Shari Dworkin and I are happy to introduce our first official guest post, from Adina Nack, Associate Professor of Sociology at California Lutheran University:


By Adina Nack

What are the overt and covert goals of school dress codes? Are these dress codes developed to ensure that students meet norms of professionalism, or do these serve as tools for schools to enforce heteronormativity and stigmatize transgenderism? Are schools citing safety concerns, warning parents about how to protect youth from harm, or do these intend to distract us from the ways in which dress codes serve to reinforce heterosexist norms? How well can we predict the unintended consequences of dress codes – both the more ‘traditional’ and more ‘progressive’ policies?

These are the questions I found myself asking after reading Shari Dworkin’s recent post about Morehouse College’s dress code and a recent New York Times article by Jan Hoffman that asked, “Can a boy wear a skirt to school?”: (see High Schools Struggle When Gender Bends the Dress Code).

articleLargeThis NYT piece focused on the number of U.S. high schools who have created dress codes that explicitly classify “unconventional gender expression” as violations warranting disciplinary actions. Hoffman also mentioned some high schools whose dress codes are more accepting of “gender-blurring clothing.” Hoffman’s recent NYT article includes arguments for and against dress codes that allow for a diverse range of gender and sexuality expressions, noting safety as “a critical concern.”

To exemplify this point, Hoffman mentions Lawrence King’s 2008 murder. Living and teaching near Oxnard, CA, I had immersed myself in the news coverage of this school shooting. Journalists often discussed King as a 15-year-old student who sometimes cross-dressed and who had talked about being gay. For example, Ramin Setoobeh’s 2008 coverage of King’s story in Newsweek included detailed descriptions of the clothing, make-up, and accessories that the 15-year-old often wore to school. At the time of the murder, many local residents – ranging from the socially conservative to the socially progressive – were shocked when reports revealed that King had been allowed to ‘cross-dress’ at his middle school. According to MSNBC, his school’s leniency became the reason for Lawrence King’s family to file a personal injury claim against the school district: “for not enforcing the dress code.”

When it comes to questions of school safety, it is not appropriate to posit any dress code as the solution. Blaming a school – for having a “lenient” dress code or for not enforcing a dress code – is a simplistic and unjust conclusion to reach. Following this line of reasoning, we should not question a dress code which privileges a narrow definition of masculinity. Codes and policies rooted in social inequalities serve to elevate oppressive norms – we can and should be critical consumers.

In an SWS listserv discussion inspired by last week’s NYT article, sociologist Joan I. Biddle, raised interesting points that illustrate why a context-sensitive analysis is key. I followed up with her by email, and she clarified her perspective:

“The degree to which the faculty become involved with these students may have a lot to do with how the student behaves at school. Is the student doing things which disrupt the learning of other students? Also, how does the student present her/himself to the others in the school setting? And, is this presentation compatible with the flow of things in the social/educational environment at the school?”

Several questions arise here: How does heteronormativity influence teachers’ and administrators’ definitions of ‘disruptive’ behavior? Do longstanding stereotypes about homosexual males – as those who seek to ‘convert’ heterosexuals or as supposed perpetrators of sexual crimes – make it more likely for a cross-dressing male student to be labeled as deviant and aggressive?

Biddle’s point about the social significance of a student being perceived as ‘disruptive’ is illustrated by a line in Setoobeh’s article about King’s murder: “Larry King was, admittedly, a problematical test case: he was a troubled child who flaunted his sexuality and wielded it like a weapon—it was often his first line of defense.” In U.S. schools, are heterosexual students ever accused of ‘flaunting’ their sexuality? Are heterosexual boys who flirt with girls likely to be cited for having used their sexuality as a weapon?  Setoobeh’s use of a ‘sexuality-as-weapon’ metaphor likely referred to reports of King being accused of ‘sexually harassing’ several male students, including the student who ultimately killed him. However, framing King as the one wielding “a weapon” distracts from how we problematize any sexual agency on the part of minority sexualities and the numerous reports about King having been the victim of homophobic bullying.

A year and a half after this tragedy, mainstream media coverage of school dress codes fails to bring sufficient attention to underlying inequalities reinforced by these institutional policies which codify heterosexism. If we want to focus on safety concerns, then what about holding all U.S. schools accountable for not allowing any type of bullying or sexual harassment to take place on their campuses? Reframing the social problem in this way would require a nationwide crackdown on the most prevalent and normalized type of sexual harassment – that of boys/men harassing girls/women. We would also have to address the far too common harassment and bullying of LGBTQ students, heterosexual female students, and students who are marginalized for their ethnicity, social class, abilities, or religious beliefs.

I agree with Dworkin, who concluded her post with, “Supporting dominant forms of gendered, racialized, and sexualized masculinities (heterosexual masculinities, middle class masculinities) and erasing subordinated masculinities (gay, working class, or urban underclass) whether this is through dress codes, hair styles, speech, or other social practices simply does not recognize that there are many acceptable ways to be a man….” It’s time to de-stigmatize ‘boys in skirts’ and keep issues of power and privilege in mind when we discuss students’ expressions of sex, gender, and sexuality.


Suggested Readings:

  • Hand, Jeanne Z. and Laura Sanchez. 2000. “Badgering or Bantering?: Gender Differences in Experience of, and Reactions to, Sexual Harassment among U.S. High School Students.” Gender and Society, Vol. 14, No. 6:pp. 718-746.
  • Meyer, Elizabeth J. 2008. “A feminist reframing of bullying and harassment: Transforming schools through critical pedagogy.” McGill Journal of Education, Vol. 43, No. 1 (Winter): 33-48.
  • Pascoe, C.J. 2007. Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School. Berkeley, CA: UC Press.
  • Whitelaw, Sarah, Laura Hills, and Julia De Rosa. 1999. “Sexually Aggressive and Abusive Behaviors in Schools.” Women’s Studies Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 1/2: pp. 203-211.

A recent article in the British Telegraph reports that the government of the Spanish region of Extremadura is funding a new sexuality education campaign directed at teens aged 14-17. The campaign takes an empowerment approach towards teens and sexual pleasure, leading with the slogan, “Pleasure is in your own hands.” Through hip fanzines, flyers and workshops, the campaign provides sex positive information about masturbation, as well as contraception and self-respect. Full text of the Telegraph’s article can be found here

Extremadura shares its eastern border of Portugal and its western border with Castile la Mancha (which houses Madrid).
Extremadura shares its eastern border with Portugal and its western border with Castile la Mancha (which houses Madrid).


