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Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  943 ratings  ·  153 reviews
An astonishingly brave memoir of life in prostitution and its lingering influence on a woman’s psyche and life.

“The best work by anyone on prostitution ever, Rachel Moran’s Paid For fuses the memoirist’s lived poignancy with the philosopher’s conceptual sophistication. The result is riveting, compelling, incontestable. Impossible to put down. This book provides all anyone
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by W. W. Norton Company (first published January 13th 2013)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  943 ratings  ·  153 reviews

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Leila Danielsen
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has affected me and my outlook more than anything else I have ever read. Brilliantly written. Heart-wrenching in its honesty. I would recommend this as a "must read" for anyone and everyone. If you are a woman or if you care about a woman, prostitution DOES affect you. Read the book, learn about the reality from the inside. I doubt you'll finish this book unchanged. ...more
Jun 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm not surprised this took me so long to finish, this isn't the type of novel one devours in a day. It's deeply heartwrenching, poignant and emotional.

The author states that her book doesn't read in the typical format memoirs usually do. I realized that off the bat which made me question whether it should even be considered a memoir. Rather it's a retelling of the author's experience; a critical re-examination in the lifestyle she led for 7 years. While this is an ugly topic, the author does a
Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The blurb makes this sound as though it might be a local misery memoir; it's very far removed from that genre. In truth, this is a treatise to which Rachel Moran's own experiences provide context and credentials.
Though it's framed by accounts of her family circumstances leading up to her entry into prostitution in Dublin at 15 and her integration (not re-integration, as she's at pains to emphasise) into society seven hard years later, the middle and largest part of the book is a highly articulat
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
So far: Very intensely sex-negative. The author has had a legitimately traumatic and horrific experience as a youth but is applying her experiences to abolishing sex work claiming no women are happy or choose the profession. Having heard sex workers first hand on podcasts contradict her I have to roll my eyes. The author began underage and was not consenting. However she is not acknowledging the agency of women at all.

Most of what she says is true for most sex work. But these a real piece she's
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Another one bites the dust. Another book abandoned halfway in. This is a really good example of how you can take a really interesting story and ruin it with really bad storytelling. Also I don't want to pretend prostitution is a bed of roses or anything but she really generalizes her (obviously terrible) dysfunctional childhood leading to childhood prostitution and the experience of people she met from similar backgrounds and situations as a monolith of prostitution and pornography, making the c ...more
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This intensely personal and unflinching look at prostitution is worth reading for anyone who wants to understand the institution, however I do not think it is well described as a memoir (the title, or sub-title rather, is a bit misleading). It's really a through examination of prostitution from the perspective of one who lived it, and is more peppered with personal experiences than it is a narrative of an experience. That feels a bit like quibbling though, because it is a great book, insightful, ...more
Aug 26, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was expecting more of a memoir though her journey. This book is more of a factual statement about what defines the mind of not just her, but those around her. There is a strong feminist under-tone that spends a great deal of the book speaking of the demoralization of women and the despicable nature of men. The majority of the book is so technical that you can not relate to her emotion (lack there of emotion) which makes it hard to develop a connection to her. It is almost as if she is teaching ...more
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is incredibly painful to read, but it is important for society to become familiar with what it describes and act on preventing it.

I had previously read Getting Screwed: Sex Workers and the Law, by Alison Bass, which was harrowing enough, but now I see that even that book, as frightening as it was, hardly began to tell the story of prostituted women. Bass writes as a journalist, telling the stories of prostituted women and offering the decriminalization of prostitution as the solution.

A raw account with research and evidence to support the damage prostitution has on women and communities. Rachel Moran has written an important memoir covering the psychological damage that is intrinsic to what she considers a lifestyle rather than a job, as well as the "aftershocks" that persist long after leaving.

I'm happy to have a better understanding of points I already agreed with, due to Moran's personal evidence and research. I believe this is an important book to read, though the rawne
I need a few days to digest. This isn't without faults, but brutally earnest. ...more
Helen Quinn
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a powerful book whereby the author combines the personal with the political. Rachel Moran details her experience as a former prostitute to demonstrate that prostitution is the commercialisation of sexual abuse.

It is not the run of the mill memoir; Rachel uses her own experience to interrogate how prostitution affects the women involved and the wider community. It is a brave book written with integrity and courage plus the style of writing is incredible.

