Listening to Olivia: Violence, Poverty, and Prostitution (Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law)

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9781555535971: Listening to Olivia: Violence, Poverty, and Prostitution (Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law)
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For nineteen years, Olivia lived the shadowy life of stripper, streetwalker, and heroin addict on the fringes of society. Leaving a troubled home at age sixteen to land a seemingly glamorous job at a Chicago stripclub, she became trapped in a web of prostitution and drug addiction that eventually forced her onto the streets and into a world of hardship at the hands of abusive men. But Olivia, a resourceful, vibrant woman of color, ultimately escaped the prostitution lifestyle and is now director of addiction services at a community counseling program, working to support drug-dependent women.

Listening to Olivia is the compelling account of her descent into poverty and abuse together with her hard fought recovery. By assimilating new research on the women and girls in prostitution--in addition to their male customers--Jody Raphael discovers that experiences like Olivia's are alarmingly common and argues that the sex trade as an institution promotes violence against women. Smashing both the common stereotype of the depraved streetwalker and abstract feminist arguments legitimizing prostitution as the sexual liberation of women, the author uncovers an emerging multimillion-dollar global trafficking industry that detains women in a violent cycle of exploitation and dependence. Olivia's own insights on her turbulent childhood, stripping in clubs, soliciting on the street, drug addiction, brutal pimps, her three pregnancies, and her extraordinary transformation highlight important new questions: who are the men who buy sex from such poor, strung out women; and why are so many of these men so violent?

Olivia's story gives a human face to the overwhelmingly low-income, non-white, and unempowered young women in prostitution today. Combined with a wealth of new findings, this gripping and accessible study challenges the academy, the legal system, and society as a whole to wake up and listen to the women like Olivia.

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About the Author:

Jody Raphael is Senior Research Fellow at the DePaul University College of Law's Schiller, DuCanto and Fleck Family Law Center and author of Saving Bernice: Battered Women, Welfare, and Poverty, the first book in a trilogy on women, violence, and poverty to be published by Northeastern University Press. She lives in Oak Park, Illinois. Claire Renzetti, editor of the Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law, is Professor of Sociology at St. Joseph's University. She divides her time between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Dayton, Ohio.

From Booklist:

Olivia left an alcoholic, violent home at age 16 in the hopes of becoming a dancer in one of Chicago's clubs on Rush Street, known in the 1970s for its strip joints. She'd already been drinking for over seven years to numb herself to the beatings her mother routinely received from her father, so it was an easy step to self-anesthesia via alcohol and drugs as her increasingly degrading stripper's life led her to prostitution and the streets, a life she lived for 19 years until she escaped the lifestyle via the Genesis House, eventually becoming a director of addiction services at a community counseling program for drug-dependent women. Raphael wrote this compelling account, which follows Saving Bernice (2000) as the second in a planned trilogy on impoverished woman and violence to give voice to poor women of color in prostitution, and to provide new perspectives, grounded in new research data, regarding the social implications of today's multibillion-dollar sex industry. Whitney Scott
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Raphael, Jody
Published by Northeastern (2004)
ISBN 10: 1555535976 ISBN 13: 9781555535971
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