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Home > CJ Ethics > Pt 2 Limits of Law  (examples)> Prostitution & Sex Work | Buy CJ Ethics

Prostitution and Sex Work

This topic is a difficult one that lies at the crossroads of feminism, morals, pleasure, gender inequality, exploitation and male violence. The difficulty in discussing it is compounded by the large degree of diversity and stratification of experiences within prostitution: from straight and gay prostitutes on the street to elite escort services. The range of experiences increases again if we explore sex work, which takes into account exotic dancing, the adult movie industry and an increasing number of people who run an adult-oriented website that features themselves. Further, the level of exploitation in sex work should be compared and contrasted with a variety of exploitative, meaningless and alienating work produced by a technologically advanced, consumption oriented capitalist society. The question is thus not whether sex work is exploitative, but how does it compare with being a waitress, working in a factory or a McDonalds - perhaps even a graduate assistant?

Prostitution Research

Prostitutes Education Network has statistics, World Charter for Prostitute’s Rights, information on Decriminalizing, Police Abuse, Racism, Trafficking, Male Prostitution, and International Issues. (society for human sexuality): Sex Work Index


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Feminism & Prostitution

Feminist Issues in Prostitution (see also Feminism & Prostitution: A Nonmonolithic Debate for a shorter version of how the different types of feminism view prostitution)

Prostitution: Where Racism and Sexism Intersect

Prostitution and Male Supremacy, by Andrea Dworkin

Overview of "Solutions" to Prostitution [this one quote does not reflect the nature of the whole article, but it's a great question" "Prostitution is a combination of sex and the free market. Which one are you against?"]

Feminism and Prostitution An online interview with Carol Leigh, an artist, poet, writer, feminist, prostitute-activist. Discussed is the depravation of prostitutes rights, why feminists should not be against prostitution and pornography (and monogamy, and...)

Prostitution, Feminism and Critical Praxis: profession prostitute? This article examines narratives regarding life in prostitution. These narratives focus upon routes into prostitution, 'making out' in prostitution, male violence against women working as prostitutes. They reveal the resistances women engage in order to maintain stable self identities whilst labeled and treated as marginalized, criminalized 'other' through the operation of 'whore stigma'. This paper also seeks to locate the experiences, needs, meanings and practices of female prostitutes within socio-economic and historical contexts.

Misc. links on Sex Work

Urban Institute report, The Hustle: the size and dynamics of underground markets (prostitution, drugs). Through interviews with convicted pimps, we uncovered information on how businesses are operated, how men and women enter and are recruited into the trade, and how the Internet is changing the street-based commercial sex economy. Report ~ nice overview

"Street Prostitution, 2nd Edition" (90 pp.) focuses on the problem of female street prostitutes and provides practitioners with information regarding prostitutes, their clients, and pimps and panderers. It also explains the transaction and the environment associated with the problem, and describes the linkage between prostitution and drugs. (Community Oriented Policing Series, US Dept of Justice)

Children and Prostitution - index This is a research report from UNICEF regarding the sexual exploitation of children. The objectives and scope of the research are: 

  • Map the discourse of the commercial sexual exploitation of children, showing the main ideas in operation and the main organizational and geographical contexts in which they arise; 
  • Map the data showing what data are available, their strengths and weaknesses, together with a critique of methods and assumptions; 
  • Describe the context of the production and reproduction of knowledge in this field; 
  • Discuss the implications of the current state of discourses and data and their potential for future work, particularly in the area of measurement.

Philosophy Talk (Real Audio w/listening notes) Prostitution: Is prostitution morally objectionable?  Should it be illegal?   Or is it simply a market transaction, where one party sells a service for a price that another party is willing to pay, and no third party is harmed?   Philosophy Talk favorite Debra Satz (Dept of Philosophy, Stanford) joins John and Ken.

Network of Sex Work Projects - interesting list of articles on Prostitution Law

The Urban Justice Center's Sex Worker Project has a number of detailed reports (alternet reviewed one of the reports)

Prostitution in France This site details the registration process of “common prostitutes” in France, including medical examinations. Furthermore, the removal of prostitutes from prostitution is discussed.

