal of International Women’s Studies. Katy is an executive committee member of the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association UK and Ireland.
Nicola Smith, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Birmingham. Her research is broadly concerned with issues surrounding neo-liberal globalisation and social justice, particularly with respect to the (re)production of uneven gendered and sexualised power relations. Key publications include Global Social Justice (2010, Routledge, co-edited), Body/State (Ashgate, 2013, co-edited) and articles on commercial sex and queer theory in Sexualities, Review of International Political Economy and British Journal of Politics and International Relations.