What is it about?

This article maps the history and legal battles of a 1970s, Seattle-area "sex cult" known as the Church of Venus. Drawing upon archival and oral historical research, I argue that people in the sex trades were early developers of sex-positive ethics. I show that people in the sex trades used sex-positivity to challenge criminalization and social marginalization, taking their case to the WA state supreme court.

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Why is it important?

My research upsets scholarly and popular interpretations that imagine sex-positivity as apolitical or "post-feminist." For people in the sex trades, sex-positivity has been a critical tool for contesting their criminalization, state surveillance, and social marginalization.


This article will be of interest to sex worker activists, sex-positive advocates, and anyone whose ever heard of the Lusty Lady (a closed, historically significant sex business). Scholars of Foucault, the history of sexuality, and urban and labor politics in post-Fordist cities will also find this of interest.

Jayne Swift
University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Whores in the Religious Marketplace: Sex-Positivity's Roots in Commercial Sex Cultures, Frontiers A Journal of Women Studies, January 2019, Project Muse,
DOI: 10.5250/fronjwomestud.40.2.0093.
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