As might be expected, religious conservatives in Spain (affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church) are not happy with the pleasure campaign: the Telegraph quotes Hernández Carrón of the right wing People’s party as saying, “‘(t)his is an intimate subject that should be dealt with at home.'” He complains further that “(w)e have become the laughing stock of Spain.”

Despite conservative opposition, this move is part of a larger shift within more progressive sexual health circles towards a “sex positive” perspective on sexuality and sexual pleasure. Indeed, in their Declaration of Sexual Rights, the World Association for Sexual Health lists sexual pleasure as #5 out of 11 sexual rights:

#5. The right to sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure, including autoeroticism, is a source of physical, psychological, intellectual and spiritual well-being.

How did it come to be that pleasuring one’s own body came to be seen as forbidden to begin with? In his book, Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation (2003), Thomas Laqueuer (UC Berkeley, History) traces some of this history to the Enlightenment concept of “onania” (which claims that masturbation actually causes physical harm): “The dangers of onanism became a key concern of Enlightenment thinkers, whose preoccupation with social order made them see this inherently private activity as self-abuse in the most literal sense” (review in The New Yorker). This same review in The New Yorker rightly points out that sources of guilt and sexual shame also most certainly existed prior to and well beyond the touches of Western European Enlightenment.

For the religious opponents of masturbation in Spain, The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2352) may more than enough reason to oppose pleasure for its own sake:

“Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.”137 “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.”138

Sexuality education and the right to sexual pleasure are not the only areas where Spain is becoming a leader in progressive sexuality policy; in 2005 Spain also became one of just five nations that currently recognize gay marriage. [along with the Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003), Canada (2005), South Africa (2006)]. Additionally, Norway and Sweden have both recently passed legislation of gender-neutral marriage bills (Jan. 1, 2009 and May 1, 2009)– thus effectively also legalizing same-sex marriage.


  • Laqueur, Thomas W. 2003. Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation. Zone Books.

India is a vital location for sexuality scholars and activists, further confirmed by yesterday’s news that “India’s third gender gets own identity in voter rolls.” Partial text of this news story is quoted below:

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) — Indian election authorities Thursday granted what they called an independent identity to intersex and transsexuals in the country’s voter lists.

Before, members of these groups — loosely called eunuchs in Indian English — were referred to as male or female in the voter rolls.

But now, they will have the choice to tick “O” — for others — when indicating their gender in voter forms, the Indian election commission said in a statement.

“Enumerators and booth-level officers (BLOs) shall be instructed to indicate the sex of eunuchs/transsexuals etc as ‘O’ if they so desire, while undertaking any house-to-house enumeration/verification of any application,” a statement from election authorities said.

India, home to more than 1 billion people, has 714 million registered voters.

Intersexual people are seen as a marginalized community in India. Many end up begging on the streets, becoming prostitutes or earning their livelihood by dancing at celebrations.

This news comes on the heels of a July ruling in India that decriminalized homosexual sex (discussed in a previous post comparing sexual rights movements in India and the U.S.). The comparable U.S. ruling to this came just six years ago with Lawrence V. Texas.

The story above uses the terms “intersexual,” eunuch,” and “transsexual” as interchangable identities. Perhaps in some contexts they may all be considered members of the same “third gender” category,  but it is also useful and important to clarify some basic differences between these terms and others. Below are some very short, shorthand definitions:

  • Eunuch: an historic English term for a man who has been castrated to perform special social functions.
  • Intersexual: a term referring to people who are born with a mixture of both “male” and “female” hormonal, chromosomal, and/or genital characteristics (historically referred to as “hermaphrodite.”) (See the work of biologist Anne Fausto Sterling.)
  • Hijra: A term originating in South India referring to a person usually born male or intersex, but who uses female pronouns as dresses in feminine/”women’s” attire.
  • Transsexual: a term referring to someone who changes their sex through medical (surgical and/or hormonal) procedures.
  • Transgendered: a term referring to someone whose gender identity is different from the one traditionally assigned to their sex category. (People are born into sex categories of male and female; many but not all then become gendered masculine or feminine and into “men” and “women.”) Thus a transgendered person born in the female sex category may identify with the gender category “man” or “boi.” This may or may not involve surgical or hormonal alteration (in other words, it can simply be a social agreement).
  • Drag: a term that comes out of gay culture, involving someone temporarily “performing” a gender not usually associated with their sex (through dress, gestures, and so on). Ironic humor and extravagant campiness often involved.
  • Transvestite/cross-dresser: These are older terms with many meanings and histories — and often the term has been used in a derogatory fashion. In terms of practice though, “cross dressers” are often not gay, but “straight” men who simply enjoy dressing up as “women.”

These definitions are not meant to be comprehensive, but simply an entry point for those unfamiliar with these terms. There are also dozens of other terms associated with specific cultures and histories. (Readers, feel free to share other definitions, links, or references!)

Ok, now on to the topic at hand. Whenever I discuss the idea of recognizing more than two sexes/genders with my students, they inevitably claim that “society” will never let more than two sexes exist. Where would “they” go to the bathroom?!” they cry. Well, now we finally have a case where a “society” did allow more than two sexes to exist. Officially exist. Like in the Census Bureau. Then again, the concept of a third sex/gender has a long history in India (Reddy 2005).

Three things fascinate me about this new development in India:

  • 1) the social/activist process by which a third sex/gender became legally recognized (if readers have information on this I’d love to hear about how this worked in India),
  • 2) the acceptance of a third gender category based on either Social identity (people who simply feel and dress as a different sex/gender) and/or Biological identity (people who possess hormonal, chromosomal, and/or genital characteristics of more than one sex). As a result, this category applies to people who are intersexual, people who undergo surgical or hormonal treatment, and/or people who simply identify with a gender category not typically associated with their sex. This recognition of a third sex/gender free from the limitations of  a dichotomous sex category system, opens up all sorts of interesting questions. (E.g., in the U.S., the underlying premise of the gay marriage debate is that there are only two sexes: Male and Female, and two basic types of sexuality: Gay and Straight. If a third sex/gender person wanted to get married in the US system, what kind of marriage would it be?)
  • 3) Finally, I am intrigued by the implications of politically enfranchising this socially/politically marginalized group. (I am thinking here of how in the U.S., millions of marginalized Americans are barred from voting by simply denying felons the right to vote). Keep in mind here that a large proportion of Hijra are sex workers, and that sex workers in India are already quite well organized. Like the gay rights activism of ACT UP a significant amount sex worker activism in India is linked to the HIV/AIDS epidemic (e.g., SANGRAM and the Sonagachi Project). How will the newly enfranchised Hijra will impact the movement for sex workers rights, gay rights, intersexual/third gender rights, and HIV/AIDS interventions? What will they say about ongoing controversies around intersexual athletes (such as the Indian runner, Santhi Soundarajan)? I will be watching with great interest!

