When I was doing research for Sex at the Margins I decided to use the terms sex industry and commercial sex to take in the very wide range of activities found around the world, not all of which can be called prostitution. It seemed to me that generalising and over-simplifying are part of the problem in an intransigent social conflict over the meaning of sex-money exchanges, which come in many different forms.
Most rights activists – but not all – prefer the term sex worker as non-stigmatising, placing emphasis on the labour rather than the moral status of what they do. Anti-prostitution campaigners, who insist that all women who sell sex are victims no matter what they themselves say, use terms like prostituted woman and oppose the term sex worker. Some who sell sex proudly call themselves prostitutes, while others hate the term.
I try to use whatever term people use about themselves. If you tell me you experience exchanging sex for money (or benefits) to be a job, I accept what you say. If you tell me you experience it as rape or abuse, I accept that. When I’m talking about a business I name it: peep show, brothel, phone sex. When I’m talking about the person working in that business I try to be specific: stripper, cam girl, rent boy.
For convenience, all posts on this blog that deal with the exchange of sex for money are categorised as Sex Work. All sorts of jobs from traditional prostitution to high-tech, hands-off acts are included.
The other main categories covered on this blog are
Migration mobility and travel are included here
Trafficking smuggling is included here
Rescue Industry many kinds of helping and saving are included here
Feminisms different kinds of feminism are included here
Sexualities ideas about sex itself are included here
This list of categories also appears in the right-hand column of the blog.
More specific topics covered often can be found in the tag cloud, also in the right-hand column.
–Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist