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I really wanted to like this book I read an interview with Melissa Gira Grant at The Awl , and was so impressed by the smart points she made about the role of whorephobia in upholding the economic status quo that I immediately went from reading the interview to ordering the book.The problem with this book is not the content of the ideas They continue to be interesting and provocative The problem is with the editing The book lacks coherence lacks any sense of an overarching argument Grant meanders, seemingly aimlessly, from idea to idea, failing to give the reader any sense that the book amounts to something larger than the sum of its parts The illustrations and polemics one might say rants collected here demonstrate that prevailing logic about sex work is inadequate, but the book fails to cohere into a helpful alternative way to think about sex work. About a third of the way through this book Grant writesWe should, in fact, refuse to debate Sex work itself, and, inseparable from it, the lives of sex workers are not up for debate or they shouldn t beAnd with a heavy heart, I knew this book wasn t going to get any better.A book about sex work which refuses to make an argument is hardly any use to the reader, except as a curiosity, which is ironic since Grant spends a lot of time castigating the general public for their peeping tom curiosity about the lives of sex workers.So if Grant isn t making an argument in support of sex work, then what s the point of the book It s hard to say It rambles across the subject of sex work, touching on different aspects, gesturing at various debates, but never quite making a point There s a very interesting memoir of the author s youth in the queer AIDS activism community There s a lyrical elegy for the red light districts of San Francisco and New York The chapter on the failures of the rescue industry in Cambodia is easily the best, and the only part that seems to have been thoroughly researched and supported with evidence.The lack of proper references and evidence was a massive disappointment Of course, since Grant is committed to not debating, it stands to reason that she also wouldn t bother to attempt to prove her points Take for example Opponents, from the European Women s Lobby to reactionary feminist bloggers, like to claim that sex workers insist it is a job like any other but sex workers do not make this claim unless by this anti sex work activists agree with sex workers that the conditions under which sexual services are offered can be as unstable and undesirable as those cutting cuticles, giving colonics, or diapering someone else s babies. It s very telling that Grant doesn t make any effort to explore her assertion here that sex work is on a par with other low paid feminine service work Do prostitutes, nannies, and beauticians have the same rates of being assaulted, raped, and murdered by clients Do they have the same rates of drug addiction, mental health problems, and suicide Are nannies as likely to be controlled by abusive boyfriends taking their earnings Do they have the same rates of serious infection or persistent pain as a consequence of their work This is far from the only example of Grant making uncharitable assertions about her opponents The book is littered with generalisations about anti prostitution activists and feminists, but rarely quotes any of them directly This lack was especially noticeable to me, because I read the book in tandem with Banyard s Pimp State Sex, Money, and the Future of Equality, a well researched anti prostitution polemic For example, Grant saysOpponents of sex work decry prostitution as a violent institution, yet concede that violence is also useful to keep people from itWho are these opponents The feminists represented by Banyard would never in a million years approve of violence against women as useful Consequently the margins of my copy are absolutely filled with scrawls of citation needed with increasingly frustrated under linings and exclamation marks.Where Grant does refer to specific feminists she s still pretty sloppy When claiming that Kate Millett failed to understand the issues of sex work in the 1970s she doesn t quote Millett directly, she quotes pro sex work historian Melinda Chateauvert s opinion of what Millett believed.And when not sloppy, she can be flat out wrong When railing against anti prostitution awareness raising organisations, Grant claims that feminists create such organisations because It gives the producers jobs, the effectiveness of which is measured by a subjective accounting of how much they are being talked about. And They hire Hollywood bros like Ashton Kutcher and Sean Penn to make clicky little public service announcements for Youtube in which they tell their fans, Real Men don t buy girlsIt takes one google search to see that Ashton Kutcher is the founder and chairman of his own anti trafficking foundation, not an employee of unspecified feminists If such a feminist organisation existed then Grant would be able to name it.Perhaps the most distasteful of all Grants mis characterisations of her opponents is her assertion that they get off