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Fighting the US Youth Sex Trade
Gender, Race, and Politics


  • Date Published: November 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316649619

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About the Authors
  • Campaigns against prostitution of young people in the United States have surged and ebbed multiple times over the last fifty years. Fighting the US Youth Sex Trade: Gender, Race, and Politics examines how politically and ideologically diverse activists joined together to change perceptions and public policies on youth involvement in the sex trade over time, reframing 'juvenile prostitution' of the 1970s as 'commercial sexual exploitation of children' in the 1990s, and then as 'domestic minor sex trafficking' in the 2000s. Based on organizational archives and interviews with activists, Baker shows that these campaigns were fundamentally shaped by the politics of gender, race and class, and global anti-trafficking campaigns. The author argues that the very frames that have made these movements so successful in achieving new laws and programs for youth have limited their ability to achieve systematic reforms that could decrease youth vulnerability to involvement in the sex trade.

    • This book is accessible and interdisciplinary
    • Analyzes historical context, social movement organizations, legal and policy developments, representation and discourse
    • Uses an intersectional, feminist analysis that centers considerations of gender, race, and class
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Baker weaves a complicated tale in this extraordinary comprehensive and insightful account of the evolution of society's responses to the discovery of the sexual exploitation of young people. By detailing the ways an obsession with the allegedly toxic combination of sex and youth overshadowed more systemic responses and facilitated a resort to the criminal justice system, the author highlights politicians' tendency to overlook societal contexts and conditions and focus on individual behavior. Recommended for everyone interested in law, policy, and politics.' Martha Albertson Fineman, Robert W. Woodruff Professor, Director of the Feminism and Legal Theory Project and the Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative, Emory University, Georgia

    'Fighting the US Youth Sex Trade unravels a remarkably complex set of issues to reveal unexpected motivations, alliances, and outcomes of a movement that involves far more than sex for sale. Carrie N. Baker brilliantly demonstrates how anxieties about immigration, urbanization, and changing gender roles fuel narratives of victimization that perform the ideological work necessary for gender and racial formation. They culminate in laws that heighten policing of women's sexuality, strengthen a criminal justice system that disproportionately incarcerates poor people of color, and legitimizes repressive state practices of immigration control.' Mary Hawkesworth, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Women's and Gender Studies, Rutgers University, New Jersey

    'In this important and illuminating study, Baker not only documents the rise of the movement that transformed the meaning and legal standing of child prostitution, she provides brilliant insight into the ideological diversity and complex inner workings of race, gender and sexuality that drive it.' Paula J. Giddings, E. A. Woodson Professor, Emerita, Smith College, Massachusetts

    'Carrie N. Baker's painstaking and insightful analysis is a must-read for scholars and practitioners concerned with the politics and processes of the sex trafficking of children in America. This is a huge, yet shamefully understudied, underreported, and unfathomable practice. Baker's work brings the scope of the problem to the fore through the lens of social movement theory. Her work provides us with a timely and brilliant, yet disturbing, description of child sex trafficking while suggesting useful strategies to begin to attack this insidious problem too long left unacknowledged by lawmakers.' Karen O'Connor, Jonathan N. Helfat Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Founder, Women and Politics Institute, American University, Washington, DC

    'Through detailed analyses of court cases and development of both responding agencies and government policies, Baker examines the prevalence of common youth sex trade narratives (which primarily focus on white, middle class women) versus the lived realities of youth involved in the US sex trade (varying across race, social class, gender, and sexual identity) … This book could be used in the disciplines of history, sociology, political science, education, and media studies. It could be paired with one or more of the documentaries described in the book to help students better understand first-hand experiences of affected youth and the agendas of the developers of each documentary. … Summing Up: Recommended. Advanced undergraduates and above.' C. L. Lalonde, Choice

    'Fighting the US Youth Sex Trade's strength lies in its rich historical trace of the social movements regarding the child sex trade. The text accomplishes its goal of understanding the various social movements, the activists involved, and how policy was created as a result of activism.' Summer Shuford, Journal of Youth and Adolescence

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316649619
    • length: 270 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 154 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.39kg
    • contains: 14 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. 'My God! If only I could get out of here': roots of contemporary movements to fight the US youth sex trade
    2. 'Teeny hookers' and the 'chicken hawk trade': organizing against juvenile prostitution in the 1970s
    3. Survivor activism and global connections: the US campaign against commercial sexual exploitation of children in the 1990s
    4. 'Our daughters' in danger: leveraging the anti-trafficking framework in the early 2000s
    5. To rescue or empower: building a collaborative adversarial movement
    6. 'Locked in like a dog in a kennel': challenging the criminal justice and child welfare systems
    7. 'Quick fixes and good versus evil responses': criticisms of the movement
    Conclusion: ending the US youth sex trade?

  • Author

    Carrie N. Baker, Smith College, Massachusetts
    Carrie N. Baker, J.D., Ph.D., is a Professor and Director of the Program for the Study of Women and Gender Baker at Smith College, Massachusetts. Baker's primary areas of research are women's legal history, gender and public policy, and women's social movements. Her first book The Women's Movement Against Sexual Harassment (Cambridge, 2008) won the National Women's Studies Association 2008 Sara A. Whaley book prize. Baker has published in many leading journals, including Violence Against Women, Women in Politics, and The Journal of Women's History. Baker also writes for Ms. magazine and is co-chair of the Ms. Committee of Scholars.

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