On 21 December 2012, the Court of Appeal (CA) gave its decision in the case of Stringfellows Restaurants Ltd v Nadine Quashie.1 This case questioned whether Ms Quashie, a lap-dancer, was self-employed or whether she was an employee under a contract of employment. According to the facts laid down in the judgment, Ms Quashie worked a few times a week in a club, paid a fee to work there, was defined as an independent contractor in the club owners’ hand book and the clients took part in the process of payment. The CA reversed the decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) and stated that there was no mutuality of obligations such as to constitute a contract of employment, since there was no wage-work bargain between the parties. The club had no obligation to pay the dancer ‘anything at all’,2 and therefore, as the Court said, ‘the dancer took the economic risk’.3 Quashie provides us with an opportunity to consider the tight link that British labour law creates between service workers, gender and precariousness in the context of sex work. Particularly, it offers to rethink the way the court considers the roles of the three parties in interactive service work—workers, management and customers—in its process of fact assessment, and accordingly its decision on whether a contract of employment was constructed.
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.
Feminist debates over sex commerce extend to a number of social practices, including pornography, prostitution, trafficking in persons, erotic dance and performance, and the use of sexual images of women to promote products and entertainment. Feminist theorists are divided on the question of whether markets in sexually explicit materials and sexual services are generally harmful to women. Accordingly, some feminist philosophers have explored and developed arguments for restricting sex markets, while others have investigated political movements that aim to advance the rights of sex workers.
Alemzadeh, Sheerine, Baring Inequality: Revisiting the Legalization Debate Through the Lens of Strippers’ Rights(February 8, 2013). Michigan Journal of Gender & Law, Vol. 19, p. 339, 2013. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2213979
This paper uses the strip club as a fresh site from which to examine the feminist legal debate over the legalization of prostitution. In tracking doctrinal and social trends ofstrip clubs as a long legalized commercial sex industry, I will interrogate the argument that legalization of prostitution will lead to greater regulation, and in turn, increased protection for people in the commercial sex trade.
This paper will demonstrate that in the context of stripping, legalization has failed to yield the type of advances for strippers envisioned by the regulation hypothesis. Because courts and employers treat work in the commercial sex industry as unworthy of protection, labor laws largely exclude stripping from those legal definitions of “employment” providing for labor organizing and wage, hour and anti-discrimination protections. Moreover, local governments deploy regulatory law to eliminate or significantly constrict the presence of strip clubs in their communities. These legal measures, such as zoning ordinances and nudity bans, have only tightened the labor market for strippers, thereby increasing strippers’ vulnerability to employer abuses.
In using strip clubs as a case study, this article cautions advocates for the legalization of prostitution in the feminist legal community against presupposing that legalization ofprostitution will produce regulations that improve working conditions for those involved in the commercial sex trade. Rather, such regulations would have to be preceded by a radical shift in social understandings about the worth of women and the contingencies that lead women to work in the commercial sex industry.
This collection focuses attention on an important but academically neglected area of contemporary operational policing: the regulation of consensual sexual practices. Despite the high-level public visibility of, and debate about, policing in relation to violent and abusive sexual crimes (from child sexual abuse to adult rape) very little public or scholarly attention is paid to the policing of consensual sexual practices in contemporary societies. Whilst ‘sexual life’ is commonly understood to be a matter of ‘private life’ that is beyond formal social control, this book shows that policing is implicated in the regulation of a wide range of consensual sexual practices. This book brings together a well known and respected group of academics, from a range of disciplines, to explore the role of the police in shaping the boundaries of that aspect of our lives that we imagine to be most intimate and most our own. The volume presents a ‘snap shot’ of policing in respect of a number of diverse areas – such as public sex, pornography, and sex work – and considers how sexual orientation structures police responses to them. The authors critically examine how policing is implicated in the social, moral and political landscape of sex and, contrary to the established rhetoric of politicians and criminal justice practitioners, continues to intervene in the private lives of citizens.
It is essential supplementary reading for courses in criminology, law, policing, sociology of deviance, gender and sexuality, and cultural studies.