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Singling Out Sex Work

focus on exploitation, not on sex

Forum: INCITE! Bay Area
Date: 08/16/2001

Hi everyone,

I'm going to be out of town for a while, and therefore can't make it to the retreat... I hope that someone could print this out and bring it to the retreat, or at least remember it...

There are many areas that I have opinions about, but most of it I trust everyone else to come up with good solutions. The only place I feel strongly enough that I want to make sure that it's addressed is the point 8 of the "Principles of Unity." It states:

8. Oppose capitalist exploitation of labor, seen in the forms of: Maquiladoras, sweatshop labor, domestic labor, "sex industry" labor, undocumented labor, child labor, reproductive labor, prison labor, farm workers, welfare workers, etc.

Here, I question how "'sex industry' labor" is singled out and put in the quatation marks. Now I understand that many people have issues with sex work and more so with sex industry - but considering the fact that many other forms of work that is just as frequently exploited is not put in the quatation marks, it feels that there is a double standard.

To remedy this, I suggest one of the following:

1) Use quatation marks for all other forms of work/labor.

2) Simply remove quatation marks from "sex industry."

3) Match the expression with "sweatshop labor" and "domestic labor": change it to "sexual labor."

4) Match the expression with "farm workers" and "welfare workers": change it to "sex workers."

With this change, it will become clearer that what we oppose is the capitalist exploitation and not the labor itself, whether it is sex work or any other kind of work.


Emi Koyama
see my whore revolution pamphlet at

-- * Putting the Emi back in Feminism since 1975.