Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of Zurich, Switzerland’s “sex boxes,” drive-in brothels that accommodate over a dozen sex workers. Sex work has been legal in Switzerland since the 1940s, but was largely unregulated. Previously Zurich sex workers sold themselves on the street in several neighborhoods, often climbing into clients’ cars. As can be the case even in liberal Europe, some neighbors complained about their presence. Thus, the “sex boxes” are located in an industrial area farther out from the main area of the city and customers drive to them. Keep reading »
The NYPD has finally agreed to ban the confiscation condoms as evidence from people they suspect of being sex workers. With similar measures having been fought for and won in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., this seems like a win for sexual health, right?
Well, sort of. The headlines I keep seeing aren’t actually accurate: “NYPD to stop seizing sex work suspects’ condoms,” “NYPD To Stop Seizing Condoms From Suspects As Evidence Of Prostitution,” etc. This sort of shoddy reporting might mean that the public thinks that condoms as evidence is an issue over and done with, when in fact there is more to do. The policy announced by NYPD Commissioner Bratton bars confiscation of condoms as arrest evidence in prostitution, prostitution in a school zone, and loitering for the purposes of prostitution cases, which is a great start. But it’s not as overarching as the mainstream media seems to think it is. Keep reading »
A new report conducted by the Urban Institute on the economics of sex work in the United States turned up some interesting results in the financial life of a pimp. The Institute interviewed imprisoned former pimps and asked them how they allocated their funds. The graph above reflects the percentage that participating pimps reported spending on each category. The economics of pimping were found to mimic other businesses (minus the expenditures on illegal substances and weapons). Researchers say that main difference between prostitution and other small business was that many of the pimps admitted to manipulating their employees into working for them, either by pretending to be romantically interested or by taking advantage of their weaknesses. Disturbingly, the pimps seem to have spent more on drugs and alcohol than condoms for their employees. [Washington Post]
If you’ve done any reading on the Internet about the business of sex work, chances are you’ve come across Melissa Gira Grant. She’s written about sex, politics, labor and tech everywhere from the UK’s Guardian to The Atlantic to Jezebel and Valleywag, making her one of the top intellectuals to turn to when America needs an explanation about why we’re so weird about sex.
A former “web cam girl,” Grant just published her latest book, Playing The Whore: The Work Of Sex Work, which is unlike any book about sex work or feminism that I’ve ever read. In it, she critiques law enforcement’s treatment of actual or perceived sex workers; labor issues surrounding sex work; and the tendency for governments and some outreach workers to treat all sex workers as “victims” in need of being “rescued.” However complicated you might have thought issues pertaining to sex work were before, Grant’s excellent book is extraordinarily illuminating.
Grant recently spoke to me about “whore stigma,” feminism, police, and the media’s struggle to accurately cover sex workers. Our Q&A begins after the jump: Keep reading »
After only three weeks in existence, the Snuggle House in Madison, Wisconsin, where cuddling professionals hugged, spooned and cuddled their clients for $60 an hour, has shut down. The cuddling business was accused of being a front for prostitution, a lawyer for the Snuggle House owner confirmed to the AP today. A comment on the business’ Facebook page confirmed, “The pushback and harassment is not worth it, honestly.”
Paying for sex, nudity, drugs and alcohol were forbidden during snuggling sessions. Customers signed a two-page waiver before a session began and security cameras and panic buttons were located in each bedroom. However, attorneys for the city of Madison were were skeptical of “therapeutic cuddling” and had delayed its opening several times.
According to The Times-Picayune, prior to the closing, the city had planned to draft an ordinance to regulate snuggling even further. City attorneys claimed they want to protect the cuddling professionals — three women and one man — from sexual assault. While safety is surely a worthy cause (and one that the cameras, panic buttons and waivers suggest the Snuggle House were aware of), the city’s explanation for their concern left something to be desired. According to one city attorney, cuddling leads to sex, always, ergo the employees must be getting sexually assaulted if they are not actually prostitutes. Keep reading »