Safety and solidarity: Using collective documents to share sex workers’ insider knowledges — Julia Sharp

By: Julia Sharp

Western culture and Western health care systems have created places of sexual health care that are highly individualised, privatised and professionalised. For people engaged in sex work, this reduces the possibilities for sharing skills and knowledges and instead leaves people with internalised feelings of shame, guilt and isolation. This paper describes collective therapeutic work that elicited insider knowledges, skills and sparkling moments from sex workers. These accounts sidestepped negative identity conclusions and fostered mutual support among the workers, even though the participants never met each other. The work was guided by narrative practice concepts including externalising, double listening, re-authoring, privileging insider knowledges and developing collective documents.

Key words: sex work; prostitution; collective document; insider knowledge; narrative practice.

Sharp, J. (2024). Safety and solidarity: Using collective documents to share sex workers’ insider knowledges. International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, (1), 15–21.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Kassandra Pedersen

    Given the individual, confidential and privatised context of this sexual health service it stood out to me how the use of written words fostered connection, support and solidarity among sex workers who never met face-to-face. It had me thinking how Confidentiality and Stigma, two sneaky characters in healthcare and the sex industry, might often work together causing isolation and unsafety for people who sex work. In response, this collective document elicited women’s insider knowledges and skills as a way to sustain collective resistance. And what a  collection of tips was gathered in it, incredibly specific and contextual! When I first read the questions that were given to the participants I tried to think of some answers myself but I don’t think that either me or any professional “expert” would be in position to name with such insightfulness some of those accounts that were written in the document!

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