Laura Agustín's picture

Migrants, favours, protection, sex: examples from Embracing the Infidel

(Posted at Border Thinking on Migration, Trafficking and Commercial Sex)

In Embracing the Infidel Behzad Yaghmaian narrates his journey to record the stories of migrants trying to find a place to settle in Europe. There are women in the book, but the majority of detailed stories are told by men and boys. Many of the plots are about physical hardships encountered whilst being smuggled across borders: Afghanistan to Iran, Iran to Turkey, Turkey to Greece and Bulgaria, France to England.  Long scenes are set in Istanbul, Sofia, Athens, Paris, Calais. Contradictory, arbitrary, frustrating, paper-oriented refugee policy is arguably the book’s main villain, though the sadism of border guards and swindles by smugglers are more dramatic.  I especially appreciate Yaghmaian’s ability to tell terrible stories without falling into a victimising, maudlin tone (the subject of Forget Victimisation).

Laura Agustín's picture

Is swinging (not) part of the sex industry?

I have invited Laura Agustín to cross-post here and she has wonderfully accepted.  Many of you may already be familiar with her work at Border Thinking on Migration, Trafficking and Commercial Sex.  She writes clear and thoughtfully about sex work, migrant life and more.  I am certain you will enjoy her work as much as several of us here at SexGenderBody already do. -arvan

By Laura Agustín

Some people think swinging and polyamory have nothing to do with the sex industry and are offended to be associated with it. In my conception, swinging parties and sex clubs do form part of the industry, because money is exchanged for opportunities to have, watch, smell and listen to sex - one’s own and others. The managers of venues often provide possible partners for your pleasure - sex workers. And, on the other hand, many customers in sex-industry bars and clubs spend time and money without ever buying ’sex’ itself. The lines supposedly dividing these different entertainment enterprises are very blurred.

When people are offended by this inclusion, it means they think the sex industry is something negative. Since I don’t see it as negative, I’m not insulting anyone who’s associated with it. Rather, I’m engaged in figuring out how and why people think they can differentiate between commercial and non-commercial sex. As far as I can see, after studying it for many years, there’s no way to clearly separate them. Which is a result! It’s a result to find out that the separate categories they teach us about aren’t true, or are, at least, questionable. If you’re more interested in this, consider the cultural study of commercial sex, in its original conception and then later.

Morrissey’s original article moves from Ireland to Berlin and includes many entertaining details. Here I’ve excerpted only the bits most relevant to the sex industry.

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