Thursday, January 8, 2015

$pread - When Sex Workers Speak

Title:  $pread
Author:  Rachel Aimee, Eliyanna Kaiser & Audacia Ray (and others)
Publisher:  The Feminist Press at CUNY   3/17/15

I had never heard of $pread, but I was interested in this book, simply because it promised first person essays from people I don't know much about - those working in the sex industry.

Now, because of my unfamiliarity with $pread, I have to admit that I found the initial introduction and history to be just a little tedious.  I really didn't care about what lead them to create their magazine or how it transformed.  I just wanted to hear the voices of the people in the industry.

But you need to keep reading past the introduction because the essays are amazing.  They come from everyone from strippers to prostitutes to adult film actors.  They talk about race, age, and taboos.  They are heartfelt and hopeless and every last one of them comes from someone who is smart, savvy, and has something important to say to the world.

You'll never look at sex work the same again.

One of the most fascinating essays is 'Stripping While Brown' by Mona Salim, as she lets the reader know her experience as one of the few Indian women stripping in New York.  The reactions of clients and employers was eye-opening, as was her unique experience of many of the stereotypes that exist in the industry.  

In fact, race is a large part of quite a few of the essays as they explore how white adult actors are treated (and paid) in comparison with black or Asian actors.

Other essays deal with reactions of family and friends, once the truth of their jobs is revealed.

Every essay has merit, though some few can be hard to read.  These woman meet with prejudice, violence, and social disdain on a regular basis.

Sex workers become the buyer's sexual fantasy.  They are walking, talking dolls and it can be incredibly hard for people to think of the human who lives behind the lingerie, cameras, and sex toys.  $pread reminds you that not only are these women human, but they are smart and funny mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends.

A worthwhile book that deserves a wide audience!

*ARC Provided by Publisher for review purposes.

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