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Pimp State: Sex, Money and the Future of Equality

Kat Banyard

Pimps, pornographers, politicians: leading feminist Kat Banyard confronts them all in this passionate and provocative expose of the myths surrounding the global sex industry.

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Never before have prostitution, strip clubs and pornography been as profitable, widely used or embedded in mainstream culture as they are today. How society should respond to the rise of the sex trade is shaping up to be one of the Twenty-First Century’s big questions. Should it be legal to pay for sex? Isn’t it a woman’s choice whether she strips for money? Could online porn warping the attitudes of a generation of boys?

An increasingly popular set of answers maintains that prostitution is just work, porn is fantasy, demand is inevitable; so fully legalise the sex trade and it can be made safe. Kat Banyard contends that these are profoundly dangerous myths. Sexual consent is not a commodity, objectification and abuse are inherent to prostitution, and the sex trade poses a grave threat to the struggle for women’s equality.

Skilfully weaving together first-hand investigation, interviews and the latest research, Pimp State powerfully argues that sex trade myth-makers will find themselves on the wrong side of history.

Critic Reviews

'Sex buyers are not the single loners they were often assumed to be in the past. As Kat Banyard demonstrates in her excoriating account of the modern trade in women’s bodies, they seek variety, sex acts they can’t get in voluntary relationships and, above all, power...The debate has become poisonous and Banyard’s book provides a much-needed corrective, skewering the myths promoted by the commercial industry with forensic intelligence...By putting equality and human rights at the heart of this vital debate, she has done us a tremendous service.'

Joan Smith, Observer
Critic Reviews

'The most chilling aspect of 2016's Oscar-winning film Spotlight, about the uncovering of large-scale sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Boston, was how the whole scandal was right under journalists' noses, hiding in plain sight. People knew.Pimp State, a barnstorming polemic against the horrors of the sex industry (porn, lap-dancing and prostitution) filled me with a similar sense of unease...I challenge anyone to read this book and not feel there is something profoundly immoral and wrong about all of this. And it is there in plain sight.'

Eleanor Mills, The Sunday Times
Critic Reviews

'Pimp State is a detailed account of the case against the sex industry, and for the Nordic model: tightly argued, closely evidenced, and persuasive in its call to action....Methodically and thoroughly, Banyard dismantles the “myths” that support this presumption. Pimp State doesn’t limit itself to activities conventionally regarded as prostitution. Instead, Banyard is concerned with the entire field of commercial sexual services, including lap dancing and pornography...there are many who would like to establish a pimp state in the UK, but Banyard shows why they must be stopped, and how to stop them.'

Sarah Ditum, Guardian
Critic Reviews

'Banyard’s most useful addition to the debate is attacking the myth that prostitution is just a job...What shines through this uncompromising book is an optimism about change. Domestic violence and compulsory “conjugal rights” were once seen as normal, a husband’s due. And there are laws against undesirable transactions such as selling human organs or entering into bonded labour contracts. So why not prostitution?'

Janice Turner, The Times
Critic Reviews

A full-throated roar against commercial porn and prostitution.

New Statesman
Critic Reviews

A methodical, impassioned, shocking and occasionally funny polemic which aims to hit the sex trade where it hurts/

The Independent i

Kat Banyard is the author of The Equality Illusion and founder of campaign group UK Feminista. In 2014 The Equality Illusion was used as a key text in the development of the play Blurred Lines, written by Nick Payne and directed by Carrie Cracknell, premiering at the National Theatre. In 2010 Kat was named in the Guardian as “the most…

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