Governmentality gone wild: How the separation of sex workers from 'communities' contributes to violence against sex workers
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Sex workers are members of our communities, whether they are local or national communities. In law, mainstream media representations, and research sex workers are positioned as outside of or in opposition to communities. Even within marginalized communities sex workers are excluded when appeals to respectability politics are made. In this thesis I analyze three analytic sites from three areas of social life. The first chapter performs a textual analysis of The Bedford Decision (2013) and the resulting Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (2014) as an examination of law. The second chapter is an analysis of filmic discourse on community, sex workers, and violence in the mainstream film London Road (2015) as an examination of mainstream media. The third chapter draws upon empirical research, i.e. in-depth interviews with three current and former sex workers in Ottawa, Canada and analyzes the transcripts using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to center how sex workers’ understanding of their work, community, and the laws and policies that are supposed govern and protect them. In my preface and conclusion I discuss some of the ethical dilemmas I encountered while conducting this research. My findings suggest that sex workers are being positioned and understood as outside of communities in ways that contribute to violence against sex workers. The implications of this research suggest that people who speak in the name of communities—communities in the sense of local neighborhood communities, activist communities, and national communities—need to recognize that sex workers are part of their communities and be accountable to ensuring they are treated as members. Researchers who conduct research on sex work and sex workers need to be accountable to their participants and the impacts their research may have on laws and policies. Sex workers are an over-researched population yet their voices are largely misappropriated or silenced in popular research and policy debates.