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Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work

– tekijä: Melissa Gira Grant

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
18813111,069 (3.52)7
From claims that the porn industry now dwarfs Hollywood, to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof's live-tweeting of a Cambodian brothel raid, the sex industry is a frequent topic of discussion in mainstream media. But rarely do these discussions include sex workers themselves, and rarely do they deviate from the position that sex workers must be rescued from their condition, and the industry simply abolished-a position Kristof advocates. In Playing the Whore, journalist and former sex worker Melissa Gira Grant turns this position on its head, arguing for an overhaul in the way we think about the sex industry. Based on ten years of writing and reporting on the sex trade, and grounded in the author's personal experience as a sex worker, community organizer and health educator, Playing the Whore dismantles pervasive myths of prostitution, criticizes conditions within the sex industry and argues that separating sex work from the 'legitimate' economy only harms those who perform sexual labor.… (lisätietoja)
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» Katso myös 7 mainintaa

Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 13) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
covers feminist sex work positive views in contrast to anti-trafficking, anti-prostitution views ( )
  kevix | Dec 28, 2020 |
This is the first in-depth reading I've done on sex work and sex workers and I found it fascinating and eye opening. I especially enjoyed the author positing that instead of sex work being oppressive or empowering--as different sides in the feminist argument over it insist--that it is value neutral and that it's okay to be that way.

I think I'll be returning to this book again as I continue my research in this area.

(Provided by publisher) ( )
  tldegray | Sep 21, 2018 |
This book was mostly very well done. I think it was it was a great exploration of this topic and takedown of many of the arguments in this issue. Even more so, it called out a variety of problems feminism promotes when dealing with this issue including transexclusion, the perfect victim, and forgetting/ignoring that race/sexuality/everything besides white, middle-class, straight, and cis exists.

Even though it was pretty accessible in writing, I wouldn't say it was an entry-level book. There were some places where you had to have known the theory behind it to understand what she was explaining. However, overall very well done and I enjoyed it immensely and will be checking out other works referenced within it. ( )
  mmaestiho | Sep 20, 2018 |
“Sex work can indeed be empowering. But that is not the point. Money is the fucking point.”
- Melissa Gira Grant, Playing the Whore

Growing up I had three basic images of sex work (although I didn’t call it that then): the Julia Roberts / Pretty Woman version; the desperate, drug addicted woman; and the ‘sex slave’ in another country who was ‘rescued’ regularly on Dateline and 48 Hours. I didn’t spend time thinking about sex workers, but I did wonder why sex work was illegal in most places.

Recently I’ve become more interested in labor rights; specifically how society views certain types of labor as worthy (of money or legality) and others as deserving of criminalization or at least disdain. I live in Seattle, where the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour was met with such charming arguments from non-shift workers as ‘what did a McDonald’s worker do to deserve that? I barely make that!’ as though people in the fast food industry aren’t working just as hard as people sitting in air conditioned offices, able to take coffee and bathroom breaks whenever they want.

This interest led me to Ms. Grant’s book. She takes a perspective that is missing in coverage of sex work and workers – one that does not start by asking ‘should people do sex work’ but instead asks what can we do to improve the lives of the people who work in that industry. The book is well-written and educated me on the topic, but when asked to describe it in a few sentences I have a hard time. Each chapter feels like a separate essay in a broader collection, and initially I was not sure of the main purpose of the book, as it covers a broad area. It is not a linear history of sex work, nor is it an argument (primarily) for the decriminalization or legalization of sex work. It is more than that.

Going back through my notes and rereading the portions I highlighted does bring more clarity to me. That is a function not of Ms. Grant’s writing, but of my need to re-read the book to better take in all of the information she shares. Her purpose seems to be to point out all of the ways in which people who seek to help sex workers fail, and in doing so Ms. Grant draws the reader’s attention to the need for the reader to take actions in solidarity with these workers, and support those who can change the conditions of their lives for the better, not pull them out of sex work or make it more dangerous for them to perform the work they do.

Ms. Grant illustrates this in many ways, including critiquing the fight against online posting of sex worker ads and the large anti-sex work organizations that purport to rescue sex workers from horrible conditions. Ms. Grant points out that so many of the ‘rescued’ end up in worse situations, with less agency than they had when doing sex work, and concludes that this stems from the inability of so many to see these women and men as people doing a job and not as one-dimensional ‘whores.’

“The goal, these antiprostitute advocates say, of eradicating men’s desire for paid sex isn’t ‘antisex’ but to restore the personhood of prostitutes, that is, of people who are already people except to those who claim to want to fix them.”

That’s the point, really. Sex workers are people first, people who make their money in the sex work industry. The problems these workers face doesn’t stem from the morality of sex work – they originate with the rest of society, which is invested in making sex work dangerous. The question the reader is left with – that I am left with – is what am I going to do to benefit these workers? ( )
  ASKelmore | Jul 9, 2017 |
The overall thrust of Playing the Whore can be summed up in two fairly short sentences: 1. In the public debate regarding sex work and its improvement/eradication, the voices of sex workers have not been heard. 2. Sex workers' work should be recognized as labor and treated as such, not criminalized.

Gira Grant is at once a reporter, sociologist, activist, historian, and a sex worker. This book traces the ways in which the policing of sex work endangers women and trans lives, rather than preserves and protects them. Anti-prostitution feminists purport to stand in solidarity with sex workers by promising to "rescue them," but they have not bothered to ask sex workers if they want to be rescued. Citing a USAID report, M.G.G. claims that 88% of them have made the uncoerced decision to pursue sex work as their preferred form of labor. Rather than focusing on the 12% of sex workers that genuinely need rescuing (they are victims of human trafficking), anti-prostitution groups cast a wider net, and view all sex workers as in need of rescuing. Their campaigns against sex work/escort ads (in print and online)have pushed sex workers ever more to the margins of society. Without doing anything to eradicate sex work, anti-prostitution groups just make it more difficult (and dangerous) for sex workers to get their jobs done.

There is a lot to chew over in this book. Not being a sex worker, M.G.G. reminds me towards the end, I am not in a particularly good position to comment or reflect on how the lives of sex workers can be improved, at least not if I have never taken the time to listen to a sex worker discuss her labor as labor without moralizing or fearing it. ( )
  reganrule | Feb 22, 2016 |
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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From claims that the porn industry now dwarfs Hollywood, to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof's live-tweeting of a Cambodian brothel raid, the sex industry is a frequent topic of discussion in mainstream media. But rarely do these discussions include sex workers themselves, and rarely do they deviate from the position that sex workers must be rescued from their condition, and the industry simply abolished-a position Kristof advocates. In Playing the Whore, journalist and former sex worker Melissa Gira Grant turns this position on its head, arguing for an overhaul in the way we think about the sex industry. Based on ten years of writing and reporting on the sex trade, and grounded in the author's personal experience as a sex worker, community organizer and health educator, Playing the Whore dismantles pervasive myths of prostitution, criticizes conditions within the sex industry and argues that separating sex work from the 'legitimate' economy only harms those who perform sexual labor.

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