(Thanks to Melissa Embser-Herbert for the story tip).

Some recommended books on “third gender” related issues:

  • Jacobs, Sue-Ellen, Wesley Thomas, and Sabine Lang (Eds). 1997. Two-Spirit People: Native American Gender Identity, Sexuality, and Spirituality. University of Illinois Press.
  • Manalansan, Martin. 2003. Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
  • Namaste, Viviane. 2000. Invisible Lives: The erasure of transsexual and transgendered people. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Preves, Sharon. 2003. Intersex and Identity: The Contested Self. Rutgers University Press.
  • Reddy, Gayatri. 2005. With Respect to Sex: Negotiating Hijra Identity in South India. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Stryker, Susan and Stephen Whittle, (Eds). 2006. The Transgender Studies Reader. New York: Routledge.

This year’s November elections in the United States included two high profile “gay marriage” cases, one in Maine, one in Washington State. Both states typically vote Democratic, are predominately White, and are on the Northernmost borders of the US, brushing up against Canada (where gay marriage has been legal since 2005). Accurate data on religiousity is hard to come by, but Maine and Washington are both considered to be far more secular than their counterparts in the South and Southeast. Now a week after the elections with most of the votes counted, activists and analysts are attempting to understand what happened: Why did Maine vote against gay marriage, and Washington vote for civil unions (AKA “everything but marriage”?)

In Maine, gay marriage was voted down by voters at 53% to 47%. (But just two weeks before the vote, polls indicated a dead heat at 48% to 48%, with 5 percent undecided).maine_map

Washington_mapIn Washington, civil unions (AKA “everything but marriage”) between same sex partners and opposite sex partners older than 62 was approved by almost the same percentage as disproved in Maine: Approximately 53% to 47%.

The Huffington Post (via AP newswire) reports that Maine is just the latest in failures for gay marriage to pass by popular vote:

Gay marriage has now lost in every single state — 31 in all — in which it has been put to a popular vote. Gay-rights activists had hoped to buck that trend in Maine — known for its moderate, independent-minded electorate — and mounted an energetic, well-financed campaign.

Yesterday’s issue of The National Review Online, a conservative online publication, featured a triumphant story on the Maine defeat:

Robert P. George, a professor of politics at Princeton and founder of the American Principles Project, observes: “Maine is a northeastern liberal state with a significant student population. There are few blacks and very few Mormons. There is not a large Evangelical Christian population. The forces working in the state for the abolition of the conjugal conception of marriage as the union of husband and wife had the strong support not only of the media, but also of the state’s governor and other leading political figures. They had a significant funding advantage. On Election Day, they got the large turnout that they believed would assure them of victory. Yet, when the votes were counted, the people of Maine came down solidly in favor of restoring the conjugal conception of marriage that the state’s legislature and governor attempted to abolish.” (Lopez, “Winning with Marriage: Another year, another electoral victory.”) (emphasis mine).

Prof. George clearly marks some of the usual suspects opposing gay marriage: Mormons, non-intellectuals, evangelical Christians, and African-Americans. George and editor Kathy Lopez from NRO argues that that since none of these demographics are dominant in Maine, the reason must be that Maine voters simply know the difference between right and wrong: (“Why has gay marriage consistently lost when put in the hands of voters? Because what’s true is true. Most people know in their own heart that marriage is between a man and a woman”).

Assuming that the answer to this question is a bit more complicated than “right” or “wrong,” I first turned to the U.S. Census Bureau for quick facts on Maine and Washington. Here we see that:

  • Washington state is BIGGER: approx. 6.5 million in Washington vs. 1.3 million in Maine.
  • Washington state is GROWING FASTER: 11% growth in Washington, 3.3% in Maine; (US average 8%).
  • Washington state has YOUNGER population demographics: 12% age 62+  in Washington, 15.1% age 62+ in Maine; (US average: 12.8% 62+)
  • Washington residents make more MONEY: $55,628 median household income in Washington; $45,832 in Maine; (US median household income: $50,740)
  • Washington is MORE RACIALLY DIVERSE: Washington is 84.3% White; Maine is 96.4% White (US average: 79.8%).
  • Washington voters are MORE EDUCATED: 27.7% B.A or higher in Washington, 22.9% B.A. or higher in Maine (US average: 24.4%)

The demographics for King County (including Seattle) are even more striking. With a population of over 1.8 million (bigger than the entire state of Maine), 44.4% over the age of 25 hold at least a Bachelor’s degree. King County voters also voted in favor of Referendum 71 (“everything but marriage”) by a landslide: 68% to 32%.

We know from numerous social surveys that higher education and younger age are often correlated with tolerance toward gays. These factors may help to explain some of the difference between Washington and Maine election results. For example, Lax and Phillips (2009) show that across the U.S.:

  • only 10-35% of people age 65+ support gay marriage
  • but 35-75% of people between age 18-29 support  gay marriage.
  • Incredibly, this means that on the aggregate level, age matters more than location: i.e. young people in gay-hostile states are more likely to support gay marriage than older people in gay-friendly states! (See graph here).

Since Washington State is younger while Maine is older than the national average, the age-factor (in addition to the education factor) seems quite relevant in these elections. (Another twist here is that in Washington State, older heterosexual voters actually had an incentive to vote for civil unions).

For gay marriage rights activists, simply waiting for old people to die off (or for more people to go to college) is unsatisfying; this strategy also doesn’t work for conservative defenders of exclusive heterosexual marriage rights. Thus, debates around gay marriage continue to boomerang back to the sacred associations of marriage: Can the meaning of marriage change? Should they? What are the consequences of changing the meaning of marriage?

My hunch is that for those 5% of Maine fence-sitters, it was the fear around changing the meaning of “marriage” that tipped them toward the status quo. In Washington state, marriage wasn’t on the line so voters got to skip past those fears, bringing them toward a post-modern future.

Stay tuned for: “When does the meaning of marriage change?”

This story comes from British-based Elizabeth Pisani. Pisani has a Ph.D. in Epidemology, is author of The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels, and the Business of AIDS, and has a blog by the same title dedicated to “sex and science.”


elizabethYesterday the US finally dropped its absolutely senseless law forbidding people with HIV from visiting the Land of the Free. (While Saint Obama is getting patted on the back for ending the ban, he was actually signing off on something that George Bush put in motion last year). That’s unmitigated good news for people with HIV, their lovers, friends and families, as well as for a lot of US employers who can’t import some of the best and the brightest simply because they have a not-very infectious virus that can only be transmitted in a tiny number of well-known ways which we can protect against with safe, cheap technologies.

