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Toying with politics

Sarah Ditum

Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work, Melissa Gira Grant (Verso, 2014; £8.99)

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The cover of this manifesto on sex work shows three cogs in three fleshy tones, a penetrable central socket in each and high-heeled legs sprouting from them as they appear to grind against each other in a mechanically impossible formation, with no outside power to drive them. And what is missing from the book overall is any idea of what drives the business of prostitution. Even to discuss demand, according to Gira Grant, is to detract from the agency of sex workers:

The demand for victims, as anti-sex work activists describe it, is driven by men’s insatiable desire – not by sex workers’ own demands for housing, healthcare, education, a better life, a richer life, if we dare. Male desire is held up as a problem to be solved, and ending men’s “demand” for “buying” women is…

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