Current and former sex workers are taking a stand against their portrayal as victims and conducting studies of their own.
It is widely acknowledged that there is a demand for sex work. There is perhaps even greater demand for sex work stories. FromFanny Hill to Pretty Woman to the new A&E reality show 8 Minutes, there has long been a public desire to hear about the “real” stories of sex workers—as long as those stories are couched in sufficiently confessional and prurient terms. “I think of the men who come to my public talks, who corner me with personal questions about my ‘real work’ after I’ve given a reading or delivered a lecture on my reporting or research,” Melissa Gira Grant writes in Playing the Whore. “Our political work is still understood as sex, as if we cannot speak without producing pornography.”