Is Pornography The Same As Prostitution? A New York Judge Says "No," But the Answer Is Less Clear ( column)

International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe ~ see the Manifesto from their 2005 conference (.pdf, 12 pages)

Comprehensive bibliography on sex work and the sex industry

For Sex Workers

Exotic Dancers Alliance: Because Everyone Deserves Fair Working Conditions, Even Live! Nude! Girls!

Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation: Everything you wanted to know about STDs & Condoms

Sisters Offering Support provides prostitution prevention and intervention through education and awareness. "We believe that prostitution is a system of exploitation and abuse. It is a system which keeps women and children oppressed and disempowered. Involvement in prostitution most often stems from a perceived “lack of choice,” rather than from choice. We increase awareness of choices in conjunction with developing options to prostitution. We do not advocate for systems which legalize or decriminalize prostitution. We believe that these systems continue to oppress and exploit both women and children."


Turning Pro: A Guide to Sex Work for the Ambitious and the Intrigued

The Fantasy Factory: An Insider's View of the Phone Sex Industry

Indecent: How I Make It and Fake It as a Girl for Hire

 Brothel: Mustang Ranch and Its Women

Contemporary Research On Sex Work


The Internet Escort's Handbook Book 1: The Foundation

Belle de Jour: Diary of an Unlikely Call Girl

Madam: Inside a Nevada Brothel

Bare: The Naked Truth About Stripping

A Stripper's Tail: Confessions of a Las Vegas Stripper

The Price Of Sex: Prostitution, Policy And Society

Stripper Shoes (Cheryl Bartlett, PhD)
Stripped: Twenty Years of Secrets from Inside the Strip Club

Sex Work: Writings by Women in the Sex Industry

Harm Principle
Google IPO Risks
Wisc v Mitchell
Hate Crime
Virginia v Black
In Re P
Corporate Harm

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Some readers may find the second picture below a little graphic. 

This is a real ad for jewelry. Give her something nice, she opens her legs and the man gets sexual access. 

In case the relevance to prostitution is unclear, the parody below makes it explicit. 

This picture, downloaded from one of the internet newsgroups, appears here as a comment on how widespread the exchange of sex for material rewards is, even within marriage. In this case, the exchange is the performance by a woman of oral sex for an offer of marriage and a large diamond ring. 

Noting that the exchange of sex for material rewards is widespread does not mean 'good' or even 'normal'. 

This picture is meant to to highlight that the exchange of sex for money or goods happens in many contexts. The question thus is why some of the more direct forms are illegal while the exchange pictured here is not. 


Escort Blogs & Sex Work Websites (Not safe for work computers - duh)

For various reasons, readers seem drawn to the perspective of sex workers themselves, so I've been encouraged to add some escort blogs to the list of resources. I've tried to select ones from articulate women that are not just for advertising purposes. This list is not intended to be comprehensive; its a starting point and interested readers should explore the links and blogrolls at these sites for additional recommendations.

$pread Magazine is by and for sex workers and those who support their rights. See also $pread Blog

Alexa (NY Hottie) 

Radical Vixen (I'm a kinky hippie political activist who talks dirty on the phone. Make porn not war.) 

Web Whores Manifesto

Clandestine Call Girl

Compartments: (Secrets. Lies. Living A Double Life)


Criminology Reviews:

Recidivism Among the Customers of Female Street Prostitutes: Do Intervention Programs Help? Western Criminology Review (full text)

Book Review of I Won't Do Manhattan: Causes and Consequences of a Decline in Street Prostitution Western Criminology Review (full text) Interesting note from the review: 

Weidner further suggests that the need for money, although a factor, never stands alone as a reason for entering prostitution. He cites research suggesting that prostitutes experience a "state of irrelation" or displacement and nonbelonging with peers prior to their entry to prostitution. This is consistent with clinical observations I have made in my work with street prostitutes in a military community. In many instances, these young women were separated from friends and family and found themselves abandoned and in a market where prostitution can thrive. Weidner presents literature suggesting that excitement, independence, and dislike for routine work are other factors influencing the decision to enter prostitution. 

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