We held our first public event, in collaboration with the London Feminist Network Book Group, in September 2019. We are hoping to hold more public events over the coming years – and where possible in collaboration with other groups. If you would like to collaborate with us to organise an event, please get in touch.
We are committed to setting the ticket price for our events at the very minimum that is possible to cover the costs, and we attempt to provide free tickets on request for those who otherwise could not come.
This page provides a summary of our planned and past public events, with links to the Eventbrite page. For the past events, wherever possible we provide links to recordings or transcripts of the talks.
The sex industry: A job like any other?
Manchester, Saturday 25 February 2023
What did you want to be when you grew up? A doctor perhaps? A hairdresser, or maybe a teacher? Perhaps you thought you could be a famous actor or model? Chances are you didn’t see yourself eking out a living in risky or downright dangerous situations where your body was simply an adjunct to a man’s sexual gratification.
In the current ‘cost of living’ crisis the idea that prostitution can be a normal job, where you choose your hours and your ‘clients’ has become prevalent. But is it really a normal job? When you scrape off the sugar-coating, many of the things we expect in the workplace, like career progression, or health and safety legislation simply do not exist.
Speakers include: Fiona Broadfoot, Esther, Gemma Aitchison, and Mia de Faoite.
Students for sale: Tools for resistance
London, Saturday 15 October 2022
What does it mean when universities normalise the sex industry? What does it mean when they insist to their students that “sex work is real work”? What does this mean now that universities are being financialised and students seen first and foremost as opportunities for the expansion of profit? What happens in practice when the sex industry is promoted as a viable option for financially marginalised students and young people? Who benefits? How do we resist these trends?
This event heard from women who have lived experience of the sex trade about its reality once all the euphemism and propaganda have been stripped away. We also heard from people who are working in a variety of ways to bring about change.
Speakers: Chelsea Geddes, Cajsa, Lulu, Fiona Broadfoot, Michael Conroy, Tsitsi Matekaire, Kathleen Richardson, Robert Jensen, Gemma Kelly, and Shabbana Kiyani (chair).
Prostitution. Pleasure for men. Pain for women.
Nottingham, Saturday 25 June 2022
This event looked at the inequality inherent to prostitution. What prostitution feels like and what it means are very different for the punters than for those who are directly involved. It also looked at how structural inequality and systemic poverty drive many vulnerable people – mainly but not only women and girls – into the sex trade and traps them there – while the sex trade simultaneously reinforces and strengthens that structural inequality.
Speakers: Fiona Broadfoot, Professor Kathleen Richardson, Kellie Ziemba, Siân Louise, Rebecca, and Shabbana Kiyani (chair).
Why the labour and trade union movement should support the Nordic Model
Webinar: Tuesday 7 June 2022
Arguments rage in the UK labour and trade union movement over the best approach to prostitution. Is full decriminalisation (like they have in New Zealand) the best option or is the Nordic Model (now in force in Sweden, Norway, Iceland, France, Ireland, and Israel) better?
This webinar heard from a sex trade survivor, a trade union leader, and a support worker about why the movement should unequivocally back the Nordic Model: It is the only approach that recognises the prostitution system as part of the structural oppression of women and as both a cause and a consequence of the persistent inequality between the sexes. It is also the only approach that prioritises support, assistance to exit, and alternatives for those caught up in the prostitution system, while holding the pimps and punters to account.
Speakers: Diane Martin CBE, Bronagh Andrew, Agnes Tolmie, and Gemma Kelly (chair)
Challenging the ‘Sex work is work’ narrative
Webinar: Sunday 24 April 2022
This webinar challenged the much-repeated trope that “sex work is real work” and that it should be treated in law and public policy as a normal job. We showed that this narrative is damaging. It grooms girls and young women to consider prostitution a viable work option, only to find out the devastating truth when it’s too late. And it grooms men to believe that if selling sex is not significantly different from flipping burgers, buying sex must be much like buying a burger too.
Speakers: Luba Fein, Marjorie Saylor, Diane Martin CBE, and Sophie Sherratt (chair).
Launch of the Nordic Model Now! university handbook on supporting students impacted by the sex industry
Webinar: Sunday 21 November 2021
This was the launch of the Nordic Model Now! Handbook for Universities, which presents a holisitc approach to university policy around the sex industry and supporting students who have been impacted by it. The handbook provides a realistic understanding of the sex industry, the short- and long-term impact of involvement within it, and how best to support those who are caught up in it. It highlights the hypocrisy of a culture that habitually gives men a free pass for sexist behaviour while blaming the women and girls who are hurt by that behaviour, and it questions whether framing ‘stigma’ as a major cause for many of the problems that women experience in the sex trade is an adequate explanation, and much more.
