chapter  5
20 Pages

Survival sex and gender-based violence

ByJuliet Watson

This chapter exposes the rules of the homeless sphere that apply to young women with regard to gender-based violence and demonstrates how gender structures the strategies that young women use to secure physical safety. The empirical research undertaken with young homeless women demonstrates that the interaction of gender-based violence and homelessness with individualised and postfeminist discourses of responsibility contributes to them engaging in survival sex as a strategy for physical protection. In the homeless environment, (certain) male bodies hold greater physical and symbolic power, and the resources associated with this power can only be accessed by young women through the bodily alliances they make with men. This process of transaction is conceptually developed here and defined as vicarious physical capital. This vicarious physical capital, however, is precarious and non-transferable beyond the homeless sphere.