Feminist views on prostitution
As with many issues within the feminist movement, there exists a diversity of opinions regarding prostitution
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of...

. Many of these positions can be loosely arranged into an overarching standpoint that is generally either critical or supportive of prostitution and sex work. Anti-prostitution feminists hold that prostitution is a form of exploitation of women and male dominance over women, and a practice which is the result of the existing patriarchal societal order. These feminists argue that prostitution has a very negative effect, both on the prostitutes themselves and on society as a whole, as it reinforces stereotypical views about women, who are seen as sex objects which can be used and abused by men. Other feminists hold that prostitution and other forms of sex work can be valid choices for women and men who choose to engage in it. In this view, prostitution must be differentiated from forced prostitution, and feminists should support sex worker activism against abuses by both the sex industry and the legal system. The disagreement between these two feminist stances has proven particularly contentious, and may be comparable to the feminist sex wars
Feminist Sex Wars
The Feminist Sex Wars and Lesbian Sex Wars, or simply the Sex Wars or Porn Wars, were the acrimonious debates within the feminist movement and lesbian community in the late 1970s through the 1980s around the issues of feminist strategies regarding sexuality, sexual representation, pornography,...

 of the late twentieth century.

Feminist arguments against prostitution

A proportion of feminists are strongly opposed to prostitution, as they see the practice as a form of violence against women, which should not be tolerated by society. Feminists who hold such views on prostitution include Kathleen Barry, Melissa Farley
Melissa Farley
Melissa Farley is an American clinical psychologist and researcher and feminist anti-pornography and anti-prostitution activist. Farley is best known for her studies of the effects of prostitution, trafficking, and sexual violence....

,Julie Bindel
Julie Bindel
Julie Bindel is an English writer, feminist and co-founder of the group Justice For Women, which opposes violence against women from a feminist viewpoint....

, Sheila Jeffreys
Sheila Jeffreys
Sheila Jeffreys is a lesbian feminist scholar and political activist, known for her analysis of the history and politics of sexuality in Britain. She is a professor in Political Science at the University of Melbourne in Australia...

, Catharine MacKinnon
Catharine MacKinnon
Catharine Alice MacKinnon is an American feminist, scholar, lawyer, teacher and activist.- Biography :MacKinnon was born in Minnesota. Her mother is Elizabeth Valentine Davis; her father, George E. MacKinnon was a lawyer, congressman , and judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit...

  and Laura Lederer
Laura Lederer
Laura J. Lederer is a legal scholar and former Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons in the Office for Democracy and Global Affairs of the United States Department of State. She has also been an activist against human trafficking, prostitution, pornography, and hate speech...

. Their arguments against prostitution are explained and detailed below.

Coercion and poverty

These feminists argue that, in most cases, prostitution is not a conscious and calculated choice. They say that most women who become prostitutes do so because they were forced or coerced by a pimp or by human trafficking, or, when it is an independent decision, it is generally the result of extreme poverty and lack of opportunity, or of serious underlying problems, such as drug addiction, past trauma (such as child sexual abuse) and other unfortunate circumstances. These feminists point out that women from the lowest socioeconomic classes—impoverished women, women with a low level of education, women from the most disadvantaged racial and ethnic minorities—are overrepresented in prostitution all over the world. "If prostitution is a free choice, why are the women with the fewest choices the ones most often found doing it?" (MacKinnon, 1993). A large percentage of prostitutes polled in one study of 475 people involved in prostitution reported that they were in a difficult period of their lives and most wanted to leave the occupation.
Catharine MacKinnon argues that "In prostitution, women have sex with men they would never otherwise have sex with. The money thus acts as a form of force, not as a measure of consent. It acts like physical force does in rape."

Some anti-prostitution scholars hold that true consent in prostitution is not possible. Barbara Sullivan says, "In the academic literature on prostitution there are very few authors who argue that valid consent to prostitution is possible. Most suggest that consent to prostitution is impossible or at least unlikely.". "(...) most authors suggest that consent to prostitution is deeply problematic if not impossible (...) most authors have argued that consent to prostitution is impossible. For radical feminists this is because prostitution is always a coercive sexual practice. Others simply suggest that economic coercion makes the sexual consent of sex workers highly problematic if not impossible...". Finally, abolitionists believe no person can be said to truly consent to their own oppression and no people should have the right to consent to the oppression of others. In the words of Kathleen Barry, consent is not a “good divining rod as to the existence of oppression, and consent to violation is a fact of oppression. Oppression cannot effectively be gauged according to the degree of “consent,” since even in slavery there was some consent, if consent is defined as inability to see, or feel any alternative.”