Does this signal a new wave of common sense in HIV prevention in the United States? That’s certainly what we expected when Obama was elected. During his campaign, for example, he recognised that sterile needle programmes cut HIV infection among injectors, saving lives and money, and pledged to end a ban on funding those programmes from federal coffers. So cities such as his home town of Chicago, pictured in the map below, will now be able to use central money to provide clean needles to the inner city injectors that need them most. As long as they set up in one of the grey spaces. In the cemetary, in other words.


(Click to enlarge)

On this fantastic map, which comes from Yale University’s Dr. Russell Barbour by way of Stop the Drug War, the red areas are the parts of town where it would be illegal to operate a federally funded needle exchange under new rules proposed by Congress. The Drug War Chronicle provides an interesting history of the needle exchange shenannigans. Essentially, Obama did not remove the ban from a budget bill because he thinks policy shouldn’t be made through sub-clauses in budget bills. Democrats on the committee discussing the bill disagreed, and dropped the ban. Then Republicans, not willing to give up the idea that the availability of clean needles would have us all racing to start shooting up smack, decided to protect the innocent by forbidding needle programmes within 1,000 feet of “a public or private day care centre, elementary school, vocational school, secondary school, college, junior college, or university, or any public swimming pool, park, playground, video arcade, or youth centre, or an event sponsored by any such entity”. That’s the red bits on the map of Chicago above. Here’s Dr, Barbour’s map of needle exchange exclusion zones in San Francisco:


This is clearly just a way of pulling the rug from under any effort to increase access to clean needles. We’ve come to expect this kind of implaccable opposition from conservative Drug Warriors in the United States. We used to expect the Brits to be more rational about their drug policy, and the UK has, thank God, held on to its policy of providing clean fits for anyone that needs them. But with the sacking of the government’s independent advisor on drugs David Nutt for repeating his independent advice after the government chose to ignore it, I’m not so sure.

I’m not even going to wade in here about whether or not idependent scientific advisers to government should shut up after their advice is ignored, but I will commend to you a wonderful paper by Dr Nutt on the dangers of Equasy, (pdf) an irrational addiction to horse riding. This has been seized on by many who have not read it as an example of his inappropriate analyses. Irony, where art thou?

The US Drug Warriors also joyously seized on the latest round of anonymous surveillance of HIV among drug injectors in Britain, sending out an e-mail crowing about rising rates of HIV and drawing a link between that and the fact that the UK was the first country in the world to have national injection safety programmes. My next post will put those rather one-eyed claims into perspective.


Click here for the original story .

Today is election day in the U.S. In my home state of Washington, voters today will decide on the spousal rights of same sex couples (should these couples and families be able to retain “everything but marriage” as signed by Governor Christine Gregoire, or should they not?). While anxiously awaiting the election returns I turned to the story of how a High Court in India recently ruled to decriminalize homosexual sex. Khushbu Srivastava, from the International Women’s Health Coalition, discusses a recent academic panel on the India decision:

While the panel topic was focused on litigation, all the panelists agreed that the single biggest factor that resulted inK. Srivastava the repeal of 377 was the change in mentality of judges, parliamentarians and everyday Indians since the petition was filed in 2001. Activists in India have led painstaking efforts in India to increase awareness about how HIV/ AIDS cannot be addressed in a punitive environment and to increase support for the rights of LGBTQI people (Click here for the entire post).

A very similar story can be told about the gay rights movement in the U.S., with enormous shifts in public understanding and awareness over the past several years. There are many differences in the cultural/economic/social/religious milieus of India and the U.S., but one difference we witness today is the tenuous nature of sexual/civil rights when they are subjected to popular vote. One year ago today, a slim majority (52%) of voters in California voted to overturn Gay Marriage. How will Washington State voters respond today?


In this third post on the contemporary anti-trafficking movement, I evaluate the degree to which the Obama administration has taken a turn away from the sexual politics of the Bush administration in its approach to trafficking, as well as global health funding (click here for the first and second posts).

It is no secret that the Bush administration was vastly at odds with the scientific community on many issues, including global warming, stem cell research, and sexual health matters such as HIV/AIDS research and sex education. Obama’s campaign and election has brought widespread support from the scientific community; prior to his election 61 Nobel laureates publicly endorsed Obama’s science policy.

While many changes have occurred since Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, I focus here on four indicators of change around global sexual health and anti-trafficking efforts:

  • the appointment of Dr. Eric Goosby as US Global AIDS Coordinator,
  • the appointment of Luis de Baca as the director of the Trafficking in Persons office,
  • the content and tone of the 2009 Trafficking in Persons report (in comparison to previous TIP reports), and
  • the status of the anti-prostitution pledge requirement for USAID funding

1) On the appointment of Dr. Eric Goosby, PlusNews Global HIV/AIDS news and analysis reports:


“Just three weeks into his new appointment, United States Global AIDS Coordinator Dr. Eric Goosby outlined …some of the changes that President Barack Obama’s administration will make to the country’s global AIDS policy …

“Goosby … made it clear the scientific evidence rather than moral concerns would drive intensified eforts to reach high-risk groups — men who have sex with men, injecting drug users and sex workers — with HIV prevention and care” (emphasis mine).

2) On the appointment of Luis de Baca to head the Trafficking in Persons Office, according to Kathleen Franke, Professor and director of the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law at Columbia University:

“de Baca’s appointment is very good news.  Mr. de Baca, a lawyer who has worked as legislative counsel for the House Judiciary Committee de Bacaand in the Justice Department as chief counsel of Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit is a smart, experienced and effective choice for the job.   He has worked for years on this issue and is very-well respected in criminal justice and advocates’ circles alike for his approach to this difficult problem.  He was one of the lead DOJ attorneys who successfully prosecuted Kil Soo Lee, the former owner of an American Samoa garment factory, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his role in illegally confining and using as forced labor over 200 Vietnamese and Chinese garment workers.” (“Good news on U.S. Anti-Trafficking Policy.” Gender and Sexuality Law Blog, March 25, 2009.)

