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Sex & Money - POL00097M

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Alasia Nuti
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

This module will explore the relationship between, on the one hand, sex, gender, sexuality and, on the other
hand, the economy broadly constructed. The recent emergence of a transnational movement reigniting the
International Women’s Strike Day against so-called ‘corporate feminism’, the critique of ‘pink capitalism’ and
reclaim of the radical anti-capitalist roots of ‘Pride’ within the LGBTQ+ community, and the struggle of sex
workers’ rights organisations to frame sex work as work against those feminists who oppose sex work are just
a few recent examples of how the relationship between sexual emancipation and the transformation of the
economic order is central to feminist and LGBTQ+ politics and to their own internal divisions.

The module will explore that relation by both discussing specific applied issues, such as sex work (both
prostitution and pornography), commercial surrogacy, the relationship between care and capitalism, the
intersection between heteronormativity and capitalism, ‘free love’, post-work and anti-work politics, and the
punitive state, and examining the distinctiveness of Marxist, socialist and anarchist feminist and LGBTQ+ scholarship.

Professional requirements


Related modules


Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

This module will explore the relationship between sex, gender, and the economy broadly
constructed. It will look at how struggles for sex and sexual emancipation are intrinsically linked to
the radical restructuring of our economic order and how the reproduction of our economic order
hinges upon sex, gender, sexual (and other intersectional, such as racial) hierarchies. While
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In encourages women to push their
ambitions in the corporate world, feminist of colour Bell Hooks argues that Sandberg promotes a
problematic understanding of feminism that undermines the radical potential of movements for
sexual emancipation. Indeed, while some feminists and LGBTQ+ activists and scholars have
embraced the market as emancipatory, others have argued that sexual emancipation is undermined by and even impossible under global capitalism, for instance pointing out that in the global capitalist
economy the liberation of some is parasitic on the continued exploitation of others, such as female
migrant cleaners and surrogate mothers in the Global South.

The module will discuss the relation between sexual emancipation and the economic order by
debating specific pressing issues, for instance, sex work (both prostitution and pornography),
commercial surrogacy, the relationship between care and capitalism, the intersection between
heteronormativity and capitalism, ‘free love’, post-work and anti-work politics, and the punitive

Module learning outcomes

Subject content
At the end of the module students should be able to:
¿ Have a deep and systematic understanding of the relationship between, on the one hand,
sex, gender and sexuality and, on the other hand, the economy broadly constructed as it is
conceived in the the broader fields of gender studies, political theory and political economy.
¿ Demonstrate a detailed understanding of current theoretical and methodological approaches
to the study of ‘sex and money’ creatively apply them to different cases and contexts in
contemporary politics.
¿ Demonstrate a deep comprehension of the diversity of feminist and LGBTQ+ approaches to
the relationship between sex, sexuality and the economic order.

Academic and graduate skills
¿ Develop their ability to evaluate a range of literatures and sources covered in the module to
formulate academically-informed views on a range of applied cases of the relationship
between sex, gender, sexuality and the economic order.
¿ Use ideas at a high level of abstraction. Develop critical responses to existing theoretical
discourses, methodologies or practices and suggest new concepts or approaches.
¿ Flexibly and creatively apply the deep knowledge acquired in the module to unfamiliar
contexts, synthesise ideas in innovative ways, and generate original solutions.
¿ Use personal reflection to analyse one’s own sexed position in the economic order.
¿ Develop their capability to support effective communication and respond to challenges in
seminar classes.

Module content

Theoretically the module will substantially engage with materialist feminism, by reflecting upon the
distinctiveness of Marxist, anarchist, socialist and Black feminist and LGBTQ+ approaches and
juxtaposing canonical authors in those tradition (e.g. Clara Zetkin, Alexandra Kollontai, Emma
Goldman) with more contemporary scholars (e.g. Silvia Federici, Angela Davis, Nancy Fraser, Nina
Power). However, it will do so by putting these materialist feminist and LGBTQ+ approaches in
critical dialogue with other feminist and LGBTQ+ approaches, including liberal, care-ethical,
postmodern feminist and LGBTQ+ perspectives and, thus, expose students to the heterogeneity of
feminist and LGBTQ+ views on ‘sex and money’. Through this critical dialogue, we will try to figure
out which perspective(s) may better illuminate the issues under discussion.


Task Length % of module mark
4000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
4000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the
opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s feedback and guidance hours.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than 20 working days; and the
module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend. They will
also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s regular feedback and guidance

Indicative reading

- Juno Mac and Holly Smith, Revolting Prostitutes (London: Verso, 2018)
- Lori Watson (2014). ‘Why Sex Work Isn’t Work’, logos
- Kathi Weeks, The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork
Imaginaries (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011)
- Silvia Federici, ‘Why Sexuality is Work’, in Revolution at Point Zero (Oakland, PM Press, 2012).
- Audre Lore, ‘Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power’ in Sisters Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre
Lorde (Crossing Press, 1984).
- Dean Spade, Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and The Limits of the Law
(Durham: Duke University Press, 2015)
- Rosemary Hennessy, Profit and Pleasure: Sexual Identities in Late Capitalism (New York: Routledge,
- Kristen Ghodsee, Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism (2018)
- Nancy Fraser, ‘After the Family Wage: A Postindustrial Thought Experiment’ in Justice interruptus:
critical reflections on the "postsocialist" condition (New York-London: Routledge, 1997)
- Angela Davis, Women, Race and Class (London: Women's Press, 1982).
- Nancy Fraser, ‘Contradictions of Capital and Care’, New Left Review, July-August 2016
- Vida Panitch ‘Global Surrogacy: Exploitation to Empowerment’, Journal of Global Ethics, 2013, 9 (3):
- Elizabeth S. Anderson ‘Is Women’s Labor a Commodity?’ Philosophy and Public Affairs 19 (1), 1990:
- Debra Satz, Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets (New York: Oxford
University Press, 2010)
- Catherine MacKinnon, Towards a Feminist Theory of the State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Press, 1989)
- Kipnis Laura, Bound and Gagged: Pornography and the Politics of Fantasy in America (Durham: Duke
University Press, 1999).
- Cathy J. Cohen, C. (1997). Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer
Politics? GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Politics, 3(4), pp. 437-465.
- Margot Canaday The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America

(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009).
- Mitchell Cowen Verter, ‘Subverting Patriarchy, Subverting Politics: Anarchism as a Practice of Caring’
in Jacob Blumenfeld, Chiara Bottici, Simon Critchley (eds.) The Anarchist Turn (Pluto Press, 2013)
- Nina Power, One-dimensional woman (London: Zero Books, 2009).
- Alexandra Kollontai, Selected Writings (W.W. Norton Company, 1980).
- Emma Goldman, ‘Anarchy and the Sex Question’ in Anarchy and the Sex Question: Essays on Women
and Emancipation, 1896-1917 (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2016)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.