The Struggles over Representation of Female Sex Workers in Polish Feminist Movement

Monday, 16 July 2018: 17:44
Oral Presentation
Anna RATECKA, Jagiellonian University, Poland
The prostitution/sex work debate is one of the most controversial issues within contemporary feminism. In the heart of this debate lies the conflict over the understanding of commercial sex, but also the legitimacy to represent women selling sexual services and the place of sex workers in the feminist movement. Viewed by the abolitionist feminist either as victims or “agents of patriarchy” or “pimp’s lobby”, sex workers are continuously delegitimized and excluded from the feminist movement.

This controversy refers to one of the key democratic issues within social movement – the representation, the right to voice and the way disputes within the movement are solved. Hence in my presentation I will investigate the power struggle between various actors within feminist movement in Poland over the right to represent women selling sexual services.

First, I will a briefly discuss the political opportunity structure for the mobilization for the rights of women selling sexual services in Poland: the characteristics of Polish feminist movement; earlier mobilization for the rights of women selling sexual services in Poland; recent development in the sex work politics in Europe.

Second, I will present the actors (NGOs, informal initiatives, activists) taking part in this debate, their claims for being legitimate to represent women selling sexual services, the transnational connections of each actor with the wider feminist/anti-prostitution/sex workers movement.

Third, I will explore the dynamics of the prostitution/sex work debate in Poland, the discourse of vaious actors in this debate and their stance on the place of sex workes within the feminist movement. Special attention will be given to the role of social media and its influence on the dynamics of the debate.