Long term effects on the prostitutes

Anti-prostitution feminists argue that prostitution is a practice which leads to serious negative long term effects for the prostitutes, such as trauma, stress, depression, anxiety, self medication through alcohol and drug use, eating disorders and a greater risk for self harm and suicide, as they say prostitution is an exploitative practice, which involves a woman who has sex with customers to whom she is not attracted, and which also routinely exposes the women to psychological, physical and sexual violence.

Andrea Dworkin
Andrea Dworkin
Andrea Rita Dworkin was an American radical feminist and writer best known for her criticism of pornography, which she argued was linked to rape and other forms of violence against women....

, an ex-prostitute herself, stated her opinions as: "Prostitution in and of itself is an abuse of a woman's body. Those of us who say this are accused of being simple-minded. But prostitution is very simple. (…) In prostitution, no woman stays whole. It is impossible to use a human body in the way women's bodies are used in prostitution and to have a whole human being at the end of it, or in the middle of it, or close to the beginning of it. It's impossible. And no woman gets whole again later, after.”

Male dominance over women

Anti-prostitution feminists are extremely critical of sex-positive
The sex-positive movement is an ideology which promotes and embraces open sexuality with few limits. Sex positivity is "an attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable, and encourages sexual pleasure and experimentation...

 perspectives, wherein prostitution by choice is said to be part of the sexual liberation of women, that it can be “empowering” for women, etc. Some feminists who oppose prostitution agree that sexual liberation for women outside of prostitution is important in the fight for gender equality
Gender equality
Gender equality is the goal of the equality of the genders, stemming from a belief in the injustice of myriad forms of gender inequality.- Concept :...

, but they say it is crucial that society does not replace one patriarchal view on female sexuality - e.g., that women should not have sex outside marriage/a relationship and that casual sex is shameful for a woman, etc. - with another similarly oppressive and patriarchal view - acceptance of prostitution, a sexual practice which is based on a highly patriarchal construct of sexuality: that the sexual pleasure of a woman is irrelevant, that her only role during sex is to submit to the man’s sexual demands and to do what he tells her, that sex should be controlled by the man and that the woman’s response and satisfaction are irrelevant. These feminists argue that sexual liberation for women cannot be achieved as long as we normalize unequal sexual practices where a man dominates a woman.

Such feminists see prostitution as a form of male dominance over women, as the client has sex with a woman who does not enjoy it and who may be making a tremendous psychological effort to mentally dissociate herself from the client. They say that the act of prostitution is not a mutual and equal sex act as it puts the woman in a subordinate position, reducing her to a mere instrument of sexual pleasure for the client. These feminists believe that many clients use the services of prostitutes because they enjoy the "power trip" they derive from the act and the control they have over the woman during the sexual activity. Catharine MacKinnon argues that prostitution "isn't sex only, it’s you do what I say, sex."

Prostitution is seen by these feminists as the result of a patriarchal societal order which subordinates women to men and where the inequality between genders is present in all aspects of life. These feminists believe that prostitution is very harmful to society as it reinforces the idea that women are sex objects which exist for men's enjoyment, which can be "bought" and which can be "used" solely for men's sexual gratification. Anti-prostitution feminists argue that when a society accepts prostitution it sends the message that it is irrelevant how the woman feels during sex or what the consequences of sex will be for her, and that it is acceptable for a man to engage in sexual activity with a woman who does not enjoy it and who could be mentally and emotionally forcing herself in order to be able to cope; the normalization of such one sided sexual encounters might negatively affect the way men relate to women in general and might increase sexual violence against women.

