The 1975 French sex workers’ revolt: A narrative of influence

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Sexualities, 2018
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© The Author(s) 2018. The 1975 French sex workers’ strike is widely acknowledged by sex workers’ movement activists as the spark that ignited the contemporary European sex workers’ rights movement. Yet, significant scholarly research has judged the strike a failure because it neither achieved law reform, nor was it able to sustain a lasting presence. How then should we understand the disparity between how sex worker activists see the occupation and the judgment of academic researchers? This research extends the analytical frame of the 1975 movement’s influence beyond the disappointment of specific policy outcomes and instead addresses the role that the movement played in challenging attitudes towards sex workers, and building a new collective identity that fed into the emerging global sex workers’ rights movement. It argues that by defining and amplifying a set of shared grievances recognisable across borders the strike was a significant cultural achievement for the sex workers’ movement and this in turn established a narrative of influence.
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