Reading list

When sex workers win, we all win!

Books on the fight for sex workers’ rights, and the web of rights movements entangled within them!

26 June 2023

When sex workers win, we all win!

The criminalisation of sex workers does nothing but harm. As Thai sex worker collective Empower have pointed out, criminalisation is about what can be taken away from sex workers. If you care about some of the most marginalised people in society, why not start from thinking about what can be given to them. 

Sex workers’ rights cannot be disentangled from other rights movements. The fight for sex workers’ rights is also the fight for border abolition, for the dismantling of the carceral state, for the redistribution of wealth and democratic ownership, for trans liberation, for all workers’ rights, and for a post-work politics!

In the words of Black Women for Wages for Housework: ‘When prostitutes win, all women win.’

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“We looked out for each other. Working the street, the only way we survived is each other.”

Miss Major offers something that cannot be found elsewhere: an affirmation that our vision for freedom can and must be more expansive than those on offer by mainstream institutions.

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“We want a future where feminist revolt and resistance is uplifted by the brazen spirit of the prostitute who demands to be safe, to be paid, and to be heard.”

Juno Mac and Molly Smith situate their argument firmly within wider questions of migration, work, feminism, and resistance to white supremacy.

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“The art and sex industries are capital’s stress points: two industries saturated in hyper-capitalist relations while also existing on the outskirts of the formal economy.”

Giovannitti argues that if we delve into our anxieties around art and sex, we can instead find new ways to live and spaces, however small, of freedom.

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“Sex work is work, and sex workers' rights are human rights.”

Playing the Whore dismantles pervasive myths about sex work, criticizes both conditions within the sex industry and its criminalization, and argues that separating sex work from the "legitimate" economy only harms those who perform sexual labor.

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“The main source of vulnerability for migrant sex workers is precisely their vulnerability to deportation and police power.”

Against Borders illustrates why people committed to border abolition should join calls to decriminalise sex work.

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“The benefit system contributes in a number of ways to women increasingly relying on sex work.”

Due to a decade of austerity measures from the Conservatives government, the destruction of Britain’s welfare system, and the rise of insecure and low-paid work, many disabled women and turning to, or returning to, sex work.

Miss Major Speaks
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy is a veteran of the infamous Stonewall Riots, a former sex worker, and a transgender elder and activist who has survived Bellevue psychiatric hospital, Attica Prison, the H...
Revolting Prostitutes
How the law harms sex workers - and what they want insteadDo you have to endorse prostitution in order to support sex worker rights? Should clients be criminalized, and can the police deliver justi...
Working Girl
Sex and art, we're told, are sacred, two spheres that ought to be kept separate from the ravages of the marketplace. Yet both prop up two incredibly lucrative industries, built on the commodificati...
Playing the Whore
The sex industry is an endless source of prurient drama for the mainstream media. Recent years have seen a panic over "online red-light districts," which supposedly seduce vulnerable young women ...
Against Borders
Borders harm all of us: they must be abolished.Borders divide workers and families, fuel racial division, and reinforce global disparities. They encourage the expansion of technologies of surveilla...
In austerity Britain, disabled people have been recast as worthless scroungers. From social care to the benefits system, politicians and the media alike have made the case that Britain’s 12 milli...