Making Prostitution Legal

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Making Prostitution Legal Few things have divided feminists as much as the sex industry. Theorists who agree on a vast swath of issues -- economic equality, affirmative action, even sexual liberation -- often find themselves bitterly opposed over pornography and prostitution. Most 19th-century feminists opposed prostitution and considered prostitutes to be victims of male exploitation. But just as the suffragette and temperance movements were bound together at the turn of the century, so too were feminist and contemporary moral objections to prostitution. Women, the argument went, were repositories of moral virtue, and prostitution tainted their purity: the sale of sex was, like alcohol, both cause and symptom of the decadence into which society had sunk. By the 1960s and '70s, when Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer asserted that sexual liberation was integral to women's liberation, feminists were reluctant to oppose prostitution on moral grounds. Traditional morality, Greer argued, had helped to repress women sexually, had made their needs secondary to men's.
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