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Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights
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Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights

4.74  ·  Rating details ·  453 ratings  ·  79 reviews
You hear that selling sex is degrading; you hear that no one would ever choose to do it; you hear that it's dangerous; that women get abused and killed. You often hear, "There should be a law against it!" Or, perhaps just against the buyers. What do sex workers want? That's not something you hear asked very often. In this accessible manifesto, the strong argument for full ...more
Paperback, 278 pages
Published June 26th 2018 by Verso
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4.74  · 
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 ·  453 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Barry Pierce
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
'On the back cover of Revolting Prostitutes, Silvia Federici (the acclaimed Italian theorist and radical Marxist feminist who gave us Caliban and the Witch) claims that this is the book that she has been waiting for. Finally, a book about sex workers by sex workers. Whilst there have, of course, been books written by sex workers about sex work in the past, they have often taken the form of memoir. Juno Mac and Molly Smith purposefully stray from this narrative. They are not in the business of re ...more
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you consider yourself a feminist, if you’ve ever expressed an opinion about sex work laws, hell if you’re a thinking human - please please read this book.

A rare book written by actual sex workers discussing the actual real life impact of prostitution laws, legalization and criminalisation from a worker’s rights and harm-reduction perspective. It’s neither pro nor anti-sex work, but instead advocates for looking practically at the situation, including the way that the prison system, the polic
ashley c
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up for a book discussion I attended. It was hosted by a book club that discusses philosophy, psychology, and social issues. For every discussion, they try to get the author to skype in to answer questions. The discussion on Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers' Rights is hosted jointly with our only local sex workers activist group, Project X. It was a close-up, cozy session with the director Vanessa and staff of Project X, and we got to break down the book and understa ...more
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An exceptional piece of work. It's both radical and lucid, which is a difficult combination (and one rarely achieved!). It's a perfect antidote to mainstream feminism's ongoing rejection women of colour, trans women, sex working women and queer women. Essential reading.
Dani Anderson
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is AMAZING - so well researched and written. A must read if you’re interested in sex worker rights, and not just for those who already know a lot beforehand, please read if you’re new to the topic! It’s also great (and too rare) to read a book on sex work written by current sex workers!🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Harper Lewis
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I want to throw this book at every politician
Audacia Ray
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
Such an impressive and nuanced book about sex work. Juno and Molly’s research and foot notes are truly impressive - they did not just make a book that’s a long version of incisive tweets and internet snark, when they very well could have. Revolting Prostitutes really sets the standard for critical analysis of sex work, and I will be recommending it and referring to it constantly in my sex worker rights advocacy work. I already bought five more copies, which I’ll be gifting to elected officials a ...more
Bogi Takács
Now also on Bogi Reads the World:

This was great, I learned a lot from it. It explains labor organizing among sex workers and the related theoretical concepts, and it also examines various different policy types re: the state regulation of sex work, and a few countries that illustrate each. This sounds very abstract, but I found the book very readable and educational and heartfelt. (It's ownvoices too - both authors are sex workers and activists.)

Now I have
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Must-Read for everyone.
Martin Hare Michno
An absolutely essential read. Accessible and indisputable. Everyone should read this. Just read it.
Morgan M. Page
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Easily one of the best books of 2018, Revolting Prostitutes thoroughly examines the case for labour rights for sex workers. Mac and Smith engage with arguments raised by all sides of the issue, providing a critique of all that centres the material needs of the real people currently engaged in sexualized labour. Not only out to dismantle their detractors, Mac and Smith even push back against reductive or unhelpful arguments made by those who believe themselves to be on the side of workers. Revolt ...more
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'll review later when I have digested this a bit more.
All I'm saying right now is everyone needs to read this book it is so important.
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really excellent, probably the best book I'll read this year, probably retrospectively the best book of last year too. So well written, so engaging, communicates complex socioeconomic arguments clearly, is meticulously researched and foregrounds marginalised voices. I absolutely loved it.
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
good, accessible overview of the different models of regulation and criminalisation of the sex trade and how they all interact with state power, border violence, and poverty. takes a very nuanced view and constantly foregrounds the voices of sex workers - was pleasantly surprised to see the internationalism of the sources.
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Smart, engaging, detailed, dense, informative. Should be required reading.
This book fucking rules, and must be read — especially by those who are invested in liberal politics, and even those who see themselves in opposition to SWERFs (sex worker exclusionary radical feminists). Why? Because this book helps unpack the deeply-ingrained anti-sexworker mentality that exists within many societies, historically and presently, and it lays out striking analyses of both both anti-SW and SW-affirming movements. The careful research, accessible writing, and utter clarity that th ...more
Sarah -  All The Book Blog Names Are Taken
Such a fantastic read. Review to come.
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: female, non-fiction
Discourse surrounding sex work is often constrained to the realm of purely moral questions: Is sex something that should be sold? Does sex work not degrade sex as an act, and thus the sex worker as a person? Further, does allowing sex work not degrade society as a whole? Almost anyone can elevate their voice and become an authority when the debate is situated within such abstract boundaries: anti-prostitution feminists, police chiefs, politicians. Anyone except sex workers it would seem. As auth ...more
Beth Winn
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. The biggest plus is how it compares major legal models on sex work, shows evidence that full decriminalization works best for safety and labor rights.

But ..

The first thing I noticed is that the authors have this contradictory way of presenting the views of sex workers. They criticize how the "erotic professional" view led to other views within sex work being ignored, which is a very good point .. then they dismiss that view in favor of more negative ones, even
Heaven Ramirez
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
This should be required reading for everyone, but especially if you’re a Leftist passionate about labor and the working class. This book covers how different countries treat sex workers—from making it illegal, SESTA/FOSTA to the Nordic model which doesn’t make sex work safer in a bid to discourage sex work to the decriminalization of sex work in New Zealand. While New Zealand’s laws aren’t perfect (migrant workers aren’t protected under the same laws and are forced underground to do their work, ...more
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a very thoroughly researched and well-argued book, written by two sex workers, about why sex work should be considered work, and why it should be decriminalized. I went into this book knowing very little about sex work, but left it feeling like I now have a deep understanding of the issues and why it's important to try to change the way that legal systems fail to protect sex workers, who are already incredibly vulnerable.

Smith and Mac know that they're trying to argue for a controversia
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read. I urge everyone -whether they are feminists or not- to read this book. I am overjoyed to see a book like this that acknowledges the violence within the sex industry and refuses to gloss over exploitation but argues from a sex worker perspective for workers' rights to be extended to sex workers and for the full decriminalisation of sex work/prostitution. The authors stand in lockstep with migrant sex workers, trans sex workers and drug using sex workers, and never throw them ...more
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This book absolutely kicked my ass, and it may well end up being my top read of 2018. It's radical, thorough, and firmly grounded in anti-capitalism and workers' rights advocacy. Chapters cover broad topics like sex (is sex good? is it bad?), work (is work good? is it bad?), borders and trafficking and how thoroughly they interrelate, and for different legislative models: full criminalization (e.g., the USA), the 'Nordic model' (e.g., Sweden, Norway, Canada), legalization/regulationism (e.g., Ge ...more
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ve never really been sure what I think about prostitution/sex work, although I’m aware that what I think doesn’t really matter as my voice isn’t one of the important ones in the discussion. This book takes an absolutely forensic approach to all the main issues and breaks them down in the context of the safety and well-being of sex workers. It’s a logical frame through which to view the debate, and in so doing they show how lots of apparently well-meaning efforts are actually deeply dangerous f ...more
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
“It is not a new idea to work on smaller measures to mitigate immediate harms, while at the same time working towards more radical solutions that target the root of the problem (...) to decriminalise sex work is to treat as important the immediate, material safety of people who are selling sex. In that, decriminalisation is a deeply radical demand, far more so than throwing the world’s poorest sex workers to the wolves in an attempt to annihilate the sex industry through increased policing.”

Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
‘Decriminalising sex work will not solve all of the injustices of the world: that is too huge a problem for anyone legislative change. But it will make people who are selling sex, right now and tomorrow, safer while they are doing what they need to in order to survive.’

An incredibly powerful manifesto that got me to rethink some stances I had always assumed were progressive and educated me on other areas I had not even considered. I will be recommending this book to as many people as I possibly
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Completely lucid explication of the failures of legal systems (pretty much world-wide) to support women engaged in sex work, and the interrelations of harms brought on by border policing, regular policing, and, crucially, laws conceived of by their supporters as helping sex workers (e.g. the so-called Nordic system) that actually do more harm than good. The authors' aim is full decriminalization of sex work without instituting a legal apparatus ("legalization") that makes workers on the margins ...more
Dayna Long
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was spectacular - the very best book I read this year. I've spent years feeling baffled by the debates around sex work among mainstream feminists, but this materialist perspective cuts through those debates like a knife, and does an incredible job of tying the fight for sex workers rights to the fight against borders, against racist policing, against ableism. Would recommend to everyone.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the most rigorous and compelling books of persuasive non-fiction I've read on any topic, ever. It's not just incredibly well-informed and exhaustively cited, but also presented with such tight organization, such that it feels "human scale" even as it (convincingly) traces the issues it raises down to some of the most fundamental societal forces.
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book that centralizes the voices and needs of sex workers themselves. It provides a nuanced examination of sex work as well as some thoughtful critiques of modes of regulation like criminalization, legalization, and decriminalization.
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“A sex worker who is living precariously or in poverty, who is at risk of criminalization or police violence, or who is being exploited by a manager or lacks negotiating power is not likely to be particularly 'sex positive' at work. These factors are structural, not a function of the worker's state of enlightenment.” 1 likes
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