Corey Shdaimah, Daniel Thursz Distinguished Professor of Social Justice presented their paper, Creepy Men, Reject Families, and the Policing of Women’s Intimate Relationships in a Prostitution Court at the Annual Meetings of the Law and Society Association, with non-presenting co-authors University of Delaware Professor Chrysanthi Leon and PhD student Todd Becker. Like other forms of problem-solving justice, prostitution courts are designed to (re)shape thinking and behaviors. The authority to surveil and punish stems from the criminalization of sex work, itself an act of control over women and their bodies. The court cues normative behaviors through a system of rewards and punishments based on information gleaned through ongoing surveillance and assessment in and out of court. In this paper, we discuss how Philadelphia’s Project Dawn Court (PDC) regulates women’s intimate and commercial relationships with men. Shdaimah, Leon, and Becker reported that criminal justice professionals explicitly viewed the constant discussion and surveillance of all facets of PDC participants’ lives as a tool to cause participants to internalize particular understandings of normative (and non-normative) relationships. Such normative understandings involve assumptions about which men are “creepy” that do not always reflect women’s lived experiences with men. They also decontextualize relationships in ways that are incompatible with women’s own assessments of these relationships, as well as the systemic forces that shape with whom they associate and how. Professor Shdaimah also chaired a panel featuring chapters in her forthcoming Research Handbook on Law, Social Movements, and Social Change.
Professor Corey Shdaiman and PhD student Todd Becker Present at the Annual Law and Society Meetings