Playing the Whore

The Work of Sex Work

The thesis of Melissa Gira Grant’s Playing The Whore is simple: sex work is work and should be engaged with as such. Doing so means acknowledging the labor involved and respecting the political context in which it operates; notably, Gira Grant locates contemporary sex work alongside other low-wage service work, most of which is undertaken by women (and women of color especially) and which similarly requires the performance of emotional labor. She likewise carefully dissects antiprostitution movements as ones which shame some women (in order to elevate and “protect” others) and which systematically center so-called rescuers while simultaneously erasing the agency and authority of sex workers themselves. A brief, lucid read.