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Whores and Other Feminists

Edited by Jill Nagle
Routledge, 290 pages

Reviewed by Pat Arnow


Annie Sprinkle, the outrageous performance artist and former porn star, stripper and prostitute, has written an essay, and so has Nina Hartley, the adult film actress/feminist (who was one of just a couple of authentic porn stars who appeared in Boogie Nights, the movie about the 1970s adult film industry. She played the promiscuous wife who got shot by her frustrated husband). And the sex worker who claims to have invented the term sex work.

Other writers are peep show dancers, massage parlor masseuses, strippers, pornographers and prostitutes.

Lesbian, bi-sexual or straight, some of these writers enjoy their jobs, and some just see the work as a way to make good money—more lucrative, less boring and no more soul deadening than secretarial work. They all believe that they are not victims and that most other sex workers aren't either. "Our issues are all women's issues," writes a prostitute/writer/former police officer.

Essays range from personal odysseys to advice for burned out sex workers to footnoted scholarship (for instance, "The Littlest Harlot," an investigation of the Barbie doll's origins) to a round table discussion with sex workers of color—and "500 Words on Acculturation" by former stripper Jessica Patton comparing the sex she had at Smith College to sex she experienced in a live sex show. The sex show was better, she writes.

This book provides a welcome change from puritanical feminism.

  From In These Times, the biweekly newsmagazine of independent news and views. Pat Arnow is Culture Editor of In These Times and lives in Durham.  

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