These feminists strongly object to the patriarchal ideology which has been one of the justifications for the existence of prostitution throughout history (and which they say continues to justify it in many cultures), that is, that prostitution is a "necessary evil", as men cannot control themselves, and thus it is "necessary" that a small number of women be "sacrificed" to be used and abused by men, in order to protect "chaste" women from rape and harassment. These feminists see prostitution as a form of slavery, and say that, far from decreasing rape rates, prostitution leads to a sharp increase in sexual violence against women, by sending the message that it is acceptable for a man to treat a woman as a sexual instrument over which he has total control. Melissa Farley argues that Nevada's high rape rate is connected to legal prostitution because Nevada is the only US state which allows legal brothels and is ranked 4th out of the 50 U.S. states for sexual assault crimes , saying, "Nevada's rape rate is higher than the U.S. average and way higher than the rape rate in California, New York and New Jersey. Why is this? Legal prostitution creates an atmosphere in this state in which women are not humans equal to them, are disrespected by men, and which then sets the stage of increased violence against women."

A consequence and correlate of violence against women

Some feminists, including many who identify as supporting the abolition of prostitution, see the selling of sex as a potential after effect of violence against women. Supporting data for this position include studies of the background of prostitutes. Most prostituted women experience a very high level of violence both in childhood before they become prostituted and while they are being prostituted. Studies of violence experienced by women in prostitution prior to entering prostitution show 60% to 70% were sexually abused as children that 65% had been raped, most before the age of 15, and that many young women and girls enter prostitution directly from state care in at least England, Norway, Australia and Canada.

Prostitution abolitionists also object to the high rates of violence against women in the sex industry. Studies of women in prostitution show an extremely high level of violence is perpetrated against prostituted women. Figures vary across studies. One representative study showed 82% of respondents had been physically assaulted since entering prostitution, 55% of those by johns. Additionally, 80% had been physically threatened while in prostitution, 83% of those with a weapon. 8% reported physical attacks by pimps and johns of a nature that resulted in serious injury, for example gunshot wounds and knife wounds. 68% reported having been raped since entering prostitution, 48% more than five times and 46% reporting rapes committed by johns. Finally, 49% reported pornography was made of them while they were in prostitution and 32% had been upset by an attempt to make them do what johns had seen in pornography. Women in indoor and outdoor prostitution both report high levels of violence and constant need for vigilance and fear. Many brothels have installed panic buttons because of the ongoing threat of violence indoors.

Beyond the individual instances of violence or the history of violence suffered by most women in prostitution, prostitution abolitionists see prostitution itself as a form of male violence against women and children. This understanding is the major theoretical root of calls to decriminalize prostituted people (mostly women), but continue to criminalize those who prostitute them, including johns, pimps, procurers and traffickers. Similarly, in other forms of violence against women, anti-violence feminists expect women who are battered, raped, incested, harassed and threatened will not be punished for the crimes committed against them, while the male perpetrators, mostly known to the victims, will suffer criminalization in accordance with the law.

Prostitution abolitionists also cite similarities between prostitution and violence against women. Farley, Lynne and Cotton (2005) argue the prostitution is most like battery because it similarly involves a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour (by pimps, procurers and traffickers as well as johns) that results in the control of the prostituted woman. Research conducted by Giobbe (1993) found similarities in the behaviour of pimps and batterers, in particular, through their use of enforced social isolation, threats, intimidation, verbal and sexual abuse, attitudes of ownership, and extreme physical violence. Many ex-prostituted women argue prostitution has similarities to rape because it is a form of sexuality that is entirely controlled by the john, as rape is a form of sexuality in which the rapist controls the interaction, disregarding the desires, physical well-being or emotional pain of the victim.Prostitution abolitionists adopt an intersectional
Intersectionality is a feminist sociological theory first highlighted by Kimberlé Crenshaw . Intersectionality is a methodology of studying "the relationships among multiple dimensions and modalities of social relationships and subject formations"...

 approach to understanding the power relations involved in prostitution. That is, they see prostitution as compelled by multiple forms of oppressive
Oppression is the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. It can also be defined as an act or instance of oppressing, the state of being oppressed, and the feeling of being heavily burdened, mentally or physically, by troubles, adverse conditions, and...

 social power, not just sexism against women. Some analysts on human rights issues surrounding prostitution, such as Sigma Huda in her report for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, also adopt this approach:
“The act of prostitution by definition joins together two forms of social power (sex and money) in one interaction. In both realms (sexuality and economics) men hold substantial and systematic power over women. In prostitution, these power disparities merge in an act which both assigns and reaffirms the dominant social status of men over the subordinated social status of women.”
“The demand for commercial sex is often further grounded in social power disparities of race, nationality, caste and colour.”