on the very pornography that they oppose She describes a meeting of Women Against Pornography in the 1970s where a woman got up to speak about how her father used pornography as an aid and manual when sexually abusing her Rather than egalitarian consciousness raising, the sharing of stories took on an air of sentimental performance The whole room was emotionally whipped up into a rage with their own private images of child rape, while at the same time, revelling in the awfulness of it How are you to say that the description of the child s violation by a woman on a stage itself mines a pornographic revelation How is this group of women s consumption of the evil of pornography in a group exhibition all that different from the men seated in a Times Square theater having their own communal experience of porn There is a sameness here to the communal release of feeling, the shaking of the body whether consumed by sobs or ejaculations This is what film theorist Linda Williams saw in her analysis of porn films and weepies chick flicks To be in these rooms of women raging against pornography is to give in to the hawker s pavement promise of hardcore relief The women whose relationship to pornography has never included participants in it are only incidentally concerned with the actual women in it. Grant, of course, does not quote an actual attendee who admits that she felt hardcore relief and enjoyed revelling in the awfulness And if she could find an attendee who would admit to being shaken by sobs, would she agree that it was because of voyeuristic pleasure, or is it likely that she herself is also a rape survivor suffering her own trauma Look at Grant s interesting word choice here How are you to say that the description of the child s violation by a woman on a stage itself mines a pornographic revelation The child and the woman are one and the same person A honest phrasing would be How are you to say that a woman describing her own childhood violation is miming pornography Phrased that way, the obvious answer is you are not to say that it would a disgusting and cruel thing to tell a survivor of childhood rape, bravely speaking out against abuse, that her sentimental performance is miming pornography You d have to be a proper psychopath And in Grant s case you d also have to be a hypocrite Grant spends so much time in this book saying that sex workers should lead and define the discussion of sex work isn t it also fair that survivors of childhood rape should lead and define the discussion of childhood rape Isn t it verging on narcissistic to complain thatThe women whose relationship to pornography has never included participants in it are only incidentally concerned with the actual women in itOne could just as easily assert that pro pornography advocates like Grant are only incidentally concerned with the actual women who will be raped because of it.God, this is depressing Not only the sneering at rape victims, but also the fact that it s such an unnecessary tactic Why did Grant not follow a compassionate and rational line of argument She could have pointed out that, although the pornography was used as an aid during the rape, it was unlikely to have caused the rape she could have shared some of the statistics on the correlation between the drop in rape and the rise in porn She could have pointed to statistics which show that the vast majority of pornography users are not rapists including the large numbers of women who use porn She could have made any number of arguments that didn t sink to the level of insinuating that the victims of childhood incest pretend to be against abuse because they re secretly aroused by reliving the experience in public.Of course, when it comes to a subject as emotional and difficult as sex work, then we can expect and forgive a certain amount of animosity between opposing sides, but Grant is also frequently wrong on general facts Like her claim that There were no prostitutes in Pompeii. It s the nineteenth century that brings us the person of the prostitute Obviously there were prostitutes in Pompeii Again, a simple google search will provide plenty of information on the amazingly preserved brothels of Pompeii, and a search for prostitution in ancient Rome will provide lots of further reading and books on the topic There is an interesting discussion to be had about the ways that different cultures have concepetualised prostitutes, but to pretend that no one had any concept of a woman who sells sex for money before 1799 is not helpful.Indeed, part of my frustration with Grant s work is that I often felt that her framing was unhelpful Again, it was illuminating to read this at the same time as Pimp State Sex, Money, and the Future of Equality Banyard is meticulously clear about whether she is talking about prostitution, stripping, or pornography, but Grant talks about Sex Work which can cover everything fromescorting, street hustling, hostessing, stripping, performing sex for videos and webcams the range of labor makes speaking of just one feel inadequate. It isn t clear if Grant realises that she s unwittingly making her opponents argument for them Just one reason why anti prostitution