A provocative history that reveals how sex workers have been at the vanguard of social justice movements for the past fifty years while building a movement of their own that challenges our ideas about labor, sexuality, feminism, and freedom
Product Code: 5458
ISBN: 9780807061237
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Beacon Press
Published Date: 03/10/2015
Availability: Not currently available.
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Price: $20.00

Documenting five decades of sex-worker activism, Sex Workers Unite is a fresh history that places prostitutes, hustlers, escorts, call girls, strippers, and porn stars in the center of America's major civil rights struggles. Although their presence has largely been ignored and obscured, in this provocative history Melinda Chateauvert recasts sex workers as savvy political organizers-not as helpless victims in need of rescue.

Even before transgender sex worker Sylvia Rivera threw a brick and sparked the Stonewall Riot in 1969, these trailblazing activists and allies challenged criminal sex laws and "whorephobia," and were active in struggles for gay liberation, women's rights, reproductive justice, union organizing, and prison abolition.

Although the multibillion-dollar international sex industry thrives, the United States remains one of the few industrialized nations that continues to criminalize prostitution, and these discriminatory laws put workers at risk. In response, sex workers have organized to improve their working conditions and to challenge police and structural violence. Through individual confrontations and collective campaigns, they have pushed the boundaries of conventional organizing, called for decriminalization, and have reframed sex workers' rights as human rights.

Telling stories of sex workers, from the frontlines of the 1970s sex wars to the modern-day streets of SlutWalk, Chateauvert illuminates an underrepresented movement, introducing skilled activists who have organized a global campaign for self-determination and sexual freedom that is as multifaceted as the sex industry and as diverse as human sexuality.


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CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION 1

CHAPTER 1
THE REVOLUTION IS FINALLY HERE!
Sex Work and Strategic Sex

CHAPTER 2
THOSE FEW CAME ON LIKE GANGBUSTERS
Prostitution and Sisterhood

CHAPTER 3
MY ASS IS MINE!
Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics

CHAPTER 4
RESISTING THE VIRUS OF REPRESSION
Disease Vectors and Sexual Experts

CHAPTER 5
ASSEMBLY-LINE ORGASMS
Organizing the Sex Market

CHAPTER 6
FUCK THE PIGS!
Public Sex and Police Violence

CHAPTER 7
SLUTS UNITE!
Disrupting Whorephobia and Slut-Shaming

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

NOTES
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX

"This is an important book-not only for understanding the history of the movement but also for debunking myths about sex workers." -Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former US surgeon general

"From the movement's beginning with street-walking cop-fighting trans women at Stonewall at Compton's Cafeteria through feminist betrayal and the AIDs crisis all the way to today's sex work activists and artists who make this labor visible, Sex Workers Unite is a fact-driven, street-smart history. This book is crucial." -Michelle Tea, author of Valencia

"In this definitive history, Chateauvert recounts the many challenges and successes of the sex workers' rights movement, and shows us how much farther we have to go to guarantee everyone's fundamental rights to sexual privacy and self-determination." -Anthony D. Romero, executive director, American Civil Liberties Union

"With a historian's eye for the illuminating detail and the street fighter's passion for her cause, Melinda Chateauvert offers a sassy journey through the worlds of 'Working Girls and Boys,' black, brown, and white, trans, gay, and straight. Against rescuers and abolitionists, Sex Workers Unite recovers the collective action and labor organizing of sex workers for better conditions, living wages, cultural freedom, and social justice." -Eileen Boris, Hull Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California Santa Barbara and co-editor of Intimate Labors: Cultures, Technologies, and The Politics of Care

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