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The Nordic Model in Theory and Practice: A conversation between the researc...

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Centre for Research on Families & Relationships

23 Buccleuch Place

Edinburgh

EH8 9LN

United Kingdom

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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.


Please note: As will come to light within this discussion, M.P. has faced an inexcusable and exceptional amount of verbal and physical violence, cyber bullying, harassment and antagonism from academics, researchers and other involved in sex work research and because of this we will not be opening the floor for questions from the audience during this talk. Both of us are open to receiving questions and comments via email or immediately after the talk, but please do be advised that this format is being adopted in order to allow M.P. the opportunity to speak publicly without the threat of verbal antagonism or aggression.

Biographies

Holly Davis is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at The University of Edinburgh. She is currently undertaking two research project: 1) researching sex work clients in Scotland and, 2) the experiences of stigma within sex work research. She received a PhD in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh focusing on research that explored the experiences of pimps involved in illegal prostitution in the United States. She has worked with various sex workers, former prostitutes, sex trafficking survivors, male sex offenders, violent male offenders, domestic and sexual violence survivors, and pimps/traffickers. Her research interests include sex work, feminist sociology, sex and gender, criminology, and various interfaces of sex and violence.

M.P. Graduated with a bachelor in International Development from La Trobe University, Melburne, 2016. Previously worked/ collaborated with NSWP, ICRSE, written and presented shadow report for CEDAW 2017. Key speaker during Pride house debates, 2018 Currently working for PION, the sex workers interest organisation in Norway. Her current research project is participant led research including online surveys that seeks to map the safety strategies of sex workers with clients in Norway, and sex workers access to health and safety. M.P. has been an active sex worker for the last 6 years, in multiple nations and within various contexts and roles.

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Centre for Research on Families & Relationships

23 Buccleuch Place

Edinburgh

EH8 9LN

United Kingdom

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