Popaganda Episode: Sex Work is Work


Discussions of sex work often get mired in a couple basic questions: is it “good” or “bad”? Are sex workers empowered or not? But sex workers are a diverse group—their experiences aren’t all good or bad. On this show, we try to reframe the issue by exploring the legal and financial realities of sex work.

For example: How does a dominatrix do her taxes? What kinds of healthcare do sex workers need? How would decriminalizing sex work change peoples’ lives? 

This episode features interviews with Seattle dominatrix and writer Mistress Matisse, journalist Melissa Gira Grant (author of Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work), and activist Emi Koyama.






This episode is sponsored by MPress Records. Listen to Rachael Sage’s new album Blue Roses on MPress Records and find the album in iTunes

The song woven through this show is Lowell’s “I Love You Money.” Read my interview with Lowell right here.

During the show, we mention a couple organizations that advocate for sex workers. Listeners might want to learn more about these groups: the Sex Workers Outreach Project, St. James Infirmary, the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, and the Best Practices Policy Project (which works on legal policy related to sex work).

The photo featured on the front of the full show is from a 2010 protest organized in part by St. James Infirmary. The photo is by Steve Rhodes, via Creative Commons. 

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by Sarah Mirk
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Sarah Mirk is the former host of Bitch Media’s podcast Popaganda. She’s interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

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1 Comment Has Been Posted

Sex workers...a repressed profession

Thank you for this article and the podcast.

Some of the issues raised were ones I had been considering a lot more carefully, especially in light of my own government's (northern Ireland) recent introduction of a law to make the purchasing of sex illegal in the last month.

The issue was hotly debated and many academics and our Queens university offered strong rebuttals why the law was a poor idea, yet it still passed by a significant majority. I can't help but wonder about how much more difficult the law here will make the lives of sex workers, not only in practicing their profession but also in seeking healthcare, protection from police if/when they are victims and if/when they seek to stop being a sex worker.

Thank you for offering your perspective on the issue in general and in an American context especially. Comparison often leads to new perspectives.

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