Youth Who Trade Sex in the U.S.
Intersectionality, Agency, and Vulnerability
Publication: Jun 18
Publication: Jun 18
Publication: Jun 18
5.5 x 8.25
24 tables, 2 figs., 2 halftones
Examining the dominant, unitary "innocent girl–predatory man" policy narrative to improve research, policy, and community interventions for young people in the sex tradesRead the Introduction (pdf).
When cases of domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) by predatory men are reported in the media, it is often presented that a young, innocent girl has been abused by bad men with their demand for sex and profit. This narrative has shaped popular understandings of young people in the commercialized sex trades, sparking new policy responses. However, the authors of Youth Who Trade Sex in the U.S. challenge this dominant narrative as incomplete. Carisa Showden and Samantha Majic investigate young people’s engagement in the sex trades through an intersectional lens.
The authors examine the dominant policy narrative’s history and the political circumstances generating its emergence and current form. With this background, Showden and Majic review and analyze research published since 2000 about young people who trade sex to develop an intersectional “matrix of agency and vulnerability” designed to improve research, policy, and community interventions that center the needs of these young people. Ultimately, they derive an understanding of the complex reality for most young people who sell or trade sex, and are committed to ending such exploitation.
"In a sea of misinformation, moralism, and exaggerated claims about youth trafficking and sexual exploitation, Carisa R. Showden and Samantha Majic’s Youth Who Trade Sex in the U.S. is a breath of fresh air. Based on a comprehensive narrative analysis of trafficking research, this book challenges simplistic and reductive notions of young people’s experiences of sexual commerce.... Employing an intersectional approach, Showden and Majic’s well-researched and expertly articulated book presents a more accurate account."
— Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books
"Showden and Majic are two of the preeminent scholars on sex work and sex trafficking in the United States, and their collaboration here comes at a critical point in the country’s need for evidence-based policy to address sex trafficking.... Youth Who Trade Sex in the U.S. is a must-read for students and researchers interested in sex trafficking policy. The overview of existing research alone is a crucial contribution to the literature, and the theoretical matrix provides an exciting new way to frame research outside the confines of labor theory while drawing on intersectionality and person-first language."
— Contemporary Sociology
"(A)nalytically rousing and comprehensive.... The book deftly unpacks the glaring disconnect between the misconceptions reflected in well-intended policy characterizations of sex trafficking and the complex realities facing young people who trade sex, explaining how we got here, what ideas and assumptions inform public understanding, and the steps researchers and policy makers can take to change course.... Youth Who Trade Sex in the United States is essential reading for scholars in political science, gender studies, sociology, and social work whose work investigates intersectionality, American politics, policy narratives, and law reforms.... (P)eople’s lives will be enriched and deepened by reading it."
— Perspectives on Politics
“Youth Who Trade Sex in the U.S . tackles a complex social problem through careful research and intersectional analysis. Showden and Majic are to be commended for their novel approach to a difficult subject, willingness to challenge dominant stereotypes, and recommendations for policy reform.”
—Laura S. Abrams, Professor and Chair, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Department of Social Welfare
“ An excellent study that demonstrates, through detailed analysis, that dominant narratives available to us about young people who trade sex represent only a small part of the picture and do not adequately speak to the young people’s realities. Drawing from empirical studies of homeless, sex-trafficked, and LGBTQ youth, and from studies of health and human trafficking in the United States more generally, Showden and Majic make a compelling case for taking an intersectional approach that acknowledges both the agency and vulnerability of youth in the sex trade. An important antidote to the skewed and misleading images we are fed about domestic sex trafficking in the United States, Youth Who Trade Sex in the U.S. provides concrete advice for generating sensitive, well-designed, youth-centered research. I highly recommend this valuable tool for students, scholars, policy makers, and community workers concerned about human trafficking, the sex trade, and youth today.”
—Kamala Kempadoo, Professor, York University, Department of Social Science
"Anyone who keeps abreast of the news is aware of the master narrative of youth sex trafficking in the US.... This book argues that the narrative conceals far more than it explains.... The authors base their conclusions on a rigorous methodological analysis and critique of 128 peer-reviewed studies.... The strengths and weaknesses of each approach are detailed in what the authors call a comprehensive narrative analysis (CNA), which is amply supported by informative tables. This book should be required reading for all graduate students in the social and behavioral sciences. The intersectional methodological analysis is superb. Summing Up: Essential. — Choice
Table of Contents
Introduction: Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and the Innocent Girl–Predatory Man Narrative
1. The Making of a Narrative
2. Research on Young People Who Trade Sex: A Comprehensive Narrative Analysis Co-authored with David Allan Jun-Rong Ting
3. Beyond the “Young, Innocent Girl”: The Complex Narrative of the “Knowing, Needy Adolescent”
4. Applying the Matrix of Agency and Vulnerability
Appendix 1. Additional Information on the 128 Studies Reviewed in Chapter 2
Appendix 2. The 128 Empirical Studies Included in the Comprehensive Narrative Analysis