Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution by Rachel Moran is a combination of memoir and political commentary, chronicling the exploitative and damaging world of prostitution. Moran dispels common myths that surround the trade, which is more accurately described as a lifestyle in her opinion, and discusses the disconnection that develops between the individual and society, as well as between the individual and other people, which makes it difficult if not impossible for those involved in the lifestyle to feel they can to rejoin “normal” society. Her empathetic and reflective treatment of this estrangement is profound and lingering.
Moran writes with a reflective and intelligent grace. Her arguments are based in facts and experience and she combines the intimacy of memoir and careful reflection of philosophy with aplomb. When considering human rights issues, it’s easy to look to gross examples of exploitation and abuse, but much more commonly overlooked are systems of exploitation that happen in our own backyards. Such is the case with prostitution. Moran makes a compelling argument that the discussion about prostitution shouldn’t be whether to legalize it or not, but how to eradicate the need for such a misnomered “occupation,” as it not only damages the woman’s psyche, but that of the larger society as well. In a discussion of human rights, women’s issues, and sexual education, this is a vital new voice, though, as Moran says, not the only one.
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