Speakers: Professor Kathleen Richardson, Lily, Andrea Heinz, and Olivia Palmer (chair).
- The Nordic Model Now! Handbook for Universities
- Transcript and recording of Andrea Heinz’s speech
- Transcript of the rest of the webinar
- Eventbrite page
Exiting prostitution: what do women need?
Webinar: Wednesday 22 September 2021
Why do so many women struggle to exit prostitution? What help do they need? What if they have a drug habit? What is the role of counselling and therapy? Does the predominant “condoms and coffee” model of support services inadvertently work to keep women trapped? Does investment in services to help women exit prostitution make sense?
In this webinar we heard from two women who know more than almost anyone about these themes because they have both been there themselves and have now set up projects to help other women exit the trade.
Speakers: Marie Edmunds, Natasha Wyer, and Gemma Kelly (chair).
Victim blaming in the context of prostitution
Webinar: Wednesday 4 August 2021
We are thrilled that Dr Jessica Taylor, expert in the psychology of victim blaming of women, joined us to discuss how victim blaming plays out in the context of prostitution and other areas of the sex industry.
Women’s apparent choice to enter prostitution is often used to justify the sex trade. But what does choice mean when her options are prostitution or sleeping rough, or not being able to feed her children? And what if she was sexually abused as a child and learnt that her only value was pleasing men sexually? What does choice mean then? Could this entire narrative be a form of victim blaming?
We have heard too many reports of women attempting to exit and recover from prostitution getting little or no help from many of the agencies that should help them – often because healthcare and support staff see prostitution as just another job, which the woman “chose”. Even though prostitution is well-documented to cause profound trauma, healthcare workers often subtly or overtly blame women for the predictable damage they have suffered and instead of providing trauma-informed care, diagnose a personality disorder. This suggests there’s something intrinsically wrong with her rather than that she’s suffering the predictable consequences of an intolerable and abusive system.
This webinar explored these themes and how victim blaming not only serves to keep women trapped in the sex trade but also to justify the entire exploitative system.
Speakers: Dr Jessica Taylor, Lily, and Ali Morris (chair).
An evening with Suzzan Blac
Webinar: Wednesday 14 July 2021
Suzzan Blac is a contemporary English artist who uses her own traumatic experience of child sexual abuse, rape, pornography and prostitution to create artworks that expose the ugly and violent truth about the porn industry and prostitution. In this webinar, Suzzan presented and discussed some of her very powerful artwork and her ground-breaking research into the porn industry and its victims.
“I wanted to paint the story of my abuse, because I was hoping to aid my own recovery. I felt this constant pain, anger and ‘madness’ inside my head and I needed to transfer it into something real and tangible. Something that I could look at, analyse and process from a different perspective.”
Speakers: Suzzan Blac and Ygerne Price-Davies (chair).
Webinar: Sunday 6 June 2021
Trauma and Prostitution
Many women who have experienced prostitution talk about the mental, physical and psychological trauma involved. In this webinar, we explored this in more depth.
Featuring Dr Ingeborg Kraus, clinical psychologist and expert in psychotraumatology, and Merly Åsbogård and Rebecca Mott, who are both survivors of prostitution, we asked: Does prostitution have a negative impact on mental health? What about physical health? What is the role of dissociation? Is trauma in a woman’s childhood connected with her entry into prostitution? Why is it that for many women it is only after they have left the sex trade and found some degree of safety that they begin to understand how damaging it really was? Is recovery possible? What can facilitate recovery?
This event was in English with Spanish subtitles. Subtitulos en Español.
Speakers: Merly Åsbogård, Rebecca Mott, Dr Ingeborg Kraus, and Ali Morris (chair).
Webinar: Sunday 11 April 2021
Talking with men and boys about prostitution
Many men have been stunned to see the outpouring of rage and anguish from women all over the UK in response to the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard and the surrounding events. It is another mass #MeToo moment and men have been asking on social media what they can do to help make the streets safer for women and girls. This webinar invited men to be part of the solution.
We looked at the role of porn and prostitution in the epidemic of male violence that we are currently witnessing and how men and boys can resist peer pressure to participate in the dominant misogynistic male culture. And we asked how women can get through to the men and boys in their lives about the harms of the sex trade.
