Sex, Work, Law & Society Update & Call for Abstracts, 2018

By Raven Bowen

The Sex, Work, Law and Society Collaborative Research Network (CRN #6) held its inaugural sessions at the annual Law and Society Conference in Mexico City June 20-23rd 2017. CRN #6 was the brainchild of Menaka Raguparan, a PhD Candidate at Carlton University in Ottawa. Coordinators include: Prof. Chris Bruckert University of Ottawa; Raven Bowen PhD Candidate, University of York (UK); Dr. Tuulia Law Sessional Assistant Professor, York University, Toronto; and joining us this year, Dr. Tamara O’Doherty  Lecturer, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. We would like to thank our respective Departments for supporting our attendance and coordination.

The June conference comprised seven sessions, with sex work researchers from around the world presenting on migration, trafficking, regulation, the experiences of third parties, tropes, and the political economy. In additional to the enlightening presentations, we hosted a dinner with special guests representing Casa Xochiquetzal, a home for active and former elderly sex workers. With the generous donations from CRN attendees, we contributed 14,516.91 pesos to support the work of this tenacious sex worker organization. Please view the event Storify for pictures and conference tweets.



LSA Annual Conference will be held in Toronto, Canada, June 7-10 2018

The theme of the 2018 meeting is Law at the Crossroads/ Le droit à la croisée des chemins. As such, we interpret the meeting theme as an opportunity to explore issues such as: law as both a tool of oppression and as a tool to challenge oppression and how sex workers and allies navigate this field; the growth of critical legal studies and the resulting recognition of law as inherently political rather than a neutral abstract notion of justice; the rise of nationalist and populist powers and their effects on marginalized groups, including but not limited to sex workers, who have seen their human rights gains rolled back or threatened; the limitations of law where public opinion or political will is resistant to reform or supportive of harmful laws; the use of evidence in law and the challenges that arise with increased use of social science evidence and experts in courts; the politicized, rather than empirical, basis for law and the resulting quandary for the sex workers’ rights movement in seeking labour and human rights through legal mechanisms; the ethics of engagement with law, a primary tool and feature of colonization, where decolonization and Indigenization are goals; the recognition of the violence of law, or the limitations/failures of legal institutions and the need for fundamental institutional change; new directions for sex workers, allies and the movement, given the current legal and political landscape.

We invite scholarly presentations relating to the overall conference theme, our CRN’s aims and scope, or the following keywords (primary key word should be Sex, Work, Law and Society, secondary key words should come from the following list): 

Access to Justice
Citizenship, Migration, and Refugee Studies
Class and Inequality
Economic and Social Rights
Economy, Business and Society
Gender and Sexuality
Labor and Employment
Policing, Law Enforcement
Race and Ethnicity
Race, Critical Race Research
Regulation, Reform, and Governance
Rights and Identities
Social Movements, Social Issues, and Legal Mobilization
Social Networks, Personal Relationships

Law and Society requires a 200-250-word abstract to be submitted for conference presentation vetting. The deadline for submission is THURSDAY OCTOBER 12TH 2017 5PM EST OR 10PM BST.

All proposals for paper presentations, panel (salon) sessions, roundtable discussions and Author meets Reader sessions will be accepted through LSA’s automated submission system. You can find more details about the automated submission system here

If you are already planning a LSA session with at least four panellists (and papers) that you would like to see included in the Sex, Work, Law and Society CRN 6, please contact Menaka at Tweet using #LS2018_sexwork

Please note that everyone attending the meeting is expected to register. Only those who register will be included on the official LSA-RCSL Joint Meeting Program (online and printed), or be allowed to present papers, or attend presentations and other functions. You do not have to be a member of LSA or any of the co-sponsoring organizations to participate in the meeting generally.

21 Questions with Matt Valentine-Chase Licensed Professional Therapist, Sex Coach and Healer

By Raven R. Bowen


Q: So, what do you do?

A: Well, I might sound like a ‘Jack of all trades’ but I usually have three jobs on the go at any one time so at the moment I’m a sex coach qualified in therapy, so I’m basically a therapist who coaches, which is slightly different from a coach. I’m also a research assistant with Beyond the Gaze and I’m doing a mainstream job [in the private sector]. I’m a former escort and that informs my sex coaching.

Q: And your favorite color?
A: Orange. It’s weird because I don’t look good in orange but I just like the color!

