Is it Time to Decriminalize Sex Work?

January 19, 2022
Hosted by Carliss Chatman

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Episode Description

While sex worker advocacy groups have championed the need to decriminalize sex work, their advocacy has been separated from mainstream feminist organizations’ sexual freedom agenda. The decriminalization of sex work has been treated as niche or counterproductive to the goal of sexual freedom. Historically, feminists have embraced a narrow conception of sexual freedom, which prioritizes women’s ability to control reproduction while ignoring women’s freedom to profit from non-reproductive sex. This choice has contributed to the political embrace of access to abortion as the priority issue for feminist organizing, while women’s groups have openly contested women’s right to be free from criminalization while engaging in commercialized sex. In many respects, this choice reflects a hetereonormative ideal that prioritizes birth and non-birth and centers the family as the site of women’s choice — even as it protects women’s choices to not create a family. This approach to sexual freedom, which is tied to reproduction, is limited and has allowed feminists to see the criminalization of sex work as natural rather than as another way to restrict women’s sexual autonomy. In this episode, my guests Professor of Law at the University of Indiana and Senior Scientist at the Kinsey Institute India Thusi, author of the groundbreaking book "Policing Bodies: Law, Sex Work, and Desire in Johannesburg," and Professor Erika K. Wilson, Wade Edwards Distinguished Scholar, Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Chair in Public Policy, and Director of Clinical Programs at the University of North Carolina will explain the limits of this approach to women's rights. We will also discuss how the criminalization of sex work serves to re-victimize some of the most vulnerable members of society, and perpetuates the discipline to sex work pipeline for many victims of abuse.

Getting Common

Wednesday at 8 AM Pacific Time on VoiceAmerica Empowerment Channel

Getting Common with Professor Carliss Chatman provides a refreshing common sense approach to business, law, women's rights, racial justice, and entrepreneurship. Featuring experts in law, business and entrepreneurship, politics and government, and education, Getting Common educates while exposing you to a fresh and new perspective. Listen live every Wednesday at 8 AM Pacific Time on the VoiceAmerica Empowerment Channel.

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Carliss Chatman

Carliss Chatman

Carliss Chatman is an Associate Professor specializing in corporate and commercial law. Her eleven years of legal practice before entering the academy lends a common sense approach to her teaching and scholarship. She specializes in bringing practical experience to all of her classes, making complex legal concepts within reach for students of all backgrounds. Through service on the Advisory Board of, she has worked on the cutting edge of legal regulatory technology, helping to train the machine learning platform to anticipate the research needs of those in the compliance and regulatory legal space. Her experience in leadership of non-profit boards and over two decades of social activism has allowed Professor Chatman to develop expertise on matters involving race, women's rights, and educational access. Her scholarship, teaching and service have been celebrated and awarded by her faculty and peers. She is the 2021 Recipient of Derrick A. Bell, Jr. Award, presented by the Association of American Law Schools Section on Minority Groups, the 2020 Recipient Jessine A. Monaghan Fellowship, an award for experiential education, given in recognition of contributions to the transactional component of the Law School’s experiential program and the 2020 Recipient Lewis Prize for Excellence in Legal Scholarship.

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Episode Directory

January 2022

  • 1/26/2022: No More Old Boys' Club: Advancing Board Gender Diversity Coming Soon
  • 1/19/2022: Is it Time to Decriminalize Sex Work? Listen Now
  • 1/12/2022: Why Elon Musk Should Stop Tweeting Listen Now
  • 1/5/2022: Amy Coney Barrett and the Legacy of Transracial Adoption Listen Now

December 2021

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