There is perhaps no profession as stereotyped, demonized, discriminated against, glamorized, unregulated and controversial as sex work. As a person who lives in a liberal bubble, I was shocked to hear a segment on a local radio station the other day that asked male listeners if they would ever date a stripper. The callers’ responses were appalling; one particularly vicious man called in and proclaimed he’d “rather date a murderer than a stripper.”
This is why $pread Magazine is so important. Created by three women, it lives up to it’s tagline of “illuminating the sex industry” in a smart, realistic and entertaining way. Its content is comprehensive - including stories, news, interviews, film/music/book reviews, art, classifieds, a resource guide, comics, advice and more.
Features in $pread include those giving practical advice, such as “The Healthy Hooker” who, in this issue, was about condom use. The article gives the basics on using male and female condoms, as well as advice on what to do when or if (for a variety of reasons) you do not use one. Strategies include “getting him off quickly” (so as to diminish length of time exposed to risk), “stay wet and relaxed” (to avoid tears, which increase risk of infection) and “get immediate treatment” (from a doctor).
Other features offered insight into specific types of sex work. The cover story, “American Brothel, A Photo Essay," features the working women of a legal Nevada whorehouse. The photographs were candid, and the story was interesting. For instance, did you know that some brothels, by way of earning taxable income, support the economies of several small towns where the mining livelihood has died? Yet, the prostitutes aren’t allowed in the towns after 5pm without a sheriff or brothel manager as an escort. They also can’t go to a doctor, at any time, without an escort.
Diverse, global and down-to-earth, $pread is informative for a wide range of readers: sex workers, feminists, johns, academics, activists and beyond. Whether self-claimed or not, this is a feminist magazine and learning more about the real lives of the women and men in this industry should be a part of every feminist’s mission.