3) On the 2009 Trafficking in Persons report. Melissa Ditmore , who has a Ph.D. in sociology and has worked for many years as a sex work scholar and activist, is one of several hopeful readers of the 2009 TIP report:

“I’m encouraged by the greater recognition of trafficking into a wide variety ofMelissa Ditmore workplaces, the concern for people who have been unjustly imprisoned, and the lack of sensationalism when discussing sex work. …

“Enforcing existing labor laws such as wage and hour provisions is one way to address abuses in many workplaces, particularly in factories and agriculture. Expanding these provisions to address domestic workers (they are not offered such protections now) would benefit maids and nannies and other live-in employees. Obama emphasized evidence and efficacy in his inauguration speech – these are a few examples of opportunities to act” (“Trafficking Report: Less Sensationalism, more Reality.” Rh Reality Check, June 23. 2009).

4) On the status of the anti-prostitution pledge requirement for USAID funding. As reported in my second post in this series, in 2006 this was found to violate first amendment rights of U.S. organizations attempting to provide public health services (see: Pepfar watch). The Bush Administration filed an appeal on this decision one week before Bush left office. In July of 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice under Obama dropped its appeal. Jodi Jacobsen, founder and former director of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) reports that this move by the Obama DOJ is being heralded by the public health community:

“in withdrawing the appeal “without predjudice,” the Obama DOJJodi Jacobsen retains the right to resubmit an appeal by January 8, 2010. Many advocates are hopeful that the Administration will use the intervening time to closely review the negative i plications of this policy for HIV prevention work in the field.” (Read more at:

So now, with these revisions and appointments in place, all that most of us can do is watch to see how they are implemented. Rest assured I will be watching and posting an update on any DOJ movement on the anti-prostitution pledge around January 8, 2010. And for right now, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Pakistan, the U.S. State Department has an opportunity to show its commitment to ending “modern day slavery” in Pakistan.  In a story published by Time magazine earlier this week, we learn of three landlords holding their debt-bonded workers as hostages:

“As Hillary Clinton pays her first visit to Pakistan as Secretary of State, an unfolding hostage crisis will test the Obama Administration’s rhetoric on human rights in the region. Officials at the U.S. embassy in Islamabad say at least three landlords have held as many as 170 bonded farmworkers at gunpoint on their estates in the country’s southeast Sindh province since late September. With U.S. attention focused on getting Pakistan to deal with huge security issues to Washington’s satisfaction, will Clinton be able to press Islamabad’s rulers to address a controversy involving rural poverty and modern-day slavery?

The crisis began after the workers’ advocates successfully petitioned three district courts to declare as illegal the debts that the landlords were using to compel the workers into indentured servitude. Those debts average around 1,000 Pakistani rupees — roughly $12. The hostages, a third of whom are children, some as young as 4 months old, are landless peasants, known as haari in Urdu. According to Ghulam Hyder, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Green Rural Development Organization, the landlords have killed one hostage already and are threatening to kill the others unless they drop the cases and return to work. The landlords also abducted Amarchand Bheel, an advocate for the laborers, as he traveled to court to plead their cause.

A 2004 study by the International Labour Office (ILO) estimated that there are up to a million haari families in Sindh alone, the majority living in conditions of debt bondage, which the U.N. defines as modern-day slavery. Last fall, Pakistan’s Daily Times newspaper quoted the labor minister of neighboring Punjab province as saying that landlords hold millions of forced laborers in “private prisons” across the country (emphasis mine).

Thanks to Obama, de Baca, and others on the TIP team, the U.S. State Department can finally begin to recognize the full range and magnitude of highly oppressive working conditions (most of which entail stories such as the one above). Let’s hope that U.S. responses to the situation in Pakistan and elsewhere are measured, non-sensationalist, and extend far beyond simple demand-side strategies (i.e. “shaming and naming” the consumers of goods and services produced in oppressive conditions).

See also:

I’ve been reading Dan Savage since the day of his first publication of the now nearly iconic Seattle alternative newspaper, The Stranger, in the early 1990s — this was before the Savage’s advice column, “Savage Love” became syndicated and before his appearances with Anderson Cooper on CNN.  I would pick up The Stranger on the steps of Savery Hall and read it before and after my graduate classes in classical and feminist theory. Though not an “academic,” Savage introduced a sort of Pop-Queer Theory to University of Washington’s students prior to any formal classes in this area. For this, I credit to Savage as being one of several key cultural workers who indirectly supported the development of cutting edge (third wave feminist, postmodern, queer) sexuality and gender scholarship. In that spirit, I’m going to share with Sexuality & Society readers some quintessential Dan Savage analysis — on Halloween as a Heterosexual Pride paradevignette2-570. Just a head’s up: the language here is bawdier than our typical format at Sexuality & Society (I’ve cut out some sections but you can read the entire story from the link above). Savage unfortunately employs the same repression/release analysis long ago refuted by Foucault and other critical sexuality scholars. He also often tends to glide over issues of sexism, and doesn’t mention the use of race or class stereotypes in the production of some halloween performances. However, other points I think are worth considering. There is certainly much here for analysis as a cultural text. Let us know what you think and Happy Heteroween!

(thanks to David Ryder for this story!)


I’m often asked—confronted—about gay pride parades when I speak at colleges and universities. Usually it’s a conservative student, typically someone who isn’t happy about my being invited to campus in the first place. We gay people like to pretend that we’re all about love and marriage, the conservative student will insist, but look at your pride parades! Look at those guys in assless chaps and all those bare-chested lesbians dancing! Just look! The exchange almost always ends with this:

Conservative student: “Straight people don’t flaunt our sexuality like that. We don’t have straight ‘pride’ parades.”

Me: “You should.”

And it seems clearer with every passing Halloween that straight people do.

Back in the bad old days—pre-Stonewall, pre-pride-parades, pre-presidential-gay-history- month-proclamations—Halloween was the gay holiday. It was the one night of the year when you could leave the house in leather or feathers without attracting the attentions of the police. Halloween resonated for pre-Stonewall homosexuals because the closeted life—out to a select few friends, closeted at work and home—was a stressful masquerade that never ended. We were good at masks, at pretense, at dressing up, because we had to be in order to survive. Halloween took our skill set—pretending to be what we are not—and allowed us to find joy in it one night a year.

While Halloween is still celebrated by gays and lesbians, it’s no longer the most important date on the gay calendar. Oh, we keep it, but we don’t keep holy. It’s just another excuse for a party—and we’re always on the lookout for an excuse—but Halloween has been downgraded, displaced by other and better excuses for parties, by pride parades and Folsoms and the weekend. There are still parties in gay bars on Halloween, of course, and you’ll see plenty of homos in costume on Capitol Hill this weekend. But Halloween belongs to heterosexuals now.

