Melissa Gira Grant a writer and freelance journalist covering sex, tech, and politics, in the streets and everywhere else. Her latest book, Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work (Verso, 2014) challenges the myths about selling sex and those who perpetuate them. Her reporting and commentary appears in The Nation, The New York Times, Wired,The Atlantic, Dissent, Glamour, and The Guardian, among other publications. She lives in New York.
The Red Light & the Cloud
The history of the American red light district is quite brief – from railroad signal lights to hotel bathroom selfies – and clouded in myth. Today, the red light district exists largely online, though as it has functioned historically, it remains a site of labor and conflict for both sex workers and those who seek to take control of their lives. Federal law enforcement consider the red light district online as a space to police. Media outlets mine it for salacious stories. Campaigners use it as a platform for moral panics to bolster their own work. As a distinct space, soon it may be lost. In this talk, journalist Melissa Gira Grant (author of Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work) will reconsider how communication technologies shape sex-for-sale, proposing that sex work has merged with the network. We’ll surveil the police, missionaries, media, and politicians who created and command this space, and discuss what we can learn from how sex workers have remained a step ahead.