For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"The Stickiness of Sex Work: Pleasure, Habit, and Intersubstantiality in South India"

by Walters, Kimberly (2016)


AbstractSex work has often been analyzed in terms of labor rights, but this approach captures little of what becomes of women?s bodies, their desires, and their experiences of class and gender through regular participation in commercial sex. I argue that women in Hyderabad, South India, understand themselves to be bodily transformed by the ?hot? substances and pleasures that pervade sex work. Sex work can create dangers, but in contrast to other forms of work available to nonelite women in South India, the freedoms and pleasures made possible through sex work belie transnational attempts to construe this work as ?modern-day slavery.? Women describe themselves as ?stuck? to sex work not through the force of others but through an acquired material affinity for the work itself. An understanding of the bodily habit of sex work indicates that for those who ?have the habit,? sex work in India should be understood in ontological terms of making persons.

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Women and Work, Sex Work, Non-Western Societies

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