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Commodification of sexual labor

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Date Issued:
2009
Summary:
This is an ethnographic study of a self-regulated Internet site that facilitates illegal female prostitution in South Florida. The purpose is to identify the social and economic characteristics of the site that can contribute to acceptable prostitution reform. The members of the site appear to sustain an orderly and mutually respectful exchange of sexual services for money, suggesting that certain social and economic features of this form of transaction diminish barriers otherwise present in typical forms of contemporary prostitution exchange. The study evaluates the thesis that when commercial sex is conducted in an open atmosphere of respect, trust and mutual understanding, within certain economic parameters, the beliefs and practices that stigmatize prostitutes and prostitution are neutralized. Evidence was generated through extensive observation of an online venue that approximates what prostitution would be like if open market exchange in sexual labor did exist. These data are supplemented by interviews with participants of the online community. Features of mutual respect, trust, and understanding, characteristically absent in traditional prostitution venues, appear to be part of an emerging community phenomenon that facilitates prostitution online. Thus, this study engages with the larger scholarly position that normalization of sex work is necessary for successful prostitution reform. This community utilizes a non-legal enforcement mechanism to facilitate cooperative exchanges based on establishing trust between participants. At the center of the cooperation system is a reputation mechanism that fosters trust between potential partners by encouraging participants to post honest reviews of their encounters with each other.
Title: Commodification of sexual labor: the contribution of Internet communities to prostitution reform.
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Name(s): Young, Jeffrey R.
Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters
Department of Anthropology
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Electronic Thesis Or Dissertation
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2009
Publisher: Florida Atlantic University
Physical Form: electronic
Extent: x, 295 p. : ill.
Language(s): English
Summary: This is an ethnographic study of a self-regulated Internet site that facilitates illegal female prostitution in South Florida. The purpose is to identify the social and economic characteristics of the site that can contribute to acceptable prostitution reform. The members of the site appear to sustain an orderly and mutually respectful exchange of sexual services for money, suggesting that certain social and economic features of this form of transaction diminish barriers otherwise present in typical forms of contemporary prostitution exchange. The study evaluates the thesis that when commercial sex is conducted in an open atmosphere of respect, trust and mutual understanding, within certain economic parameters, the beliefs and practices that stigmatize prostitutes and prostitution are neutralized. Evidence was generated through extensive observation of an online venue that approximates what prostitution would be like if open market exchange in sexual labor did exist. These data are supplemented by interviews with participants of the online community. Features of mutual respect, trust, and understanding, characteristically absent in traditional prostitution venues, appear to be part of an emerging community phenomenon that facilitates prostitution online. Thus, this study engages with the larger scholarly position that normalization of sex work is necessary for successful prostitution reform. This community utilizes a non-legal enforcement mechanism to facilitate cooperative exchanges based on establishing trust between participants. At the center of the cooperation system is a reputation mechanism that fosters trust between potential partners by encouraging participants to post honest reviews of their encounters with each other.
Summary: Understanding the social order as a cooperation game where participants publicly signal each other in an attempt to find the most desirable partners explains the mutual trust and respect that participants have for each other. Because stigma and disrespect are founded on mistrust, this cooperation mechanism is effective in minimizing undesirable attitudes, beliefs, and practices that stigmatize and oppress prostitutes. This study suggests that prostitution reform acceptable to many feminists is possible. But in order for meaningful reform to work in practice, it must be accompanied by regulations carefully designed to protect the sexual autonomy of women without stigmatizing prostitutes.
Identifier: 502243213 (oclc), 369391 (digitool), FADT369391 (IID), fau:4278 (fedora)
Note(s): by Jeffrey R. Young.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Florida Atlantic University, 2009.
Includes bibliography.
Electronic reproduction. Boca Raton, Fla., 2009. Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Subject(s): Sex -- Political aspects
Prostitution -- Social aspects
Autonomy (Psychology)
Women in popular culture
Held by: FBoU FAUER
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/FAU/369391
Use and Reproduction: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/
Host Institution: FAU