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 »
One encounters a lot of tourists in the sex industry. While many clients are technically tourists–visiting from other cities, states, or countries–I’m talking about working tourists.
Work tourists are young women, usually either college educated or in the process of getting a college education, who hear about how empowering sex work is, and decide to jump on the bandwagon. They’re different from girls who strip or escort their way through college, in that that they don’t really need sex work. Their education is usually paid for by their parents or scholarships, and the income they earn from their erotic labor is usually money to go out with friends or buy designer bags and shoes. Sex work is a game to them, not a livelihood, and certainly not a career choice. Read more on The Gloss…
Prostitutes, unless they’re the totally unrealistic Julia-Roberts-In-”Pretty-Woman” kind, are rarely given much cultural consideration outside of a very narrow scope. When you become a prostitute, it seems, you give up your personhood, often reduced to a two-dimensional stereotype that we all carry in our heads.
But sex workers are just like the rest of us — with hopes and dreams and curiosity about the world. Photographer Chris Arnade wanted to capture that, so he brought his telescope to the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, known for being a popular prostitution zone. Keep reading »