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Stefan Cross Centre for Women, Equality and Law News, Events and Seminars

Strippers and other feminists: Counter hegemony, class, and legality. Event

26 April 2023
This is a hybrid event at the University of Southampton and online.

Event details

A Law School lunchtime seminar by the Stefan Cross Centre for Women, Equality and the Law.

The article this talk was based on has now been published in Social and Legal Studies: Unionising Sex Workers and Other Feminists

Abstract: A minor movement of strippers are unionizing as the United Sex Workers (USW) branch of the United Voices of the World Union. USW has produced a counter hegemonic narrative in the process of class struggle, which demystifies the common-sense view that strippers are free workers and enterprising subjects, or unfree victims of sexual exploitation and patriarchy. This demystification is evident in USW’s ‘feminist law work’, which plays within and provokes against official law to secure decommodification and decriminalization for all sex workers, including strippers. The success of USW’s law work can be seen in courtroom and committee victories and growing solidarity. In conclusion, I argue that, on the one hand, USW’s demands for decommodification and decriminalization pose a threat to the imperatives of capitalist societies, and on the other, they are part and parcel of USW’s class struggle that should be met with the support of all feminists.

Speaker Bio: Dr Katie Cruz is an Associate Professor in Law. Her research focuses on Marxist feminist theory and the legal regulation of sex work and care work. She is currently working on a monograph for Bristol University Press, titled: Sex Worker Rights Activism and the Politics of Rights: Within and Against the Law. Her most recent publication is co-authored with Camille Barbagallo and titled 'Dancers Win at Work: Unionisation and Nowak v Chandler Bars Group Ltd' (2021) 102(3) Studies in Political Economy: A Socialist Review. Katie is also writing up the findings of an ESRC/UKRI funded project with colleagues at the University of Leeds, titled: The impact of COVID-19 on the provision of Early Years childcare in England and Wales.

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