Pimp State by Kat Banyard
In this “barnstorming polemic”, Kat Banyard attacks the idea that sex work can be empowering, said Eleanor Mills in The Sunday Times. Prostitution, she argues, is never “just another labour-market choice, like serving drinks”; it is a form of abuse, “dependent on repeated and despicable assaults on women”. Banyard is a “passionate advocate” for the “Nordic model” of policing prostitution, which criminalises punters but not those selling sex. This policy, introduced in several Scandinavian countries, has significantly reduced prostitution. By contrast, in Germany (where both selling and buying sex have been legal since 2002), the trade has “exploded”. Mega-brothels have sprung up and trafficking is rife.
Pimp State is “punchy” and makes some “arresting” points, said Emma Jacobs in the Financial Times. But it often reads like a “long magazine article”. Banyard relies on “strawman arguments” – the idea, for instance, that all prostitutes are victims, or that watchers of porn really believe the fantasies it depicts. However, the book isn’t really meant for those who have read a “reasonable number of feminist texts”; it is mainly a “primer” aimed at “young men and women who are new to the subject”. And for this group, its “clarity is a selling point”.