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
Fifty countries treat sex work as a legitimate job, and it has been legalized (with restrictions) in eleven others. The United States is one of the few industrialized nations that continues to criminalize prostitution and, as Melinda Chateauvert reveals, these laws have put sex workers at risk. Documenting five decades of sex-worker activism, Sex Workers Unite puts prostitutes, hustlers, call girls, strippers, and porn stars in the center of civil rights struggles. Although their presence has largely been ignored, sex workers have here been recast as key activists in struggles for gay liberation, women's rights, reproductive justice, union organizing, and prison abolition. By foregrounding labor, Chateauvert reframes sex work as work and argues that sex-worker rights are ultimately human rights.