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date: 02 April 2023

Sex Work, Queer Economic Justice, and Communicative Ethicslocked

Sex Work, Queer Economic Justice, and Communicative Ethicslocked

  • Carly Leilani FabianCarly Leilani FabianUniversity of Georgia


There are various academic and activist perspectives on sex work as an area of inquiry at the intersection of queer, feminist, and class politics. Exploring this topic with an eye toward a communicative ethic helps to foreground consent and mutuality when considering some of the major theoretical topics connected with sex work. A historiography of the sex wars of the 1970s and 1980s illuminates how public discussions about feminism and sexuality were influenced by the emergence of pornography as a major media force. Taking seriously the refrain “sex work is work,” how labor can be a useful analytic for connecting sex work to the broader economy is considered, while also pointing to the limits of categories such as “sex,” “work,” and “labor.” Situating sex work in the contemporary context of neoliberal and paternalistic rationalities of the state, how advocates for sex workers are caught in a communicative double bind is discussed. Taking into account shared commitments among scholars of sex work in the communication discipline, alternatives to criminalization provide scholars and activists a place to start in imagining a future that is safer for queer bodies and practices.


  • Critical/Cultural Studies
  • Gender (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies)

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