Siobhan Brooks (born 1972) is an African-American lesbian feminist sociologist known for her work with African-American women in the sex worker industry and feminist issues affecting these women. She holds a B.A. in women's studies from San Francisco State University, and a Ph.D. degree in sociology from New School University in New York City.
She was born in the Sunnydale Housing Projects in San Francisco. Her mother, who is deceased, was mentally ill, and Brooks did not start school until age 8.
The Lusty Lady Incident
While a student at SFSU, she worked at the Lusty Lady peep-show to support herself through college, and noticed that the club hired very few black women, and that they were restricted from working in the "private booth" section of the theater, where dancers have the opportunity to make more money. After raising her concerns to the club's manager, Brooks was reprimanded and told that "black women make the club lose money." Brooks worked with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 790, to file a racial discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Her efforts proved successful: the club hired more black women than ever before in its fourteen-year history.
The story of the unionizing efforts at the Lusty Lady are chronicled in Live Nude Girls UNITE!, a documentary by Julia Query. Brooks is featured in the film. Dr. Brooks also wrote Organizing From Behind the Glass, an account of the successful unionizing effort, for the January 1997 issue of Z magazine. In the article, Brooks stated that at the Lusty Lady, where she had worked, "the only Black show director, Josephine, informed me that Black dancers have always done poorly in the booth, it was just a reality of the business, but she provided no evidence of this."
Work on sex workers
Brooks has gone on to interview sex workers across the country and has published several articles as a result. Her work has appeared in the anthology Whores and Other Feminists (ed. Jill Nagle Routledge,1998), Z Magazine, Feminism and Anti-Racism (eds. France Winddance Twine and Kathleen Blee, 2000), Revolutionary Voices (ed. Amy Sonnie), and she interviewed Angela Y. Davis about her views on race, gender, and the sex industry in the post-Civil Rights era for the University of California Hastings Law Journal (Winter, 1999). She also appeared on the cover of Colorlines Magazine in the winter 2004 issue, "Sex, Race, Gender." Brooks is the author of the book, Unequal Desires: Race and Erotic Capital in the Stripping Industry (SUNY Press, 2010).
While she is known as a sex worker activist, her academic interest and activism expands to gender and institutions, women of color and mental illness, queer race identities, women in the media, race and class. In October 2005 Brooks co-organized a conference on Hip hop music's global impact at Lehman College, where she was an adjunct professor in the department of sociology. She is currently an assistant professor in African American Studies at California State University at Fullerton.
- Lawrence Fellows, Lawrence University. Retrieved 2009-12-11.
- Siobhan Brooks (2001), "Exotic Dancing and Unionizing", in France Winddance Twine; Kathleen M. Blee, Feminism and antiracism: international struggles for justice, New York University Press, ISBN 978-0-8147-9855-3
- Brooks, Siobhan (January 1997), "Organizing From Behind the Glass", Z magazine, pp. 11–14
- Lehman E-News: Past Features: Oct. 21 Conference Explores Hip-Hop's Global Impact