Playing the Whore | Melissa Gira Grant

Summary of: Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work
By: Melissa Gira Grant

Introduction

Welcome to the intriguing world of ‘Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work’ by Melissa Gira Grant. This summary will shed light on the complex and often misunderstood domain of sex work. Touching on crucial issues such as the mistreatment of sex workers by authorities, the progress and challenges faced by the sex worker’s movement, and the lack of representation for individuals in the industry, this summary aims to provide clarity on the realities of sex work in contemporary society. Be prepared to challenge your preconceived notions as we delve into an engaging exploration of the dynamics of this controversial profession.

The Truth About Police and Prostitutes

Society often oversimplifies complex issues like the relationship between police and prostitutes. While police are assumed to protect all citizens, the reality is more complicated. In fact, police harassment and violence often make sex workers’ lives more dangerous. A survey by the Sex Worker’s Project found that over two-thirds of sex workers in New York City are harassed by police, and 30 percent received violent threats from officers. When sex workers try to report crimes, they are often ignored or dismissed. Shockingly, the same survey found that 14 percent of prostitutes interviewed in NYC were victims of police violence. The problem extends beyond NYC; in West Bengal, a survey of 21,000 sex workers showed that most violent attacks on prostitutes were committed by police, not clients. This information challenges the commonly held belief that clients pose the greatest risk to sex workers. Society needs to recognize these unjust practices and work towards protecting vulnerable populations.

The Evolution of Prostitution

Prostitution, once a last resort, has evolved over the years. The sexual liberation of the 1960s was a turning point for the sex industry, leading to positive depictions in pop culture and the birth of the sex worker’s movement. Today, international bodies such as the United Nations and the International Labor Organization support the decriminalization of sex work and advocate for the protection and benefits of sex workers.

Sex workers’ voices go unheard

Sex workers are rarely consulted in debates about prostitution, and their voices are often dismissed or ignored. Intellectuals, politicians, and moral leaders dominate the conversations, leading to laws that do not consider the perspective of those in the industry. For example, Sweden’s anti-prostitution law was passed without consulting sex workers, making the profession riskier and further marginalizing those involved. In order to truly improve the working conditions of sex workers, their opinions must be taken into account.

The Risks of Criminalizing Prostitution

Prostitution Criminalization and Its Implications

The lives of prostitutes under the protection of matrons or headmistresses in brothels of the past were far from perfect, but today’s sex workers have it even worse when prostitution is illegal. Escort agencies force their workers to sign contracts forbidding sexual intercourse with clients to avoid criminal accountability, leaving prostitutes vulnerable with little protection. This legal loophole prevents agencies from creating policies that could safeguard employees when dealing with clients, ultimately placing all liability onto sex workers. Furthermore, a woman could be suspected of being a sex worker by having in her possession condoms, leading to her arrest and invasive searches of her possessions. Ironically, this discourages actual prostitutes from using protection during sexual encounters, making their work even more dangerous by exposing them to sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.

In conclusion, criminalizing prostitution is morally hypocritical and puts sex workers in great danger while providing them with little protection. It results in agencies prioritizing their reputation over the health and well-being of their employees while allowing law enforcement to perpetrate harmful stereotypes that lead to discrimination of any woman who has multiple sexual partners.

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