Baker's research focuses on women's legal rights and feminist social movements, with a particular expertise in sexual harassment, sex trafficking, and reproductive rights. The overarching theme in Baker's writings include how social movements have changed law and policy in the United States. Baker is co-chair of the Ms. Magazine Committee of Scholars, and serves on the editorial board of the journal Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism. She is also on the board of the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts.
In the News
Analyzes stories and images of sex trafficking in current mainstream US public discourses, including government publications, nongovernmental organizations (NGO) materials, news media, and popular films. Argues that the dominant criminal justice approach to trafficking based on mainstream frames of the issue — the state rescuing victims and prosecuting traffickers — will not alone end the problem of sex trafficking, but that public policies must address the structural conditions that create populations vulnerable to trafficking and empower those communities to dismantle inequalities that are the root causes of trafficking.
Argues that United States public policies have prioritized marriage and healthy relationship promotion over research and education about gendered violence in teen dating relationships, despite evidence of the prevalence of intimate partner and teen dating violence that disproportionately impacts women and girls. Explains that the lack of a gender-based analysis reflects a shift from a feminist framing of violence that focuses on the safety and well-being of women and girls based on an analysis of gender, power, and structural inequalities, toward a conservative focus on individualistic solutions to gendered social problems like poverty and violence.
Examines how a politically and ideologically diverse movement against youth involvement in the sex trade has change perceptions and policies on the issue. Shows that these campaigns were fundamentally shaped by the politics of gender, race, class, and global anti-trafficking campaigns. Argues that the very frames that have made these movements so successful in achieving new laws and programs for youth have limited their ability to achieve systematic reforms that could decrease youth vulnerability to involvement in the sex trade.
Analyzes the portrayal of sex trafficking in representative dramas and documentaries, both Hollywood and independent films.
Examines how a diverse grassroots social movement created public policy on sexual harassment in the 1970s and 1980s. Finds that the collaboration of women from varying racial, economic, and geographic backgrounds strengthened the movement by representing the perspectives and activism of a broad range of women. Shows how the movement against sexual harassment fundamentally changed American life in ways that continue to advance women's opportunities today.
Provides an introduction to some central debates in research and public policy on sex trafficking in the United States, with particular attention to how these debates play out among feminists. Concludes with recommendations for guiding principles on future directions for public policy and research.