It is structured wonderfully, eac
Nov 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: can-t-stand-it
I need to say in the beginning that if you got this book from the library, you could plainly see that it's DDS number is 306, putting it in the sociology category. So for those who complained that this did not have the memoir characteristics you were looking for, that could be why.
On page 3, I was ready to cheer! At last, a counter to Pretty Woman and that kind of nonsense. The writer says a little of her home life and a fair amount of what day to day was like in the various categories--street,
Kirsten (
Finally, a resource that articulately debunks the myth that working in the fields of prostitution, stripping, and/or pornography can ever be considered harmless, mutually beneficial, or - even more laughably - empowering pursuits.

Also provides insight as to why legalizing and regulating these industries could NEVER make them "safe" enough. Certainly not pleasant to read and certainly one persons viewpoint, but her view from inside all of the above worlds renders her perspective essential. I'm s
On the one hand, I really enjoyed this book. Well, enjoyed as much as one can enjoy a raw, in-depth look at the life of a child sex worker. This book is really raw, and emotionally a struggle to get through. Moran is upfront in her views on prostitution and the abuse that many women go through when working as prostitutes.

It's important to keep in mind when reading this that this is one women's view on prostitution (and sex work as a whole). I really did struggle to remind myself that every time
Sep 29, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings on this book as it was an incredible memoir and insight into the world of prostitution from a firsthand look. On the other hand the book seemed to drag and the author seemed to belabor points at times where I was really ready to move on. The book was VERY heavy and raw which I really liked, there were no punches pulled. Prostitution is ugly and mean and horrible and I greatly admire the personal courage of Ms. Moran in speaking up.
Francis Art
Jan 18, 2019 rated it did not like it

Decreasing Human Trafficking through Sex Work Decriminalization
Erin Albright, JD and Kate D'Adamo, MA

In order to decrease human trafficking, health care workers should support the full decriminalization of prostitution. Similar to trafficking in other forms of labor, preventing trafficking in the sex trade requires addressing the different forms of marginalization that create vulnerable communities. By removing punitive laws that prevent reporting of exploitation and abuse, decriminaliza
JM Prescott
May 09, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It started well enough, like it was going to be an honest memoir. I've been researching sex workers for awhile as I'm writing a book with a protagonist who falls into this work. I want it to be genuine. Thus I've interviewed dozens in the adult industry - adult actresses, escorts, dancers, dominatrix's, et.

As I got into this book something immediately began to strike me. Rachel Moran was different from every other former sex worker I've listened to or read about. The book starts well enough but
Trevor Maloney
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is billed as a "memoir," & it does have elements of a memoir. Moran describes how she grew up & got into prostitution at the age of fifteen, & how she got out of prostitution seven years later. The narrative of the memoir, however, is secondary to her explication of the inter- & intra-personal dynamics of prostitution, the sociology and economy of prostitution, & the physical, emotional, psychological, & spiritual harm prostitution wreaked on her & the other prostituted women she met. ...more
Vishal Misra
Aug 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the bravest and most touching memoirs I've ever read on this subject. As someone who researched the sex industry in all its (in)glory, I found this book to be brilliant. This draws heavily on the theoretical frameworks of brilliant thinkers like Sheila Jeffreys of "The Industrial Vagina" fame. Built on the foundations of radical feminism, Moran is influenced by McKinnon, Dworkin et al. However, what sets Moran's work apart is that she also analyses the intersection of race and gen ...more
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned, 2016
I stopped around page 80. I just wasn't a fan of the tone of the book. I was expecting a memoir, and while the author tells you right off the bat "this book will not read in the style of a traditional memoir; it is not intended to," I guess I couldn't let go of my expectations of what the book would be. I expected to have to give it up because it would make me uncomfortable; instead, I gave it up because I grew frustrated with the author who, while claiming to be simply recounting her own experi ...more
Cat (cat-thecatlady)
honestly, rating and even talking about this book is really hard.

I could not finish this and feel like I am still the same person. the details and analysis in this book are so heart-wrenching and disgusting. I was definitely living and looking in the glamorised perspective of prostitution. but never more.

