For the past four years, I have been working on a new book that is a departure from my previous book, Side Effects. Tentatively titled Getting Screwed: Sex Work and the Law, the new book weaves the true stories of sex workers (past and present) together with the latest research to make what I hope will be a compelling argument for decriminalizing adult consensual sex work in this country. The book takes a wide-ranging historic look at prostitution in the United States and explores why, at a time when the rest of the developed world – much of Europe along with Canada, Australia and New Zealand – has moved toward decriminalizing sex work in an effort to improve public health and safety, the United States has moved in the opposite direction: toward counterproductive and largely ineffective laws. The book illustrates how such laws have done little to curb the rising demand for sex work and don’t protect workers from exploitation or trafficking. If anything, criminalization has made it more difficult for sex workers to protect themselves from violent predators and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. If adult sex work were decriminalized in the United States, law enforcement could focus on more serious crimes, such as the sexual exploitation of vulnerable teenagers or the trafficking of illegal immigrants into the sex trade.
In Side Effects, I attempted to speak up for one group of underdogs: vulnerable patients who weren’t getting the full story about the side effects of potent psychoactive drugs. With Getting Screwed, I am speaking up for another class of underdogs: people who have been marginalized and mistreated by a society that fails to recognize that many of these women and men are selling sex by choice.
Getting Screwed will be published by the University Press of New England in early 2016. For more details on the book, please go to my new website, Sex Work and the Law.