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 »
To celebrate International Day of Prostitutes (apparently that’s a thing?) on June 2, Brazil’s director of the Department of STDs, AIDS, and Viral Hepatitis devised an ad campaign to encourage the use of condoms in the country’s legal prostitution industry, as well as remove the social stigma surrounding sex work. Unfortunately, it turns out that most people didn’t feel that the ads’ message was quite appropriate. One PSA read, “I cannot be seen without a condom, my love.” But the poster that has received the most attention featured a smiling woman and the phrase “I’m happy being a prostitute.” Keep reading »
On Christmas Eve 2009, an escort named Lenora Ivie Frago refused to have sex with a client who hired her via Craigslist, so he pulled out a gun and shot her. Ezekiel Gilbert of Texas injured Frago in the neck, paralyzing her for seven months until she died.
Yesterday, a jury acquitted Gilbert of murder, because he said he was only trying to get back the $150 he had paid her. He didn’t intend to kill the 23-year-old escort when he shot her in the neck, you see. He was just trying to reclaim his stolen property! Keep reading »
Francois Ozon: I think women understand the film more than men. … I think women can really be connected with this girl because it’s a fantasy of many women to do prostitution. That doesn’t mean they do it, but the fact to be paid to have sex is something which is very obvious in feminine sexuality.
The Hollywood Reporter: Why do you believe that is a desire? I really don’t think that’s the case.
I think that’s the case because sexuality is complex. I think to be an object in sexuality is something very obvious you know, to be desired, to be used. There is kind of a passivity that women are looking for. That’s why the scene with Charlotte Rampling is very important, because she says [prostitution] was a fantasy she always had but never had the courage to do it. She was too shy.
How did you come to the conclusion that is a theme in women’s sexuality?
It is the reality. You speak with many women, you speak with shrinks, everybody knows that. Well, maybe not Americans!
This is the French director Francois Ozon, whose film “Young & Beautiful” — about a Parisian teen girl who becomes a prostitute — screened at Cannes. At first I was inclined to think, ‘Oh, those French men!‘ but I do think this exchange is worth a closer look because it reveals a lot about his somewhat limited view of women’s sexual fantasies. Keep reading »
Plenty of politicians are whores to big business. But Vicksburg, Mississippi, mayoral candidate Linda Fondren has opened up about her own actual sex work past: she literally used to work as a legal prostitute in Nevada. “I was a working girl in a legal brothel over 30 years ago,” Fondren said. She said she began working at a brothel to support herself after she lost a parent and became pregnant at age 14. “I hated it. I hated it,” the businesswoman and former CNN Hero told the AP. But in a happy ending of sorts, Fondren met her husband, Jim, of 28 years while working as a prostitute. “It’s true, my husband was my client. My husband and I have been married 28 years,” she told WLBT-TV. Keep reading »
Anti-trafficking advocates, LGBT organizations, lawmakers and public health advocates have gathered in Albany, New York today to push for new legislation about condoms. Yes, condoms.
Currently 39 million male condoms and two million female condoms are distributed for free in New York State. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, “Consistent and correct use of the male latex condom reduces the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV transmission.” If used correctly, rubbers can also prevent unplanned pregnancies.
Yet having pockets full of condoms could also lead to a potential prostitution arrest by law enforcement, or even be used as incriminating evidence by prosecutors in trial. If trafficking victims, sex workers, LGBTQ persons and others are targeted by law enforcement, what is the incentive to have safe sex? Keep reading »
“What do you feel about going topless?” he asked me over the phone. I hesitantly replied, “Well, I guess I’m okay with it. But will they be able to touch my boobs?” There was an awkward pause on the other end of the line. “Yes, but you’ll never have to do anything more. I promise.”
A few days earlier, I’d been scanning Craigslist for part-time gigs and came across an ad that seemed too good to be true: “Beautiful college girls sought for nightclub modeling. Receive up to $1000/night. Email pics.” I answered and said that I was a 21-year-old student and attached some cheesy iPhoto shots.
It was January of my senior year of college in New York, and I was completely and utterly broke. I had been doing freelance work to keep me afloat, but things started to go downhill in December, when I only made $600 for the entire month — not even enough to cover my rent. On a cold night I huddled in the school’s library, answered every student job posting I could find and scanned Craigslist. Five minutes after answering the nightclub post, I received a response from a guy named Bob. He wanted me to call him. I ducked outside and dialed the number he sent me. Keep reading »
Prostitutes — out of sight, out of mind. At least that’s what the government of Zurich, Switzerland, is hoping for. That’s why they’ve created drive-in sex boxes, which will accommodate around 30 working prostitutes. The boxes are a move to begin regulating the sex trade in the city, where officials say prostitution has gotten out of hand. In order to qualify to use one of the boxes, the prostitutes will have to be covered by medical insurance, pay a £26 license, and a daily fee of around £3.30. The boxes will be located in an industrial area, and will be occupied on a first-come, first-served basis (no pun intended.) Keep reading »
Be honest: “For A Good Time, Call …” has made you just a tiny bit curious about what it’s like to work a phone sex line. Is it just pervs who call up and pant into the phone before hanging up? Are all the women who do it just paying their way through grad school?
We went to Sabrina Morgan, a 28-year-old phone sex operator in San Diego, for the real story. She got involved in phone sex back in 2005 and was kind enough to answer some questions over email. Everything you want to know about dirty talk, stocking fetishes and melon humping, after the jump!
Keep reading »
Yes, I was nervous, but mostly I was excited. It was my first day as Mistress Darkness, a professional dominatrix. As a black graduate student in her 20s who had previously held down employment as a gym teacher and library assistant, I surprised myself when I answered the ad on Craigslist. I needed a flexible, part-time job to supplement my graduate assistantship stipend and the $65-$85/hr compensation sounded like easy money. I had always been intrigued by the sex industry, but the thought of being a sex worker clashed with my feminist ideals. I decided to make an exception for this dominatrix listing, which seemed different to me with its strict “no sex or nudity” policy. Keep reading »