A short review because there’s really very little room here for me to make snark about characters or plot devices, seeing as this is something that’s rooted in truth, and how it’s perceived when passed through the lens of the media.
(Well, I could probably workshop a few cracks about Julie Bindel in here, but really, who can be bothered?)
What you’re presented with here is a polemic. It’s a justifiable attack on the way sex workers are represented in the media. It’s a tear-down of bad actors and naive interpretations of the business, and most importantly an evisceration of the shitty statistics that are used to support retrograde portraits of people on the frontline of sex for sale.
It would be unthinkable to have a discussion about women’s rights that did not involve any women. Or a discussion about race that did not include people of color. But time and again when the topic is sex work, sex workers are not simply ignored, they are actively excluded.
This is an updated version of Magnanti’s book, expanded to include the latest publications from the opposition, as well as verbatim transcripts of the author’s appearance before an government panel looking into the legal status (and possible change thereof) of sex work in the UK. It’s copiously annotated – seriously, have a look – and should prove compelling, regardless of your level of knowledge of sex work.
Sex, Lies & Statistics is pissed-off and rigorous, using numbers and facts to get behind the Helen Lovejoy take on things we’re so often presented with. It’s not a feel-good read, but it’s a bracing dose of reality.