activists prefer prostitution to sex work is that it s unhelpful to lump together activities as diverse as street walking and camwhoring.Compare Grant s description of typical sex work in a dungeon, with Banyard s description of a typical German brothel In the dungeon A client can expect that several workers are available on each shift, and some workers will want to do what he wants to and some won t A receptionist will take his call, or answer his e mail, and assign him to a worker based on what he d like, and the worker s preferences, and mutual availability Some dungeons might post their workers specialities on a website They might also keep them listed in a binder next to the phone, the workers each taking turns playing receptionist, matching clients to workers over the shift After each appointment the worker would write up a short memo and file it for future reference should the client call again, so that others would know about him.In the brothel They cannot speak much German The youngest women in the brothel are eighteen most aren t much older than twenty men make their way up and down the stairs, wandering along the corridors to see who s accepting custom They work, live and sleep in their one room in the brothel Each woman here has to pay the brothel owner 120 a day for the use of a room This means she will have to perform sex acts on four men before she breaks even, if she s paying off rent from previous days I ask Sabine how long the women s doors are open to men walking the corridors Seven days a week and about sixteen hours a day they are plied with drugs because for one thing they suffer pain, genuine physical pain They are fucked from all sides Grant s depiction of American sex work as well paid, even high paid, work that people drop in and out of between other jobs or activism, marred only by the threat of police violence and arrest, has almost nothing in common with Banyard s depiction of German prostitution as an industrial scale process in which women are trapped by the combination of poverty, drugs, violence, and market forces The women of the Stuttgardt brothels do not have the luxury of working shifts or having their own preferences and specialities.I wish that Grant had discussed legal sex work It would have been very interesting to see her opinion of how legal sex work is turning out in Germany and whether that s what she d want for America She makes a brief reference to New Zealand because New Zealand s model of decriminalized prostitution was advanced by sex workers, and has since been evaluated with their participation and largely to their satisfactionBut she doesn t go into any detail, which compares rather unfavourably with Banyard who discusses New Zealand, quoting the New Zealand Law Prostitution Reform Committee, a New Zealand employment lawyer, the Crime and Justice Research Centre, Christchurch School of Medicine, and Kiwi sex workers, in her argument that legalisation has not improved conditions for sex workers, has made it harder for the police to identify under age sex workers, and has increased the number of sex workers over all In comparison, Grant s assertions look positively anaemic.So Grant fails to support her own assertions, and frequently mis represents her opponents I think sometimes she also doesn t understand how badly she puts forward her own perspective.For example, the chapter The Peephole weighs up the benefits and risks of using the internet for sex work She claims that online advertising such as Craigslist and Backpage is good because it makes sex work profitable, easier, and gives control to sex workers Grant says the opponents are driven by unfounded fear of pimps, traffickers, and slavery, and a selfish desire to pat themselves on the back for protecting women Also, the statistics on underage sex workers gathered by antis are massively overblown, due to their failure to understand dummy and repeat adverts It s an emotionally persuasive chapter and then the very next chapter shares a poignant description of a public rally held by parents whose daughters were murdered after selling sex on Craigslist It s really very odd that Grant doesn t make any link between these two sections She doesn t realise that many people think that girls being murdered by customers they found on Craigslist is a good reason to stop customers finding girls on Craigslist Presumably, she also doesn t realise that her sneering at antis for being hysterical fearmongers looks rather shabby when it s revealed that their fears were not imaginary and sex workers were dying.And look I m not saying that Craiglist should have shut down I don t know the details of the case What I m saying is that I wish Grant had made an argument and laid out the reasons why it s better and safer with it than without it, instead of just sneering at her opponents Of the grieving parents she says Doing this each time they find a body, crying for all these cameras It was like their currency It s what they ve got left.Dacia told me that, in a way, it was worse than that There weren t as many cameras today as there were last time. I don t know about you, but it seems pretty low to me to insinuate that they re doing