March is Women's History Month and conversations surrounding the history of women and trans+ femme rights wouldn't be complete without discussing the stigma and discrimination of the sex work industry (which men, nonbinary, and agender folks also participate in). Sex work has often been considered "the oldest profession" and has been an active profession (legal or not) for centuries. Despite its active part of our communities, sex work has continuously been seen through a negative lens claiming sex workers have no agency and only do the work because they've been manipulated or coerced against their will. While there are absolutely dangerous situations in sex work—and sex trafficking is a real issue—it's time to see sex work for what it really is: a job.
Sex work is also an active area of research and scholarly discourse, particularly within gender and sexuality studies. This guide helps illuminate and contextualize the many cultural, critical, and scholarly threads surrounding sex workers and their experiences, exploring different perspectives of sex work and how to change the narrative of sex work to be more explicitly feminist and equitable.
A group of sex workers share the most challenging aspects of their jobs. (2021)
Resources for Further Exploration:
If you'd like to engage more deeply with Women's History Month, units across the Libraries have created a number of interrelated resources and features to provide more holistic coverage of this commemoration. You'll find those, below:
Journals to Explore:
While there are never enough groups working to support sex workers and end the stigma around this profession, there are a number of activist, advocacy, and research organizations dedicated to sex work and sex workers. We've included a selection of the most well-known below:
Throughout history, communities of disabled, neurodiverse, crip, and sick people have been overlooked and oversimplified in academic conversations. Disability activism and political movements carved out a space for addressing ableism in research and academia; as a result, disability studies has emerged. Disability studies is an interdisciplinary field that explores disabled identities in the humanities and social sciences. For this spotlight on disability studies, we include neurodiverse, crip, and sick identities in our definition of disability.
To read more about disability language and the use of "crip," enjoy this article by Dean Strauss: "Queer Crips: Reclaiming Language," and Brittany Wong's Huffington Post article "It's Perfectly OK to call a Disabled Person 'Disabled,' And Here's Why."
We also recommend the following resources that helped with this feature:
Resources for Further Exploration
A selection of articles, online compilations, and other resources relevant to disability studies
The following features also cover topics of disability studies:
Image Description: A group of activists, including Judy Heumann (center, with yellow stockings) protest for the enforcement of Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, in April of 1977. Later that month, the protesters would occupy a federal building in San Francisco in protest in a sit-in that lasted more than 25 days. Photo by Wally McNamee / CORBIS / via Getty Images
Consensual non-monogamy is an umbrella term used to describe any agreed-upon romantic/sexual relationship that falls outside of the exclusive, dyadic (two-person) structure of monogamy, including polyamory and open relationships. Though non-monogamous relationships have gained greater contemporary visibility, it has existed in many and various forms across history. This guide provides an introduction to both scholarly and popular resources for those wishing to learn more about consensual non-monogamy.
Selection of online archives and other resources, which can be used to find further information on this topic
While in common parlance the word gender often serves as a kid-friendly synonym for sex, in feminist and academic discussions, the two are often seen as conceptually distinct. A rough and hasty description of the sex-gender distinction might say that sex is a biological given, gender is a social construction, and never the twain shall meet. However, even if we grant the sex-gender distinction (and a number of feminists do reject it for a variety of reasons), it remains far from obvious what, precisely, gender is, what it means for gender to be socially constructed, or what we should make of gender anyway.
Fortunately, feminists and philosophers have recently taken interest in the metaphysics of gender. This LibGuide serves as a selective bibliography on some of the scholarly work being done in this fascinating and important field of inquiry. A companion subject post on this topic is forthcoming.
For introductory material on the philosophy of gender and feminist philosophy, check out these articles from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which also provides extensive bibliographies of their own that are worth exploring:
Additionally, the following bibliography identifies sources (within and without philosophy) on matters pertaining to trans genders, the lived experiences of transfolk, and intersectionality, and should prove a valuable resource for those interested in the metaphysics of gender:
If you'd like to explore this topic further, our library subject research portals are also a good place to get started; among other things, they provide tailored, subject-based lists of research resources:
Sources on the nature of social construction, considered as such or with particular respect to gender:
Sources on the metaphysics of gender:
Sources on feminist metaphysics and the metaphysics of gender vis-à-vis "mainstream" metaphysics: