Class Year


Document Type


Honors Designation



Women's Studies

Primary Advisor

Meika Loe


This paper aims to be a starting point for analyzing the greater implications of California’s sex worker laws. As progressive as the state of California is in comparison to other states, lawmakers still maintain the stance that they have a ‘moral’ obligation to protect these ‘victims’ of prostitution. This stance assumes that all individuals involved in the sex industry are helpless victims who need to be protected. Across the United States, sex work is a stigmatized profession. This is not unique to California, but what is unique is California’s reputation for being ‘the most liberal state’ (Business Insider). California law, despite having good intentions, is over policing what people can and cannot do with their own bodies. The structural realities of the law, as well as the micro-level agencies sex workers have all play into the way in which sex work is criminalized.