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Getting Screwed: Sex Workers and the Law

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  67 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Alison Bass weaves the true stories of sex workers with the latest research on prostitution into a gripping journalistic account of how women (and some men) navigate a culture that routinely accepts the implicit exchange of sex for money, status, or even a good meal, but imposes heavy penalties on those who make such bargains explicit. Along the way, Bass examines why an i ...more
Hardcover, First, 280 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by ForeEdge (first published September 22nd 2015)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  67 ratings  ·  19 reviews

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Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book confronts some very difficult truths about this country. First, that prostitution is absolutely an economic decision when there is no other way to earn an income. Second, that the number of young men and women who are "trafficked" into prostitution is vastly overestimated. Third, that police forces and citizens are quick to go after "trafficking" cases and legislators to give money to them because it's much easier to arrest a naked woman in a motel room than chasing a bad guy who has a ...more
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: law
This was great! A well-written, engaging overview of some of the history and the arguments about the legality of sex work. The best part of this book is its readability. For a book written by a law professor, that's always a nice surprise. Bass traces the stories of several sex workers over the course of their careers and really makes them come alive on the page, almost like a novel. ...more
Darcia Helle
Our war on sex is a lot like our war on drugs - long, expensive, and pointless. Let's face it: Sex sells. We, as a society, are never going to win this war, so maybe it's time we took a different approach.

This book, whether intentionally or not, offers a compelling narrative for legalizing and regulating sex work. Alison Bass makes the argument that adult, consensual prostitution should be treated as a social problem, and perhaps a bit of a public health issue. By criminalizing the act, we are a
Erin Cataldi
Dec 09, 2015 rated it liked it
This look into the underbelly of society is fascinating and eye opening. Before reading this I had no understanding of the legalities behind sex work. All I knew was what I had gleaned from memoirs and Pretty Woman. This book lets readers explore how laws affecting prostitution differ by state and by country. It also goes in depth on how laws and regulations affects prostitutes and what works and doesn't (New Zealand has the best model if you're wondering). She gets lots of testimonials from law ...more
Денис Бурчаков
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I stumbled upon this book by accident, while searching for literature on anti-depressants. Alison Bass wrote a book about modern psychiatry, and since that one was out of my reach I gave "Getting screwed" a try.

The book provides an overview of legal, economic and social aspects of prostitution. It's main ideas go like this:
1) sex work is usually either a temporal cash source, needed to support a family, pay for education or mortgage, or a trap with no exit, because once you are criminalized, it
Alex Johnson
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Always been of the mindset that prostitution laws just endanger women in the sex trade, this book just helped solidify that within my mind. Overall an interesting book I would say. Dispelled some preconceived notions I had about the industry.
Shannon Mckenzie
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Good read! Recommended.

I did receive this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways.
Ok, lets start with the good, even in the most haphazard way Alison Bass talks about trans sex workers and gives some statistical and demographic information (even if she doesn't think to perhaps, talk about trans sex workers as a distinct group perhaps marked with a very different relationship to more than just the everyday violence of being trans, i.e. the "market" they work in, the lack of opportunities to move into the Madam run higher end escorting that takes up a lot of Bass' analysis) and ...more
Tyler Kroon
Feb 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Chock-full of first-hand interviews with and historical accounts of sex workers across the globe. Bass has clearly done her research, providing dozens of sources corroborating these accounts over the course of the entire book, while citing local, federal, and international laws that affect the well-being of those in the industry. She manages to combine all of this information into a work that effectively raises awareness of the issues that sex workers face, many of which stem directly from the l ...more
Jan 13, 2016 rated it liked it
I got this book through goodreads giveaway. Getting screwed was very informative and had some very interesting first hand stories. the book tends to lean more towards the pro side of sex work and looks at how different laws criminalizing sex work make prostitution more dangerous for the workers. At some parts of the book, I was enthralled, at others I zoned out. Overall, it was a good read and I recommend it
Kate T
Mar 10, 2022 rated it really liked it
This book explores the history and policies around sex work in the US (with a chapter comparing it to other countries' policies). I learned a lot and it dispelled some myths that I had about sex work. I felt that the blend of interviews, statistics, and law made the work compelling and readable. One yikes thing about the book is that she uses unnecessarily transphobic language to describe some of the people she interviews (i.e. you would never guess that X is anatomically a man). ...more
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Such a fascinating book about the lives of people who sell sex and the policies which could promote community health. Alison Bass respectfully depicts the lives of those she interviews in order to help the audience connect with individuals society dictates they stigmatize. I truly enjoyed this book and thought it balanced scientific research and personal narrative quite well; I will certainly suggest this book to those just learning about sex work.
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really great source of information about sex work throughout the world (but mostly the United States). Of particular note is the persuasive argument it gives for finally legalizing the oldest profession in all of human history, and the judicial, economic and sociopolitical incentives for doing so. Very well done. I learned a ton reading this, and so will you if you pick it up (which you should).
Sep 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: sex-work, non-fiction
This is a good rundown of how different legal approaches affect sex workers. It also, thankfully, dispels some of the myths surrounding sex trafficking, though it could have been more critical of the rescue industry.

On the negative side, some of the language used was uncomfortable, particularly when it came to trans women and the writer's need to constantly describe the body shape and attractiveness level of every woman she met. They were all very pretty, we get it.
Rachel Smith
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a pretty fantastic book if you want to understand the legal place that sex workers are in. It's also an interesting historical text, backed up by interviews and facts. It goes into great nuance to discuss the groups working for, against, and in a gray area with sex workers, and the differences between trafficking and prostitution. It's a valuable read if you want to understand better what is helpful for sex workers and the world at large, and what is not. ...more
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Extremely disorganized and occasionally hard to follow (Interviewees are used in multiple chapters and it's difficult to remember who is who), but the first hand accounts and facts are eye opening. Worth reading. ...more
Lukas Lovas
Jan 27, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent look into both the history of the legal aspect of sex work and the current dilemmas around it. Quite fascinating and definitely worth reading.
May 19, 2021 rated it it was ok
I am sympathetic to the viewpoint represented in this book but I found the prose grating. Very high school at times
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Award-winning journalist and author of Brassy Broad: How one Journalist helped pave the way to #MeToo; Side Effects: A Prosecutor, a Whistleblower and a Bestselling Antidepressant on Trial; and Getting Screwed: Sex Workers and the Law. Side Effects won the prestigious Science in Society award from the National Association for Science Writers and its film rights have been optioned.

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