The acronym SWERF, or Sex Work(er) Exclusive Radical Feminism, and its attendant ideologies brings up a number of questions and potential schisms for the enterprise of feminist thought more broadly. This inquiry examines what it means for feminism to exclude, what the excluders believe is gained by protecting certain boundaries around which identities and practices are included, and the ideological foundations and consequences of this thinking. SWERF logics are understood as mistranslations of the radical potentialities of feminism, clustered around three sites: exclusion (against bodily autonomy) , equivocation (between sex work and labor trafficking), and misrepresentation (of the sex worker as antifeminist monster). Each of these mistranslations underpins a SWERF necropolitics, an ethos (and praxis) of deathly exclusion which I argue is not only an effect of these logics, but a prerequisite for their persistence. Sex workers become the bad Other of these logic, resulting in feminist arguments for carceral control, surveillance and outing, and stigmatization, each of which creates conditions for loss of livelihood and life, as well as weakening other feminist goals premised on self-determination, harm reduction, and safety.
Hammes, Aaron. 2023. "SWERF Necropolitics: Three Sites of Feminist Mistranslation and the Politics of Feminist Exclusion." Journal of Feminist Scholarship 23 (Fall): 52-69. 10.23860/jfs.2023.23.05.
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