At time it reads like a memoir because Lloyd recounts her own experience of commercial sexual exploitation, but it is very much an argument to be made against both the sex industry and the way we handle those in it. It brings about many important questions about our society and it’s treatment of girls.
If a girl is below the legal age of consent, how is it not still rape to pay her for sex? She can’t legally consent to sex. How is it not that simple that any girl under the age of consent arrested for prostitution is inherently a victim of statutory rape and whoever has paid for her services a rapist?
That’s just the beginning of everything that’s in this book. I’m adding it to my list of beginner’s books for feminists too. It should be read and discussed by every single feminist book club and probably all feminists. While I would like for everyone to read it and understand it, I know that there are plenty of groups that are not ready and would dismiss it on principle, but anyone who advocates for the full equality of all people need to read this book or one like it. It should be paired with a book that discusses international sex trafficking to get a full scope of the problem.
It is disgraceful in the US that there is such a skewed view of the sex industry and the importance of abolishing it. I loved the way that Lloyd discusses the problems with forgetting the way it’s an industry and that forcing young girls into it will happen for as long as the industry exists and as long as prosecution is directly at the girls and not the pimps or johns. Let’s look at how it works in other industries. If a child is too young for a legal job but is working under the table somewhere, the employer is fined or whatever and the child is removed from the situation. Why is this different?
Okay, so I’m going to take a minute to separate the book from it’s point. The book does a great job advocating for it’s point but it does this for several reasons that are great and I don’t want it to be misconstrued. The book is great and beautiful, the reason it needed to be written in the first place goes way beyond problematic and needs to be dealt with by society as soon as humanly possible. It’s an amazing book for a few reasons, the first of which is that Lloyd does a great job of integrating her story with the larger issue presented in it.
As the reader progresses through the story, we not only get a clear picture of what Lloyd went through herself, but the path that she was on to rectify it and the many ways that girls progress through it all. We get the beginning of her abuse alongside the beginning of her healing alongside the beginning of her advocacy and works beautifully. The layout of the book is great in that it helps to walk us through these things. The chapters are set up to bring a reader through the stages of life as girls are forced into this cycle of commercial sexual exploitation, how they are treated within it, ways that the cycle is sometimes broken and then what can come next for those who do get out of it.
Unfortunately, we are also reminded that not everyone makes it out alive. Described here is a life full of abuse that no one deserves and that our society and justice systems are not structured in a way to help girls who are in this situation or vulnerable to it. There are ways to restructure and Lloyd’s program, GEMS, works to advocate for those policies and procedures to become a reality. She also mentions several other programs out there created for this same reasons, but there are clearly not enough of them.
As mentioned above, this is a book for all feminists to read and feminist book clubs to discuss, but don’t forget to go to the GEMS site, or any other organization fighting for this cause and get involved. Of course, there is a lot of material for everyone, so not just feminists should read this and get involved, because it is an issue that should never have been, but if you advocate for equality, then this is a part of it.
I read Girls Like Us on Scribd, but it is also available from other retailers. Click on the cover image for options at BookLikes or add to Goodreads for later. This was my Letter G for the 2017 Litsy A to Z reading challenge.