Negotiating Sex Work: Unintended Consequences of Policy and Activism

Negotiating Sex Work: Unintended Consequences of Policy and Activism


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Globally, discussions about sex work focus on exploitation. The media regularly provides us with stories about teen girls coerced to perform sexual acts for money, frequently beaten and robbed by their pimps or traffickers. While one would have to be hard-pressed to deny that sex workers are victimized, the popular media and our political leaders emphasize sex work as exclusively exploitative. In Negotiating Sex Work, Carisa R. Showden and Samantha Majic present a series of essays that depict sex work as an issue far more complex than generally perceived.

Positions on sex work are primarily divided between those who consider that selling sexual acts is legitimate work and those who consider it a form of exploitation. Organized into three parts, Negotiating Sex Work rejects this either/or framework and offers instead diverse and compelling contributions that aim to reframe these viewpoints. Part I addresses how knowledge about sex work and sex workers is generated. The next section explores how nations and political actors who claim to protect individuals in sex work often further marginalize them. Finally, part III examines sex workers’ own political-organizational efforts to combat laws and policies that deem them deviant, sinful, or total victims.

A timely and necessary intervention into sex work debates, this volume challenges how policy makers and the broader public regard sex workers’ capacity to advocate for their own interests.

Contributors: Cheryl Auger; Sarah Beer, Dawson College, Montreal; Michele Tracy Berger, U of North Carolina–Chapel Hill; Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette, Federal U of Rio de Janeiro; Raven Bowen; Gregg Bucken-Knapp, U of Gothenburg, Sweden; Ana Paula da Silva, Federal U of Viçosa; Valerie Feldman; Gregor Gall, U of Bradford; Kathleen Guidroz, Georgetown U; Annie Hill, U of Minnesota; Johan Karlsson Schaffer, U of Oslo; Edith Kinney, Mills College; Yasmin Lalani; Pia Levin; Alexandra Lutnick; Tamara O’Doherty, U of the Fraser Valley, British Columbia; Joyce Outshoorn, U of Leiden; Francine Tremblay, Concordia U, Montreal.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780816689590
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Publication date: 04/07/2014
Pages: 360
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Carisa R. Showden is associate professor of political science at the University of North Carolina–Greensboro. She is the author of Choices Women Make: Agency in Domestic Violence, Assisted Reproduction, and Sex Work (Minnesota, 2011).

Samantha Majic is assistant professor of political science at John Jay College/CUNY. She is the author of Sex Work Politics: From Protest to Service Provision.

Table of Contents



Introduction: The Politics of Sex Work
Carisa R. Showden and Samantha Majic

Part I. Sex Work and the Politics of Knowledge Production
1. Researching Sexuality: The Politics of Location Approach for Studying Sex Work
Michele Tracy Berger and Kathleen Guidroz
2. Beyond Prescientific Reasoning: The Sex Worker Environmental Assessment Team Study
Alexandra Lutnick
3. Participant-Driven Action Research (PDAR) with Sex Workers in Vancouver
Raven Bowen and Tamara O’Doherty

Part II. Producing the Sex Worker: Law, Politics, and Unintended Consequences
4. Demanding Victims: The Sympathetic Shift in British Prostitution Policy
Annie Hill
5. Criminalized and Licensed: Local Politics, the Regulation of Sex Work, and the Construction of “Ugly Bodies”
Cheryl Auger
6. Bad Girls and Vulnerable Women: An Anthropological Analysis of Narratives Regarding Prostitution and Human Trafficking in Brazil
Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette and Ana Paula da Silva
7. Raids, Rescues, and Resistance: Women’s Rights and Thailand’s Response to Human Trafficking
Edith Kinney
8. The Contested Citizenship of Sex Workers: The Case of the Netherlands
Joyce Outshoorn
9. Comrades, Push The Red Button! Prohibiting the Purchase of Sexual Services in Sweden but Not in Finland
Gregg Bucken-Knapp, Johan Karlsson Schaffer, and Pia Levin

Part III. Negotiating Status: The Promises and Limits of Sex Worker Organizing
10. Collective Interest Organization among Sex Workers
Gregor Gall
11. Sex Work Politics and the Internet: Carving Out Political Space in the Blogosphere
Valerie Feldman
12. Gender Relations and HIV/AIDS Education in the Peruvian Amazon: Women Sex Worker Activists Creating Community
Yasmin Lalani
13. Sex Worker Rights Organizations and Government Funding in Canada
Sarah Beer and Francine Tremblay

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