Strip Clubs and the Legal Everyday: Sex Work Studies and the Law Open Access

Karalekas, Nicole Angelic (2016)

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The relationship between sex work and law has historically been framed through a debate over abolition or decriminalization. While this debate seems to hinge on a fundamental disagreement about the harms of sex work and the role that law should play in mitigating such harms, this dissertation argues that both sides share an implicit understanding of the power and consequences of law. That is, both sides focus on criminal law. As a result, this debate depicts law as a punitive force that has direct and targeted effects on the sex industry. I argue that this is an impoverished conception of law that obscures broader accounts of its power and consequence for the sex industry. Strip Clubs and the Legal Everyday: Sex Work Studies and the Law develops a more complex account of the relationship between law and the sex industry by shifting focus away from criminal law. Through an exploration of the commercial laws regulating American strip clubs, including laws proscribing bodily contact, zoning laws, and labor and employment laws, the dissertation explores how law shapes and is shaped by everyday practices of meaning making. What emerges is a perspective on law as a field of action that constructs and delimits everyday experiences, rather than a punitive force that acts against a particular set of behaviors. I call this perspective "the legal everyday." Using this perspective as a lens, I argue that strip clubs complicate the oversimplified perspective on law that the abolition versus decriminalization paradigm has engendered by bringing regulatory and commercial laws into the center of analysis. In doing so, the dissertation illustrates previously neglected consequences, pitfalls, and possibilities that law holds for the sex industry.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Strip Clubs and the Legal Everyday: An Introduction. 1

Chapter 1: Law Beyond the Binaries: Extending the Complexity of Sex Work Studies to Law. 40

Chapter 2: Lap Dancing as an American Legal Object. 71

Chapter 3: Zoning Out Sex? Rethinking Feminist and Queer Critiques of "Time, Place, and Manner" Laws. 111

Chapter 4: The Legal Everyday: The Case of the Lusty Lady. 144

Conclusion: The Legal Everyday, Sexuality Studies, and Beyond. 178

Appendix: List of Legal Cases. 185

Bibliography. 186

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