Abolitionists attribute prostitution to women's comparative lack of economic resources. Globalisation and neoliberalism have exacerbated already unequal economic relations, including by cutting back social spending in Northern and formerly socialist countries, and increasing the demand for cheap labour, including in prostitution, in both Southern and Northern countries. Combined with sex discrimination in wages and job type, sexual harassment in the workplace, and an undue burden of caring for children, the elderly and the ill, women are at a significant economic disadvantage in the current economic structure. Poverty is the single greatest “push” factor making women vulnerable to accepting prostitution as a means of subsistence.

In addition, racism shapes women's entry into prostitution, both because it makes women more vulnerable to prostitution and because johns demand racialized women in prostitution. Racism in education, economic and political systems affect the choices of women of colour. Additionally, racist sexualisation, through pornography in particular, of Black and Asian women as over-sexed and submissive or otherwise available for prostitution contributes to the demand for specifically racialized women Massage parlours, strip clubs and other prostitution businesses are often located in poor and racialized neighbourhoods, encouraging johns to troll those neighbourhoods for women, making all women in those neighbourhoods vulnerable to prostitution-related harassment and women in those neighbourhoods more likely to accept their use in prostitution as normal.

Indigenous women the world over are particularly targeted for prostitution. In Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, and Taiwan, studies have shown that indigenous women are at the bottom of the race and class hierarchy of prostitution, often subjected to the worst conditions, most violent demands and sold at the lowest price. It is common for indigenous women to be over-represented in prostitution when compared with their total population. This is as a result of the combined forces of misogyny, globalization/neoliberalism, social and cultural disruption, race discrimination and extremely high levels of violence perpetrated against them. The Aboriginal Women's Action Network, an abolitionist organization in Canada, has specifically noted that because the prostitution of Aboriginal women results from and reinforces such extreme hatred of Aboriginal women, no regime of legalisation (which will expand the industry and entrap more women) can be safer for Aboriginal women. Prostitution can only further harm Aboriginal women.
sting Prostitution and Pornography" Australia: Spinifex 2004

Outlawing of buying sexual services

In 1999, Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 became the first country to make it illegal to pay for sex, but not to be a prostitute (the client commits a crime, but not the prostitute). Similar laws were passed in Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 (in 2009) and in Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 (in 2009).

As of 2009, the government of Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 is also discussing the possibility of banning the buying of sexual services. and as of 2009, there is lobbying taking place for such a law in Hungary.

These laws are a natural extension of the views of the feminists who oppose prostitution. These feminists reject the idea that prostitution can be reformed, and oppose any harm reduction
Harm reduction
Harm reduction refers to a range of public health policies designed to reduce the harmful consequences associated with recreational drug use and other high risk activities...

 approach. Trisha Baptie, a former Canadian prostitute, who now opposes the industry, and lobbies for the outlawing of buying sexual services, wrote: "Harm reduction ? You can’t make prostitution "safer" ; prostitution is violence in itself. It is rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

, the money only appeases men’s guilt, " "One of the most “sex-positive
The sex-positive movement is an ideology which promotes and embraces open sexuality with few limits. Sex positivity is "an attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable, and encourages sexual pleasure and experimentation...

” things you can do is make sure men cannot buy sex, because the buying of sex is violence against women and is a direct deterrent to women’s equality. "

These feminists see prostitution as a form of violence against women
Violence against women
Violence against women is a technical term used to collectively refer to violent acts that are primarily or exclusively committed against women...

 and vehemently condemn the common pro-legalization argument that "prostitution has always existed and will never go away", arguing that other violent acts such as murder, rape and pedophilia have also always existed and will never be eradicated either, and that is not a reason to legalize them. These feminists argue that the idea of legalizing prostitution in order to control it and "make it a little better" and reduce harm is no different than the idea of legalizing domestic violence in order to control it and "make it a little better" and reduce harm.

