Mathieu, Lilian (2003): The Emergence and Uncertain Outcomes of Prostitutes’ Social Movements, in: The European Journal of Women’s Studies, 10(1), S. 29–50.
This article is a comparative study of five prostitutes’ social movements. The emergence of these movements is one of the major developments in the politics of prostitution: for the first time, prostitutes are politically organizing and expressing their claims and grievances in the public debate about prostitution – a debate from which they are usually excluded. But, as is the case for most stigmatized populations, this pretension to enter into the public debate is faced with many difficulties. Some of these are inherent to the world of prostitution, which is an informal, competitive and violent world, in which leaders face constant challenges to establish and maintain their authority and legitimacy. The article also emphasizes the crucial, but ambiguous, role played by alliances between prostitutes and people from other parts of society (especially feminists). Prostitutes’ dependence on these supporters leads the author to consider their social movements to be heteronomous mobilizations.
Billaud, Julie; Castro, Julie, Whores and Niqabées: The Sexual Boundaries of French Nationalism, in: French Politics, Culture & Society, Volume 31, Number 2, Summer 2013 , pp. 81-101(21)
This essay seeks to analyze the recent reconfigurations of French nationalism, taking as an entry point the legal treatment of veiled Muslim women and prostitutes over the past two decades. We argue that the bodies of prostitutes and veiled Muslim women, both of which have been targeted by successive legal interventions in order to exclude them from the public space, have become central political sites for the state to assert its sovereign power and trigger nationalist feelings. This comparative analysis of gendered “lawfare“ (which John Comaroff has defined as the judicialization of politics and the resort to legal instruments to commit acts of political coercion) provides insights into a new form of nationalism that strives to foster “sexual liberalism“ as a core value of citizenship in order to enforce a virile nationalism, prescribe new sexual normativities, and criminalize immigrants and those living at the social margins.
Mathieu, Lilian (2012): An Ambiguous Compassion: Policing and Debating Prostitution in Contemporary France, in: Sexuality Research and Social Policy 9(3), pp 203-211.
Since 1960, prostitution is defined by the French law as incompatible with human dignity. Prostitutes are considered as victims of social maladjustment who should be rescued by social workers and protected from pimps by the police. Major changes in prostitution policies have nevertheless been introduced in 2003, without fundamentally changing the law. Extended means have been given to the police to repress street prostitutes, and, crucially, to arrest and expel those prostitutes who are undocumented migrants. Surprisingly, this coercive turn has not been perceived as contradictory with the former compassionate approach, as repression is deemed to guarantee the protection of prostitutes’ human dignity. This paradox stands at the core of the article that explores the public controversies on the issue—and especially the new project to criminalize the purchase of sexual services—among social movements, politicians, government agencies, and intellectuals, as they are expressed in the media and in parliamentary debates.