it for attention rather than because they genuinely want to prevent another girl getting murder.When I started writing this review, I was disappointed that the book didn t have a clearer structure and argument, and as I wrote, my opinion dropped further Attempting to find simple quotes to show Grant s points made me realise just how badly written this book is It s really very hard to find her saying anything succinctly and clearly And I hadn t realised just how much Grant sneered at everyone she disagrees with, until I tried to find quotes that didn t include casting aspersions on her opponents I m sure there are good books out there that make the case in favour of sex work This isn t it. Read this Seriously, this is a game changer for feminists, particularly those who have little to no knowledge of sex work. I m glad I read this book I m not sure what my view about prostitution is I do wish that Grant had than ancedotal evidence and to be fair, she acknowledges her somewhat limited viewpoint But Grant does have some very good points about how we should see sex workers and how shaming and policing are used to enforce feel good policies that might do harm than good If you are interested in the topic, you should read this book, simply for the reframing discussion about how to view sex workers. A jungle of confused polemics.I m not exactly sure who the author is trying to convince in this short book She claims to want to argue that sex work a broad category that covers prostitution, stripping, pornography, and anything else in the skin trade is a perfectly legitimate moral activity Unfortunately, most of the time she simply assumes what she s trying to prove and then moves on to secondary arguments that simply aren t controversial if the reader grants her premises Of course the solution to social discrimination and inconsistent enforcement of the laws against prostitutes would be legalization that is, assuming sex work is truly just like any other banal activity, economic or otherwise, such as nursing nanny work, hair braiding or babysitting She makes these comparisons often, yet there s little content here to actually explain why sex work isn t immoral, let alone why it shouldn t be treated like any other economic act apart from pragmatic soundbites unlikely to gain a hearing with any but those who already share her worldview.The author does eventually asks a fundamental question What if being sexualized is neither liberating nor empowering, and is simply value neutral Now we re getting somewhere But again, the answer given like the entire book is one big question beg, and she doesn t address or even seem to recognize that people can consistently oppose the legalization and normalization of sex work through principled moral reasoning and the abundant evidence of abuse, exploitation and other damaging social costs that it wreaks, rather than out of fear or bigotry.The author expresses worry about the negative consequences of law enforcement and NGO actions, such as raids to rescue girls but which leaves a vacuum that results in even worse conditions Of course, if sex work is immoral and dangerous, the solution is better enforcement and better follow up care of the women and girls involved, not less So we re back to where we started at the foundational questions Opponents of sex work decry prostitution as a violent institution yet concede that violence is also useful to keep people from it This sort of reasoning is of a piece with other such tidbits of pithy, reductionist liberal wisdom like waging war to preserve peace is inherently a contradiction, and deserves the same ridicule Her calls to include sex workers in discussions of legislation is like arguing that drug dealers should be invited to board meetings at the DEA.To top it all off, the book is riddled with incomplete and awkwardly constructed sentences, strained connections, and non sequiturs I was hoping for something that would engage the brain, but instead ended up with a headache A digital copy of this book was provided by the publisher through Netgalley for purposes of review. I found Playing the Whore to be a fresh, innovative, and strongly voiced reflection on sex worker politics So I was a little thrown off when I turned to the reviews as well as the comments on various blogs, Goodreads, and to find how many readers found the book to be tired, wandering, and ranting Perhaps my bias in favor of desacralizing sex made me completely forgiving of some issues of tone that I didn t not notice, and completely sympathetic to the book s central notion that sex work is work and should be afforded the protections of work In this review I want to voice my reaction to Playing the Whore and its disappointed readers in two ways In the first part I ll suggest the kind of book this book is not Perhaps this may be helpful to the many readers who found it a frustrating read, but who also mentioned that they had caught glimpses of its intelligence and power Perhaps an explicit consideration of how this argument does not proceed will help such readers recognize and bracket expectations they may have imposed upon it Maybe, then, it can be given another shot on its