And you need it more than we do. Straight people in Brazil have Carnival, straight Northern Europeans have Fasching, straight people in New Orleans have Mardi Gras—all big public parties where straight people show their tits, shake their asses, and flaunt their sexualities. Booze companies attempted to make a national holiday out of Mardi Gras, without much success. But straight people seem to have made a collective unconscious decision to adopt Halloween instead.

You made a good choice, straight people, a better one than the booze companies were trying to make for you. Whereas the pride parade is now the big public celebration of queer sexuality with all its squalor and glamour, Halloween is now the big public celebration of straight sexuality, of heterosexual desire, every bit—tit?—as squalid and glamorous.

We don’t resent you for taking Halloween as your own. We know what it’s like to keep your sexuality under wraps, to keep it concealed, to be on your guard and under control at all times. While you don’t suffer anywhere near the kind of repression we did (and in many times and places still do), straight people are sexually repressed, too. You move through life thinking about sex, constantly but keenly aware that social convention requires you to act as if sex were the last thing on your mind. Exhausting, isn’t it? It makes you long for moments when you can let it all hang out, when you can violate the social taboos you honor most of the rest of time, when you can be the piece of meat you are and treat other people like the pieces of meat they are.

It’s that kind of pressure—pressure to conform and maintain—that makes you want to pull on a pair of assless chaps and march down the street, the kind of pressure that cries out for some form of organized mass release. It’s the kind of pressure that a pride parade—straight or gay, Mardi Gras or Halloween—can release.

Right now things are a little unfair—a little—on the gender front. Straight girls are expected to show flesh on Halloween; straight boys aren’t. Sadly, I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon. People who want to f… men—straight and bi girls, gay and bi guys—show flesh because it works, it will attract positive male attention. (Well, that depends on how you feel about male attention, I guess.) … Straight guys don’t have the same incentive to bare their flesh on Halloween.

It’s a shame, of course, because there are a lot of straight guys out there who have amazing bodies, and they should be encouraged to show off on Halloween, to celebrate their erotic power and do like the gay boys do: objectify and be objectified at the same time. That would make the straight pride parades, aka Halloween, feel as egalitarian as the gay pride parades on which they were unconsciously modeled.

Every year around Halloween, I see some columnist or blogger or other talk about how ‘Halloween is just an excuse for girls and women to whore it up all night,'” writes nicolechat on a post at “But every time I read that, I think to myself, so what? What’s wrong with having a night where we can say ‘This is my body, and I’m not ashamed of it, or of using it to express my sexuality.'”

Nothing at all, nicolechat. Heterosexuals in North America have needed a holiday like this for a long, long time. And now you’ve got one in Halloween. It’s yours now, straight people. Be good to it. And remember: Wrap those bandages loosely, and by midnight your boyfriend’s “mummy” costume will be just as revealing as that off-the-rack “sexy witch” costume you bought at Champion.

Happy Heteroween. recommended

Debates about Gardasil (aka the “cervical cancer vaccine”) have up until this point focused on girls and young women. By focusing on cervical cancer,  rather than on HPV (what the vaccine is really for) — debates on this issue have completely sidestepped around the issue that, of course, boys and men get HPV too. Shouldn’t they also get vaccinated? What will happen now that the debate isn’t just about girls’ sexuality?

I came across this story through sister sociologist/Huffington post blogger, Abby Ferber. In her post, entitled “Cervix Not Required,”  Ferber interviews Adina Nack, professor of medical sociology and sexuality studies at California Lutheran University and author of the the book, Damaged Goods? Women Living with incurable Sexually Transmited Diseases (Temple U. Press, 2008). I quote from Ferber’s interview with Nack below:

headshotFerber: Last Friday, the FDA approved the Gardasil vaccine for use in boys and men ages 9 to 26 years old. When I heard this news, I was surprised. My daughter received the vaccine from her physician, and I had always thought of this as a “cervical cancer vaccine.” The reality, however, is that this is a HPV vaccine, to guard against the sexually transmitted Human Papillomavirus. Why, however, is it only now being approved for males, when it was approved three years ago for females? … Why do you think Merck first sought FDA approval of Gardasil only for women?

Adina Nack, Ph.D._11-08C1-1Nack: Only going through the FDA testing and approval process for women allowed Merck to brand Gardasil as a ‘cervical cancer’ vaccine. Prior to the recent FDA approval of Gardasil for use on male patients, most Gardasil ads have claimed to empower girls and young women with a new tool to protect against cervical cancer. But, it is not clear how many Americans have understood that they were being sold a vaccine designed to protect against a STI.

Ferber: In your book and blog posts, you talk about the stigma connected with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) being gender-based. How are attitudes about STIs reflected in the initial branding and marketing of Gardasil as a cervical cancer vaccine?

Nack: As early as 2005, some organizations have been outing Gardasil as a STI vaccine and arguing that inoculating young adolescents against HPV would encourage teenage sexual promiscuity. The heads of various “family values” groups publicly declared that they would not vaccinate their own children. So, some have questioned whether Merck’s decisions to only seek initial FDA approval for female use and to brand it a ‘cervical cancer’ vaccine may have been motivated by a desire to distance the vaccine (and those who receive it) from the negative stereotypes we have about STIs and the types of people who contract them. On one hand, it is reasonable to assume that most U.S. parents would not be eager to have their daughters, as young as 9 years old, vaccinated against 4 strains of a virus that is primarily transmitted by sexual contact. After all, studies have shown that we’re more likely to assign negative traits – like promiscuity, irresponsibility, naivety, and unintelligence – to girls and women who contract STIs than to boys and men who contract the same infections. The Council on Contemporary Families has a forthcoming study showing that, while equality has increased in many areas, sexual-behavior double standards persist. In the U.S. and many other countries, a female patient who seeks out a STI vaccine often has reason to worry that others will label her a ‘bad girl’ or ‘fallen woman.’ We are more likely to see a ‘cervical cancer’ vaccine as something that good girls and chaste women are justified in seeking out (emphasis mine).

Ferber: If this strategy might have increased the numbers of girls/women receiving the vaccine, then what is the problem?

Nack: It can be argued that the success of branding Gardasil as a cervical cancer vaccine has come with serious public health costs. How can we account for the boys and men who have been unable to legally access this for the last 3 years, a time period in which many of them (and their sexual partners) could have been protected against HPV-related diseases and cancers? Prevention and early detection is especially important for HPV infections because we do not yet have a true ‘HPV test’ or medical cure. By not seeking FDA approval for both male and female patients at the same time, this vaccine’s potential benefit to the public was limited. The FDA’s recent decision to approve male Gardasil has confirmed that Merck sold us a STI vaccine disguised as a cancer vaccine. Despite the messages in Merck’s successful female Gardasil campaign, cervical cancer has never been the only reason to care about the HPV pandemic: medical studies have connected HPV to oral cancers and anogenital cancers in both female and male patients (emphasis mine).

