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Tag Archives: Sex Workers


Radical Politics & Critical Perspectives for the Sex Worker Movement
17 December Conference 2015, London
Register Now – tickets on sale

Sex worker activism in the United Kingdom is once again gathering momentum and energy. From Twitter, to the streets of Soho and regular organising meetings, in student unions and universities, sex worker activists can be heard and our voices are strong. The recent decision by Amnesty International to include sex workers’ perspectives in their policy development has reflected a wider shift that sees the value and necessity of incorporating sex workers’ organisations in decision making about the sex industry. But we know that the demand for decriminalisation is just the beginning, not the end of the struggle to transform our industry. We also know that the growing strength of the sex worker movement is producing a number of conflicts and disparate perspectives on how to achieve radical change and transformation. Within our industry there are different experiences of migration, gender and race that impact our safety and ability to earn a living. We often face the paradox of wanting to critique our workplaces, bosses and work but end up having to defend ourselves from radical feminist representations of our experiences and the claim that we are victims in need of rescue. The energy and time it takes fighting to be heard means we often don’t have the space to focus on the very institution we want to bring down: that of capitalist work itself.

When Work is Sex: Bodies, Choice and Capitalism is an opportunity for sex workers, activists and academics who are interested in the politics of work and sex to come together to take stock of the sex worker movement and to consolidate and to strengthen the multiple campaigns, plans and struggles that are already in motion. It will also be a space to debate and discuss some of the different politics and perspectives that have developed in the sex worker movement. We are interesting in asking questions and debating what the goals and orientation of the sex worker rights movement should be. What should a union for sex workers look like? How useful (or limited) is the language of rights? What demands are being made and which should be being made? How can we ‘scale up’ our activities? How can we develop a more robust anti-capitalist orientation? The conference is open to those who are interested in where the sex worker led movement has come from, where it is going and how we can develop a more radical politics of sex work.

The conference is organised into three streams Bodies, Choice and Business. We would like to invite participation in the form of papers, panels and workshops framed around the following themes:

Bodies – How can we address questions and experiences of violence, safety and sexual violence? What does the politics of safe(r) spaces and victimhood mean within the sex worker movement? What are the connections between the criminalisation of (some) bodies and (some) violence? How can we develop a radical concept of autonomy and how could a feminist politics intersect with these concepts?
Choice – How do the discourses of choice, work and identity structure the politics of sex work. How can we approach the politics of consent and notions of freedom? How useful is the claim that sex work is ‘my choice’. What is the role of the entrepreneur in late capitalism and in the sex industry? How can we move beyond the claim for rights and towards a more radical anti-capitalist position?
Business – What are we selling? What are they buying? What does a politics of reproduction bring to the discussion of sex work? How does sex work organise gender and reproductive labour? How has migration changed the conditions of the sex industry? How can we understand our relations of exploitation and complicated class positions in the sex industry?

Submissions for conference papers, panels and workshops are due November 1st. Please send submissions to with your name (or working name if you prefer), title, short (300 words max) description and any access or equipment needs you have.

This conference has been organised by the x:talk project and is supported by the Sex Worker Open University, SCOT-PEP and STRASS (France). Email to add your organisation’s names to the list of supporters.

On December 17 – the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers we renew our commitment to solidarity. The majority of violence against sex workers is not just violence against sex works — it’s also violence against transwomen, against women of color, against drug users and against migrants. We cannot end the marginalization and victimization of sex workers without also fighting transphobia, racism, stigma and the criminalization of drug use.

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