And particularly toxic when coming along as either leftist or social justice warrior. In this case it's both. One of the biggest "whataboutism"-books I've read in a long time. A very long time. May 13, Broadsnark rated it really liked it Laura Agustin has a remarkable ability to turn things on their head. If you read her blog, you'll be familiar with the narratives that she contests. But the book really brings it all together. The narrative is that all women who do sex work are victims.
Nobody would ever chose to do that work. They have been coerced or duped. They need to be rescued. Triple that for migrants. But who is a migrant? Why are some people called migrants while others are called travelers, tourists, expats? A privileged Laura Agustin has a remarkable ability to turn things on their head. A privileged person might go to another country to work a bit and have an adventure.
But a poor person is only seen to be pushed out because of conflict or pulled in to earn money and nothing else - as though a worker is the only thing they are. Never do you hear that a poor woman wants to migrate in order to get new experiences or find herself. That's just reserved for the wealthy. Why is sex work treated so differently from other work? Why is it assumed to be worse than housekeeping, nannying, working in a factory, or investment banking at Goldman Sachs?
Domestics are exempted from even the most basic employment laws. Most people say that freedom and flexibility are the things they most want from their jobs. Yet we are all blind to that desire when it comes to women who are choosing between sex work and domestic service. It is difficult to find a rational reason for people to look at sex work as so much more exploitative than all the other types of work out there.
Why is it so clear to people that sex work is problematic, but so difficult for people to see how dehumanizing other work is? Even more problematically, many of the women who work in the rescue industries are more than happy to use poor women as domestics while they pursue their careers. One of the most interesting parts of the book for me is the history of how the helping industry came to be, how middle class women with few options made careers out of charity work.
But charity work requires victims to be saved, whether or not those people want the "help". It is always difficult to find the balance between considering the social circumstances and systemic injustices that limit people's choices while still respecting people. All people, regardless of their constraints, should be seen as full human beings with the ability to make decisions.
Too often we see problems as statistics and certain people as acted upon only. This book tips the scales back in the direction of full human being.