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This is a critical paper on From Protests to Politics: Sex Work, Women’s
Worth and Ciudad Juarez Modernity by Mellisa Wright. In this article, Wright uses ethnographic research to explore how commercial sex workers are slowly disappearing from the streets of Ciudad Juarez in Mexico. The writer discusses deeply how these commercial women sex workers are protesting against their forceful removal from their ‘workplace’ and the politics behind it.
Coincidentally, the more police officers intensify their bid to remove these women from the streets, the more women and girls are being murdered or kidnapped. Wright rues that, while being denied a place in public areas is one thing, kidnapping and murder is a completely different thing.
Nevertheless, these commercial sex workers are pushing for their stay in streets; they are doing this by staging protests across Ciudad Juarez, and they are gaining support from like-minded activists, and this association is a potential political alliance.
Wright asserts that removing commercial sex workers from the streets of Ciudad Juarez is tantamount to devaluing these workers on humanity basis and their protests are acting as powerful tools to counter such humanity devaluations. Surely, “Their battle is not, in this case, present, over wages; it is over their meaning as women, as economic agents, and as valuable members of society” (Wright 383).
Generally, this paper is well written. It makes sense in that; the writer explores the forceful removal of casual sex workers from the streets of Ciudad Juarez compellingly, validating each claim made in the paper. At the end of it, the writer finds then paper interesting because it makes sense with the writer achieving the objective of the research.
It is interesting and informing too, to learn the challenges that women in this Mexican city go through every day in a society that is grappling with modernity. Interestingly, it is ironical that the forces that created a conducive environment for prostitution to thrive are the same forces trying to root it out.
The author identifies research questions early in the paper by stating the research’s objective explicitly. After a compelling introduction, the author puts across a thesis statement on page two of the paper.
There are three well-stated objectives of this paper: to demonstrate how representation in Ciudad Juarez progress has shifted from women’s work representation to women’s disappearance from streets, to show how prostitutes in La Paz are staging their comeback to proclaim their traditional space in the streets and to show how this comeback is facing stiff political and economical resistance.
The author then uses a question that encompasses all these objectives, “how do age-old stories; so familiar around the world, of prostitutes as symbols of danger, filth, and contamination come to have meaning for the renovation of the Ciudad Juarez economy today?” (Wright 369). These statements come early in the paper, a typical element of a well-written research paper.
Moreover, the author justifies the relevance of this research topic. Two main points indicate the relevance of this research topic; one, currently, the corporate and political elites in this city are pooling their efforts together to draw high-tech investments in a maquiladora in a bid to reinvigorate tourism in this city.
Secondly, there are pullulating social movements as people try to raise the alarm over increasing violence against women in this place. These two observations validate the research topic as the author seeks to draw any correlation between the two pertinent issues. The aforementioned research question caps it all as it explicitly covers all these areas.
On matters of literature review, the author does a commendable job by reviewing the available literature materials extensively. To emphasize this, the author uses over three pages to review the available literature. Given the nature of this study, it is only theoretical literature that is valid and that is exactly what the author reviews. The reviewed literature is relevant to the research topic because it talks about the same thing.
For instance, Karl Marx’s remarks that “value, under capitalism, does not stalk about with a label on its forehead” (Wright 370) resonates well with this topic and the author synthesizes this information well stating that “I find a similar logic at work in the issues I investigate in Ciudad Juarez today” (Wright 371).
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This is to mention but a few instances where the author synthesizes well the reviewed literature. Some of the reviewed materials include works by McDowell 1997, Lawson 1999, Gibson-Graham, 1996 and Spivak 1994, to mention but a few. All these articles touch on the objectives of this paper.
This is basic research. It seeks to establish the correlation between commercial sex workers protests and the concerted efforts to invigorate tourism industry in Ciudad Juarez. As aforementioned, the author carries out research based on ethnographic studies, interviews, and archival reviews. These methods are appropriate; for instance, interviewing commercial sex workers is very appropriate since the research is dealing with prostitution.
Retrieving archival information also plays a key role in this research because the author is in a position to establish what has been found out concerning the same subject for comparison purposes. Ethnographic studies come in handy in this case as it describes Ciudad Juarez as an individual human society. Therefore, these research methods are the most appropriate in this study.
The author uses qualitative data in this research and is appropriate, given the nature of the study. This is social research, and quantitative research may not be applicable given the fact that the author seeks to draw a correlation between two social events. The data comes from mainly observation and media. The author visited Ciudad Juarez, observed what was happening like protests, and interviewed some of the protestors. Media availed a lot of information concerning murders and kidnapping of women in this city.
The author does not rely on samples, probably due to the nature of this study. Other information, as previously mentioned comes from the literature review. The qualitative data used here include a personal interview, observation, and group focus. These data forms are appropriate, and the author can answer the research questions using them. Interview and observational data come in handy in this study as the author interacts directly with the involved subjects. To overcome the biases of the personal interview, the author uses group studies.
The central conclusion in this paper is that “the women of La Paz illustrate how the designation of their social identity as ‘‘prostitute/prostitute’’ and ‘‘whore/puta’’ functions as a powerful technology for devaluing their labor and their lives as women and as human beings. And as they fight to reassert their presence in downtown Ciudad Juarez, they are fighting against such forces of devaluation” (Wright 383).
Another conclusion is the more political and economic forces subject commercial sex workers to violence, the more the city continues to lose its “maquiladora” manufacturing base, and this works against the very purpose of improving tourism in the area. It is unfortunate, that political and economical forces are not only battling to appease and compete with the world by pushing for capitalist investments, but also containing activists who cannot stand the brunt of women violence.
The author concludes that political and economical forces have failed in their developmental visions and they need to re-strategize if Ciudad Juarez is to develop like any other city in the contemporary world.
The conclusions made here make sense, as the author does not overstate them; on the contrary, the author draws logical conclusions from the data analyzed and results obtained.
In this article, From Protests to Politics: Sex Work, Women’s Worth, and Ciudad Juarez Modernity, Wright explores the relationship between the removal of sex workers from the streets of Ciudad Juarez, the politics behind them, the killing and kidnapping of sex workers as Ciudad grapples with modernity. The article is compelling given the nature of data collection and analysis coupled with clear use of language.
The author achieved the objectives of the research establishing how women’s worker representation has shifted to demonstrations as these women disappear from their ‘workplace’ through mysterious deaths and kidnapping. Moreover, the author explicates how women sex workers are fighting this violence and discrimination, pointing out how this comeback fight is affecting political and economical efforts to reinvigorate the tourism industry in Ciudad Juarez.
The reader learned so much from this article. The article informs the reader how commercial sex workers are undergoing tough times as Ciudad Juarez comes to terms with modernity. It is disturbing how authorities can devalue people through heinous ways like murder and kidnapping while there are channels to enact rules and policies. Generally, the paper is compelling and informative.
Wright, Mellisa. “From Protests to Politics: Sex Work, Women’s Worth, and Ciudad Juarez Modernity.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 2004, 94(2): 369–386