Newspaper article

U of M Study: Workers in Minneapolis’ Adult Entertainment Industry Feel Pressure to Sell Sex

Newspaper article

U of M Study: Workers in Minneapolis’ Adult Entertainment Industry Feel Pressure to Sell Sex

Article excerpt

The University of Minnesota’s Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) will be releasing a new report Monday that confirms what Minneapolis city officials have long suspected: that sexual services are being sold at many of the city’s licensed adult entertainment establishments.

The findings come just two weeks after the Minneapolis Health Department announced it found bodily fluids at 11 of the city’s 17 licensed adult entertainment establishments, which are mostly concentrated around Hennepin Avenue downtown.

The UROC report surveyed more than 50 workers or former workers in the city’s adult entertainment industry, many of whom reported feeling pressured to perform commercial sex services for customers, in environments where unwanted touching and groping is common — and in some instances, where violent sexual assaults have occurred. Others reported feeling economically exploited by some clubs.

“The most significant concern is that there’s a fairly prevalent rate of customers pressuring entertainers for commercial sex,” said Lauren Martin, UROC’s director of research and the lead investigator for the survey. “The entertainers we spoke with indicated that that’s a constant theme among many customers.”

A blurred line

There can be upwards of 200 dancers working at adult entertainment clubs on a typical Friday night in Minneapolis, Martin said, and most of them aren’t offering sex to customers for money. But because the atmospheres vary from club to club, she said, and because managers or employees don’t always set or enforce clear boundaries between dancers and patrons, there’s sometimes a blurred line.

For example, because some dancers in some clubs will secretly offer commercial sex in private rooms, customers sometimes expect that all performers will offer the same. “In many instances that can set up a scenario for sexual assault, where a customer thinks they are paying for something more than what the entertainer understands to be the arrangement,” Martin said.

Some clubs do a better job of enforcing boundaries, Martin said, but in many clubs, entertainers reported having to enforce those boundaries themselves without help from bouncers or managers. Others reported feeling pressured from both customers and even management to sell sex, or having to pay some of their tip money to bouncers and managers in order to get proper protection at work.

“Clubs with great security, clear boundaries, where bouncers and managers really take it upon themselves to make sure customers know the rules, where they act quickly to remove customers who are violating the rules — that’s a safer environment,” she said. …

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