Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Review {Paid For: My Journey ...}

A few housekeeping issues:
1. Please forgive the sporadic posts and long intervals between - a season of transition for my family makes for inconsistent writing opportunities. Thank you for grace, Dear Reader.

2. This post and others about human trafficking/ sexual exploitation and abuse are not necessarily appropriate for children or youth. Though I believe in teaching the next generation about modern slavery issues, I don't particularly use that filter on all of my posts. I'll be writing more young-audience friendly posts in the near future. If you're under 18, please let a parent read this and give you the age-appropriate cliffnotes version. Thank you for understanding, Young Readers and Parents.

3. My heart is filled with hope as of late - Hope for eternity and good things to come here on earth, too. I pray that your heart will be filled with the same. In His presence is fullness of joy (see Ps. 16:11) May this be said of you, me, and everyone who claims Christ as Lord: 

"And they have defeated him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb
    and by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
    that they were afraid to die." -Revelation 12:11 (NLT) [emphasis mine]

So without further ado, 

Today I'm reviewing the book Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution by Rachel Moran, an Irish woman who tells her story in a candid yet gripping memoir that will make a generation question the way we interpret femininity, sex, prostitution, and human trafficking. 

Originally I heard about the book via an audio interview with the author, and knew it was a must-read for me because of my heart for the trafficked. You can catch that interview here. In addition, you can view an interview with the author regarding her views, the book, and her goals here. Perhaps you'd like to come back to these links after you've read my brief (as possible) review below. In any case, I'm hoping that one of these three prompts will cause you to get and read this book because it is absolutely necessary knowledge for anyone who cares about fighting human trafficking, or anyone who cares about humanity for that matter. Okay, yes - that did sound melodramatic (I realize), but I honestly believe the knowledge offered here to the world is simply crucial.

That being said, I'll start with a couple of disclaimers. 1. This book includes a plethora of expletives, all of which will offend my normal readership. I was offended by what I read. But I'll admit, it adds to the truth of the work. Sometimes offense is necessary for those who desire change. Moran is nothing if not honest, and her verbiage must include the vulgar - for she takes us into the darkest of holes in order to shine the light on evil. 2. All of the pages in Paid For may not be helpful in the long-run if you are sensitive and want to keep your thoughts sexually pure. In essence, I would recommend this for women to read and subsequently explain the premise to your guy so you can leave the details out of his mind. Men need to get this, don't get me wrong, and nothing will change until they do. But we can help them to know it without having to know it, and I think you know what I mean. 

Moran begins with her personal and tragic story of how she ended up becoming a prostitute, which was not, as it never is, a matter of choice. The element of choosing to sell oneself or allow another person to sell oneself is one of many myths of prostitution she dispels in the exploration of her own experience and that of others she knew. She writes in detail of brutality, fear, hopelessness, drug abuse, suicide attempts, family dysfunction, and self-identity in a way I found compelling and painful. I was astonished at her mastery over clear and profound exposition - this hero of survival who spent her years being exploited while others were learning. She put herself through college for journalism after she exited prostitution, a feat few have been able to do. Her forceful truth may leave you reeling, and it may anger some who rely on lies to keep doing what they do. 

In addition to the honest memoir, this book is critical for its exegesis of current and proposed legislation on the matter of "sex for sale." A clear proponent of the Nordic Model, Moran explains in depth the Why's and How's of criminalizing the purchase of sex around the world. Her unique perspective from the prostituted is painfully precious to all of us who look for answers to eradicate this ugly smudge on the face of every human alive today. 

"Until the world wakes up to the simple wrongfulness of what prostitution truly is, we're not going to get social change." - Rachel Moran (in the video interview cited above)

And a few quotes from the book that shook me:

"The summation of my experience of prostitution was simply this: I lost myself." 

"If it were not entirely held buoyant by the sexual demands of men, brothels would have no viability and no purpose and no reason to open their doors - or to have any doors to begin with." 

"As a species, the urge to violate is strong within us. It is up to us to be stronger than it is."

"Sexual self-governance is only possible for anyone where they are not influenced to make decisions regarding their sexuality based on circumstances beyond their control."

Happy reading, Dear One! Next time I'll be reviewing something a little lighter, I promise!

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