Skip to the main content

Zahra Stardust is a critical sexuality scholar working at the intersections of culture, media and criminology.

Stardust’s body of work is invested in ending the stigmatisation and criminalisation of consensual sex, building curricula for porn literacy, and taking transformative justice approaches to sexual violence.

Her research has focused on the relationships between law, policing and social movements (including sex worker rights and LGBTIQA+ rights) and the politics of sexual content moderation (including the production and distribution of explicit media). Her current projects focus on the role of digital technologies in facilitating sexual health, rights and justice.

Stardust’s first monograph Indie Porn: Revolutionary Promises, Regulatory Fantasies, Resistance Politics explores the proliferation of DIY porn and will be published by Duke University Press in 2024. Her first co-authored book Sextech: A Critical Introduction is under contract with Polity Books. She is currently editing an anthology Academy of Whores: Radical Writing by Sex Workers on Campus showcasing provocations sex workers are making to academia.

Stardust is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society at Queensland University of Technology, where she works on projects relating to sexual surveillance, algorithmic sexual profiling and the political economy of sextech.

Her previous research has examined sex work stigma, post-work politics, queer femininities, sex positive law reform, trans prison policies, chemsex practices and the policing of protest.

She has studied at the Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture and Society at the University of Amsterdam and the Summer Doctoral Program at the University of Oxford Internet Institute, and is on the World Association for Sexual Health’s Sexual Justice Steering Committee and the Editorial Board of Porn Studies.

Prior to academia, Stardust worked in policy, advocacy, legal and research capacities with community organisations, NGOs and UN bodies on numerous human rights and social justice projects. She is admitted as a solicitor to the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the High Court of Australia.

She is a former Penthouse Pet, Hustler Honey, Feminist Porn Awards Heartthrob of the Year, and has toured internationally as a pole dance instructor, trapeze artist and sex educator.

Stardust is a promiscuous collaborator and welcomes creative, cultural and interdisciplinary projects on a range of issues, from AI-generated pornography to sustainable sextech.


2023 Gender and Health Hub Virtual Forum run by the UN University Institute for Global Health

Digital Justice and Sexual and Reproductive Rights

Feb 22, 2024
Sage Journals

Safety for Whom? Investigating How Platforms Frame and Perform Safety and Harm Interventions

Zahra Stardust and collaborators investigate how social media platforms frame and perform safety and harm interventions.

Dec 15, 2023
Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters

Queer and feminist reflections on sextech

Zahra Stardust co-authors commentary reflecting on sextech futures.

Sep 15, 2023
Taylor & Francis Online

Queer and feminist reflections on sextech

With collaborators, Zahra Stardust presents a brief overview of recent literature and popular commentary, including suggestions for new research agendas in the sextech sphere.

Sep 15, 2023
New Media & Society

Sex tech entrepreneurs: Governing intimate data in start-up culture

BKC Affiliate Zahra Stardust writes about the data governance approach of prospective sextech industry professionals.

Jul 11, 2023
City University of New York Law Review

High Risk Hustling: Payment Processors Sexual Proxies and Discrimination by Design

BKC Affiliate Zahra Stardust writes about the financial discrimination and barriers to digital financial infrastructure faced by sex workers.

Jul 11, 2023
ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society

Manifesto for Sex Positive Social Media

Zahra Stardust and collaborators set out seven demands for platforms, governments, and policymakers.

As part of her Berkman Klein fellowship, Zahra Stardust organized a Community Lab at RightsCon 2021 on "Alternative Frameworks for Sexual Content Moderation." The Lab was…

Aug 31, 2022
Monash University Law Review

Positive Potential: How Sex Positivity Can Benefit Legal Thinking and Sex Work Regulation in Australia

BKC Affiliate Zahra Stardust writes about the value of sex positivity as a framework for thinking about law.

Aug 18, 2022
Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal

Surveillance does not equal safety: Police, data and consent on dating apps

“As dating apps continue to receive pressure from civil society, media and governments to address a range of safety concerns, technology companies have developed and deployed a…

Jul 10, 2022

Public interest sex tech hackathon: speculative futures and participatory design

“Sex tech has emerged as a site in which sexual pleasure, wellbeing and health are increasingly understood as data. Sex techincludes a diverse range of products from sex therapy…

Jul 6, 2022
Porn Studies

Automating whorephobia: sex, technology and the violence of deplatforming

Zahra Stardust interviews Danielle Blunt about the prevalence of algorithmic biases against sex work.

Nov 2, 2021

Sex work, automation and the post-work imaginary

Zahra Stardust and Helen Hester envision a post-work future that is more equitable for sex workers.

Sep 13, 2021
The Conversation

NSW Police want access to Tinder’s sexual assault data. Cybersafety experts explain why it’s a date with disaster

Zahra Stardust and colleagues on cybersecurity and dating apps

Apr 28, 2021
BKC Medium Collection

Movement Lawyering for Alternative Futures

Five community members speak about their vexed relationships to the law

Jan 4, 2021
BKC Medium Collection

What can tech learn from sex workers?

Zahra Stardust and colleagues reflect on what tech would look if it was designed by sex workers

Dec 16, 2020


Apr 8, 2021 @ 12:00 PM

Decoding Stigma: Designing for Sex Worker Liberatory Futures

Video & Podcast: Featuring Zahra Stardust, Gabriella Garcia, Chibundo Egwuatu, Yin Q

Video & Podcast: A panel discussion about what the Internet might look like if it was designed by sex workers and how we might code sex worker ethics into future design.