Pro-sex worker perspectives

Unlike those feminists critical of prostitution, pro-sex work perspectives do not concede that prostitution sexual acts have an inherent element of coercion, exploitation, domination. As such, pro-sex feminists instead assert that sex-work can be a positive experience for women who have employed their autonomy to make an informed decision to engage in prostitution.

Many feminists, particularly those associated with the sex workers' rights movement or sex-positive feminism
Sex-positive feminism
Sex-positive feminism, also known as pro-sex feminism, sex-radical feminism, or sexually liberal feminism is a movement that began in the early 1980s...

, argue that the act of selling sex need not inherently be exploitative; but that attempts to abolish prostitution, and the attitudes that lead to such attempts, lead to an abusive climate for sex workers that must be changed. In this view, prostitution, along with other forms of sex work, can be valid choices for the women and men who engage in it. This perspective has led to the rise since the 1970s of an international sex workers' rights movement, comprising organizations such as COYOTE
COYOTE, or Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics, is an American sex worker activist organization. COYOTE's goals include the decriminalization of prostitution, pimping and pandering, as well as the elimination of social stigma concerning sex work as an occupation.Though it is frequently described as a...

, the International Prostitutes Collective, the Sex Workers Outreach Project, and other sex worker rights groups.

An important argument advanced by pro-sex work feminists such as Carol Queen highlights that all too often feminists who are critical of prostitution have failed to adequately consider the viewpoints of women who are themselves engaged in sex work, choosing instead to base their arguments in theory and outdated experiences. Feminists who do not support the radical anti-prostitution view, such as Kathleen Barry, argue that there are serious problems with the anti-prostitution position, one of which is that, according to Sarah Bromberg, "it evolves from a political theory that is over-verbalized, generalized, and too often uses stereotypical notions of what a prostitute is. The radical [anti-prostitution] feminist views are ... not always delineated sufficiently to support a credible theory that prostitution degrades all women".

Pro-sex worker perspectives are also suspicious of the logic behind the arguments of anti-prostitution feminists, oftentimes believing such feminists to be basing their arguments on outdated notions of sexuality that existed to constrain sexual practice and regulate the behaviour and sexual expression of women. Indeed, such an analysis asserts that anti-prostitution feminists are themselves pandering to a construction of sexuality that is a product of the patriarchy. Jill Nagle considers this to be part of a binary construction of women's' identity as being either a 'good girl' or 'bad girl', a notion she believes we must undermine.

Pro-sex work feminists say that the sex industry is not a "monolith", that it is large and varied, that people are sex workers for many different reasons, and that it is unproductive to target prostitution as an institution. Instead, they believe things should be done to improve the lives of the people within the industry.

Legalization or Decriminalization

Feminists who support the legalization or decriminalization of prostitution argue that one of the significant flaws with the radical anti-prostitution feminist view is that a majority of its arguments are premised on the assumption that prostitution itself is inherently laced with sexism, classism and other unbalanced power relations. The institution of prostitution itself is seen by abolitionists as resting on these conditions and therefore they believe legalization or decriminalization will only lead to the reinforcement of these conditions. Pro-sex-work feminists argue that this assumption is flawed, and that while prostitution, as it currently exists in our society, can be misogynist or degrading in some manifestations, there is a grave danger in attributing these conditions to prostitution itself. They argue that targeting prostitution as a whole unduly focuses attention on this single institution in our society, rather than looking at society at large and the social institutions, laws and practices that lead to the subordination and oppression of women. There has been much debate over the last few decades amongst feminists about how laws relating to prostitution should be reformed. Most feminists who look at prostitution from a rights-based perspective support some form of either decriminalization or legalization.

Decriminalization is the removal of all penalties for prostitution itself and for all the activities necessary for prostitutes to do their work, such as advertising, communicating with clients, etc. It does not mean the reversal of all laws relating to prostitution, for example laws that exist against forcing someone into prostitution. For the purposes of decriminalization, Feminists for Free Expression defines the word “prostitution” to mean any consensual sexual activity between adults where compensation is involved; nonconsensual sex acts or sex acts perpetrated against minors are not prostitution, in their view. Instead they prefer the term "criminal sexual acts".

