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Forty-four years ago today, more than one hundred sex workers occupied the Saint-Nizier church in Lyon, France, for eight days in order to protest fines and police reprisals that were forcing them into increasingly unsafe working conditions.
June 2 has been celebrated as International Whores’ Day ever since, with activists calling attention to the exploitative conditions that sex workers endure. Unfortunately, these conditions haven’t changed much since 1975: in 2018, President Trump signed into law a controversial set of bills that criminalize online solicitation and effectively force sex workers back onto unsafe streets.
To recognize International Whores’ Day, we have gone into our archive to select pieces that put sex workers—and sex—front and center. Starting off are excerpts from Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights and Screw Consent: A Better Politics of Sexual Justice, and then a host of essays that explore sex education, the sex offender registry, and cyborg (as well as alien) sex.
“Agent Probii’s first days as undercover agent were particularly disconcerting because within the city each resident spoke a different language.”
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But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.
The vast hinterlands of the Global South’s cities are generating new solidarities and ideas of what counts as a life worth living.
Protests in China are shining a light not only on the country’s draconian population management but restrictions on workers everywhere.