Citation

Is Sex Work Sex or is Sex Work Work? Analyzing Sex Worker Identity

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Abstract:

This paper investigates the ways in which gendered relationships to sex as work shape the possibilities for a “sex worker” identity among poor and working-class sex workers in Bangalore, India. To what extent can people who do sex work coalesce around a shared “sex worker” identity, and what are the limits to this coalition? Using interviews with male, female, and transgender members of a sex worker union, I show that the answer depends on gender, sexuality, and labor relations. Men, women, and transgender women articulate distinct relationships to “sex worker” identity because they experience sex work in distinct ways, falling on a spectrum from sex work as an extension of sex to sex work as an extension of work. For men, selling sex is intertwined with networks of unpaid sex pursued for pleasure, while for women and transgenders, sex work begins as a source of income, either to maintain a family income or to secure membership in the hijra community. For none of the groups does sex work itself emerge as a primary identity; instead, my interviewees most commonly identified as poor women workers, transgender women, or men who like to “do sex,” respectively. Nevertheless, shared work experiences allowed for solidarity—addressing shared stigma, violence and exploitation on the job, and the risks of disclosure. My analysis confirms feminist scholarship in suggesting that movements built on sex work as a form of gendered labor, rather than a unique personal identity, resonate with poor sex workers’ own experiences of work.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

work (255), sex (255), worker (168), women (72), sexual (53), money (53), hijra (49), ident (48), labor (47), transgend (41), relationship (39), interviewe (37), gender (35), kothi (34), like (34), union (33), said (32), men (31), one (30), right (30), group (30),
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Association:
Name: American Sociological Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.asanet.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p726018_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Vijayakumar, Gowri. "Is Sex Work Sex or is Sex Work Work? Analyzing Sex Worker Identity" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Hilton San Francisco Union Square and Parc 55 Wyndham San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, Aug 15, 2014 <Not Available>. 2016-06-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p726018_index.html>

APA Citation:

Vijayakumar, G. , 2014-08-15 "Is Sex Work Sex or is Sex Work Work? Analyzing Sex Worker Identity" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Hilton San Francisco Union Square and Parc 55 Wyndham San Francisco, San Francisco, CA Online <PDF>. 2016-06-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p726018_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This paper investigates the ways in which gendered relationships to sex as work shape the possibilities for a “sex worker” identity among poor and working-class sex workers in Bangalore, India. To what extent can people who do sex work coalesce around a shared “sex worker” identity, and what are the limits to this coalition? Using interviews with male, female, and transgender members of a sex worker union, I show that the answer depends on gender, sexuality, and labor relations. Men, women, and transgender women articulate distinct relationships to “sex worker” identity because they experience sex work in distinct ways, falling on a spectrum from sex work as an extension of sex to sex work as an extension of work. For men, selling sex is intertwined with networks of unpaid sex pursued for pleasure, while for women and transgenders, sex work begins as a source of income, either to maintain a family income or to secure membership in the hijra community. For none of the groups does sex work itself emerge as a primary identity; instead, my interviewees most commonly identified as poor women workers, transgender women, or men who like to “do sex,” respectively. Nevertheless, shared work experiences allowed for solidarity—addressing shared stigma, violence and exploitation on the job, and the risks of disclosure. My analysis confirms feminist scholarship in suggesting that movements built on sex work as a form of gendered labor, rather than a unique personal identity, resonate with poor sex workers’ own experiences of work.


Similar Titles:
Relationship Violence in Women’s Prison: How Women Describe Interpersonal Violence and Gender Identity

Expanding Worlds of Work and Families: Sociological Lessons about Emotion Work, Household Labor and Identity Work from Women Partners of Transgender and Transsexual Men


 
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