own terms In the second part I ll restate Grant s central arguments and add commentary about why I find them to be so persuasive My audience for this effort is, again, those of her intrigued readers who had a decisively mixed reaction to her arguments as argumentsOne of the ways a reader and a book can miss each other is when the reader is looking for the book to do stuff the book itself has no interest in doing So here are some observations about what the book is not attempting This is not an outreach book Playing the Whore does not seek to persuade those who think that sex work isn t work by confronting the reasons that they might think that in a staged pro con debate Such a book would be an interesting act of citizenship and I wish someone would write it, but that s not what s happening here Instead this author seeks to be persuasive by citing ethnographers, anthropologists, and sociologists who ve studied the views of sex workers by talking to them to establish the proposition that for the vast majority of those who do it, sex work feels like the other kinds of work that they have also done She will then go on to argue that to grant sex workers the dignity of their own understanding of their own motivations would radically change the conversation around sex work This is not a book on Sex Worker Feminism 101, nor a manifesto A representative Goodreads comment complains, The illustrations and polemics one might say rants collected here demonstrate that the prevailing logic about sex work is inadequate, but the book fails to cohere into a helpful alternative way to think about sex work I would agree with this reader that there is critique here than affirmative program, but I would also say that demonstrating the inadequacy of the prevailing logic of a very deeply held set of cultural beliefs is kind of a lot I appreciate the hunger to be taught of the background of the arguments used so that their coherence and implication might have the look and feel of a executive view, but would also point out that the book s humility strikes me as one of its virtues Grant knows what she knows deftly, even tenaciously, but it was my impression that she wanted to admit an element of uncertainty about how to go forward Her plea isn t for this or that unified policy, but the democratic call that sex workers be included in policy discussions so as to become less its object and its subject.The What Is To Be Done question remains for each sympathetic reader within the confines of his or her activist circumstances, but the preference for decriminalizing or legalizing sex work perhaps along the lines of the New Zeeland model, revoking the policy of making U.S foreign aid contingent on the distressed government signing an anti prostitution pledge, asking law enforcement to work with a much informed and nuanced distinction between prostitution and trafficking, as well as support for the positions with respect to prostitution articulated by The World Health Organization, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International as well as SWOP Sex Workers Outreach Program seem pretty programmatically clear cut This is not a memoir Although Grant lets it be known that she has done sex work and so considers herself to be speaking as one of the them against whom so much public scorn and police resources have been directed, her arguments do not draw upon her particular experience in this labor market She explains why So often in telling sex work stories, the storytelling process is a form of striptease indistinguishable from sex work itself, a demand to create a satisfyingly revealing story, for audiences whose interest is disguised as compassion or curiosity In a word, she has learned it s not safe for a sex worker to tell her story It seems that given the surrounding culture they can only be read, and so can only be written, as a story of degradation or empowerment If this seems like an extreme generalization, try to find an existing narrative about doing sex work that can t be reduced to the proposition that the work is dehumanizing or less often but at least as suspect liberating But while this is not a memoir, I think it is fair to call it a work of intellectual biography a reckoning and coming to terms with the sources that have produced her mind Grant has long been reflecting on the way in which the figure of the prostitute has appeared in media and been used by those whose sense of their own respectability dictates a condemnatory stance She s invested a good part of her life reading and thinking and writing about labor, sex, activism, and politics, and sussing out the forces that resist seeing the commonality between sex work and other kinds of intimate service She s also interviewed and worked with and been an activist alongside of those seeking to have the needs and concerns of sex workers included in policy debates about prostitution and trafficking She s also apparently spent a good amount of time in the COYOTE and the Center for Sex and Culture archives steeping herself in the history of sex worker advocacy and its complicated and ever changing relation to other feminisms.So her influences are myriad and her absorption