Agency, Livelihoods, and Spaces
The aim of this book has been to mobilize an analysis of sex work
through a Marxian frame that accounts for sexual commerce in
terms of livelihood, a category that emerged from conversations
with people who sell sexual services and from observations of
spaces that serve as sites of solicitation for women seeking male
clients of those services. The frame of livelihood accounts for ques-
tions of violence and survival that structure sex work while it re-
mains both criminalized and highly stigmatized. At the same time,
the book contributes toward making analytic space for questions
that presently run the risk of evaporating completely from schol-
arly and juridical discourses of sexual commerce, questions that
concern pleasure, art, sociality, and the complex local discourses of
sex acts and their meanings for sex workers and their clients, and
the problem of identifying selling sexual services almost exclusively
with cisgender women.
In choosing to avoid a didactic rejoinder to the abolitionist
framework, I have endeavored to offer an alternative to the au-
thoritative conflation of prostitution and violence by drawing on
categories of analysis that emerged from my conversations and
interactions with women selling sexual services in three distinct
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