1. The fatal flaw of the work is that it is absolutely apolitical. The drug recovery memoir is the modern version of the exorcism narrative: A person is taken over by an unknown and unknowable force, a demon of addiction-as-disease, forced to commit unspeakable acts and led into the underworld until, through a series of rites, the foreign invader is expelled and the person is returned to their community. The story of the exorcism contains no explication of the demon. After hundreds of pages spent in Kate’s skin, the reader feels compassion for her, but not necessarily for other sex workers and drug users. Holden differentiates herself from others in her predicament in elitist terms: They’re “jailheads,” “hollow creatures” who have “given up all their dignity,” whereas Holden can play “a swaggering junkie in dark streets,” but at heart she’s still the “nice, polite, middle-class girl” she is when she’s at home with her parents.

    Holden does not impel the reader to find a solution in terms of bettering the lives of other drug users and sex workers. Like the exorcism narrative, In My Skin ultimately blames no one but the narrator for her plight.

    — Caty Simon, on In My Skin for Tits and Sass

  2. When there is a scarcity of depictions (in writing, but any realm, I think), the few end up speaking for the many by default, and the many, well, they would rather be able to speak for themselves. The frustration of being marginalized often gets misdirected at the most visible members of one’s own community, because they are more accessible than the real agents of marginalization.

    — Melissa Febos (in Guernica)

  3. I had this client the other night. He’s been here once before. He’s youngish, late twenties, early thirties, and he comes late at night. He wants me to list all the men I saw that night and what I did with them. It doesn’t matter if he’s into what I did to them, his focus is on the sheer volume - not the specifics. His fetish is the fact that he’s paying me. He wants me to list the clients I saw, tell him how many, how old they were, how much money they gave me. He asked me how old I was. “Twenty-two,” he repeated. “I get to buy twenty-two.” I was on the verge of telling him that, actually, no, you get to buy a specific service with a twenty-two year old for an allotted amount of time, but he sensed my loathing and semi-corrected himself by tacking on a ‘half an hour.’ He disclosed to me that he was a writer. He’d been working on a semi-autobiographical novel about his ‘wacky adventures’ in college. He went to Journalism grad school at Harvard (I think 40% of my clients are Harvard boys, eck). I had this flash of him as a doughy faced college kid; him on his friend’s yacht, taking weekend flights to South America to sex tour Brazil. Did his wacky adventures include going to see a twenty-two year old sensual masseuse? Something clicked inside my brain and I realized just how much I hated this man I was slowly jerking off. That asshole, using his fucking privilege to write for Newsweek and the AP and to come get a massage from me, while he aspired to write for the neo-liberal hole that is the Economist. In my mind, I made a pact with him. If he was going to write about this I was going to write about it, too. And if he published it, I would get it published and use his real fucking name. I finished up and told him he should keep his cum. He was confused. “You know, you should keep it. Like a souvenir or a memento. You paid a lot of money for that sperm. It’s worth something now. 160 dollars, actually.”

    — Favoured Strangers: On Thinking Yourself a Tourist: Sex Work & Class  (via lots of smart folks)

  4. In 2000, at the age of 23, after surviving years of violence and exploitation, Lloyd founded Girls Education & Mentoring Services (GEMS), an NGO that advocates for sexually exploited girls. Girls Like Us offers a vivid account of Lloyd’s journey from abused to acclaimed, weaving the personal with the professional for a bold look at an issue which has, for too long, been sidelined. Yet her memoir seems to cloud, and in some ways even undermine, the issue of sexual exploitation rather than illuminate it. Lloyd seeks to clear a space for new voices, especially those of young women who have been sexually exploited and silenced. Yet with her own impressionable story and public persona, Lloyd takes up much of the air.

    — Jessica Mack, in a good critique of Rachel Lloyd’s memoir at Alternet