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30 Law & Ineq. 19 (2012)
Revisiting the Prostitution Debate: Uniting Liberal and Radical Feminism in Pursuit of Policy Reform

handle is hein.journals/lieq30 and id is 21 raw text is: 19

Revisiting the Prostitution Debate:
Uniting Liberal and Radical Feminism
in Pursuit of Policy Reform
Katie Berant
Introduction
When the state legalized prostitution, to me, it legalized rape.
-former Danish prostitute'
The legalization of rape-surely no feminist would be so
antiwoman as to advocate for such a policy. Still, there has been
debate within the feminist community for decades about the most
effective government policy approach to prostitution, and many
feminists and prostitutes argue for its legalization. The fact that
feminists and prostitutes take a position one former prostitute
considers tantamount to the legalization of rape reflects the
complexity of this debate. Prostitution-a topic that implicates
philosophical and moral questions of autonomy, power, gender,
and oppression-is far too complicated to elicit a uniform response
from feminist legal advocates.
Prostitution, often referred to as the oldest profession,'
involves the exchange of sex for money.' Most common law
t. J.D. expected 2012, University of Pennsylvania Law School; B.A., Sociology,
American University, 2009. I would like to thank Professor Serena Mayeri for her
support and guidance in writing this article.
1. When I heard these haunting words leave the mouth of a former Danish
prostitute, my conception of prostitution was changed forever. While studying in
Denmark in 2007, I took a course that explored the politics of prostitution in
Europe. As part of the class, we heard from many former and current prostitutes.
This particular speaker was incredibly moving, and her story inspired me to write
this article. I have omitted her name to protect her anonymity.
2. Some feminists take issue with the premise that prostitution is the world's
oldest profession.
It would be more correct to say that this claim is the world's oldest excuse.
Prostitution is not a profession. Prostitution is an age-old consequence of
an unequal power structure. .. . The clich6 that prostitution is the world's
oldest profession legitimates prostitution as an original-not to say
unchangeable-part of the 'labour market' reserved for the poorest women
and the women with the least resources all over the world.
KFUK's SOCIALE ARBEJDE, TEN MYTHS ABOUT PROSTITUTION 3 (2005) (detailing
arguments by Danish NGO KFUK's Sociale Arbejde that purchasing prostitution
services constitutes a violent act that should have consequences for the purchaser).
3. Though other parts of the sex industry, such as pornography, live sex

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