The term 'legalization', on the other hand, is usually used in the context of prostitution to refer to the use of criminal laws to regulate prostitution by determining the legal conditions under which prostitutes can operate. Legalization can mean anything from rigid controls under a state-controlled system to merely defining the operation of a privatized sex industry. Legalization is often accompanied by strict criminal penalties for anyone who operates outside the legally defined framework. With legalization there may be rules about where prostitution can take place (for example only in state licensed brothels), what prostitutes can do, mandatory registry/licensing and frequent mandatory health exams.

Some pro-sex-worker feminists support decriminalization and some support legalization, for different reasons. Proponents of decriminalization believe that all people, including sex workers, are entitled to the same rights regarding safety, health and human rights, and that outdated criminal laws need to be reformed in order to improve the living and working conditions of sex workers. They argue that decriminalization is better for the workers than legalization and that both both criminalization and heavily-regulated legalization infringe on the workers' safety and human rights. Many feminists who support sex workers favor decriminalization because it allows prostitutes to go into business for themselves and self-determination is a tenet of feminist politics. They believe decriminalization fosters responsibility, empowerment, self-esteem and self-care, all important feminist values. The goal in decriminalizing sex work is that anyone doing any type of sex work would be treated the same way, with the same rights and responsibilities, as any other self-employed person. Whether they support decriminalization or some form of legalization, pro-sex work feminists believe that the current laws that exist surrounding prostitution in many countries need to be changed and are harmful to the people who work in the industry.

Notable Feminists Who Support Sex Worker's Rights

Activists and scholars who are proponents of the pro-sex work position include: Margo St. James
Margo St. James
Margo St. James , a self-described prostitute and sex-positive feminist, founded the organization COYOTE , which advocates decriminalization of prostitution.-History:...

, Norma Jean Almodovar, Kamala Kempadoo, Laura María Agustín
Laura María Agustín
Laura María Agustín is a sociologist who studies undocumented migration, informal labor markets, trafficking and the sex industry. She is critical of the conflation of the terms "human trafficking" with "prostitution", arguing that the Rescue industry often ascribes victim status to people who...

, Annie Sprinkle
Annie Sprinkle
Annie M. Sprinkle is an American former prostitute, stripper, pornographic actress, cable television host, porn magazine editor, writer and sex film producer...

, Carol Leigh
Carol Leigh
Carol Leigh, aka The Scarlot Harlot, is an artist, author, film maker, and prostitutes' rights activist. She coined the term "Sex worker"in a conference in 1978....

 (also known as Scarlot Harlot), Carol Queen
Carol Queen
Carol Queen is an American author, editor, sociologist and sexologist active in the sex-positive feminism movement. Queen has written on human sexuality in books such as Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture...

 and Audacia Ray
Audacia Ray
Audacia "Dacia" Ray is an American author whose work covers the topics of sexuality and culture, with a focus on the influences of modern technology. She is also a sex worker rights advocate and leads media skills workshops intended to better equip sex workers to deal with interviews...


Other perspectives

There are many feminists whose views on prostitution do not fit in either the anti-prostitution feminist or the sex-positive feminist viewpoints, and in some cases are critical of both. These feminist authors have criticized what they see as the unproductive and often bitter debate that characterizes the two-position analysis of prostitution. Such authors highlight that in allowing arguments about prostitution to be reduced to a stale analysis and theoretical debate, feminists are themselves contributing to the marginalization of prostitutes, simplifying the nature of the work they carry out and the personal circumstances that involve each individual.

Feminist scholar Laurie Shrage has also criticized the haphazard nature of feminist views on prostitution. Shrage claims that in a determination to undermine patriarchy, pro-sex feminists have advocated a reckless and "Friedman style" deregulation of laws surrounding prostitution, without considering the implications that this may have upon women involved in sex work, particularly given the nature of the sex trade, which is more likely to be plagued by exploitation and poor working conditions, concerns that must be of importance to any feminist.

Further reading

  • Ditmore MH. (2006). Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work. Greenwood Pubs. ISBN 0313329680. "Feminism", p 154–159.
  • Spector J (ed). (2006). Prostitution and Pornography: Philosophical Debate About the Sex Industry. Stanford University Press. ISBN 080474937X.

External links

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