Ferber: You have made the point that the Gardasil ad campaign was a primary source of HPV information for many who had not previously been educated about this STI – what do you see as the downsides to this?

Nack: By obscuring the fact that HPV is a STI in its marketing of Gardasil, Merck missed a chance to educate us about this highly contagious family of viruses: one can contract HPV from the types of skin-to-skin contact that can take place even when sexual partners are using barrier methods, like condoms or dental dams. Given the current trends in U.S. teen sexual attitudes and behaviors, I’m also concerned about how many young people are at risk for contracting HPV because they are engaging in oral sex or anal sex to remain a ‘virgin.’ There has yet to be a large-scale public health campaign to educate the U.S. public about the truth of HPV, so Merck’s Gardasil marketing materials may have been the first (and sometimes only) ‘education’ about HPV for many Americans. For teens and young adults whose primary source of HPV information came from Gardasil ads, then what is the public health damage of not clearly understanding that HPV is sexually transmitted? What about not realizing that HPV can infect and have serious health consequences for boys/men? (emphasis mine).

Ferber: Why do you see de-stigmatizing STIs as key to improving sexual health in the U.S.?

Nack: With Gardasil now fully unmasked as the HPV vaccine it has always been, I’m hopeful that we will stop believing the myths that HPV is only a concern for females and that only promiscuous people get STIs. The availability of safe and effective STI vaccines is something to celebrate. Gardasil’s new approval for use by boys/men is an important opportunity to destroy longstanding myths. To de-stigmatize HPV is to stop viewing it – or any other STI – as a sign of immorality. Through my website, I receive emails every week from those whose genital HPV and herpes infections have damaged not only their health but also their self esteem, their relationships, and their social reputations. Eliminating the shameful stigma of STIs could free millions of infected women and men from social and psychological traumas and harm public health. Viewing these kinds of infections as medical conditions would allow STI patients to focus on pursuing treatment options that not only allow them to manage their own symptoms but also make them less likely to infect others. Destigmatizing STIs may also increase the odds that a newly diagnosed person will disclose their sexual health status to their sexual partner. New social attitudes and better public health education about STIs can prepare Americans to support future STI/HIV vaccination programs.

Ferber: As a result of marketing Gardasil as a cervical cancer drug for girls and women only, scores of males and their partners have unnecessarily contracted HPV over the past three years; the full range of health consequences of HPV have been ignored, and stereotypes and stigmas around STIs remain entrenched. Astoundingly, the American Social Health Association reports that “about 5.5 million new genital HPV cases occur each year — this is about 1/3 of all new STD infections.” Clearly, what we need is open and honest education about HPV and other STIs. We have allowed our stereotypes about women’s sexuality and STIs to put our public health at greater risk.

During the first week of October (National Sex Education week, and the beginning of Sex Education month) I posted a story about Orrin Hatch’s proposal to restore $50 million a year in federal funding to abstinence-only sex education. Now that we are in the last week of Sex Education month, it is oddly fitting that some of our STI education has been taken over by private industry (in this case, Merck’s marketing campaign about the Gardasil vaccine.) Let’s hope and lobby so that kids are not reliant solely upon on commercial advertisements for their sexual health information.

My first post in this series on trafficking began with the case of Malaysia; In the June 2009 Trafficking in Person’s report, the U.S. State Department designated Malaysia as among the worst of the worst in global trafficking. I was specifically curious about the “how” and “what now?” of Malaysia’s downgraded status to “tier 3.” In that first post I shared the current definition from the U.S. State Department of trafficking as well the distinctions between Tier 1, tier 2, Tier 2-watchlist, and Tier 3.  I also briefly described demand-side vs. supply-side approaches to anti-trafficking work. In this follow-up post I briefly discuss:

  • the “new abolitionist” movement and its impact on anti-trafficking efforts, &
  • the growing sex worker and feminist critique of the new abolitionist movement.

The New Abolitionist movement

Scholars and activists from a variety of political stripes have noted the impact of “the new abolitionist movement” on U.S. State Department Anti-Trafficking efforts.  Drawing inspiration from the early 19th century social justice movement to abolish slavery in the U.S., the new abolitionists are working to eliminate “modern day slavery,” both domestically and internationally. While the new abolitionists include some secular activists (e.g., Donna Hughes, University of Rhode Island), the movement is fundamentally driven by a new form of evangelical Christian activism; that which emphasizes global and social justice. Sociologist Elizabeth Bernstein, who has written extensively about the politics of commercialized sexuality, provides an in-depth ethnographic description of the new abolitionist movement her article,  “The Sexual Politics of the ‘New Abolitionism'”:

“A new group of highly educated and relatively affluent evangelicals have pursued some of the most active and passionate campaigning around sexual slavery and human trafficking. These evangelicals not only embrace the languages of women’s rights and social justice but have also taken deliberate steps to distinguish their work from the sexual politics of other conservative Christians. Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals and a self-described evangelical “moderate,” has gone on record describing the efforts of his organization to reorient conservative Christians away from issues such as homosexuality and abortion and toward more “common denominator” concerns such as global warming, prison reform, human trafficking, and HIV/AIDS.” (Bernstein, 2007, p. 136).

In their calls to action, the new abolitionists echo (and/or replicate) the emphasis of the U.S. State Department (especially under President Bush) on sexual trafficking. Additionally, the new abolitionists tend to favor “demand-side” approaches to fighting trafficking.


One of the newest of the new abolitionist groups, aptly titled “Stop the Demand,” is headed by Roman Catholic nuns based in the Seattle area. The public face of this campaign is currently found on the sides of Seattle buses, featuring an ad with what appears to be a young (attractive) Asian women trying to escape from the clutches of an Asian man in uniform.

The website for “Stop the Demand” lists as the following as the “goal” of traffickers: prostitution, pornography, violence/sexual exploitation, forced labor, involuntary servitude, debt bondage, or slavery/similar practice” (emphasis mine). Of course, the first two of these, prostitution and pornography, are simply categories of commercial sex, not trafficking.

Similarly, the Baptist World Alliance’s statement against trafficking appears to actually be a campaign against sex work:

“Described as a form of modern slavery, human trafficking mainly affects women and children, most of whom are forced into prostitution” (emphasis mine).

