chapter  4
15 Pages

“I See Myself as a True Healer”: A Study of Self-Empowerment Among Indoor Female Sex Workers

The preceding chapters established a broad social, historical, and therapeutic context for the study presented in this chapter, which employed qualitative research methods to explore the association between sex work and selfempowerment among contemporary indoor female sex workers (IFSWs). Although the bulk of prior research on sex work and sex workers has emphasized the negative consequences and effects of prostitution, this study seeks to extend beyond traditional social stereotypes to provide a fairer, more balanced view. As sex work activist Carol Queen has argued,

If a therapist or researcher only encourages someone to look at the down and difficult side of sex work without asking any questions about what feels healthy, vibrant and alive, they’re going to get a very partial story. (Chapkis, 1997, p 8)

The objective of this book is to question and add balance to widespread negative beliefs about and images of sex workers through the specific lens of the IFSW, and to propose some alternative ideas about the positive effects of sex work on an important subset of women who work in the sex industry. The rationale of the research upon which the book is based was to support public discussion of and advocacy for more balanced and respectful treatment of sex workers in general, and the IFSW in particular.