Drawing on more than fifty interviews in both the US and the Netherlands, Wendy Chapkis captures the wide-ranging experiences of women performing erotic labor and offers a complex, multi-faceted depiction of sex work. Her expansive analytic perspective encompasses both a serious examination of international prostitution policy as well as hands-on accounts of contemporary commercial sexual practices. Scholarly, but never simply academic, this book is explicitly grounded in a concern for how competing political discourses work concretely in the world--to frame policy and define perceptions of AIDS, to mobilize women into opposing camps, to silence some agendas and to promote others.
Wendy Chapkis is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies at the University of Southern Maine, Portland.
"In a strikingly incisive review of feminist literature on prostitution, Chapkis pulls off the neat feat of focusing in on and then blurring the traditional lines that have distinguished love and violence, romance and sex, and madonnas and whores." -- Jodi O'Brien, Signs
"Chapkis is an exceedingly purposeful and interesting writer. Her discourse, which is often amusing and never boring, competently negotiates between the specificity of sex work and the abstraction of theory." -- Lesbian Review of Books
"Chapkis' research, conducted primarily in California and Amsterdam, is presented here as a series of essays, personal stories, and interviews...She aims to change the tone of the feminist sex debates, bridging the daunting gaps between such such self-identified feminists as Kathleen Barry, Andrea Dworkin, Pat Califia and Camille Paglia." -- Ms. Magazine
"Wendy Chapkis...has a knack for writing intriguing, jargon-free, reader-friendly books that explore subjects on the margins of mainstream American life...As both a study of a marginalized group [sex workers] and an essay on the great divide within the feminist movement, Live Sex Acts is a page-turner, sparkling with insight and with the surprising voices of prostitutes themselves." -- Dissident
"Live Sex Acts combines a tought realism, a capacity for clear thinking, and an irrepressible sense of humor. This is social science as it ought to be written." -- R.W. Connell, author of Masculinities, Rethinking Sex
"Superb interviewing." -- Susie Bright, author of Sexwise
"Chapkis did her homework, letting sex workers expose prostitution prohibition for what it is: gender control." -- Margo St. James, Coyote
"Anyone who cares about the welfare of prostitutes, the status of women, or the so-called feminist sex debates should read this book." -- Valerie James, author of Making It Work: The Prostitutes' Rights Movement in Perspective