‘Revolting Prostitutes’: some thoughts after reading

Just finished this remarkable book. Concise, intelligent and impeccably well-researched.

The authors, sex workers themselves, describe sex, work, and the rights of sex workers in different legal systems around the world. Drawing from a range of sources, the book lays out the stark evidence without pontificating, but asking readers to consider workers’ safety and security ahead of any internalised moral position.

Think you don’t know any sex workers? Think again. Prostitution laws globally are failing to protect your family, friends and neighbours who choose to sell sex.

“[sex workers] need so little little– some basic safety and resources – that it is easy to imagine society meeting those needs. Yet, at the same time… so much– in that to imagine a society that takes their safety seriously is to imagine a society profoundly transformed” (p90)

I was particularly astonished, and disheartened, at the extent to which female sex workers (as opposed to male sex workers) are disproportionately targeted, stigmatised and punished by the state, law enforcement and carceral feminists. This, to my mind, reveals the intrinsic double standards and biases of many anti-prostitution movements.

You don’t need to be sex-positive, left-wing or even particularly open minded to want people to be safe and secure in their chosen work. If you care about workers’ rights, women’s rights and human rights, this is recommend reading.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you know the prostitution laws where you live?
  • Do you know if those laws apply equally to migrant workers?
  • Do these laws put control in the hands of the workers? or managers? or the police?
  • Do you know the difference between legalisation and decriminalisation?
  • Whose interests do these laws protect? The sex worker themselves, or non-sex workers?

Most importantly, if someone you knew told you they were a sex worker, would you be confident that they enjoyed the same rights and safety at work as anyone else you know?

…would you even care? This book reveals a world where one particular group of people is seen as somehow less deserving of rights than others. How comfortable are you with that?

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