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Other Dreams of Freedom: Religion, Sex, and Human Trafficking

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Human trafficking has captured worldwide attention as a crucial moral and political issue, but perhaps nowhere more than in the United States. Since they were signed into law in 2000, U.S. federal laws and policies on human trafficking have been understood as concrete expressions of the civic values of personal and political freedom. Yet these policies have also been chara Human trafficking has captured worldwide attention as a crucial moral and political issue, but perhaps nowhere more than in the United States. Since they were signed into law in 2000, U.S. federal laws and policies on human trafficking have been understood as concrete expressions of the civic values of personal and political freedom. Yet these policies have also been characterized by a marked preoccupation with regulation, and especially sexual regulation. Yvonne C. Zimmerman offers a groundbreaking exploration of the relationship between freedom and sexual regulation in American anti-human trafficking law and policies. . She argues that the religious values of American Protestantism have indelibly shaped the federal government's approach to engaging human trafficking, and that the trajectory of the U.S.'s anti-trafficking efforts cannot be fully grasped without understanding the unique ways in which sex, morality, and freedom are connected in Protestant Christian configurations of morality. Zimmerman shows that particularly under the George W. Bush administration, the U.S.'s anti-trafficking project expressed a vision of freedom whose structure and logic is thoroughly Protestant. . Her analysis challenges the assumption that combating human trafficking necessarily entails sexual regulation, and reveals the extent to which the preoccupation with sexual regulation has functioned to discourage alternative understandings and practices of freedom, particularly for women. Other Dreams of Freedom demonstrates that if opposition to human trafficking takes the promotion of freedom as the point of departure, then freedom must not be identified strictly with religiously and culturally Protestant understandings, but ought also permit other understandings of how freedom is constituted, practiced, and maintained.


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Human trafficking has captured worldwide attention as a crucial moral and political issue, but perhaps nowhere more than in the United States. Since they were signed into law in 2000, U.S. federal laws and policies on human trafficking have been understood as concrete expressions of the civic values of personal and political freedom. Yet these policies have also been chara Human trafficking has captured worldwide attention as a crucial moral and political issue, but perhaps nowhere more than in the United States. Since they were signed into law in 2000, U.S. federal laws and policies on human trafficking have been understood as concrete expressions of the civic values of personal and political freedom. Yet these policies have also been characterized by a marked preoccupation with regulation, and especially sexual regulation. Yvonne C. Zimmerman offers a groundbreaking exploration of the relationship between freedom and sexual regulation in American anti-human trafficking law and policies. . She argues that the religious values of American Protestantism have indelibly shaped the federal government's approach to engaging human trafficking, and that the trajectory of the U.S.'s anti-trafficking efforts cannot be fully grasped without understanding the unique ways in which sex, morality, and freedom are connected in Protestant Christian configurations of morality. Zimmerman shows that particularly under the George W. Bush administration, the U.S.'s anti-trafficking project expressed a vision of freedom whose structure and logic is thoroughly Protestant. . Her analysis challenges the assumption that combating human trafficking necessarily entails sexual regulation, and reveals the extent to which the preoccupation with sexual regulation has functioned to discourage alternative understandings and practices of freedom, particularly for women. Other Dreams of Freedom demonstrates that if opposition to human trafficking takes the promotion of freedom as the point of departure, then freedom must not be identified strictly with religiously and culturally Protestant understandings, but ought also permit other understandings of how freedom is constituted, practiced, and maintained.

31 review for Other Dreams of Freedom: Religion, Sex, and Human Trafficking

  1. 4 out of 5

    Roland Curit

    This book went from 2 stars to 4 in a span of a few pages because of a hot-button topic of mine: Separation of Church and State. In the closing months his presidency, Clinton enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and offered funding to private organizations to help combat human trafficking. The first four chapters of this book highlight our society's moral Protestant views toward sexuality and how president Bush placed a huge emphasis on the sex trafficking portion of the Act. It This book went from 2 stars to 4 in a span of a few pages because of a hot-button topic of mine: Separation of Church and State. In the closing months his presidency, Clinton enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and offered funding to private organizations to help combat human trafficking. The first four chapters of this book highlight our society's moral Protestant views toward sexuality and how president Bush placed a huge emphasis on the sex trafficking portion of the Act. It was rather dry and I almost put the book down. But then in chapter 5, the author expands upon the "Prostitution Loyalty Oath" that Bush enacted in 2003. This oath was used as determining factor in which organizations could receive TVPA funding. For an organization to be considered, it must sign an oath denouncing prostitution. This was a no-brainer for faith based organizations that promoted family values, or activist organizations that considered sex-work demeaning for women. But if an organization has no vested interest in denouncing consensual prostitution, they could not receive funding. In short, unless an organization fell in line with the Bush administration's moral views on prostitution, you were denied funding to combat human trafficking in general. After doing some additional online research, I learned that the Supreme Court later declared that oath unconstitutional in 2013. The 6th and final chapter concludes with two points of interest. First, it outlines how the Obama administration dialed back the religious rhetoric of human trafficking but did not do away with it completely. Secondly, on the final pages, there is an anecdotal story of an Asian Massage Parlor therapist declining an opportunity to be "freed" from her role of massage therapist that offers "extra services". That story exemplifies the problem with our government trying to force moral values onto its citizens.

  2. 5 out of 5

    alix lutnick

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa Irby

  5. 5 out of 5

    Summer

  6. 5 out of 5

    K.M.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amber Moffett

  8. 5 out of 5

    Katie Kuntz-Wineland

  9. 5 out of 5

    David

  10. 5 out of 5

    John-Mark Brown

  11. 5 out of 5

    Diana Zimmerman

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

  13. 5 out of 5

    Anne Sweeney

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie Corradini

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Toguchi

  16. 5 out of 5

    Broadsnark

  17. 4 out of 5

    Aby

  18. 4 out of 5

    John

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  20. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kersten Priest

  22. 5 out of 5

    Fred

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laura Gomez-Mera

  24. 4 out of 5

    Trinity

  25. 4 out of 5

    Annalvogt

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Sain

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gabriella

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anya

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jobber

  30. 5 out of 5

    jennifer amaro

  31. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Rudy

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