July 8, 2014 at 12:30pm ET Berkman Center for Internet & Society, 23 Everett St, 2nd Floor
The history of the American red light district is quite brief – from railroad signal lights to hotel bathroom selfies – and clouded in myth. 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.
Melissa is a writer and freelance journalist, covering sexuality, politics, and technology. Her book, Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work (Verso, 2014) challenges the myths about selling sex and those who make them. Her reporting and commentary appears in The Nation, Wired, The Atlantic, Glamour, The Guardian, In These Times, The Washington Post, Dissent, Slate, Salon, The American Prospect, Reason, Jezebel, and Valleywag, among other publications, and she is a contributing editor at Jacobin.
She speaks regularly to audiences worldwide at institutions such as Duke University, the New School, Third Wave Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, and the UC Berkeley Labor Center, and at events including South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW), re:publica (Berlin), NEXT (Copenhagen), and the International AIDS Conference.
Melissa has been a member of the Exotic Dancers’ Union (SEIU Local 790), and a staff member at St. James Infirmary (the only occupational health and safety clinic in the United States run for and by sex workers).