This course examines various forms of sexual labor around the world in order to better understand how gendered and sexual performances are used in a variety of cultures and contexts for material benefit. Our topics include “traditional” forms of sex work such as street prostitution, pornography, and escorting as well as other forms of sexualized performances for benefit such as stripping or camming. We also discuss current issues and debates about discourses of “sex trafficking.” Course readings come from a range of fields, but focus most heavily on anthropology, sociology, American studies, and gender studies. The readings for this class will frequently foreground the lived experiences of sex workers from a variety of nations, races, classes, religions, and backgrounds in order to explore the broader social implications of our subject matter. The format is largely discussion-based, with short lectures supplementing the reading with summaries of current scholarly and activist debates. We have a variety of guest speakers to share their diverse lived experiences related to this topic.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
midterm essay exam, short quizzes, participation, Marco Polo video chat posts
none, though WGSS 101 and/or 202 may be helpful, but not required
based on statement of interest
Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
We pay particular attention to the intersecting questions of race, sexuality, gender, and class as we explore the political economy of commercial sex. The course teaches students to examine the underlying political and economic structures that create systems of privilege and power, thereby complicating questions and assumptions about sexual consent, coercion, agency, and empowerment with particular attention to race and gender in comparative transnational contexts.
WGSS Racial Sexual + Cultural Diversity Courses