you can talk about the lack of emotion, feelings or insights from the author but, truth is, she gives zero fucks about sugarcoating or sentimentalisms because this topic doesn't should have that
Aug 01, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is AWFUL. It is hypocritical and sexist beyond belief. If you are for the legalization of sex work (BY THE WAY: author HATES the phrase of "sex work" and hates being called a "sex worker") don't read this book. Several times the author tries to make psychological generalisations. I almost quit reading at SEVERAL TIMES, but I really wanted to finish and let the author challenge my stance on sex work, but she pretty much enforced them. ...more
Debbie haltom
Oct 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is the most brilliant book on prostitution ever written - it is not just her story, though her story is contained within it, but it is an exposé of what prostitution really is - it will make you understand, if you want to...
Erin Cataldi
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, audiobook
A hard read about a hard, unimaginable lifestyle of prostitution. Rachel Moran holds nothing back when she delves into her past as a prostituted woman in Dublin. Paid For is far more than a memoir though, it's an in depth, scholarly look at the history of prostitution, implications of working the sex trade and so much more. It's narrative non-fiction at its best and Rachel Moran has the authority and no-nonsense attitude to tackle it head on. She easily breaks down myths and rumors that surround ...more
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
The author’s stance is that any purchasing of sex is immoral and is paid abuse. From her recounting of her own very difficult life, I can see how she would have that conviction. I was thrown, however, that she totally discounts the perspectives of people (most notably other prostitutes/sex workers) who have any different opinions or experiences of it. Those people’s voices don’t matter since they don’t think as she does? She gets to make policy recommendations affecting all of them ignoring thei ...more
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
A strong indictment of prostitution, interwoven with the author's personal experiences as a prostituted child, then woman. Especially powerful is Moran's discussion of the alienation she felt both as a child and as a prostitute, and how this kept her trapped in prostitution. She also offers an excellent explanation of dissociation and its relationship to sexual trauma. Despite her compelling story, the narrative occasionally felt rambly, and I could have done without the repeated exaltation of h ...more
Sep 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
There were parts, lots of parts, of this book that were very difficult to read. There was profanity, some scenarios that literally made gag, and many times I felt very uncomfortable. Having said that, I'm really glad I read this! I learned so much about a topic in which I was very ignorant. I was left wanting to advocate for victims of sex trade as well as having a completely different outlook on this very difficult topic. As shared by others, if the stories weren't uncomfortable and difficult, ...more
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book wasn't what I expected. It's described as a memoir but it is really much bigger than that. Moran goes far beyond her own experiences as a prostitute and delves into how prostitution affects our entire culture. How we have been brainwashed into accepting that it's a necessary evil, how when we see a woman as a commodity we are endangering and undervaluing all women. This was not an easy book to get through--it often read like a textbook--but the information it contained was extremely va ...more
Emily S
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Memoir isn't a genre I typically enjoy, but this is not a typical memoir. Rachel has written an extremely compelling work regarding one of the most prominent issues dividing feminists/liberals today. I highly recommend this book to anyone who works with women who have been trafficked. Really, though, anyone who cares about gender relations would benefit from reading this courageous and powerful memoir. ...more
Jul 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
if you're interested in the truth about living as a sex worker, read this book ...more
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Rachel Moran is the founder of the organization SPACE International (Survivors of Prostitution-Abuse Calling for Enlightenment). She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in creative writing and speaks globally on prostitution and sex-trafficking. She lives in Dublin, Ireland.

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According to some historians, the month of April is actually named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, by way of the Romans....
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“Prostitution clearly promotes the depersonalisation of sex, which can never be good news for women—any women. Prostitution has a ripple effect. It creates the illusory view in the minds of men that women are not human beings as men are, but simply the walking carrier of a product, and that they serve one principal function, whether or not they are paid for it, which is to be used as vessels for the sexual release of men. They are effortlessly and imperceptibly relegated from the realms of the human. They are not people on a par with their male counterparts. How could they be, when their principal function is as something to be fucked? Prostitution obscures women’s humanity from society generally, but it also causes women specifically to lose sensitivity to their own humanity by way of tolerating the prostitution of others of their gender. When women tolerate prostitution they are actually tolerating the dehumanisation of their own gender in a broader and more encompassing sense. Countries with male-majority governments are implementing the legalisation of prostitution with frightening rapidity throughout the western world. Where is the female revolt towards all this? There is no widespread female revolt because female sexuality has so long been viewed as a commodity that woman have begun to believe in the necessity of a separate class of women to provide it. If a woman tolerates this treatment of her fellow women, if she accepts it under the banner of ‘liberalism’ or anything else, then she must also accept that she herself is only removed from prostitution by lack of the circumstances necessary to place her there. Should these circumstances ever occur, her body, too, would be just as welcome for mauling, sucking and fucking by the clients of the brothels and would be just as reviled by the men who are on the look-out for a wife. The acceptance of prostitution makes all women potential prostitutes in the public view since there are only two requirements for a woman to work in a brothel: one is that circumstance has placed her so (and who knows when that can happen, to any of us?) and the other is that she has a vagina, and all women are born meeting at least one of these requirements. It bears repeating: if the commodification of women is to be accepted then all women fall under that potential remit. If a woman accepts prostitution in society, then she accepts this personal indenture, whether she knows it or not; and yes, that is a loss. As” 4 likes
“When women tolerate prostitution they are actually tolerating the dehumanisation of their own gender in a broader and more encompassing sense.” 4 likes
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