of them strike me as mighty and not impersonal, and yet I suspect it s this virtue that causes spot problems with the book s tone Here and there you re not sure who she s talking to, or you realize that she s talking to fellow sex workers now when just a paragraph ago she was talking to a general leftish wonkish reader or those who hew to a particular line of academic analysis which is not itself fully cited I say this in an effort to acknowledge the perceptions of readers who did not feel the book was for them, but I also say it to insist the book is or can be for any reader ambitious to come under the influence of a deeply sourced work that breaks new groundHaving discussed what the book is not, I ll now sketch and comment on what I see as its three most innovative and well made arguments Argument One If the arc of history is to bend toward justice the set of automatic, default assumptions about women who sell sex must change Playing the Whore takes a long and large view by taking note of how the figure of the woman who sells sex has evolved In Grant s words, Commercial sex as a practice and an industry as well as the class of people within it are continuously being reinvented She goes on to describe how the pre modern figure of the whore was used to designate any woman who, for whatever reason, had sex outside marriage Women who sold sexual services didn t get to have their own special smear word until the late Nineteenth Century It has only been in the last hundred and thirty years or so that the term prostitute, a word which originally meant to sell something illicit, came to exclusively designate women who fucked for money The whore was an outcast, but the prostitute was seen as a fallen woman assumed to have an original dignity Like the whore she was despised, but now with an admixture of pity In the public mind she was a fantasy of absolute degradation From the point of view of respectability politics she was a problem to be solved, and a set of do gooder charitable institutions and legal interventions arose to try to save her, in a telling phrase, for her own good And that s kind of where we are now Grant embraces sex worker as the progressive term It has the virtue of having been coined in the 1970 s by a woman in the trade and has been adopted by the activist and advocacy organizations formed by sex workers themselves In recent years it seems to have gained some traction in the larger community Argument Two Sex work is work This is the book s main argument, and I wish she had been just a little less subtle and a bit direct in dealing with her main non argumentative opponent the yuck factor Because people who don t think sex work is work don t think that because when they imagine themselves doing it what comes to them, to use a crucial phrase quoted earlier, is a fantasy of absolute degradation If you opine that the laws against soliciting and prostitution are absurd such people will taunt you with, Would you want your daughter doing sex work as if the only thing standing between doing sex work and not are harsh laws against it If my worst nightmare is entering relations with a stranger for any reason whatsoever except experimental or marital intimacy, to say that an exchange of money can make a sex act into an act of labor is going to make as much sense to me as to call acting in a snuff film actingWhat Grant might say if she were to speak directly to those fighting to be rational against their own yuck factor is It s not about you Or even, It s only about you if you make it about you and before you do that you might want to talk to the folks having sex for money to see if maybe different folks have different yuck thresholds, perhaps related to being in different economic circumstances She then goes on to explain that the work of sex work doesn t take place at the moment of penetrative horror as it s imagined by a non sex worker It is, rather, the prosaic pretending of a certain kind of mutuality.Acting as if we share our customers desires is the work of sex work But that s not the same as allowing our customers to define our sexuality.Sex work is not simply sex it is a performance, it is playing a role, demonstrating a skill, developing empathy within a set of professional boundaries All this could be easily recognized and respected as labor were it the labor of a nurse, a therapist, or a nanny To insist that sex work is work is also to affirm there is a difference between a sexualized form of labor and sexuality itself.Let s be clear Nobody is trying to wish the yuck factor away What is being called for, instead, is the common sense recognition that all labor is or less alienating A therapist doesn t listen to you because he cares what you think, not the way a friend might care A nanny doesn t change a kid s diapers because she shares a natural bond with him A nurse doesn t debride an old man s bedsores because she s only all about healing Money creates these relationships And over, people are often grossed out at work In fact, learning not to be grossed out is a big part of the early learning curve of many professions The one thinks about the all too arbitrary and personal and distributed