Feminist scholars and activists engage in meaningful, contentious debates about the relationships among sex, gender, power, and society. One of the most recent iterations of these arguments reinscribes the pleasure of sex positivity and danger of patriarchal exploitation onto new subjects: sex work and human trafficking. This paper brings together two separate empirically based research projects, one working with sex workers and the other working with members of the anti-trafficking community. As scholars working across these topics, we provide new normative propositions that may bridge these different approaches to resilience, survival, danger, and risk. We find that the real threat identified by our participants was the wide reach of the carceral state onto migrating, working, and trafficked bodies. Our projects find unexpected commonality in shared perceptions of pleasure, agency, and danger among sex workers, human trafficking survivors, and service providers working with trafficked persons. Current debates ignore the lived experiences of our participants, who attempt to find pleasure in context-specific agency and survival, and who locate danger in the looming forces of the security state, criminality, and structural inequalities.


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pp. 1-25
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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