Seeing Latinas, Working Sex
By Juana Maria Rodriguez
In Puta Life, Juana María Rodríguez probes the ways that sexual labor and Latina sexuality become visual phenomena.
Drawing on state archives, illustrated biographies, documentary films, photojournalistic essays, graphic novels, and digital spaces, she focuses on the figure of the puta—the whore, that phantasmatic figure of Latinized feminine excess. Rodríguez’s eclectic archive features the faces and stories of women whose lives have been mediated by sex work’s stigmatization and criminalization—washerwomen and masked wrestlers, porn stars and sexiles. Rodríguez examines how visual tropes of racial and sexual deviance expose feminine subjects to misogyny and violence, attuning our gaze to how visual documentation shapes perceptions of sexual labor.
Throughout this poignant and personal text, Rodríguez brings the language of affect and aesthetics to bear upon understandings of gender, age, race, sexuality, labor, disability, and migration. Highlighting the criminalization and stigmatization that surrounds sex work, she lingers on those traces of felt possibility that might inspire more ethical forms of relation and care.