nature of the yuck factor, the less sense it makes to make policy in its name Argument Three Sex work is work, but it s not yet a job like any other A law against theft endangers me only at the moment that I steal, but the criminalization of sex work leads to the police going on the Internet to pose as customers so as to entrap sex workers and in some jurisdictions their prospective clients It would be as if they set valuable apparently unsecured items in front of me hoping I would take them so that they could swoop down on me and read me my rights And what sex workers are arrested for is very rarely having sex, but for agreeing to have sex Prostitution is, Grant observes, much of the time, a talking crime It s also a crime that rarely goes to trial because the point of these arrests is harassment cuffing, humiliation, publication, making the work dangerous and unpleasant In the age of the Internet when the street scene has largely disappeared, the point of stings is in no non tortured sense the protection of the law abiding from the law breaking This climate of illegality leads to a big package deal of distorted thinking. Crimininalization isn t just a law on the books but a state of being and moving in the world, of forming relationships of having them predetermined for you This is why we demonize the customer s perspective on the sex worker as one of absolute control, why we situate the real violence sex workers can face as the individual violent man s responsibility, and why we imagine that all sex workers must be powerless to say no.From the viewpoint of most sex workers, Grant again cites the appropriate studies, what makes sex work unsafe isn t as much customers as it is the police This happens in two ways First, they create the vulnerability of sex workers to criminally inclined clients by necessitating all too private encounters Second, when a work related crime is committed against a sex worker she becomes vulnerable to marking herself as a criminal by reporting itThe walls of marijuana prohibition are being torn down, and big city American mayors and Latin American presidents are talking about harm reduction and despenilizado as preferred strategies to a war on harder drugs Other once taboo behaviors are also being reconsidered New Jersey is trying to get the federal ban on sports betting lifted, and the state of Delaware is selling its citizens parlay cards The Supreme Court has determined that States can not outlaw acts of sodomy, and pretty near everybody probably knows some sodomites and thinks that they re nice people Perhaps most importantly, the fact that the U.S incarcerates a far greater percentage of its citizens than any other country is starting to be felt as shameful even by those law and order types who take specific pride in the fact that their daughters are not whores These things are happening because libertarian talking points are being explored, expounded, and modified by liberal politicians and left leaning intellectuals Melisa Gira Grant is a journalistic leader in this movement, and I think her eloquent voicing of this newly synthesized point of view as it pertains to sex work is important because I think politics are important This is a book that at times preaches to the choir, but in a new idiom of representivity and solidarity Does one dare to hope that a rare moment is upon us when the choir might actually open its heart to hear and be changed In the near future might a new liberal sensibility on these matters make common cause with the non theocratic sectors of the small government parties so that they might go forth together to change the law I found my reading aided by listening to Ms Grant as a podcast guest Here are some links where you can do that The VICE PodcastThe WhorecastThe Belabored PodcastMore Recent Articles Amnesty International s Long Due Support for Sex Workers RightsRelated Articles not by MGGCelebrity Activists Get It Wrong on Amnesty International Sex Work Policy |Download Book ♓ Playing the Whore ⚒ The Sex Industry Is An Endless Source Of Prurient Drama For The Mainstream Media Recent Years Have Seen A Panic Over Online Red Light Districts, Which Supposedly Seduce Vulnerable Young Women Into A Life Of Degradation, And New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof S Live Tweeting Of A Cambodian Brothel Raid The Current Trend For Writing About And Describing Actual Experiences Of Sex Work Fuels A Culture Obsessed With The Behaviour Of Sex Workers Rarely Do These Fearful Dispatches Come From Sex Workers Themselves, And They Never Seem To Deviate From The Position That Sex Workers Must Be Rescued From Their Condition, And The Industry Simply Abolished A Position Common Among Feminists And Conservatives Alike In Playing The Whore, Journalist Melissa Gira Grant Turns These Pieties On Their Head, Arguing For An Overhaul In The Way We Think About Sex Work Based On Ten Years Of Writing And Reporting On The Sex Trade, And Grounded In Her Experience As An Organizer, Advocate, And Former Sex Worker, Playing The Whore Dismantles Pervasive Myths About Sex Work, Criticizes Both Conditions Within The Sex Industry And Its Criminalization, And Argues That