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Feminist judgement of sex workers

Is sex work really anti-feminist? Is it degrading for women or empowering? Apparently this issue has been hotly debated among feminists over the years and there still seems to be no unified conclusion about it. In all my years being a feminist, I have held pretty strictly to the idea that sex work is degrading for women and they lose respect selling their bodies (even images of them) for money. We all know men go to strip clubs and blow their hard-earned cash on naked ladies; we all know women in porn get paid way more than men porn stars because, let’s face it, people want to see the women more. We all assume men have no respect for women who use their bodies for profit instead of using their minds to make a living. I’ve heard everything from “single mother” to “paying my way through college” as reasons for baring it all for a buck.

So, in an attempt to expand my views and learn more on the subject (I don’t want to just judge women and their lifestyles when I don’t even know them), I watched a documentary about the first stripper union that was formed in California in the 1990s. The woman who started it was the daughter of a single mother Jewish doctor who would go out on the streets looking for prostitutes who needed help because no one else would help them. The daughter was a comedian, a lesbian, ...