From "Living Hell" to "New Normal": Illuminating Self-Identity, Stigma Negotiation, and Mutual Support among Female Former Sex Workers

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Women in the sex industry struggle with emotional turmoil, drug and alcohol addiction, poverty, and spiritual disillusionment. Their lived experiences as stigmatized individuals engender feelings of powerlessness, which inhibits their attempts to leave the sex industry. This study illuminates how personal narratives develop throughout the process of shedding stigmatized identities and how mutual support functions as a tool in life transformation. Social identity theory and feminist standpoint theory are used as theoretical frameworks of this research, with each theory adding nuanced understanding to life transformations of female former sex workers. Results indicate that women in the sex industry share common ... continued below

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Mayer, Jennifer L. May 2008.

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  • Mayer, Jennifer L.

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Women in the sex industry struggle with emotional turmoil, drug and alcohol addiction, poverty, and spiritual disillusionment. Their lived experiences as stigmatized individuals engender feelings of powerlessness, which inhibits their attempts to leave the sex industry. This study illuminates how personal narratives develop throughout the process of shedding stigmatized identities and how mutual support functions as a tool in life transformation. Social identity theory and feminist standpoint theory are used as theoretical frameworks of this research, with each theory adding nuanced understanding to life transformations of female former sex workers. Results indicate that women in the sex industry share common narratives that reveal experiences of a "Living Hell", transitional language, and ultimate alignment with traditional norms. Implications of SIT and FST reveal the role of feminist organizations as possible patriarchal entities and adherence to stereotypical masculine ideology as an anchoring factor in continued sex work.

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  • May 2008

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  • Oct. 2, 2008, 4:44 p.m.

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  • Aug. 13, 2013, 4:02 p.m.

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Mayer, Jennifer L. From "Living Hell" to "New Normal": Illuminating Self-Identity, Stigma Negotiation, and Mutual Support among Female Former Sex Workers, thesis, May 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6079/: accessed December 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .