The other sex industry: narratives of feminism and freedom in evangelical discourses of human trafficking (New Formations 91, Spring/Summer 2017)

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Publication date: September 1, 2017

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Kimberly Pendleton

This paper explores the role that narratives of ‘sex trafficking’ play within evangelical Christian conceptions of sex, gender, and global engagement. It examines evangelical cultural products that link sex work, pornography consumption, and forced prostitution, all of which constitute a site through which gender norms are negotiated. Primarily, this paper argues that masculinity itself is imagined to be the central victim within the evangelical fight against sex trafficking. Additionally, this paper argues that the language of this fight, particularly its emphasis on the ways that men harm women, is embedded within feminist rhetoric and logic, even when utilising them to anti-feminist ends. Finally, this paper demonstrates that the parameters of evangelical interest in the sex industry, and the focus on masculinity in crisis, in particular, are imbued with racial imagery that creates a dichotomy between the foreign, dangerous, and dark space, where men are tempted and a safe, white domesticity to which properly restored patriarchy promises to return them.

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