Published on December 4, 2023


Over the next weeks and months, we will be highlighting award winners recognized by IEEE ProComm. Our first interview is with Rachael Jordan, who is a PhD candidate at Texas Tech University in the Technical Communication & Rhetoric program. Her research interests include queer rhetorics’ application to technical communication, specifically in regard to sexual literac(ies) and usability. You can find her research in Composition ForumOpen Words, and various conference proceedings, and she is currently working full time at California State University Channel Islands. You can find her on Twitter/X at @rachaeljay13, and her email is We thank Rachael for her time contributing to this interview.




Rachael Jordan profile photo

Traci Nathans-Kelly (TNK): Your paper titled “Shifting Dynamics in Online Sex Work: A Pilot Analysis of ‘Sexual Content’ in Terms of Service” was selected for the 2023 Hayhoe Fellow Award at IEEE ProComm. Tell us a bit about how you landed on this article’s topic, which is rich with insights and fresh perspectives.


Rachel Jordan (RJ): This topic stems from research I’ll be delving into more deeply for my dissertation. My dissertation is exploring the ethical frameworks content moderators use while moderating sexual content. Of course, we can’t research and write about “sexual content” without including the vast research and voices of sex workers already doing work in this area. As part of that research, I was curious about how terms of service (ToS) impact definitions of “sexual content” in digital spaces and so ran a pilot study of ToS for multiple social media sites.


TNK: IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication was fortunate to receive your research article for publishing. How did you come to decide that this publication was the right fit for your work?


RJ: I presented at IEEE ProComm in 2022 on a related topic about sex worker discourse communities online. That paper had a warm reception at the 2022 conference and so I thought that continuing research in that vein would also be welcome at IEEE ProComm 2023.

TNK: What are the next steps related to this topic?  Or, if you have moved on to another research path, what are you looking at now?


RJ: The next steps are to expand. This was a pilot study with the ToS and Community Guidelines documents from four social media sites. For the part of my dissertation study, I’ll be running a full adapted corpus-assisted discourse analysis on a larger corpus of ToS and community guidelines to see if the trends that I saw beginning in this earlier research continue with a larger corpus. I’ll then use the CADA analysis to help inform interviews with content moderators and their work in moderating sexual content.


TNK: What is your “next big thing” after completing your PhD?


RJ: Going on the job market! But, really, I want to continue research that explores the intersection between queer rhetorics and technical communication, particularly in digital spaces, and the impacts documents (like ToS and community guidelines) have on various communities. I’m really concerned with research that bridges social justice and ethics and produces data and analysis that then can be used to make these documents, systems, and practices more just and equitable.


TNK: What advice might you give someone considering getting their doctorate or doing research into similar topics?


RJ: For similar topics my biggest advice is to listen and give a platform to sex workers already doing amazing research and work in these spaces. Also, to follow the advice of Melissa Gira Grant when she advises “rather than narrow in on sex workers’ behaviors, turn your questions outward. What are these people doing that might harm sex workers? Why not help them, rather than sex workers, change their behavior?” (p. 130).


Grant, M. G. (2014). Playing the whore: The work of sex work. Verso Books.

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