Separating Sex Work From The Legitimate Economy Only Harms Those Who Perform Sexual Labor In Playing The Whore, Sex Workers Demands, Too Long Relegated To The Margins, Take Center Stage Sex Work Is Work, And Sex Workers Rights Are Human Rights Playing the Whore is a concise look at why sex work is work I ve been following Melissa Gira Grant s writing for a while, but this is an excellent introduction to the failures of criminalisation, the rescue industry and the fundamental differences between sex trafficking and sex work. This is not the world s best written book but it s a very important one that should be a must read for all people.While the writing could be fluent, the messages, thoughts, personal stories, statistics, and social analyses and quotes it provides are extremely necessary for everyone to know and understand Even if you ve read a few articles or listened to some podcasts on the matter, Playing the Whore provides many new aspects and touches on a variety of subjects that have to do with the vastness that is the industry.Selected quotes Chapter 4 The Debate Sex workers should not be expected to defend the existence of sex work in order to have the right to do it free from harm Is this the real fear then not that people are becoming prostitutes but that the conventional ways we d distinguish prostitute from a nonprostitute woman are no longer functional Antiprostitution laws are primarily about exclusion and banishment how, now, will we know who is to be banished and excluded Chapter 5 The Industry As feminist anarchist Emma Goldman noted in 1910, the prostitution panic will help to create a few fat political jobs parasites who stalk about the world as inspectors, investigators, detectives, and so forth The loss of sex workers income was their gain Chapter 7 The Stigma Naming whore stigma offers us a way through it to value difference, to develop solidarity between women in and out of the sex trade There s an echo of this in the popularization of whore stigma in a milder form as outrage at slut shaming What is lost, however, in moving from whore stigma to slut shaming is the centrality of the people most harmed by this form of discrimination Chapter 8 The Other Women Prostitutes, in their imagination, have actually become the mute objects men have reduced them to They are apparently unlike all other women, who face objectification but can retain their ability to speak and move in the world independently When anti sex work activists claim that all sex work is rape, they don t just ignore the labor they excuse the actual rape of sex workers If men can do whatever they want when they buy sex, the rape of sex workers, of those who are thought to have no consent to give anyway, isn t understood by opponents as an aberration but as somehow intrinsic and inevitable When massive chains like Pret A Manger or Starbucks require their workers to serve up coffee with a smile or else, we don t believe we can remedy this demand for forced niceties by telling attention desperate customers to get their emotional needs met elsewhere Chapter 10 The Movement Because so long as there are women to be called whores, there will be women who are trained to believe it is next to death to be one or be mistaken for one And so long as that is, men will feel they can leave whores for dead with impunity The fear of the whore, or of being the whore, is the engine that drives the whole thing That could be called misogyny, but even that word misses something the cheapness of the whore, how easily she might be discarded not only due to her gender but to her race, her class Whore is maybe the original intersectional insult. One of the inherent difficulties in formulating a debate is the need for a concise, clear and well organized presentation of facts, argument and position In Playing the Whore, Grant is arguing that sex work prostitution, stripping, etc is a valid occupation, and that all the preconceived discriminatory beliefs to the contrary are not necessarily correct Unfortunately, while she does present some interesting perspective on the work, the desire to work in the industry and the benefits gained, the arguments, rants and even facts are presented in such a poorly organized manner that all of the ideas become muddled and don t really achieve any coherent conclusion.While Grant does have some unique points and a perspective that will give readers a new approach to the industry, her presentation seems to wander without direction a loosely connected set of ideas, all focusing on sex work, without any real direction, conclusion or even a strong argument that reinforces her premise In fact, the tone and overall impression on conclusion of this book is that even the author isn t all that convinced by her own arguments she most certainly did not achieve her stated end Whether the arguments were not presented with enough clarity or information, or the lack of directed focus caused the difficulties I am not quite sure, but the promise was a far cry from the reality in this book I received an eArc copy from the publisher via for purpose of honest review I was not compensated for this review all conclusions are my own responsibility.