Publications and Research

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

11-10-2017

Abstract

This paper examines “Dear John”, a public information campaign that ran from 2006–2008 in Atlanta, GA, to ask what narrative it conveys about commercial sex and those who engage in it, in order to understand the gendered (and other) discursive constructions it produces, reflects, and complicates about these activities and subjects. Drawing from both policy and sex work/trafficking scholarship, this paper argues that Dear John used symbolic images and direct and consequential text to convey a “male demand” narrative, which holds that men’s demand for sexual services harms girls and young women and will not be tolerated. Yet, in so doing, Dear John also reinforced particularly gendered characterizations of individuals who trade sex, while de-emphasizing other factors that increase young peoples’ vulnerabilities to and within sex work. The paper concludes by discussing Dear John’s outcomes and significance for scholars concerned with sex work, policy, and social change.

Comments

Published originally in 2017 in Social Sciences 6, 138; doi:10.3390/socsci6040138

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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