Sex workers gendered subjectivities: bodies, sexuality, love, and desire among sex workers in Hillbrow

Mahapa, Raisibe Matlhako
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This paper aims to provide an in-depth insight into sex workers’ perceptions of their bodies, and their experiences and constructions of gender, sexuality, love, and desire within the sex work industry that is risk prone and criminalized. Gendered subjectivities are more complicated than the dominant research on sex work exposes especially when we consider Butler’s conceptualization of the precarious ‘nature’ of life and the vulnerability of bodies. This paper argues that there is something valuable and ‘touching’ when exploring the complex ways in which the women in this study claimed autonomy over their selves and their bodies; and how they constructed and attached pride to their identities in a context where society ‘denies’ them dignity and objectifies them because of the ‘deviant’ work that they do. This is done by focusing on narratives from sex workers, who worked in Hillbrow, regarding their bodily experiences and the way that they perceive various roles that they play in their lives, particularly motherhood.
Master of Arts (Coursework and Research) in Development Studies.