I am currently at the fantastic COST Action ProsPol Conference, Displacing Sex for Sale, in Copenhagen and have enjoyed an inspiring first day. I’ll update this post later with my notes from the sessions I attended, but I just wanted to do a little plug for our (@Planographer) paper tomorrow, entitled “On-Street, Off-street and Online: The Dynamic Liminalities of Sex Work“. Here is the abstract:
Sex work has long been the subject of labelling and stigma with sex workers, predominantly women, being the subjects of moral authority. Relatedly, the physical and virtual spaces in which sex work is produced and consumed have been subject to ‘territorial stigmatization’ (Wacquant, Updated:23 March 2017 16 2007). That is, commercial sex spaces have been marginalised – physically, socially and economically – by framing them, and those that occupy them, as immoral, deviant, dirty, disorderly, and dangerous. Sex work spaces are thus constructed as major ‘blemishes’ (Wacquant, 2007), not only on the urban landscape but the very fabric of society. Simultaneously, however, sex work spaces constitute ‘counter-spaces’ (Lefebvre, 1991) where ‘sexual boundary crossers’ (Hausbeck Korgan et al, 2016) can engage in transgressive behaviours and express and celebrate their minority sexual identity status. Sex work spaces are also liminal in character in that they are often caught between the grey space of legality and illegality; ‘a space between sex and work whilst also being neither/both’ (Smith, 2015); a space that can be simultaneously physical and virtual; a space where different personas and/or alter egos can be portrayed and performed; and, a space where fantasy meets reality. This exploratory, conceptual paper will consider the key liminal characteristics across three distinct spaces where sex work is produced and consumed: (i) the street; (ii) indoor spaces (e.g. the home, hotels and brothels); and, (iii) the virtual (e.g. online escorting; social media and camming). It will be argued that the moral posturing, stigma and regulations imposed upon sex workers gives rise to the exercise of ‘liminal stigmatisation’. Simultaneously, however, the very liminality of sex work spaces, especially virtual ones, allows sex workers to mobilise and challenge this liminal stigma from above.
The presentation is part of the panel session Sex Work in the Digital Age, chaired by Prof. Teela Sanders, in Building D, Room 3.114 (3rd floor) between 9.15 and 11am. Hope to see some of you there!