chapter  4
19 Pages

Survival sex, stigma, and managing material conditions

ByJuliet Watson

This chapter argues that young homeless women are stigmatised in ways not experienced by young homeless men or by other young people living in mainstream post-industrial capitalist society. The empirical research conducted with the young women in this study reveals that they are stigmatised through the societal assumption that young homeless women are engaged in survival sex and/or commercial sexual activity. This affects a young woman’s acquisition and maintenance of social capital, whereby her exchangeable value is reduced to her sexuality. Young women’s experiences of survival sex are also analysed and it is revealed that this often occurs as an economically rational part of an intimate relationship from which romantic expectations cannot necessarily be separated.