Sex work—the exchange of sexual services for tangible goods such as money, housing, drugs or food—is criminalized in the United States. While the range of punishments vary by state, both individuals selling sexual services and those purchasing sexual services are subject to punishment in the form of jail time, mandated rehabilitation, or fines. Because the sex trade is criminalized, buyers and sellers of sex have had barriers to accessing social services.
Oakland University Professor Theresa Anasti will discuss her new project, which includes interviews with social service managers in the city of Chicago, looks at how these managers perceive their work with individuals involved in the sex trade. It discusses the divergence of those who perceive involvement in the sex trade as a necessary aspect of survival, a type of labor, a criminal enterprise, or the cause of victimization, reflecting on how these different perceptions affect the type of services that those in the sex trade receive. Through this work, she hopes to provide a better understanding of what types of services are needed for individuals in the sex trade, and how managers' beliefs around this population can affect the type of services provided.
Bio: Theresa Anasti is Assistant Professor of Social Work at Oakland University. Her work focuses on the role of human service nonprofit organizations in social change, particularly focusing on the incorporation of the perspectives of marginalized populations in their work. She has published in the journals Human Service Organizations, Affilia, and Sexualities, as well as the LA Review of Books.She received her MSW in 2012 and her PhD in Social Service Administration in 2017, both from he University of Chicago. She currently lives in Detroit, MI.