As mentioned in my previous post, while there is clear evidence that women and girls are disproportionately trafficked, of all trafficking cases, approximately 11/12 trafficking cases are NOT sexual (U.S. State Department, Trafficking in persons report, 2009).

False claims about the prevalence of sexual trafficking can be countered with reliable evidence, but the moral and religious opposition to commercial sex is resilient to claims of empirical evidence: The issue of sex work is simply seen as a matter of right and wrong. Quoting again from The Baptist World Alliance’s website:

“The sex industry is able to make humans become slaves to the power of sin.” (emphasis mine)

In its effort to curb human trafficking the faith-based group World Hope International recommends a number of tactics that everyday people in the U.S. can use. These include:

“Teach youth and young adults about the link between the sex industry and the sex trade. Stop the demand before it starts…”

(Actually, “sex industry” and “sex trade” are synonyms. Neither inherently involve sex trafficking).

and, “Provide information to your legislators on how demand increases supply in your state. For more information, contact World Hope. For information on how the sex industry (strip clubs, prostitution rings, pornography) increases demand for victims in your state, contact the Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking (IAST).”

Critics of New Abolitionism: Sex worker activists and their academic and public health allies

Since the passage of the 2000 TVPA several sex worker activist groups along with their feminist academic allies have sharply criticized the sexual politics of the U.S. State department’s anti-trafficking efforts. (Some key academic critics include: Augustin, Bernstein, Chapkis, Desyllas, Ditmore, Doezema, Kempadoo, and Soderlund. See bibliography). These critiques center around several points including: the clear anti-sex work agenda which conflates sexual trafficking and “sexual slavery” with all forms of commercial sex, the ways that anti-trafficking efforts muddy immigration rights efforts, and the “imperialist” nature of US anti-trafficking discourse.

This leads me to the final subject of this post:  the ripple effect of the new abolitionist movement on USAID funding for global sexual and reproductive health projects. Specifically here I will address the USAID policy which requires community/ health organizations to officially denounce the act of prostitution (even if they serve the sexual health needs of sex workers).  Known by many as the “anti-prostitution pledge,” this law states that:

“No funds … may be used to provide assistance to any group or organization that does not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking.” (Center for Health and Gender Equity Policy Brief, 2008).

This anti-prostitution pledge helped usher in new abolitionist politics into the realm of global public health; as a result public health and human rights scholars and activists have started to join forces with sex worker and feminist activists. One example of this collaboration is a 13 minute film on the global public health impact of the anti-prostitution pledge. The film, “Taking the Pledge: The USAID PEPFAR Clause, Sex work, & HIV Prevention” is produced by the Network of Sex Work Projects. The film features speakers in English, Khmer, Thai, French, Portuguese and Bengali, with English subtitles.

Links to this film, film curriculum, and other related resources can be found at the Sex Workers Project.

As a result of these sorts of collaborative efforts by sex worker, public health, and human rights workers/advocates, in 2006 the “prostitution pledge” was judged in two U.S. District Courts as violating the First Amendment rights of U.S. organizations:

In May 2006, two U.S. District Courts determined that the oath required of grant recipients by the U.S. government violates the First Amendment rights of the plaintiff organizations, the Alliance for Open Society International, Pathfinder, and DKT International….

Unfortunately, organizations based in other countries are not protected by First Amendment rights; thus they are currently still bound by the prostitution pledge:

…While good news for U.S. organizations, the decision apparently does not does not apply to or “release” subcontractors/subgrantees working on the ground in other countries from having to sign the prostitution loyalty oath. In many instances, those doing  cutting edge work and outreach on the ground are the subgrantees working with sex worker populations.” (Source: PepFar Watch).

Next up in this series: A change of direction for the Obama/Clinton State Department?


  • Augustin, L.M. 2007. Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry. London: Zed Books.
  • Bernstein, E. 2007. “The Sexual Politics of the ‘New Abolitionism’.” Differences: Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 18:3, 128-151.
  • Center for Health and Gender Equity. 2008 (August). “Policy Brief: Implications of U.S. Policy Restrictions for HIV Programs AImed at Commercial Sex Workers.” Accessible at
  • Chapkis, W. 1997. Live Sex Acts: Women performing erotic labor. New York: Routledge.
  • —– 2003. Trafficking, migration, and the law: Protecting innocents, punishing immigrants. Gender & Society, 17(6), 923- 937.
  • —– 2005. “Soft Glove, Punishing Fist: The Trafficking Victims Protection Acto of 2000.” In Regulating Sex: The Politics of Intimacy and Identity, edited by Elizabeth Bernstein and Laurie Schaffner. New York: Routledge, 51-65.
  • Department of State, United States of America. 2009. Trafficking in Persons Report.
  • Desyllas, M. C. 2007. “A critique of the Global Trafficking Discourse and U.S. Policy.” Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, Vol. 34 (4), 57-79.
  • Ditmore, M., (2005). Trafficking in lives: How ideology shapes policy. In K. Kempadoo, J. Sanghera, & B. Pattanaik, (Eds.) Trafficking and prostitution reconsidered: New perspectives on migration, sex work and human rights. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.
  • —–.  2007. “I never want to be rescued again.” New Internationalist (September). 15-16.
  • Doezema, J. (1998). Forced to choose: Beyond the voluntary v. forced prostitution dichotomy. In K. Kempadoo & J. Doezema (Eds.), Global sex workers: Rights, resistance and redefinition. New York: Routledge.
  • —–. “Loose Women or Lost Women? The Re-emergence of the Myth of White Slavery in Contemporary Discourses of Trafficking of Women.” Gender Issues 18.1 (2000): 23–50.
  • —–. “Now You See Her, Now You Don’t: Sex Workers at the un Trafficking Protocol Negotiation.” Social and Legal Studies 14.61 (2005): 61–89.
  • —–.  “Ouch! Western Feminists’ ‘Wounded Attachment’ to the ‘Third World  Prostitute.’ ” Feminist Review 67 (2001): 16–83.
  • Kempadoo, K. (2005). “Introduction: From moral panic to global justice: Changing perspectives on trafficking.” In K. Kempadoo, J. Sanghera & B. Pattanaik (Eds.), Trafficking and prostitution reconsidered: New perspectives on migration, sex work, and human rights. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.
  • Soderlund, Gretchen. “Running from the Rescuers: New U.S. Crusades against Sex Trafficking and the Rhetoric of Abolition.” NWSA Journal 17.3 (2005): 54–87.