Speakers: Michael Conroy, Gemma Aitchison, Esther, Bryn Frere-Smith, and Siobhan (chair).
Webinar: Sunday 24 January 2021
Prostitution policy: The Nordic Model or full decriminalization?
What do sex trade survivors say?
Dame Diana Johnson has tabled a Sexual Exploitation Bill in the UK Parliament. If passed, this would establish a Nordic Model approach to prostitution legislation and policy in England and Wales. In the debate on the first reading of the Bill, Dame Diana spoke eloquently on why this Bill is urgently needed.
Lyn Brown, the Labour MP for West Ham, spoke against the Bill making claims about the Nordic Model causing sex workers to be more exposed to violence, to find it harder to “distinguish between clients who are a threat and those who are not,” and to be less likely to report violence to the police and to use condoms. She also spoke very positively about the fully decriminalized approach that is in place in New Zealand – which decriminalizes all aspects of the sex trade, including pimps and brothel keepers.
In this webinar we heard from women who have lived experience of prostitution under the Nordic Model in Sweden, and under the decriminalized and legalized regimes in New Zealand and Germany. We asked them what prostitution is really like under these different models and whether they agree with Dame Diana or Lyn Brown.
Speakers: Ally Marie Diamond, Huschke Mau, Cajsa, and Helen McDonald (chair).
Webinar: Sunday 22 November 2020
Prostitution: Work? … Or exploitation?
We hear over and over again that “sex work is normal work.” In this webinar, women who have lived experience of prostitution examined this claim. Is it really much the same as waitressing? Or is the reality in fact much darker?
The webinar started with a presentation from Megan King and was followed by a live discussion between the panel – Jade, Luba Fein, Rebecca Mott, and Siobhan, who will chair. The discussion was based on questions that came in during our last webinar but that we didn’t have time to address.
Speakers: Jade, Luba Fein, Megan King, Rebecca Mott, and Siobhan (chair).
Webinar Sunday 27 September 2020
The Experience of Prostitution
Many people pontificate about “sex work” and the idea that it is just a job, not much different from any other, and these are increasingly common themes in the mainstream media. But is this true? Is being involved in prostitution really the same as waitressing? What about its impact on wider society?
In this webinar women who have lived prostitution, have extensive experience of working with women involved in it, and who see the impact of the infamous red-light zone in Holbeck, Leeds on their local community attempt to answer these questions.
Speakers: Linda Thompson, Rebecca Mott, Paula and Claire, and Ali Morris (chair).
Webinar Sunday 6 September 2020
What’s wrong with surrogacy? And should we be worried about the Law Commission’s proposals for commercial-style surrogacy in the UK?
There have been many stories in the media lately about surrogacy, the majority presenting a very rosy picture. In this webinar we balanced that lop-sided view with a feminist analysis and a look at the risks and abuses that can be involved. We also provided a brief overview of the proposals the UK Law Commission put forward in its public consultation last year and considered what they might mean for women and children.
Speakers: Heather Harvey, Elizabeth Purslow, Anna Fisher, and Lexi.
Webinar Sunday 14 June 2020
Porn, Prostitution and Violence against Women – Campaigning for better outcomes for women
In recent times, demands for the legalisation (or full decriminalisation) of prostitution have centred on a quasi-feminist argument that women have a right to earn a living selling sex if they so choose.
In this webinar we looked at the social and historical context to show how the options available to women are systematically controlled against women’s interests. There were two presentations followed by questions and discussion of what we can do to address this.
Lilly gave us a historical overview of prostitution and pornography and the position of women based on the work of, amongst others: Gerda Lerner, Marilyn French, Sylvia Federici and Andrea Dworkin.
Esther has a longstanding interest in research on legal and public policy approaches to sexualised violence and domestic abuse. She used her own experience of porn and prostitution to reflect on these issues. Her talk looked at consent issues, the global reach of depictions of sexualised violence and what this means for women and girls.
- Lilly’s talk (recording): Prostitution and pornography: Have they always existed?
- Lilly’s talk (text): Prostitution and pornography: A historical view
- Esther’s talk (recording): The Colonisation of Intimate Life
- Esther’s talk (text): The Colonisation of Intimate Life
- Eventbrite page
Saturday 29 February 2020
Can humanity survive without empathy? How the sex trade harms us all and how we can resist.
This event was a collaboration between Nordic Model Now! and Men at Work.
17 September 2019
Prostitution: What are the problems and how do we solve them?
This event was a collaboration between Nordic Model Now! and the London Feminist Network Book Group.