Now available to watch on streaming services to rent or buy is Sell/Buy/Date, a hybrid documentary-comedy about the sex industry. Writer and actress Sarah Jones had started a one-woman play about it and was optioned to make her play into a film. However, a huge campaign to cancel her and stop making the film resulted. So instead, she and the other producers, including Meryl Streep, decided to make it a documentary.
Sarah goes across the country and speaks with people about the sex industry. From a lawyer who teaches pole dancing in New York to Native American sex workers on the west coast. She also speaks with some famous names like Ilana Glazer, Rosario Dawson, and Bryan Cranston, plus a visit to the brothel named The Chicken Ranch.
Throughout the film, it shows the different voices:
People who choose to be sex workers are pointed out to be predominately white. The others Sarah speaks to are people of color. Most BIPOC found themselves in sex work out of necessity, fear, and not of their own choice.
Pretty early on, we learned that Barbie was based on a prostitute from Germany during World War II. So sex work has influenced our lives in many ways, from childhood to adulthood. So I found this a very important documentary to learn about people who work or use sex work.
There were many times they referred to her play, but it was hard to understand. We meet the characters she plays, but I couldn’t understand how the characters fit the topic of sex work. Even more confusing was what is defined as sex work. There are a couple of times they point out that you should use the term sex worker, not a prostitute. But what about strippers or porn? We met people who worked in those fields, but I was left confused about whether they were sex workers or not.
As we hear from customers of sex workers, we learned that a solution to protect people involved with sex work is to expand the legalization and lessen the criminalization of sex work. The law often becomes lenient on pimps and customers who tend to be men. However, the actual sex workers, often women or transwomen, are criminalized more regularly and harshly. Several activists and workers themselves share that often, sex workers are not doing this work by choice and can’t get out. So why are they being punished and left with few options to get out of this work?
I do recommend watching this documentary. Sex work has been around for a long time but is not often acknowledged openly. Those most vulnerable therefore get hurt and put in danger the most because of it. Watch this, and hopefully, the discussion will begin.
Here is the trailer:
*All images from imdb.com