We Too: Essays on Sex Work and Survival

In this heroic collection of 32 essays bursting with heart and fury, a racially, sexually and gender diverse group of sex industry professionals divulges their experiences of sexual violence and affirms the value of a community that is criminalized, stigmatized and brutalized.

"How can you sexually assault a whore?" This question undergirds editor Natalie West's humanizing anthology, We Too. The contributors explain the faulty assumptions behind this endangering perception--sex work isn't work; those in the industry are "asking for it"--and describe surviving sinister attacks by management, coworkers, friends and clients. Victims fear reporting such violence because doing so could mean getting fired or arrested. Already their workplace is fraught with worries: weighing contracting an STI versus losing a condom-hating client; tolerating wage theft in exchange for somewhere to work; and, in 2020, considering potential exposure to Covid-19 for financial stability. The police further complicate the work environment by purporting to fight human trafficking while targeting sex workers; they consider prostitutes "victims" yet threaten them with jail unless they testify against their pimps or madams.

Though decriminalization is presented as a clear solution, We Too serves not to argue but to foster kinship. These communal tales tell of lows (lost custody battles, abortions), highs (unionizing strippers, a "Hookers Army" promoting peer support and self-defense) and hilarities (mistaking a wig being ripped off for real hair, a poop tsunami). By showcasing their humanity, not statistics, these inspiring individuals assert their personhood, reject the reduction of their bodies to objects for study and ask the public to listen to their words. --Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer

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