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Year: 2013 Type: Book Chapter Language: English

This chapter challenges the assumption that sex workers get no pleasure from their work, citing research in several locations including India, China, Spain and Finland. This research demonstrates that placing sex workers’ experience of pleasure at the forefront can provide a fresh angle on familiar arguments. This is particularly important in the study of sex work, where ideological conflict and political necessity have tended to harden into fixed positions and inflexible ways of thinking. This chapter follows the lead provided by sex workers themselves in taking pleasure seriously. It highlights the various ways in which sex workers experience and understand pleasure, drawing on published materials and on ethnographic material from interactions with female sex workers and sex worker organisations. It examines the ways in which individual experiences of pleasure are connected to wider societal issues, such as legal regimes, gender relations, and work relationships. It suggests that sex workers’ understandings of pleasure, derived from their work with clients, may help us reach new, and beneficial, understandings of how and why we experience sexual pleasure.

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