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: Oh that’s easy! I’m most proud of the length of time I spent in the adult industry and the way that I developed the job and how I’ve overcome some of the pitfalls. I think it’s a difficult job to do because there is not much professional development (so far as the industry is concerned), so to do it well I used some of my professional training to kind of inform my self-awareness. So, if I was off with my boundaries for example I would change things. I turned my sex work into more of a healing experience for the client and that also helped my business. I hope that by incorporating the therapeutic element I have contributed to changing the image of the industry. Sex workers, whether they are qualified therapists or not are doing this healing work in my opinion and they don’t get enough credit for it.

Q: What drew you to the sex industry?

A: Well it chose me! I go into a stereotype here but I think most people who will read this will understand. I was in a desperate situation when I first started. I had friends telling me to be a model because I was quite good looking back then, but I thought that was kind of boring. So I looked at escort agencies, back in the day of print press and so I did it and didn’t enjoy it at first because of my internalized whoreaphobia. I worked through that, because I was working in a brothel and I started at the bottom of the industry, and I worked my way up and turned it into a career.

Q: The last thing you laughed about?

A: I laugh at the most inappropriate moments. When I meditate, it makes me giggle because it opens my heart, so it’s a strange response but I giggled during my meditation this morning.

Q: What’s your favorite food?

A: Steak, chips, garden peas, garlic mushrooms. It’s not right if it doesn’t have garlic mushrooms!

Q: Your current project or pursuit?

A: I have a lot of links in the industry and industry-related projects especially to do with sex and disability because this is one of my passions. A current project is that I’m a Trustee for The Outsiders Trust and they are a social and dating group for people with disabilities. So, it’s basically about helping disabled people to have fulfilling sexual and social lives just like everybody else. We’re launching an online sex school for disabled people very soon. Stay tuned.

Q: What’s your biggest regret?

A:  I would love to be one of those enlightened people who have no regrets but I have so many! My biggest regret…that there were issues that I had with my mom many years ago and although I resolved them with her before she died, I didn’t do it soon enough. I wish I had faced that a little bit sooner but she had a beautiful death and there was nothing left unsaid.

Q: Facebook or Twitter?

A: Facebook for friends and Twitter for work. I have a love/hate relationship with both because they’re addictive and they can be shallow places. I also use Facebook Messenger for work.

Q: What challenges you the most about your sex work and related work?

A: What challenges me the most is giving up sex work. I’m retired but there is a sense of guilt at letting down clients who’ve been with me for a very long time. I know that’s my stuff but at the same time I have a massive passion and respect for the profession and a lot of clients do too. With the coaching, the challenge is I feel very respected among sex industry people but I don’t feel very respected by other therapists because people don’t seem to understand how my sex work has informed my therapeutic training and the coaching that I do. I think the two together are just fantastic because I haven’t learned these skills from a book. When I tell a coaching client what to do – I know it works.

Q: Favorite Movie?

A:  I, Tina “What’s love got to do with it” The true life story of Tina Turner. I’ve probably seen that movie 200 times!

Q: And the last time you cried?

A: This morning. I usually cry to something pretty much every day. Sometimes they are happy tears, sometimes frustration.

Q: Cat or dog person?

A: Dog, definitely dog! Cats as so selfish!

Q: Who understands you?

A: My spiritual teacher understands me but as far as my friends are concerned, I have a core group of fantastic friends so I would say that they understand me but I must say I’m quite complex … so it’s a big job to understand me!

Q: What’s the last book or article you read?

A: Well it was several hundred pages, but the Beyond the Gaze research findings.  Q: You’re going for brownie points now! A: Yes I am. It was exhausting but I had a sense of achievement in doing it I have to say!

Q: Childhood Fear?
A: The dark. It was not helped by my mom telling me that the bogey man lived in the outside toilet. So I’d have to go outside to the loo and it was dark and the bogey man lived there! I’m not sure why there was no light…we were poor.

Q: What did your last text say?

A: ‘That’s my favorite position.’ Q: I’m afraid to ask… A: Yes, someone was suggesting something! Q: Clearly, moving on then…

Q: One thing that your work or existence is aimed to do for the sex industry?

A: To mainstream it. That’s my big goal because you do that through education and that will eliminate stigma.

Q: The meaning of life in one word?

A: Love, kindness and non-conformity. Do you see what I did there? Q: Yeah, you gave me three words! How’s one. A: Okay non-conformity.

Q: The last thing you Googled?

A:Sex coaching London’, because I was checking my search term ranking! Pretty good.  

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: Everything! That’s it. I want to be everything, and I want to do everything from my bucket list, singing lessons, DJ courses, you name it. I used to work for a radio station and I’m missing it.