Monthly Archives: November 2013

Author: Shawna Ferris

Citation (APA): Ferris, S. (2007). Dangerous order: Globalization, Canadian cities, and street-involved sex work. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Digital Commons @ McMaster. (UMI No. AAINR36033).


My dissertation considers the effects of transnational free market economics, urbanization, and growing concerns regarding home and homeland security on contemporary representations of and responses to street-involved sex work in Canada. Foregrounding the current legality of prostitution in Canada, as well as the growing number of serial kidnap and murder cases involving sex workers nationwide, the project brings together two broader cultural debates regarding the moral and cultural legitimacy of prostitution, and the growing socioeconomic “disposability” of the poor and other culturally marginalized populations in an emergent global order. The project thus explores how contemporary Canadian culture registers the changing role of the human/e and of the urban under global capitalism. ^ Considering current responses to the disappearance of sixty-eight women—many of whom were street sex workers—from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Chapter One argues that sex workers’ traditional synecdochic relationship with the modern metropolis has become, in contemporary contexts, dangerously fraught. The gradual disintegration of such synecdoche, I argue, signifies the ongoing dissolution of socio-political ties between the nation-state and its citizenry. Chapter Two considers two imagistic tropes in sex work-related media reports, then analyzes urban anti-prostitution initiatives growing out of the Vancouver case and others. I argue that such tropes and actions further reify emerging discourses of street sex workers as cultural “waste.” Chapter Three examines sex worker activists’ interventions in such mainstream narrations. I discuss the political initiatives promoted on the websites of three major activist organizations, and explore the ways that online activism simultaneously expands and limits the cultural influence of these groups. Noting the over-representation of First Nations women among the victims in the Vancouver case and others, Chapter Four examines intersections between and resistance to Canada’s violent colonial history, racist public policies, and whore stigma in contemporary culture as they converge around Aboriginal women in Canada’s inner-city sex trade.

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Author: John Lowman

Citation (APA): Lowman, J. (2000). “Violence and the Outlaw Status of (Street) Prostitution in Canada.” Violence Against Women, 6(9), 987-1011.


This article constructs a profile of murders of sex workers in British Columbia from 1964 to 1998. The analysis reveals the relationships among media, law, political hypocrisy, and violence against street prostitutes. In particular, the article examines how the “discourse of disposal”—that is, media descriptions of the ongoing attempts of politicians, police, and residents’ groups to get rid of street prostitution from residential areas—contributed to a sharp increase in murders of street prostitutes in British Columbia after 1980.

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Ronald Weitzer (George Washington University): Sex Trafficking and the Sex Industry: The Need for Evidence-Based Theory and Legislation. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol. 101, No. 4, 2011.

Critical analysis of current U.S. policy on sex trafficking and recommendations for reforms in policy and enforcement.

Full text available here.

Cruz, Katie (2013): Unmanageable Work, (Un)liveable Lives: The UK Sex Industry, Labour Rights and the Welfare State,  Social & Legal Studies 22(4) 465–488. 


This article draws from interview material with sex worker rights activists in London, and sex work scholarship, to explore the demand for labour rights for sex workers and erotic dancers. I argue that there are two positions visible in activism and scholarship, which I term ‘liberal’ and ‘materialist’. Whilst the former posits that the problem with sex work is insufficient mainstreaming of commercial sex within the labour market, the latter stresses the need for protections and freedoms from the labour market and repressive criminal and immigration laws. I suggest that these two perspectives need to be thought together. To this end, for the first time in the UK context I ask what labour rights can do for erotic dancers and indoor-based sex workers. I argue that, whilst labour law may offer some level of protection, both forms of commercial sexual service are ultimately unmanageable and that the strategy of securing individual labour rights suffers from several limitations. In the final part, I map the materialist frames onto broader feminist citizenship debates. I ask whether these models can deliver the protections sought and tentatively propose that a feminist-oriented demand for a basic income may be of use to the sex worker rights movement today.

Author: Jodi Beniuk

Citation (MLA): Beniuk, Jodi. “Indigenous Women as the Other: An Analysis of the Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry.” The Arbutus Review 3. 2 (2012): 80-97.


In this paper, I discuss the ways in which Indigenous women are Othered by the proceedings of the Missing Women‘s Commission of Inquiry (MWCI). First, I give a basic overview of Beauvoir’s theory of women as Others, followed by Memmi’s analysis of the relationship between the colonized and the colonizer. I use these two theories to describe the way Indigenous women are Othered both as Indigenous peoples and as women, focusing on the context of the twenty-six who were murdered in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). The original murders were the result of the cultural reduction of Indigenous Women to their bodies. The negligent police investigations, as well as the misogynistic attitudes of the police, also demonstrate how Othering can operate within these institutions. I claim that the violence against women in the DTES was due to their status as Other. Notably, the MWCI, which is supposed to be a process that addresses the Othering-based negligence of the police, also includes instances of Othering in its structure and practice. From this, I conclude that we cannot rely on Othering institutions or legal processes to correct Othering as a practice. In the context of the MWCI, I suggest building alliances that support those who face this Othering as violence in their everyday lives.

Key terms: Othering; Indigenous Women; Downtown Eastside Vancouver

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Author: Becki L. Ross, 2010

Citation (APA): Ross, B. L. (2010). Sex and (Evacuation from) the City: The Moral and Legal Regulation of Sex Workers in Vancouver’s West End, 1975—1985. Sexualities, 13(2), 197-218.


For more than a century, prostitution in Vancouver, British Columbia has been at the centre of legal and political debate, policing, media coverage, and policy-making. From 1975 to 1985, a heterogeneous, pimp-free community of sex workers lived and worked on and around Davie Street in the city’s emerging ‘gay’ West End. Their presence sparked a vigorous backlash, including vigilante action, from multiple stake-holders intent on transforming the port town into a ‘world class city’ and venerable host of the World’s Fair, ‘Expo 1986’. In this article, drawing from interviews and archival material, I examine the abolitionist strategies adopted by Vancouver’s residents’ groups, business owners, politicians, and police to criminalize street solicitation and evacuate prostitutes who, in small numbers, ‘whorganized’ to fight back. The collective disavowal of sex workers as citizens was premised on the ‘cleansing’ of the zone under siege, which became whitened and made safe for bourgeois (queer) capitalism, with lethal consequences for outdoor sex workers in the city.

Keywords: expulsion, homonormative, moral regulation, neo-liberalism, sex work

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Author: Aziza Ahmed (@AzizaAhmed)

Citation (MLA): Ahmed, Aziza. “Feminism, power, and sex work in the context of HIV/AIDS: consequences for women’s health.” Harvard Journal of Law and Gender 34.1 (2011): 225-58.


This paper examines the involvement of feminists in approaches to sex work in the context of HIV/AIDS. The paper focuses on two moments where feminist disagreement produced results in favor of an “anti-trafficking” approach to addressing the vulnerability of sex workers in the context of HIV. The first is the UNAIDS Guidance Note on Sex Work and the second is the “anti-prostitution pledge” found in the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. This article also examines the anti-sex work position articulated by abolitionist feminists and demonstrates the unintended consequences of the abolitionist position on women’s health. By examining the actual impact of abolitionist positions, in favor of the anti-prostitution pledge and the criminalization of clients, we see that there are negative consequences for women despite the desire by abolitionists to improve women’s health.

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