Same Same but Different? Gender, sex work, and respectability politics in the MyRedBook and Rentboy closures


  • Samantha Majic



sex work, human trafficking, technology, gender, LGBT, respectability politics, media, neoliberalism, online platforms


Among the many policies implemented to eradicate trafficking in the sex industry, US government agencies have targeted online platforms that market and facilitate sex work. In this paper, I consider two instances of this activity: the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2014 raid and subsequent closing of, and the Department of Homeland Security’s 2015 raid and closing of Drawing from a qualitative-interpretive analysis of the media coverage of these raids, I show that the responses to them emphasised how the sites’ closures increased both men’s and women’s economic vulnerability, but the similarities largely ended there. Instead, I argue broadly that public responses to these events reflected and reinforced gendered notions of women’s vulnerability and men’s agency in the sex industry. While these responses may seem unsurprising, they are also potentially productive, calling into question the limits of respectability politics and signalling new solidarities in the struggle for sex worker rights.


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Author Biography

Samantha Majic

Samantha Majic, PhD, is an Associate Professor of political science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. Her research considers sex work, civic engagement, gender politics, and celebrities, and has appeared in numerous political science and gender studies journals. She is also the author of three books: Sex Work Politics: From protest to service provision (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), Negotiating Sex Work: Unintended consequences of policy and activism (University of Minnesota Press, 2014, co-edited with Carisa Showden), and Youth Who Trade Sex in the US: Agency, intersectionality, and vulnerability (Temple University Press, 2018, co-authored with Carisa Showden).




How to Cite

Majic, S. (2020). Same Same but Different? Gender, sex work, and respectability politics in the MyRedBook and Rentboy closures. Anti-Trafficking Review, (14), 82–98.