The feminist “sex wars” have been raging for over thirty years with battle lines drawn that force an impassable ideological binary within research and literature. The sex wars inform, and set the stage for, the on-going discourse on how to best manage and approach policy on prostitution, and has left the feminist community deeply divided. One recent approach to emerge out of these ideological differences has been the ‘The Nordic Model’ (aka The Swedish Model); that is the decriminalization of the selling of sex but criminalization the purchase. This approach has gained momentum and is being considered by several European nations, despite criticism and concerns from experts. But what is life like for those working within sex industries under these policies? Whose voices are we not hearing within this discourse? Who are we speaking for?
Often political and academic debates on The Nordic Model take place based on ideologies and data that speaks for and about sex workers and their experiences rather than with or to sex workers. It is this trend that we are attempting to disrupt. Informed by feminist epistemologies and participant led research, we will soon embark on a large scale research project (n= 125+) across at least five nations within the EU exploring the impact of the Nordic Model on sex workers. Embracing the ‘Nothing about us without us’ mantra, this research will be developed and executed through collaboration between Holly Davis, a researcher with specialization in sex work research, and M. P., an active sex worker, sex worker rights activist, and researcher.
This talk will first provide a brief overview of the feminist sex wars and influence, and then move onto the working research design we are currently developing. The final and most substantial segment of this talk will be an unscripted dialogue between Holly Davis, the researcher, and M.P., the researched, about a wide range of issues surrounding the Nordic Model. In this discussion, we will explore topics such as the impact of the sex wars, feminism, stigma, sex work research, representation, working conditions for sex workers under The Nordic Model, policy and larger socio-political themes such as racism, sexism, classism and immigration/migration.